The ALIEN Film Franchise and Where It Went Wrong…

by Nile Fortner

Most people who saw the original Alien film directed by one of my all time favorite directors, Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise) a horror classic. Not just in the sci-fi and horror department, but in all aspects of film. The first Alien film is more than just a creature feature that pounces out of the dark and kills our characters. It is a film that stands the test of time and considered a classic.

Surprisingly, critics were not all that kind to the film when it hit theaters way back in 1979. The Chicago Reader once described the film as “An empty – headed horror movie, with handsome cinematography.” I personally like most of the Alien films, and I was enthusiastic about the new film in the franchise, Alien: Covenant. However, before I went into this movie, I decided to go back and visit the Alien flicks (that means you too Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem) leading into Covenant.

Now I consider myself a fan of this franchise. Even though I didn’t grow up with these movies when the films were in their prime, I do like them and respect them. What can I personally say about the first two films, Alien and Aliens, that hasn’t been said before by millions? They are my favorites in the whole franchise. Both films are classics, fun, action packed, interesting character development, and it’s an overall blast. I do have to give the edge to James Cameron’s (Director of The Terminator and Avatar) Aliens, I personally enjoy that movie more than the first one. Mainly because it kept what was so enjoyable about the first film, and added on more action, more horror, and a little more story. In my opinion, it is a rare example of the sequel being better than the original.

I know this may not be the popular thing to say. However, after Aliens and Alien, Prometheus would be my third favorite in the franchise. I appreciate that Ridley Scott came back to the Alien series, and wanted to try something new. An origin story, that takes the film series into a different direction.

A direction that wanted to go beyond what we’ve already seen, and a direction where Scott wanted to not only discuss where the Aliens came from, but man-kind. He really wanted to construct a smart sci-fi film, and get emotionally deep with it. I actually admire that, and think it is brave he wants to do this with a successful and well-established series. But for a movie that wants to be so smart, the characters really do some dumb things. It is a glorious looking movie, with incredible camera angles, and cinematography. However, the characters are written in a way where they come off as curious kids rather than scientists. I also find it funny how Scott told many people in interviews and conventions, this movie will not feature the iconic Xenomorph alien. But literally at the last three minutes of the film you see the iconic Xenomorph. I guess the studio told Scott, cram that aliens ass somewhere in there. But seriously, this is my third favorite because it does try to advance the story.

Now this is where your hate towards me might come out, the nerd rage cometh. After Prometheus, my other pick is Alien vs. Predator. It is not a good movie by any means necessary. On the other hand, it was the first Alien film I saw as a kid. I understand where some fans are coming from. Even Sigourney Weaver has come out and said, “This is the film that ruined the franchise.” When you watch it as a cheesy, time waster, science fiction midnight B-movie, I don’t think it’s that bad. The comics weren’t even that bad, and the movie did want to build onto the story, and give fans something they wanted to see. I still catch myself watching this in bits and pieces on the syfy channel every so often.

Speaking of Sigourney Weaver, and films that ruined a franchise, another one of my all time favorite directors, David Fincher (Fight Club, Gone Girl), directed Alien 3. Even Fincher told fans, he doesn’t want to be affiliated with this film. I like the prison on a planet idea the film was going for, and it does advance the story. But the film reminds me of Suicide Squad, where you can tell the studio interfered with the directors true vision. Unfortunately, we saw the film the studio wanted and not so much Fincher’s vision. There are actually multiple scripts of this movie online. At times, the production and Fincher didn’t even know which script they were using to film.

Alien: Resurrection, is directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Who directed one of my favorite movies, Amelie, and has a screenplay by Joss Whedon (Marvel’s The Avengers). Similarly, Alien 4 has the same problems as the previous film.

Now this is where my hate comes in, my nerd rage cometh. In my opinion, the worst of the series is Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. This is honestly a movie that I hate, the directors, The Strause Brothers just repeated everything that was done in other Alien and Predator films. They even copy lines of dialogue and character names from previous films.

The brothers said this would be the best film in the franchise since Aliens. One word, bullsh*t. The only two aspects about this film I like is that the Aliens and Predator are on Earth, and the Alien and Predator hybrid, and even the hybrid didn’t look that impressive. The tagline for the Aliens films have always been “In space no one can hear you scream.” Believe me, after seeing this everyone heard me screaming, “Say What?! Turn that shit off!” The brothers are usually known to work on special effects for films and music videos, and they seem to do that well. But I don’t care to see them direct again.

But What About the New Film Alien: Covenant?

Now we get to the new film in the franchise. The sequel to the prequel to the film franchise, we get Alien: Covenant. We get the story continuation of Prometheus and we get the sci-fi horror that fans wanted in Prometheus.

This film is about for seven years, a space unite on the far side of the galaxy, members (Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup) of the ship known as Covenant discover what they think to be a planet of paradise. While they are there, they meet the android, David, played by Michael Fassbender; the only survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition. The members think this planet is safe, maybe life is here that connects to humanity, and they seem to fall head over heels for this planet. Suddenly the mysterious world turns dark, creepy, and dangerous when an alien life form forces the crew into a deadly fight for survival (DUN DUN DUUUUUUN!!!)

 Ridley Scott is once again in the directing chair, and this movie really is trying to please everyone. You get the action from Aliens, you get the sci-fi and horror from Alien, and for you smart folks, you get the thought provoking science of Prometheus. Now that sounds like a nice idea. Unfortunately, this movie isn’t all that nice.

First, I am going to list my negatives with this movie, then the positives later, because I want you and I to end this on a happy note. The horror in the movie is literally every horror cliché you’ve seen before. The crew, the Covenant, are literally the dumbest characters in a slasher movie you see, even though they are scientist. Such as, wandering off in the dark by yourself, trusting the man with the shifty eyes and blood smear on his hands, having sex when you know danger is around the corner, telling people you will be right back, let’s go off course, lets party, and more. A character literally goes off and has two options. One option is going down the brightly lit corridor with my crewmembers. Or, going down the dark corridor, by myself, with a eerie noise, and a splotch of burgundy blood smeared on the floor. Geez, I wonder which way I should go? Katherine Waterston as Dany is the only relatable character because she is the only one with common sense.

Also, I wish this movie would have been more creative. It is almost as if Ridley Scott was making a parody of his own movie. Meaning, what we see in the film we have seen in Alien and Aliens. The face hugger, the alien bursting through someone’s chest, another alien bursting out through someone’s spine, even Dany has the same haircut and tank top that Weaver had and wore. In addition, at times, I can’t even tell what the balance or tone this movie is trying to be. For a movie called Alien, the aliens are actually secondary in this film. Furthermore, if you are someone who is confused on the story of Prometheus, I think you will be even more confused by this.

Therefore, those are my biggest negatives with the film. Let’s move onto the positive aspects. I like the interaction between David and Walter, both played by Michael Fassbender. The only difference is David has a British accent. Walter is the upgraded version of David, and the two refer to each other as brothers. The two seem to have a bond, but they also seem to be divided. David wants to be his one person, be God like, and is a visionary. He wanted to leave his creators, and this isn’t a spoiler, but let’s just say it plays out like Frankenstein’s monster.

The chemistry between Walter and David is the smartest aspect of the entire movie. I appreciate some of the biblical references, how the movie shines a light on those two characters, and surrounds the smarts from Prometheus around those characters. 

Accordingly, the action was cool, and the highlight of this film. I also like that Danny McBride (Pineapple Express, This is the End) wasn’t the big comedy relief I thought he was going to be. This movie also feels like it fits into the Aliens world. The Aliens world is dark, hollow, and this movie goes back to that look. Prometheus was to clean and polished to look like it takes place in the alien world.

Once Ridley Scott is done with the prequels, I would love to see Neil Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) direct his version of Alien. Which he has stated would be a sequel, and bring back Weaver.

I know I have mentioned some good and some not so good things about this movie. For the first time in a long time, I can’t really think of a proper rating to give this. Is it as good as Alien and Aliens? No, I’ll even throw in a polite hell no with a cherry on top. Some parts I like, some I didn’t. It’s crazy that the best movie since Aliens is the 2017 film, Life. Actually, I think if you had the characters from Life mixed with the smarts, and action of this movie, we would have a real good follow up.

So if you have seen the Alien films, what are your favorites from best to worst? Mine would go as:

  • Aliens
  • Alien
  • Prometheus
  • Alien: Covenant
  • Alien vs. Predator
  • Alien 3
  • Alien: Resurrection
  • Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem

 

Well if no one in space can hear me scream, I’m ready to get back to Earth, and give my final thoughts and rating. I’m heading out because I got someone who is willing to do the fingering. Those who’ve seen the flick will know what that means.

After seeing Prometheus and this, I’m still asking myself, “Now how in the world does this connect to the first Alien movie?” That question I’m still interested in. which is why I believe Alien Covenant earns…

2.5 out of 5 Hairpieces

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