Tuesday, June 06, 2017

ALIEN: COVENANT (2017)


Once again we have a new ALIEN film and, as was true few years ago, I'm going to have to step out from the crowd and praise it. Yes that's right - I'm one of the folks who loved Prometheus - warts and all. Was it perfect? No. Was it extremely interesting and incredibly engaging and very entertaining? Yes. I can honestly say that all the things that people bitched about in 2012 did not matter to me in the slightest. In fact, after watching it several more times on Blu-Ray and seeing the deleted scenes I can say I like it more with each viewing.


So here we are again. This is Ridley Scott's second of what reports say will be a Trilogy of new Alien films set before the original 1979 classic. I should say up front that I am a huge fan of the Alien films.  All six of them. And by that that by that of course I mean that there are a couple that I consider to be pathetically risible. Those would be the two Alien vs Predator films which I consider to be cinematic abominations and totally without merit. They are garbage. But the first four Alien films I really enjoy to varying degrees. Of course, nothing is ever going to surpass the original.  It was groundbreaking in that it fashioned a new way of doing things melding an old style SF story with things no one had ever seen before courtesy of H/.R. Giger. There had never been anything quite like it and everything after that can only strive to be the classic that the 1979 film was and still is. But I have enjoyed the immediate three sequels to varying degrees and often for some of the same reasons that a lot of people dislike them. Suffice to say that I like most of the Alien movies, which probably puts me into a pretty small category of film fans.


But, to this new film, Alien: Covenant (2017). This seems to me to very plainly draw a line between Prometheus as prequel and Alien (1979) as the end point. In other words, the story is taking shape in a fascinating way. The melding of the idea of human progenitors/creators figures with the genesis of the large biomechanical weaponry system that is the Alien species is quite intriguing to me. The Alien movies have focused in various ways on the concept of either motherhood or the creation of life. When that became text instead of subtext in Prometheus I think it may have been one of the problems that kept audiences from relating to it as an 'Alien' film but that imagery and idea has been there from the beginning all the way down to calling the ship's computer Mother. But with this new film I think that the continuity of that idea over the films is now beginning to take shape in a way that - while it irritates a number of people - I find absolutely beguiling. Don't get me wrong - I find silly guesses about Chariots of the Gods style alien intervention and human life to be little more than amusing BS to talk about while drinking. But as presented in these films it's wonderful science fiction / fantasy. I love the idea that a race created us and then saw us (for some reason that is still undetermined or unrevealed) to be disappointing enough to deem us erasable.


Knowing that Prometheus and Alien: Covenant are films that are leading us in a straight line toward what we saw in the original film I'll have to admit I did not expect this second movie to take the turn that it did. I'll refrain from ruining the film or spoiling any of the neat surprises in the latter half of it, but suffice to say I think we can tell that the egg chamber and alien creature encountered in 1979 are not exactly what the aliens of Prometheus had in mind as the biological weapon that could remove us from our own planet. Interestingly enough it appears one of our own creations shaped that Beast into what it became. This points toward even more interesting mythological connections that could be explored in the third film if they so choose.


Of course, as with the release of every previous Alien film, this one comes with its own built-in criticism. In other words there's almost no one who's going to be pleased by this right now. The fact that I'm one of only two or three people I've spoken with so far who really liked it. The rest I've heard is the usual disdain that centers around the fact that as an audience we know more than the characters onscreen. This allows viewers to sneer at actions "I would never do". Yeah - You already know there's a monster on the loose, dumbass. We get it! You know someone is lying. We know too. The characters don't.

I rarely do so but I'm thinking I need to see this one again before it leaves theaters. I want to soak in the visuals again, check out the details and wallow in the amazing mood the film sets. This is the first Alien film since the first to 'feel' like the original in tone and pacing. That alone makes it worth buying another ticket. 


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