21 May 2017

Better To Reign In Hell

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There are lots of reasons that people didn't like Prometheus, however I'd cite the big smile on the zoologist's face as he attempts to stroke the fucking space-cobra as being one of the main ones. Rule number one of going into space.. don't stroke the fucking space-cobra! But before we judge that movie too harshly, perhaps we should have a quick look at the franchise as a whole. Alien is obviously a masterpiece; Aliens is one of the greatest sequels of all time; Alien 3 is like seeing a facehugger accidentally latch on to the anus of the franchise; and Alien: Resurrection is what happens when that misplaced Chestburster explodes. It should go without saying too that I don't acknowledge Alien Vs. Predator or it's even shittier sequel having agreed with its tagline of “Whoever wins, we lose”. So essentially I'd guess most peoples love of this series is actually down to just the good-will of the first two movies alone, with one of the franchise's biggest problems being its struggle to survive without Sigourney Weaver. I mean, just look at the fourth movie which jumped through so many fucking hoops to try and include her despite the fact that her character had died in the previous movie. If Prometheus should be credited for one thing it's that it figured out a way of continuing the franchise without her. If it can be criticised, it's that it forgot to put the fucking alien in it too.

The sequel Alien: Covenant sadly doesn't quite follow directly on from Prometheus which is a shame because I was looking forward to seeing the on-going adventures of the dim-witted Elizabeth Shaw and her sinister robot head-in-a-bag. Instead we follow a ship full of humans that are journeying towards a new planet in which they can settle and begin a new society. It's not said why they need to start a new society and I don't remember what year this movie is set in, but bearing in mind Brexit, Trump, and the increased price of the chocolate Freddo Bars, I can only assume it's in the next few weeks. Anyway en-route to their new home, their ship is damaged by some sort of space-blip thing that I'll call a coinci-bang. At this point they pick up a distress signal from Shaw which they decide to investigate, because clearly none of them have ever seen a horror movie set in space before. I won't spoil too much from here but suffice to say that once on the planet they meet the re-bodied, head-in-a-bag David, discover that this is the home of the previous film's Engineer characters, and like when driving through Toxteth, perhaps stopping here wasn't the best idea in the world.

So I guess it's worth stating at this point that I really fucking loved the movie. I mean, when compared to the original Alien it'll fall down instantly, but I suppose that's true of most movies. However as its own weird Alien/Blade Runner hybrid thing, director Ridley Scott has made something that's both nightmarish in its design and haunting to its core. As a sequel to Prometheus however, and part of this almost separate franchise, it's obviously not going to be perfect, and so let's rattle off a few of its problems.. Firstly it seems that the characters in this movie went to the same Steve Irwin School Of Science as in the previous film, with their general approach to the discovery of alien life is to shove their face into it and see what might happen. At another point, a character spots one of the most terrifying aliens in all of cinema for the first time in their life and he literally responded with less panic than my Mum did when she thought I was about to step into some dog shit the other day. I think we were about ninety minutes into the film too when one of the characters was about to be killed by something, and as the camera cut to them, I had literally no idea who they were. In Alien, each character is pretty perfectly fleshed out by the end of their post-Cryosleep meal, however here the film was reaching it's third act and I was seeing faces that made me worry I was developing fucking dementia.

It's also true that Alien was essentially just a B-movie that managed to sneak in a dissertation's-worth of psycho-sexual imagery due its allusions to rape and the horror of birth. One of the many hints towards this that you might have missed would be that, like Piers Morgan, the alien's head essentially has a giant cock on it. Whereas Alien: Covenant lacks any such subtlety by simply having the characters stand around and talk about the movie's themes like that bloke at the bus stop that you hope won't end up sitting next to you. In fact I kind of wonder if this is something to do with Ridley Scott's age, in that, as a younger man, he'd be keener to simply scare you whilst sneaking some smarts in like a mischievous little scamp. Now as an older gent, he feels an urge to impart his life's observations on faith and humanity in a way more resembling a lecture, like when Grandpa Simpson starts rambling about the onion he used to carry on his belt. Not that I'm slagging off Scott of course, with one reviewer perfectly summing up the genius of the man by saying that they hope they're able to watch a film as nightmarish as Alien: Covenant when they're 79, let alone fucking make one.

Again, I won't spoil too much except to say that my final major problem with the movie is that like Alien, Alien: Covenant has a bonus fourth act that does somewhat undermine the entire struggle of the original film. Although perhaps the end will be explained in this film's sequel in the way that so much of Prometheus has been explained in this movie. You'd think that simultaneously working towards the start of a forty year old movie whilst explaining the plot holes of its predecessor would be a bad idea and I'm sure many will argue that it is. However as I mentioned, I did love this movie and I think the bulk of that is almost exclusively down the unmatchable world-building efforts of Ridley Scott and the weird performances of Michael Fassbender.. in fact, I think perhaps it's just the general weirdness of the movie as a whole I like. Sure it has such high-brow allusions towards Paradise Lost, Frankenstein, Wagner, and yet at the other end we also see Fassbender teach himself how to give a good blow job by telling his robot doppelgänger Walter to put his lips on one end of a flute whilst he takes care of “the fingering”.

The whole movie is just so weird and strange that I couldn't help but love it despite its obvious flaws. It's an adventure movie. It's a horror movie. It's a fantasy movie. It's also what happens when a Michael Fassbender fan prays to the right God and suddenly their fan-fiction is turned into a multi-million dollar blockbuster. In fact I would say that proof of its quality is that I had convinced a friend that this movie would be worth watching because despite the fact that she hates sci-fi movies she does love James Franco who I'd heard was in it. Well, technically he is in it. However in the same way that my Granddad has recently been playing the part of a dead body in the story of his life, James Franco is killed in a fireball and turned into a Green Goblin-sized pork scratching of death within the first five minutes. That's not a spoiler either by the way, though, his death isn't significant in a Drew-Barrymore-in-Scream kind of way. Sorry-- that was a spoiler for Scream. He quite literally is an anonymous corpse identified only by a few photographs and a short video clip after the fact. I have no idea why they cast Franco in this part, especially when, if you are going to give this kind of role to somebody famous, it seems a bit of a slap in the face to have not offered it to Paul Walker. However despite the fact that she now wants a prequel to this film depicting the story of Franco's descent into charcoal, my friend really loved the film too. So thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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