Review Roundup - Meanwhile in space...


So I finally got around to seeing the biggest movies of the last year. I put it off for a while in fear of losing some of the mystique held by the original Alien, but it doesn't really effect that in the long run. I also felt it could be a crushing disappointment, so I was anxious about that a the same time. This isn't the immense failure of writing and plot problems many had made out, but at the same time it does feel slightly pointless, a strange mixture of great wide landscape effects shots and unexpectedly hilarious b-movie splatter. Seriously, any part with tentacles made me laugh. Gross is not the same as horror. What you choose not to show or only suggest is often more impactive than throwing in a big creature effect. One stronger note is most of the art direction which is quite magnificent, and the use of real locations and practical designs work very well.

In contrast to the locales, the characters are mostly useless and flat - there's no Parker and Lambert to be found here unfortunately as they are mostly forgettable, expendable crew members. Even Rapace's lead character is just bland, and her accent is all over the place. Yes of course David 8 has his moments but it's still a strangely empty experience. With some much detail and texture in the scenery the human element feels distant at times - where are the characters?

Beyond this the main issue I have is that nobody seems understand how to structure a compelling series of events any more. Just pile in random scenes apparently. Just forget about that crazy octopus for a bit and move along, nobody seems to mind including the victim of the creature despite big quarantine procedures earlier on. Random cliché sexual tension from nowhere, ignore your lost crew for a bit and get laid. People with advanced mapping gadgets that can't provide them with directions. Characters with no clear motivation doing things here and there mysteriously or not caring that things are seriously wrong. Building up a long entrance to the alien pyramid to leave suddenly because of the weather. Creeping tension goes a long way in this genre, but it's ditched early on. Speaking of atmosphere building, the music is really weird in a few places, they have this heroic "discovery" type theme keeps playing at the wrong moments. It makes sense when the story starts out and is showing optimistic explorers but later on it seems very strange.

Though I said it's not quite the mess of writing it does have poor script and the story telling seems all over the place. I do think subtlety is a positive attribute of the picture, and avoiding obvious exposition is a nice change in blockbuster cinema. The "big questions" it raises are not the obvious ones though to me. Not to give anything away but I mean did they forget to spend any money on ageing Guy Pierce? Are they seriously going off on a buddy movie adventure like that at the end? I still enjoyed a lot of this overall, but it's hard to call it a classic in the way it's roots have become despite it once being a cheap monster flick called Star Beast, I imagine a lot of grief could have been avoided if they'd decided to avoid association with 1979 at all, but I wonder if the brand awareness was too tempting. Speaking of marketing perhaps an extended, better edited cut is in the pipeline, at this point it's uncertain but I'd be unsurprised.