I’m not too sure which trailer it was for the movie, but after seeing one of them I was sold. Being disappointed by Prometheus like many others I was really into the idea that the follow-up was going to be an Alien film, and the trailer seemed to confirm that as it looked tense, scary, and filled with cool action. Jokes on me, I guess, because that’s not what I got. It’s a sequel to Prometheus disguised as an Alien film.
As per usual, spoilers.
The film is directed by Ridley Scott, who if you don’t know created the original Alien. The great thing about him helming the project is that it’s a beautifully shot movie. It’s not that surprising considering Ridley Scott knows what he’s doing behind the camera. Also, the portions that are dealing with the Xenomorphs I really enjoyed. Again, being the man who created the franchise it’s not surprising that those segments were the best portions of the film. It’s just those parts are really only in the beginning and the end. The middle of the movie is just characters sitting around while Michael Fassbender talks to himself, literally. To me, it seems like Ridley Scott wasn’t really interested in delivering a sci-fi horror film using one of the most iconic movie monsters of all-time. He was more interested in having his characters talk about philosophy than delivering a good Alien movie.
Getting to the characters, I have to say I quite liked Katherine Waterson who plays the female lead in the movie, Daniels, and Michael Fassbender pulling double duty playing new android Walter and the android David who was in Prometheus. He’s really the reason why I enjoyed the movie during its down moments. Even though I would’ve preferred it to not come to a halt and pretty much remove the Xenomorphs for a big chunk in the middle, the scenes where it’s just the two androids talking were enjoyable just to see Fassbender play both characters and see how each performance was really different from the other. The rest of the cast does a solid job as well, such as Danny McBride who plays the character Tennessee, as none of the characters were written or acted in a way I wanted to see them die, but they’re all kind of dumb.
You see, pretty much everything bad that happens to these characters is their fault. After the film opens with an incident that causes the crew to be woken up, they pick up a rogue transmission from a nearby planet that’s apparently a better option to colonize on than the one they were heading to. Considering it’s closer to them, the captain, Oram, (played by Billy Crudup) decides that they should go check it out. Despite Daniels protesting by pointing out they know nothing of this planet and they should stay on course, they go anyway. Once they get there they each start dying off one by one because of things like wanting to go off for a smoke, deciding to touch something on an unknown planet without proper protection, and trusting someone who clearly shouldn’t be trusted. Not every character dies because of poor decision making, but the ones that do really could’ve lasted a little longer if they just put more thought into their actions.
There’s also a lot more telling than showing in this film when it comes to its characters. Some of them are apparently married and you would never have guessed it because you never see them together and act like a couple. By telling instead of showing it makes it harder for the audience to get emotionally invested when people start losing their loved ones. I’m not with them emotionally in the moment, so it lacks any impact. Another point is made about how Oram wasn’t the first choice to lead the colonization mission because he’s a man of faith and that he couldn’t be trusted to make logical rational decisions. He feels that the crew doesn’t trust him because of that fact as well, but you never see him at all do anything religious like praying, talking about God, or see him wearing a cross. Nothing visually is shown to the audience to indicate that he’s religious. Is there at least any trust issues between him and the crew like he indicates there might be that leads to any tension? Nope. There’s no conflict with any of the crew members throughout the movie. It just seems like an unnecessary thing to bring up as it’s never touched on again in any meaningful way.
I’m really focusing in on the characters because that’s really the biggest weakness of this film for me personally. We never get to really know these characters because we never see what they’re like. The relationships between characters are never established in a clear manner. For things to move along the characters have to make poor decisions. I mean, one of the biggest reasons they land on the planet in the first place was because no one wanted to go back into cryosleep. I understand they don’t want to be stuck in the pods for another seven years, but if that’s the worst case scenario for sticking to your current plan compared to the countless things that could go wrong if you land on a planet you know nothing about, I would’ve gone back to sleep.
I don’t hate the movie, however. I just feel like it could’ve used more thought into incorporating the Alien and Prometheus aspects together. Because of the negativity surrounding the latter film, Ridley Scott seems like he tried to deliver both a movie he wanted to make and one audience wanted to see. Whatever the reasons are the film turned out the way it did, the final product ends up feeling like an Alien movie that gets interrupted by philosophical talk halfway through when all we want to see is people fight Xenomorphs. It happens, just not enough that you feel satisfied by the end.