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May 22, 2017 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

A Discussion on the Alien Franchise

The two editors of this section agree on many things, film related and otherwise. The Alien Films, however, do not fall into this category. We agree the first two are great, and the third and fourth are terrible, but things get tricky after that. If anything, the following exchange will illuminate how subjective film can be.


Why I love Prometheus — Finn Holland

I cannot see what justifies the hate for this film. Is it perfect? Absolutely not, but how many perfect films are there? Admittedly, one of the perfect films in the history of cinema is in fact Ridley Scott’s Alien. However. Prometheus is far different film and thrives on its own merits: Prometheus aims to tackle the beginning of life itself, as well as the philosophy and morality of said creation.

The film starts with the glorious landscape of an Earth that has not yet formed life, and introduces the Engineers, a species whose scientists have developed a method of creating life. Picking up in the near future, a group of scientists now seek the Engineers in hopes of answering where humans truly come from. In addition is the thematic depth of having an android named David on board, who is faced with the reality of meeting his creator face-to-face every day. These ideas gave Alien fans far more science fiction than they might have been expecting.

Technically everything is amazing, from the cinematography and score to the practical effects and performances. Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender shine as Elizabeth Shaw and the aforementioned android. Rapace is as tough as Ripley, and scientifically savvy; her sheer will sees her through one of the entire series’ most white knuckle scenes. Fassbender plays the other end of the spectrum, with his seemingly perfect logic (and haircut) often unnerving other characters. It becomes increasingly obvious he has ulterior motives.

All things considered, Prometheus is not a film that deserves the rap it gets, and I think it’s a case of audiences wanting one thing, and though what they get is good, they dislike it because it’s different. It certainly is different, and is a wholesome piece of science fiction.


Why I (mildly) hate Prometheus — Mathew Watkins

Visually stunning with a great cast and sci-fi theological elements, Prometheus by all rights should have been fantastic. Instead, it only left us with a ton of unanswered questions and disappointingly fell to the same tropes as most extraterrestrial B-grade horrors. This isn’t to say I didn’t initially enjoy the film; I just find it very flawed.

Easily the biggest problems with the film are the high number of nonsensical routes the film drags you down, only to abandon you to pursue another dead-end. Though it had some interesting elements to introduce, it followed through on hardly any of them, and with the inclusion of Covenant, it seems like there was no payoff at all for this film.There were a couple twists, but neither really made much sense or came across as important to the story arc. Weyland turns out to be alive! (Why did he pretend to be dead?) Charlize’s character is Weylands daughter! (Why does that matter?)

Not only that, but I found myself frustrated with the sheer number of characters introduced to the story, only to die pitifully with no benefit to the momentum of the story. With the exception of David, whose motivations are still pretty unknown even now after a second film, the characters were one dimensional and uninteresting.  

At the end of the day, this film is okay. That’s it. It’s okay to watch when you’re bored for a bit of entertainment and to say to yourself “hey I wonder what all that was about?” But don’t bother hoping for any answers in the sequel which, if anything, only made Prometheus worse.


Why I love Alien: Covenant — Finn Holland

Evidently of the two of us I was far more excited for this film. Anyway, this very year Scott has graced us with another instalment in the Alien franchise, and given us a film that once again expands the mythos and takes the franchise in new directions.

When the colonisation ship Covenant finds an extremely habitable world millions of light years from our own, the majority of the crew are enthralled, while a minority are justifiably dubious. Shit happens. Alien-esque things ensue. Certain chests do not remain unruptured.

The universe building of Prometheus is expanded in droves, with the complex genealogy of its creatures never getting too out of hand, and the rich ideas and themes never playing second fiddle to the straight up thrill and horror of it all. What has always been a strength of the good Alien films at least is the interaction between its crew members, and this crew is no exception. Once again there are divisions among the ranks, as well as divisions of faiths, and given that the crew is made entirely of couples there are some intense conflicts of interest.

What people don’t realise is that sci-fi is more than guns and ship; it’s about the themes and the philosophies. Prometheus and Alien: Covenant have gone this route with the question of life. The films are critical of those who play God, as seen with people’s greed and recklessness in the search for knowledge and power.

Alien: Covenant is an ambitious film with far more on its mind than murdering a bunch of side characters creatively. The film still does not give all the answers fans may want, but what’s on show here is plentiful by itself. There must be something to say for the fact after seeing this film for the first time I simultaneously wanted to see the next film immediately, the current film again, and the old films for the 20th time.


Why I hate Alien: Covenant — Mathew Watkins

Ahh, the low hanging fruit of a Ridley Scott movie post-2000. Other than the Fassbender on Fassbender fingering and James Franco getting burned alive, this movie sucked. Scott once again lowers the collective intelligence of his cast in order to move the plot forward, fulfilling all the stupid horror movie tropes we’ve seen a thousand times before and can see coming a mile away.

Alien made you care about the characters because they were blue-collar space workers; the way they talked to one another about their lives back home, not having enough money, felt human and real. Also, obviously being essentially “truckers”, it’s forgiven that they have no idea how to handle the presence of alien life on their ship. However, when characters almost willingly walk into trouble like campers in Friday the 13th, it’s hard to have sympathy for their hardships.

Fuck you, of course you’re dead, guy who stuck his face directly in front of a toxic space mushroom. You too, asshole who put your face over a big slimy egg in the basement of an otherworldly temple lured by an AI you have no trust for.

Although the film itself fell short, the interesting ideas and mysteries that were raised in Prometheus were completely done away with in Covenant. It was almost like Scott was half-assedly apologising for making his audience think too much.

The script was dull and uninteresting, the set design was boring, and the special effects used to animate the creatures were laughable. All in all, it was a total waste of an opportunity to reinvigorate the franchise. Easily the best part about watching it was eating the pineapple I brought with me in an ice cream container.



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