“A king has his reign, and then he dies. It’s inevitable.”
Alien is revered as one of the greatest horror films of all time, as well as one of the greatest films set in space, so what happens when the director of the film that originated the franchise returns to it to provide us back-story about one of the biggest monster movie icons more than three decades after the fact? Prometheus.
The film manages to delve – with the subtlety of a hammer’s flat head – into the topics of life and what that means when you redefine God, and when you take a moment and further extrapolate pretty much discussing the idea of Darwinism and any non deity theologized religion.
With historical findings showing the possibility of another being at this other place in the world we have our scientists who’re just more than happy to make the leap into space to try and find out if these scratchings on the walls of caves and such are more than just science fiction. Two years later them, and the rest of the crew of Prometheus, awake just outside this very planet all rearing to go to see what they can do with this opportunity.
Having foggy memories of the least adored iteration of the franchise, Alien Resurrection, I feel slightly weird wanting to pan this film as the worst Alien film of the franchise, but not the worst film of the franchise. It’s a completely mindless sloppy entry into the canon of all things Alien while at the same time trying it’s hardest to not really be an Alien film, which I guess would’ve made sense if not for one of the final moments of the film.
A film, I think, should be able to reside in a universe without actually having to be a film of that franchise. Almost like how Die Hard and Rambo are both films which reside in the real world and are action films but have nothing else to do with one another. I think I would’ve been more kind to this movie if it was just a space expedition that delved into deity worship and the origins of our makers as opposed to having to service this whole idea of the origins of the Alien as we know it and how that ship came to be where Ripley found it back in 1979.
The truth of the matter is that there are so many things that this movie does do right. The setting on the ship and the wide array of characters gives it a great feel and social dynamic that would make for some great episodic ideas. I’d almost want a whole season of Janek (Idris Elba) and Meredith (Charlize Theron) being at each others’ throats and David (Michael Fassbender) being the new ‘Data’ of the 21st century. It would almost be the newest and best Lost in Space and that I’d adore. A moment I truly adore is when they’re all just awoken and the first thing we see Janek do is set up a tiny Christmas tree showing himself to be the fun cowboy of the bunch.
Where the film really falls short is honestly trying to be an Alien film, or to be more clear, a horror movie. It somehow manages to plod along slowly but surely into the territory of having the monster/creature side of the film appear eventually and it almost seems to serve only for the purpose of starting to rack up a body count rather than actually keep the idea of the film going, that being the search to answer the question of who our creator is.
When the film eventually reaches the last third, and the “engineers” become more prevalent, then it picks up, but at this point in the film it’s almost trying way too hard to catch up to the hype that brought it into the cinema. However, not even that was enough to turn this around into the summer classic I wanted it to be.