Posts Tagged ‘xenomorph’

Ridley Scott knows what he’s doing. He knows damn-well.

The 2012 Alien prequel known as Prometheus, while being a film of grand visuals and ideas, was much maligned by many xeno fans due to the lack of the iconic monster first introduced in 1979. Was it an Alien movie or wasn’t it? Though I knew it was well before seeing it, that question still entered my mind on more than one occasion while viewing it. Not enough creatures, not enough deep space claustrophobia, not enough psychological horror, not enough…well, ALIEN.

Sir Scott has learned from those mistakes and brought back the terrifying face rapist in all its slimy glory. There’s no question – COVENANT is a full on Alien movie, and, at a few frightening points, is a bright highlight of the whole franchise. I read a quote from Scott where he says “okay, you wanted aliens? All right. I’ll give them to you.” Give them to us he does, in a way that would make Giger proud, in a bloody, disgusting (my wife had to look away many times to keep from vomiting), and, yes, scary way.

It didn’t actually scare me (I’ve seen these films since I was four years old), but the pacing and structure of the first two acts truly did fill me with dreadful anticipation. You’re going to be gripping your arm rests, waiting with a racing heart to find out what happens next.

One thing I liked about it was the music. The new score was foreboding and excellent, don’t get me wrong, but the real treat (and there are MANY treats in this movie) was hearing Jerry Goldsmiths score from the 1979 original. Those haunting symphonies haven’t been in a motion picture since 1986, and they will put a smile on any Alien lover’s face that will remain for hours after watching the movie. And that’s just one example of why this film is so excellent. Just like Star Wars, Trek, Godzilla, and Marvel movies, retro is IN. everyone’s bringing back the movies of the 80s and revamping them. Usually it ends up being a rehash of sorts, and seems to indicate that Hollywood has run out of ideas, but with Covenant, the nostalgia is extremely effective. It honors the other films in the franchise, and plays out like an Alien greatest hits collection. The claustrophobia and slow pacing of the original, the intense action of the second one, the existential nihilism of the third, and the beautiful body horror of the fourth – all these elements are combined and hybridized in Covenant like one of David’s unholy mutations. Speaking of David, he and his doppelganger, Walter, are the best parts of the film where characterization is concerned. The dialogue and nuances between them is fascinating to watch, and the parts are played very well by Fassbender. All the acting in the film is great, even if the characters aren’t very memorable. But I didnt see it for the people. And neither will you. It’s all about that xeno, baby. These Aliens are wicked. They move faster, look sleeker, and do more damage than they’ve ever done before. The NEOMORPHS, an early breed in the xeno evolution, are both beautiful and sickening. They enter the body through spores, then burst out from either a back or a neck. These violent eruptions alone make Covenant one of the bloodiest movies I have ever seen. The creatures start out almost “cute”, but quickly mature into living nightmares. With white skin, spiked backs, and human like limbs, they look like a ghastly combination of Giger’s scariest paintings and the Newborn from Alien: Resurrection. There’s one shot in particular where a Neomorph stares into the face of David as he tries to communicate with it. These short few seconds are the epitome of cinematic horror. You actually FEEL like the monster is looking at YOU, and it really is quite a thrilling feeling…

But the movie’s crowning achievement is the traditional chest bursting scene. Though it doesn’t shock us nearly as much as the original did (we are probably all secretly a little sick of it) it still packs quite a punch. There’s no way to ever recapture that particular moment of terror from the first film, but the Alien birthing scene in Covenant is still better than all the chest burster sequences of the other 6 entries. And, despite being visceral and completely over the top, the moment somehow elicits a feeling of beauty and even tenderness, which is something I’ve never felt while watching a horror movie. You’ll just have to watch the scene for yourself to know what I’m talking about. 

Oram: what do you believe in, David?

David (smiling): Creation.

With a subplot focusing on androids retelling the tale of Satan’s rebellion (David is Lucifer, Walter is Adam, the Xenomorphs are the demons, Earth and the xeno home world are both symbols of paradise, and humans and Space Jockeys are “God”), a well paced and well structured screenplay, good acting, fantastic special effects (too many CGI aliens though, as it is with monsters in EVERYTHING nowadays), and horror that makes the blood run cold, Alien: Covenant fixes all of the problems of Prometheus, explains the origin of the Xenomorph, and stands as the third best entry in the franchise, behind Alien and Aliens by only a little bit. This is a better “throwback” movie than the new Star Wars episodes, the American Godzilla, Jurassic World, and all of the superhero movies combined. Long live nostalgia, and long live the facehugger. 


Alien: Covenant (second trailer)
These films are my favorite. No question. So much so that when I saw the first Red Band trailer released for this prequel back in December, I actually cried. I really did.

But this NEW trailer that streamed a couple of hours ago….I’ll get to that in a minute

It seems these days that Hollywood is running out of ideas, so they have to bring the old stuff back and “update” it. Power Rangers. Godzilla. Jurassic World. The recent Pokémon Go craze (yeah, not Hollywood, but nostalgic as hell). Star Wars. Star Trek. Every superhero movie. I could go on.

Though I think that the big Wig Hollywood types are simply paying and pushing for creators to put a new spin on old ideas that we loved in our childhood, and that it’s just all about money and commercialism, I just can’t help but get excited every time one of them is released into theaters. I feel like a kid again. 

But Alien? 
That’s a different beast entirely. 

Prometheus was great, but it’s major flaw (other than the mis-mashed ideas and not enough development) was that it was an Alien prequel without the titular xenomorph, the species known as Internecivus raptus. Anchorpoint Essays (Probably my favorite web site of all time…everything you wanna know about xenomorph biology)

Covenant, however, seems to have fixed that problem. And the new trailer is glorious proof.

The damn movie is intense, well directed, full of suspense…and yes, I’m talking about a movie before I’ve even seen it, and trailers can show you the best parts of a film that eventually lets you down…but that won’t be the case with Covenant. Trust me. 

Just look at that godamned xenomorph.

This review is 4 years too late. Maybe 3, since I only started by blog in 2015. But either way, I find it shameful that I haven’t mentioned this movie throughout my blog career. The “alien” movies are the greatest films ever made. So I should have reviewed this one early on. 

But wait… Is it actually an “alien” movie?

I think I’ve discovered the answer.

Anyway, I’m not gonna go through the plot and stuff like that, other than the fact that some scientists are on a mission to discover whether or not aliens created human beings. Which to me is immediately stupid(but still epic) because either way, someone had to create the alien creators in the first place, as mentioned by the film’s chief protagonist, Elizabeth Shaw. But it doesn’t matter – the film is about people looking for the alien “engineers” who created us. 

Turns out, they’re right. The world they arrive on is completely devoid of life – at first. But then, an android playing the role of a resentful Lucifer finds a bio-mechanical substance that can alter life forms and in fact create new life, and he uses this to infect a scientist who proceeds to impregnate his girlfriend with an extra terrestrial Satan spawn. 

Did I mention that this was an “alien” prequel? Well, we will get to that later, after I explain the merits as well as the mistakes of this film. 

The best thing about the film is Michael Fassbender’s portrayal of David the android. The character is a devil straight out of   “Paradise lost”, hating his creators(mankind) who look down upon him, and slowly plotting revenge against them. The film has many spiritual themes, but this is by far the best one explored. He also practically creates the XENOMORPHS, although AVP(if it’s considered canon by Ridley Scott) and the upcoming “Covenant” may prove that the acid creatures were alive long before David infected Charlie. Sorry if you haven’t seen this movie yet, but I’m sure that by now everyone has. 

Another merit of this film, though the one I just mentioned is the chief example of this, is the religious themes. Who created us? What happens when we die? What is our purpose? The way the film explains it, especially through the special effects, is spectacular, though I honestly feel that our origin story(as well as that of the xenomorph) could have been written better(Shaw’s conviction in her Christian faith however is rendered beautifully). 

Which brings me to another merit – special effects. They are amazing. Some of the best CGI I’ve seen in years. Tons better than Jurassic World and the new Godzilla. A lot of artists who worked on the first alien film in 79 also worked on this one, and it definitely shows. Some of the shots of the kitchen and corridors in this movie are eerily similar to those in the original “alien”, though much more streamlined and advanced. But even though this movie technically takes place before the first “alien” film, it still looks better, obviously, because it’s not 1979 in the world of filmmaking anymore. The way Prometheus explains this is that the NOSTROMO ship from the original alien was basically a space truck, and that the Prometheus vessel in this film is a fully funded science vessel. I must say, it makes much more sense and works way better than the updated effects of the Star Wars prequels.

That being said,despite the wonderful CGI and miniature work, the film still pails in comparison to the sets of the first “alien”. Now that shit was epic. It felt real because it WAS real. Wasn’t a detailed video game like this one. 

So, effects are pretty good for what the video game CGI guys do nowadays, but how is the acting?

Passable.

I mean, Noomie Rapace is the only one who really stands out as an actor other than Fassbender, but all the actors still do a nice job with the script they’ve been given. 

But Fassbender as David – damn near perfect. Ridley Scott apparently wanted this film and his future alien prequels to have an intensely religious, spiritual theme – well, he only succeeded with the David character – and that’s actually more than enough. 

David resents his creators. Even Peter Weyland, the old man who commissioned his construction, calls him “a man, but a man without a soul”. And the other characters in the film treat him the same way, aside from Shaw, who feels sympathy and, more importantly, respect towards the android. 

But Shaw’s boyfriend certainly doesn’t. He constantly refers to David as “boy”, constantly wants to use him as nothing more than a mechanical tool, and even tells the android straight to his face that he can’t feel disappointment or any other emotion.

Well, David proves him wrong whether Charlie knew it or not. He infects him with the black virus (one more criticism – waaaaaaayyyy too much like the x files) and speaks to him in a very sarcastic”you have no idea what I got planned for you” type of way. David is easily the best thing about the film, from his desire for revenge to his quoting of classic motion pictures in an attempt to be more artsy and human. He reminds me of Star Trek’s DATA – except he performs in the way I always wanted Data to perform. Emotional, vengeful, and sarcastic – this character wants to be his own man, as far away from the human race as he can possibly be – and yet, compared with the other characters, he’s more human and believable than all of them.

Finally we come to the point of me watching this film – it’s connection to the “alien” universe. When I first watched it in 2012, I was excited anytime the word Weyland was mentioned. I was overjoyed with the depiction of the SPACE JOCKEYs, the “engineers”. 

But after two hours of some well designed extra terrestrials that paid a faint homage to the original xeno, I was quite disappointed to find the titular creature at the end of the film making up only about 60 seconds of the entire movie. I still liked the film, but I agreed with Eric Cartman’s opinion – even the writers didn’t know what this movie was about. Is it ALIEN or not?

Well, that complaint has slowly diminished with me over the past few years. Even though Ridley Scott is a liar about whether his films will contain the original Alien or not, I have finally concluded that Prometheus is a true Alien movie with just enough hints and Easter eggs to make it so. I originally hated how it sort of distanced itself from the iconic franchise it was intended to preclude – but I have changed my mind. 

It’s a good idea, letting us know just barely that is is a film connected to the Alien franchise. And this makes us want to see part two, “alien: covenant” even more. But regardless of what Scott planned, he is a liar. He originally said that “covenant” wouldn’t have any XENOMORPHS in it. Now he’s endorsing their appearance. Somehow, I feel that all this double talk was planned – that he only made Prometheus 10 % of a real alien film just to get us excited for the next one where he’s gonna go all out.

So, without further ado, I grant this film 7.5 out of 10 stars. Better than the AVP films, but not quite up to par with “alien: resurrection”. 

Don’t be hatin: that was a great movie 

imageThe ALIEN franchise has always been essential, influential, groundbreaking, and just damn well conceived. Though it was inspired by B movies like “It: the terror from beyond space”, “Planet of the Vampires”, and the Swiss surrealist, H. R. Giger(who designed the creature, and let’s face it: if the alien didn’t look as disturbing and original as it did, no one would have given the films a chance, despite the excellent acting and screenplays), it always had a flair of originality as a franchise that inspired countless sci fi sagas. Play “Halo” or “Call of Duty”. Watch the remake of “Dawn of the Dead”(I may be wrong, but its structure seemed to closely follow that of the second xeno installment, “Aliens”). Watch the original Independence Day. Play any sci fi video game or watch any extra terrestrial movie. Star Trek’s “Borg” (how did H. R. Giger not get a credit for the imagery?) and “Species 8472”. It’s all inspired by INTERNECIVUS RAPTUS(species name of the xenomorph -http://web.archive.org/web/20080820074424/http://www.anchorpointessays.com/egg.html )specifically the way the monster and story was portrayed in James Cameron’s “Aliens”(don’t ever watch “alone in the dark”, “the cave”, or “leviathan” – movies that rip off the alien franchise so much that they make my stomach turn). Hell, even the “Predator” franchise probably wouldn’t have happened without “Alien”(predator never really ripped off of alien in any way. I just feel like “Alien” opened the door for the galactic Arnie hunters). Even though many agree with me, you can probably already tell that I am extremely biased. The Alien films are my all time favorite movies. I even love the ones people hate. Alien 3″(why? That stuff was DARK, nihilistic, claustrophobic and terrifying), “Resurrection”(a beautifully directed film with stunning cinematography and SFX), and – gasp – even the AVP films(okay, they are shitty compared to the originals of both franchises, but you can’t say that they aren’t fun). But, regardless of how much I enjoy the films that started and came after “Alien 3”, the first two alien films are the watermark. That’s why I became so excited when I heard about Neil Blomkaamps “Alien 5” film, a direct sequel to the second movie, which would bring back Ripley, Hicks, and the lovable little girl turned hardened badass Newt. Prometheus was awesome and extremely well directed, but it still disappointed me(I basically waited two hours to see the last ten seconds of the movie).

So yay for Alien 5 right?

Cue Ridley Scott, director of the first Alien.

He decides to come in and stall Alien 5 until his Prometheus 2 film, “Alien: Covenant”, can be released. What? Keep us from seeing our favorite actress Sigourney Weaver kill acid bleeding monsters so that the sequel to the prequel can be made? Okay, okay, so he had “Prometheus” way before Blomkaamp started working on “5”. He has the right to finish “Covenant” first, even if it annoys (but still excites) us Alien fans. I’m truly excited for “Covenant”, especially now that, unlike “Prometheus”, it’s an actual “Alien” film. But here’s why I have a few worries:

RIDLEY SCOTT IS ONE OF THE MOST TALENTED DIRECTORS IN THE INDUSTRY AND DIRECTED MY ALL TIME FAVORITE FILM (ALIEN), BUT HE TRIED TO MAKE PROMETHEUS ONLY “LOOSELY” CONNECTED TO THE XENOMORPHS AND HAS BEEN MAKING CONTRADICTIONS FOR YEARS NOW.

I don’t remember the exact quotes, but the contradictions are as follows:

(Four years ago) “Prometheus will have Alien in it”

(A few months later)
“Prometheus will not have Alien in it”

(The movie comes out and, lo and behold, the creature is actually in it, albeit for only ten seconds at the end)

(2015)
“The beast(referring to the ALIEN not actually being in Prometheus 2) is cooked. They’ve wrung it dry. There’s only so much snarling you can do. No more Alien. I’m done with “dragons” and shit.”

(A few months later)
“We’ll have them all. Egg, face hugger, chestburster, then the Big Boy. And it’s not “Prometheus 2”. It’s “Alien” (covenant)!”

What the fuck?

Ok, I do put my tongue in my cheek at these contradictions, but I actually have nothing against Scott or the new Alien film he’s making (at least it will be more of an Alien film than Prometheus…hopefully). I love the hell out of him, and he’s tied with Inoshiro Honda, David Fincher, and Steven Spielberg as my favorite director. I’m just annoyed in a very immature way that I won’t see Ripley again for a while and have to keep guessing on whether “Covenant” is really going to be a film with the xenomorph or not (I’m sure it will be though… Scott has said before that successful sequels to films such as “Star Wars” has shown him that giving in to the nostalgia of the fans is where the money really is).

I do however have a very big glimmer of hope:

Danny McBride reveals his role in ‘Alien: Covenant,’ gushes about film’s practical FX