Thursday, July 06, 2017

Alien: Paradise Lost

This summer brings the 2nd entry in the Alien prequel trilogy. The prequel trilogy is great. I'm especially into this reboot because after Alien (1979, Ridley Scott) that whole franchise is a mess; and, because Ridley Scott is directing.

Alien: Covenant (2017, Ridley Scott) is a Gothic nihilistic sci-fi horror thriller exploitation vfx blockbuster. The plot begins with a ship on a colonizing mission that quickly descends into a faster than the speed of sound plummet into disaster.

Two things are going on with the plot: DAVID (Michael Fassbender) gets more evil while the crew get into more trouble. A drawback here is that after all the questions raised in Prometheus (2012, Ridley Scott), Covenant answers almost all of them, quickly. It's realizing that this serialization took all those potential plot discoveries about who created us and instead replaces them with a narrative that says David single handedly killed SHAW, enacted genocide on the entire planet of ENGINEERS and through chemistry genetically engineered the alien, his "perfect organism."

But that's cool. I mean what kind of sucker actually watches a Ridley Scott Alien movie to find out where humans came from?

So maybe it's not so much a drawback. David is the protagonist of the prequel series. And Covenant depicts the shift where we see the inquisitive android turned into some unholy mix of Hitler and the Devil. After more than 10 years since the ending of Prometheus, David has raped and murdered Shaw, exterminated the race of an entire planet; and if we can think of the Engineers as divine creators, David has effectively chosen to leave an existence serving under them to rule a world as leader of his own demonic legions--although, David has an affectionate relationship between himself and the alien.

I empathize with this mad evil monster because we saw him start out so sensitive and brilliant, so full of potential. David is also a character who resonates profoundly with me because I remember once when I was in my teens and I couldn't figure out why someone invented computer viruses that crash other innocent victims' computers. It hadn't happened to me, but I just couldn't imagine what the creator of the virus gains. I'd never come close to an answer. And David for a moment evocatively portrays this type of evil as he becomes obsessed with creating over the point of any boundaries of moral decency. Yet these are the most archetypal parts of what makes David so sympathetic. This is a strong modern horror villain. He's like a shut in serial killer, but desperately reaching out to connect with WALTER or DANIELS.

Katherine Waterston as Daniels really does Hollywood magic with her doughy cute cheeks face with girl next door bedroom eyes and bad goth homejob Dorothy Hamill in fun space costumes along with requisite iconic no bra tanktop outfits.

Do you know what movie Ridley Scott directed just prior to Alien: Covenant? The Martian (2015). The Martian is a Hawksian comedy about the crew of a ship's courageous resourcefulness and teamwork on a rescue mission to save one of their own. How fun it is to contrast that with Alien: Covenant's horror about the crew of a ship's helpless bad luck in a string of excessively imaginative evil disasters.

Now that all that quality plot and character development has been covered, on to the good stuff: the set pieces. You know, I love the terraforming exploration, that's always fun, seeing the green mountainous landscapes. But the Gieger-fetishized black S&M rubber monsters impaling victims amid a general backdrop of flesh, limbs, and fluids are what I come to Ridley Scott-directed Alien movies for. Getting to see lots of the alien is fun (no sarcasm here). But the kills felt a little redundant. Maybe it's just the woman alone in the lush garden shower getting murdered by the alien, followed by the woman alone in the shower who starts to have sex with a guy but gets surprise attacked by the alien. (The final shower is artfully ridiculous in how much water is gushing out and from what angles, I mean it's just like imaginary decadence.)

I loved the scene where David horse whispers the Xenomorph. That was really cute.

And I mean I hate to say it but most all of the miniature Neomorph stuff is just cheesy and killed parts of this movie for me.

But in closing I have questions:

  1. What planet was the Engineer on who drank the black liquid in Prometheus?
  2. Does the black liquid always turn into an alien if drank by a host?
  3. Does the black liquid affect humans and Engineers differently?
  4. Does the Covenant crew just coincidentally happen to find the one planet with Engineers on it (aside from the moon LV-223 in Prometheus)?
  5. If aliens were present in Prometheus what changes did David's experiments result in?
  6. What exactly does David think he's "created"?
Oh man I'm turning into such a sci-fi nerd. Stay tuned to Ridley Scott's Prequel Series for more sexy evil sci-fi horror.

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