The Alien Critic Reviews...
The Alien CriticReviews...

TAC Reviews...Alien Franchise (all films) - "In Space No-One Can Hear You Scream"

Alien Quadrilogy

 

Having been living on this planet for several decades I am always interested in how you humans view aliens, sometimes you think we are cute and cuddly, yet other times we are seen as being slobbering monsters intent on killing every human we come across...let me assure you, my people only kill when they have a good enough reason...like someone looked at us funny...

 

Anyway, I was intrigued by a film simply called Alien and decided to take a look.

 

From what I understand the Alien films defined a genre of haunted house in space, the aliens were fast vicious and dangerously intelligent. I have used my mighty brain and expert opinions to carefully examine each of the four films in the quadrilogy boxset.

 

You can find all four of those reviews here for your convenience.

 

 

Oh yes, lest I forget...

 

In this section I have also included a review of the spin-off?? Prequel?? Reboot?? Well, whatever Prometheus is, you can find my opinions on that massive pile of...actually let's not spoil the review...

 

 

Since I started this page, another film has come out to join the Alien Quadrilogy and Prometheus named Alien Covenant. If you are a long term viewer…er…reader you may notice this section was originally called “In Space no-one can Hear you Scream” – The Alien Quadrilogy plus Prometheus, I have since had to amend that title to “In Space no-one…etcetera…Scream” – The Alien Films as Alien Covenant is now the second part of a new prequel trilogy which started with Prometheus…because yeah that was a strong start to a new trilogy…plus as we all know prequel trilogies always work out so well for everyone involved…

 

Below you will find reviews for:

 

Alien

Aliens

Alien3

Alien: Resurrection

Prometheus

Alien: Covenant

 

TAC Reviews...Alien

Date Posted: 10/02/15

 

Made in 1979 and directed by Ridley Scott, Alien is from a time when aliens were seen as being cute and cuddly. This is the film that changed all that, made a star out of Sigourney Weaver, and spawned three sequels as well as redefined the horror genre.

 

Alien Poster

 

 

What can you really say about a film like Alien that has not been said a million times before?? To say it is great would be a vast understatement, to say it defined a genre doesn’t sound epic enough, and to say that the alien is scary is simply a pathetic way of describing one of the truly terrifying movie monsters ever committed to film…ok, as I am already on my knees bowing before Alien I should probably crack on with bringing anyone (is there anyone left??) who is unfamiliar with the story up to speed.

 

In space no one can hear you scream…I love that tagline

 

The seven person crew of the commercial ship the Nostromo are in stasis returning from Thedus to Earth when they are awoken by their onboard computer that has detected a faint transmission coming from a nearby planet. Company policy dictates they investigate so they land on the planet, causing some damage to their own ship, and whilst Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Executive Officer Kane (John Hurt), and Navigator Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) set out to investigate the signal's source, Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Science Officer Ash (Ian Holm), and Engineers Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) and Parker (Yaphet Kotto) stay behind to monitor their progress and make repairs.

 

Finding a derelict ship on the surface Kane ventures into a large hold and discovers what appear to be thousands of egg-like objects. Without warning something leaps from one of the eggs and attaches itself to his face. Taking him back to the Nostromo Dallas and Ash attempt to remove the creature but discover that its blood is concentrated acid that burns through the deck, thus meaning that they cannot remove the creature. With very few options the crew decide to put him back into stasis and resume their course towards Earth so he can recieve medical attention.

 

However before they can do this the creature detaches itself from Kane and dies. The crew don’t know what has happened and Kane seems none the worse for wear, so before they all go back into stasis for the journey home they sit down for a meal, but for all of them the nightmare is just about to begin…

 

Let me give you a history lesson as far as I am aware.

 

Now back in 1979 aliens were not vicious killing machines intent on slaughtering anything that crossed their path, consequently when Alien was released audiences were completely unprepared for what they were about to see. From the moment the alien is ‘born’ in the infamous dinner scene to the final horrifying confrontation between Ripley and the creature the audience is treated to a genre defining triumph of chills in which they, like the crew, expect the alien to come leaping out of a dark corner at any moment. The alien is fast, deadly and the crew are completely unprepared for its ferocity and consequently have no idea about how to fight it, and more importantly how to kill it. It stalks the ship and the crew picking them off one by one leaving the terrified survivors to come up with a way of killing it that won’t also result in their deaths.

 

This was really also the first real chance that audiences got to see a strong female lead, generally women are the damsels in distress, that need to be rescued by the heroic man. Here Ripley seems to be the only member of the crew who possesses the necessary will to fight the alien and ultimately kill it. The rest of the film’s cast are on fine form as the increasingly terrified men and women trying to stay alive whilst a vicious alien is remorselessly hunting them through the corridors of their ship. I really cannot stress enough how good the entire cast is and the audience can feel their terror oozing out of the screen to smother those watching in a terrifying blanket of horror.

 

The claustrophobic nature of the ship, the dark corners, the 70s era sci-fi will set audiences on the edge of their seats. The alien is remorseless and even worse it is seemingly impossible to kill. The tension is kept at breaking point the entire way through the film with the characters trying to come to terms with what is loose onboard their ship with them.

 

This is the film that has inspired hundreds of copies, but all of them pale in comparison to this, the original horror masterpiece. The film is available in both its original form but has been re-mastered in a director’s cut version that includes footage that wasn’t seen in the original release. I seriously doubt that anyone into their sci-fi and/or horror has not seen Alien and any self-respecting fan of the genre has to see this, the groundbreaking, and truly epic classic film.

 

As I have spent this entire review basically drooling over the acting, story, setting and everything else that goes with this film it should come as no surprise that my Thumb is well and truly Up. Actually this film is so amazing it gets 2 Thumbs Up

 

 

10/10 - Truly great sci-fi horror

 

TAC Reviews...Aliens

Date Posted: 10/02/15

 

Unlike its predecessor Aliens was directed by James Cameron and abandoned the chiller style horror of the first film and instead opts for a more action packed affair. There are still some horrifying moments, and as the only survivor of the previous film (except the cat) Sigourney Weaver is the only character from the original to return although the others are seen on a television screen.

 

Aliens Poster

 

Now, I have a small confession…I actually saw Aliens before I had seen Alien and basically sat up watching this film one night trying to see how much of it I would get through before getting too scared and turning it off. I made it through the entire thing and enjoyed it so much that I went out and got a copy of Alien so I could see what happened in the first film.

 

So what has Ripley been up to since killing the titular monster in Alien?

 

She has been right where we left her, in the escape shuttle. Having been drifting in space for 57 years Ripley (Weaver reprising her role) is discovered by a deep space salvage team and awakens in a hospital facility. She suffers from constant nightmares of an alien being inside her. To make things worse she is held responsible for the destruction of the Nostromo, having been the one who activated the self-destruct, and her story about the encounter with the alien is met by disbelief. The planet where the deralict ship was discovered, now designated LV-426, has been colonised and no one there has ever reported encountering anything like the alien Ripley described. Now if you are watching the Director’s Cut there is some stuff on the planet and shows the discovery of the derelict ship, if you are watching the original version, then you’ll miss that and the story will continue as it does below.

 

Discredited and suffering from persistence nightmares Ripley is approached by Carter Burke (Paul Reiser) and Lieutenant Gorman (William Hope) who tell her that they have lost contact with the colony on LV-426. If she agrees to accompany a crack squadron of marines to the planet she will be reinstated as a flight officer. With little choice she agrees and is introduced to the Colonial Marines, including Sergeant Apone (Al Matthews), Corporal Hicks (Michael Biehn), Privates Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) and Hudson (Bill Paxton), and the android Bishop (Lance Henriksen).

 

Once they arrive on the planet by dropship they find the colony deserted and evidence of a xenomorph (that is what the aliens are called now) outbreak. After tracking down the location of the colonists they wander into a nest and are attacked by dozens of aliens.

 

Retreating to the colony, the survivors decide to bomb the colony, but their dropship crashes and is destroyed stranding them on the planet. They learn that it will take 17 days for another ship to arrive but only after they are declared over due. Realising that they need to fortify their position and figure out a way of getting the second dropship down from their orbiting vessel, the survivors await the onslaught from the huge numbers of xenomorphs lurking nearby.

 

With sequels, one question will always be at the forefront of an audience’s mind: is the sequel superior to the original??

 

In most cases this will be a resounding no, with the majority of sequels simply being cash-ins on the success of the original that add little to nothing to the story, characters, or the universe the story takes place in…however, in the case of Aliens such claims are vastly inaccurate.

 

In the original film a single alien was able to hunt down and kill six of the seven crew members of the Nostromo mainly due to the fact that the crew didn’t possess anything really capable of fighting the creature (no guns, or explosives). Here the marines are armed with pulse rifles and various other weapons cable of killing the xenomorphs, and they do manage to kill a lot of them, they are simply ambushed and pushed back by overwhelming alien numbers. Ripley is the only one who has any idea about what they are facing and the confidence of the marines is quickly replaced by horror as they realise what they are up against.

 

James Cameron (the director of Terminator in 1984) had his reputation as a action director cemented by this film. Even though the creepy horror element of the first film has been lost here, the idea of pitting supposedly tough-as-nails marines against the vicious aliens is simply brilliant, especially considering that the audience knows the marines are going to crack up when faced with the xenomorphs. Of course part of the fun of this film is watching as the marines are seen to be cowering in fear about what they are truly facing and the realisation of how unlikely it is that they are actually going to survive. Iconic weapons like the pulse rifle and the smart gun appear and the motion tracker has become synonymous with the Colonial Marines seen for the first time here. Now whilst no one has managed to do justice to the idea of the Colonial Marines since this film, here the squad is rapidly reduced in numbers leaving the survivors to hold out until rescue arrives or they can get the second dropship. The cast are all on excellent form with Bill Paxton a particular highlight as Hudson. The cast were encouraged to decorate and personalise their armour which also helps to add extra dimensions to the characters, fleshing them out, and giving them more distinct personalities rather than simply being cannon fodder for the alien's to chew on.

 

Sigourney Weaver is also given the opportunity to have Ripley’s character developed as she becomes a mother figure to an orphaned little girl called Newt (Carrie Henn). Again in the Director's Cut we learn that she had a daughter who died before Ripley was found, and so it could be argued that Newt is basically a serrogate daughter to replace the one she lost, but it doesn't matter as it gives the audience the opportunity to see Ripley fighting to protect the life of a child. I mean taking on an alien after spouting the immortal line...you know what I'm not going to say it but if you've seen it you'll know exactly which line I'm talking about and if you haven't seen Aliens...well then there is something obviously wrong with you.

 

If I have one criticism of this film it is this...why was no one left onboard the mother ship, the Sulaco, when the marines go down to the surface?? Why was the ship even equipped with two dropships if all the marines comfortably fitted into one?? Maybe because I am a fan of Star Trek this bugs me, because it just seems a little foolish for a squad of marines that are expecting to find xenomorphs, to have no backup onboard their ship. Surely leaving a skeleton crew aboard would have been far smarter than sending everyone to the surface together.

 

Admittedly that complaint is minimal and does not take away any of the enjoyment of the pulse pounding action on screen.

 

The result of all the great factors, this is a sequel that remains true to the horror elements of the original (the chest bursting and aliens) but is also able to carve out its own niche that leaves the audience to wonder whether it is superior to the original.

 

Personally, I don’t think this can be considered superior to Alien because they are approaching the story in completely different ways. Alien was about claustrophobia, heart pounding suspense, and a monster that could not be beaten stalking a crew mercilessly. Aliens has a fuck-load of aliens, that can be killed but are also intelligent, problem solving, and relentlessly searching for a way of finding a way of getting to the marines and cocooning them to make more of their own kind.

 

So asking is Aliens better than Alien is like asking if walking through a haunted house in pitch darkness is as good as doing a bungee jump, both will get your heart racing, however being scared out of your mind is not the same thrill as hurling yourself off a crane with a bit of elastic tied to your shoes.

 

Clearly my Thumb is Up because this film made me go out and watch Alien and ultimately purchase the Alien Quadrilogy boxset. It is undoubtably one of my favorite movies of all time and continues to delight fans and new comers to the franchise. So like the original film this one is also getting 2 Thumbs Up (which I promise is generally a rare thing)

 

 

10/10 - A truly great sci-fi sequel that is arguably better than the original and such a thing is a very rare.

 

TAC Reviews...Alien3

Date Posted: 10/02/15

 

Following on from the events of Aliens Sigourney Weaver returns as Ripley, and this time she is joined by Lance Henriksen who reprises the role of Bishop from the previous film. David Fincher takes over directing responsibilities, and was forced to endure extensive rewrites, studio interference and filming began even before the final script was completed.

 

Alien3 Poster

 

I want you to do something for me, imagine seeing a film that would open your eyes to a whole new world of action, one that would become one of your favourite films of all time, this would be Aliens. Now imagine watching the original film Alien and being on the edge of your seat the whole time, even knowing the spoiler that only Ripley would survive, then imagine getting the Alien Quadrilogy box set so you could watch the original versions and the Director’s Cut versions of two films you’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Now, imagine that you have put on Alien3and now imagine your head dropping forward and slamming into a piece of wood because the pain the film has inflicted upon you is more severe than any injury you can inflict upon yourself.

 

Here’s the story thus far…

 

Whilst travelling back to Earth the ship Sulaco has an onboard electrical fire that results in the automated systems ejecting the stasis tubes containing Ripley (Weaver), Bishop (Henriksen), Hicks and Newt. They crash land on a prison planet and all but Ripley are killed in the crash with Bishop being damaged beyond repair (obviously having his legs ripped off in the previous film was not damaging him beyond repair but anyway)

 

Ripley suspects that an alien had been onboard the ship and it caused the fire that resulted in the ejection of the tubes. After being rescued and waking up under the care of the prison’s doctor Clemens (Charles Dance), she requests that Newt’s body be autopsied so she can confirm if an alien was responsible for her death. Clemens does as she asks, causing the prison warden Harold Andrews (Brian Glover) to become suspicious and concerned that her presence will prove disruptive to the all male prison population that are murderers and guilty of various sex offenses.

 

Ripley finally confirms that an alien was onboard the ship, and not only has a new alien been ‘born’ but Ripley has also been impregnated by an Alien Queen. The alien starts doing what the aliens do, hunting down and killing the inhabitants of the planet, whilst Ripley tries to rally the surviving prisoners to fight the alien even though they have no modern weapons at their disposal. She also knows that her own time draws short because the alien within her could burst from her chest at anytime.

 

To say this film is disappointing is not putting it strongly enough. Do you know what, it is like opening your Christmas stocking on Christmas morning and discovering not a present or even a piece of coal (apparently Santa leaves a piece of coal if you’ve been naughty) but rather finding out that instead Santa has taken a shit in there.

 

James Cameron had his work cut out stepping into the shoes left by Ridley Scott, fortunately, he managed to deliver a science-fiction action classic that is widely regarded as one of the greatest action films of all time. David Fincher had an even harder task, it was up to him to once again deliver the goods and follow the ground-breaking Alien and the masterpiece that was Aliens. Unfortunately Alien3 suffered a production nightmare with numerous directors being involved at one time or another, the script being written and rewritten time and time again. Shooting began without a completed script. The result of these problems show through, and the film is a tangled mess of different ideas and characters none of which are likeable and are clearly just meat for the alien.

 

The setting is dank and miserable. In the first thirty seconds all you will have are questions, questions, questions, want to know the ones I came up with??

 

Why is Ripley the only survivor again?? - I like the character of Ripley but why not kill her off and have Hicks surviving and leading the prisioners against the alien using his militray tactics (I have literally thought of that as I was writing out that question, that is how easy it would have been to come up with a different story idea)

 

How the hell did an alien facehugger get onboard the Sulaco in the first place??

 

Did the Queen lay one or more eggs whilst she was having the crap beat out of her by the power loader??

 

Or did she lay it on the way to the ship from the planet, or when she was hunting for Newt in the cargo bay??

 

An explanation would have been nice, did we get one?? Hell no, all we know is an alien facehugger latched on to someone in their cryo-tube, and that there was somehow another one that made it to the surface which impregnated a dog (or cow depending on which version you are watching).

 

These are the questions you will be asking yourself basically before the credits have stopped rolling.

 

However, by far the biggest problem is that James Cameron left Hicks, Newt, Bishop and of course Ripley alive at the end of Aliens. Now this lead to a huge number of potential possibilities for sequels that followed the four of them continuing the fight against the aliens or the Company in one way or another. In the opening few seconds of Alien3 all but Ripley are dead and the people who fought so hard to survive the horror of LV-426 are gone leaving us to wonder what the point of having them escape alive at all was. Now Lance Henriksen does pop up a couple of times in the proceedings but his appearances are fleeting and in the final instance rather confusing.

 

What Alien3 does is prove that trying to cash in on a franchise that has given audiences two financial and critical successes without having a decent story to back it up will only serve to disappoint everyone, especially loyal fans. The film also apparently angered James Cameron and Michael Biehn, the latter of which was reportedly paid almost the same amount he was given for Aliens so the studio could use his image for a fleeting moment.

 

Admittedly I did like the fact that the alien wouldn't kill Ripley because it could sense, or smell, the alien within her. Plus having an alien created from either a cow or a dog does result in a quadruped alien which we haven't seen before. But unlike Aliens where I had a small complaint and a lot of praise, here I have a small amount of praise and A LOT of complaints.

 

There were so many possibilities that the studio had at the end of Aliens, for example, they could have given Ripley a rest and focussed on Hicks (which was apparently an idea at one time). They could have had Ripley and Co tracking down the origin of the original derelict ship in an attempt to find and destroy the xenomorph home world. With some of the best script writers in Hollywood, it should have been a relatively simple matter to write another awe inspiring instalment of the Alien franchise, but clearly it wasn’t all that simple. The franchise spawned two films that I think are truly magnificent and are still as great today as they were when they were first released.

 

I've said before that I hate it when people take franchises I love and fuck with them, but whilst Alien3 is not as bad as it could have been, the simple fact is that is misses a HUGE opportunity to add something more to the Alien franchise.

 

After the first two films, which were both masterpieces for different reasons Alien3 is really the beginning of the end for the franchise and it would take someone with truly gigantic balls to even think about doing a forth film. I’ll tell you if they did...hell we all know they did and it was called Alien Resurrection, did that revive the franchise?? Read my review of that film to find out, but as far as Alien3 goes I am giving it a well-deserved Thumbs Down

 

 

2/10 - Imagine that the series ended with Aliens and steer well clear of this half-hearted attempt to bring another film into the franchise

 

TAC Reviews...Alien: Resurrection 

Date Posted: 10/02/15

 

Made in 1997, Alien Resurrection once again stars Sigourney Weaver returning to play Ripley. This time French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet is at the helm with Joss Whedon (creator of TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel) providing the basis for the film’s screenplay.

 

Alien: Resurrection Poster

 

Right then, so after lifting my head from the table after watching Alien3 totally ruin the potential for a tremendous sequel to Aliens, I fearfully found my hand hovering over the play button of Alien: Resurrection wondering if I should watch it or just let the franchise die with Alien3. After all I would advise any fan of the franchise to stop watching after Aliens so should I take my own advice and not only refuse to watch Alien: Resurrection but to also refuse to acknowledge that like Alien3 that it even exists?? No, I thought, I am a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel so if Joss Whedon is involved then surely it must be better than Alien3, right??

 

Right???

 

So what’s the dealio this time around??

 

Set 200 years after the events of Alien3 and Ripley’s death (spoiler I guess) on Fury 161, a group of scientists acting under the direction of the United Systems Military onboard the USM Auriga have been conduction cloning experiments and have managed to recreate Ripley (Weaver) and the Alien Queen that was inside her. Whilst they only want the alien they decide to keep her alive and discover that the cloning process has resulted in her genetic code getting a little mixed up with the alien, giving her enhanced strength, genetic memories of the original Ripley and her blood also has acidic properties.

 

Whilst Ripley is in her cell, a group of mercenaries arrive with humans that are used to breed aliens after the Queen grows to maturity. The mercenaries are allowed to remain onboard for a few days, during which time some of the aliens are able to break out of their confinement cells and quickly release the others.

 

With the military personnel all but evacuated the mercenaries (who include Ron Pearlman, Winona Rider, and Michael Wincott) are left with no other option than to team up with Ripley, a remaining soldier, and a scientist as they all attempt to make it back to their own ship before the aliens track them down and kill them all.

 

The word “Resurrection” is certainly appropriate because not only has Ripley been resurrected but also the film makers are trying to resurrect the Alien franchise, see the title is clever isn’t it??

 

After the very poor Alien3 it seemed that the Alien franchise was effectively dead in the water, however, studios can rarely allow formerly successful films to die quietly. They either give them a reboot with a new cast or they simply do yet another sequel. In this case the fourth film is not a reboot it is another sequel. Sigourney Weaver once again steps into the role of Ripley, and gets to play her a little bit differently this time. As a human/alien hybrid Ripley is truly as hard-as-nails and more than capable of dealing with the aliens that she has a strange connection with. She is strong, unpredictable but seems to be retaining some of her humanity as the rest of the cast are picked off like mint imperials after a curry (that was a poor analogy and I am sorry for it).

 

Personally I would have preferred it is she had forsaken her humanity and run with the aliens rather than the humans but that would have been a difficult thing to do well and the film couldn't even get its basic plot right so how would it have fared with one that was more complex??

 

As far as the film itself is concerned it is basically the same plot to Aliens except it is onboard a ship rather than a planet. The aliens stalk the mercenaries who travel through various areas of the ship in order to get back to their own vessel that fortunately no one else has taken in the evacuation. The marines that were onboard the ship all flee when the aliens escape their cells so we don’t have another set of marines taking on the aliens, because you know that would be cool, no it is a collection of ragtag mercenaries trying to escape to their own ship, rather than simply jumping into an escape pod.

 

Like Alien3 this films problems are numerous and leave plot holes large enough for an alien queen to nest in (that analogy was better I think).

 

Just picking off a few, answer me this, why have the military had to clone Ripley to get the alien life-form, why not just return to LV-426, we don’t know the derelict was destroyed so why do they need Ripley, did they even try returning to planet??

 

In one of the cuts (I can’t remember if it is the Original or Director’s Cut) of Alien3 the alien actually bursts out of Ripley’s chest as she is falling and she grips it to stop it escaping as she plunges into…molten metal, I think it was, so I’m not entirely sure how its genetic material got spliced into hers or how they even recovered genetic material from a prison facility that existed two centuries beforehand. Unless I suppose they were both recovered from the metal itself which is a possibility, but they never answer the question of where it came from. Also, the military know that the aliens have concentrated acid for blood so why don’t they put them in cages that are acid-proof?? Or have the cages on the outside of the ship so if the aliens do escape the only place that they can possibly go is into the void of space?? Two hundred years on from where we last saw Ripley, why is the best way to incubate an alien still within a living human host?? Why can’t they use animals?? Or a synthetic human or an artificial environment?? Using twelve innocent civilians to incubate alien creatures and allowing them to die horribly is not exactly going to get them sympathy when the aliens start munching on them.

 

Now Alien3 established that the incubation time for different aliens varies, the one inside Kane in Alien seemed to incubate and emerge very quickly. Whereas the one in Ripley in Alien3 took much longer, I suppose this could have been because it is a queen, but that is just speculation. In Alien: Resurrection the survivors come across a guy who has an alien within him which for some reason has not emerged at the same time as the others, they take him along with them hoping the scientist can remove the alien later on because doesn't that seem like the smart things to do.

 

This leads me to one of my biggest gripes of the film. Remember John Hurt in Alien when the alien started to erupt from him?? How he started violently choking, before screaming and writhing in agony as the alien parasite tore through his rib cage leaving him to die an excruciating death?? Well, here the guy who the alien is inside, feels the alien is about to emerge so he races over to the scientist (the scientist is evil – because aren’t they always) being shot as bunch of times, beats seven shades of shit out of said scientist before knocking him to the floor and holding his chest up against him so the alien can erupt through his chest and through the scientist’s head. Yep, you read that right. That is a thing that happens. An alien rips through his chest, and he is able to absorb shit-loads of gunfire, beat a man, then hold him up so the alien can kill them both…do I even need to go on??

 

The second biggest problem is the ending, now, you remember that I said Ripley has genetic material from the alien within her, well, actually try and guess what I am about to write next…yep, it turns out the alien queen got a dose of her genetic material too. So initially she produces eggs, which lead to the facehuggers and then the normal aliens, however, she also grows or develops or mutates a human reproductive system so she now has a womb. Within the Queen is a new type of alien creature, that has been grown from both the Queen’s alien DNA and Ripley’s human DNA, creating a true hybrid. The hybrid promptly kills the alien Queen, decides Ripley is its real mother and then gets killed by being sucked out into space about ten minutes later rendering the question of why it was included it in the story unanswered.

 

Joss Whedon has had successes with Buffy, Angel and his directorial debut Serenity but here the film based on his screenplay is still not even close to being as good as either the original Alien film or its sequel Aliens. However, it is an improvement on Alien3. I am a fan of Ron Pearlman so was happy to see him here but whilst the premise is interesting the film is completely unoriginal and following an established pattern of: heroes need to get from A to B with various nasty things trying to stop them.

 

On the plus side Sigourney Weaver once again reprises the role of Ripley and gets to play her with the edge of one of the aliens, but, the story itself is nothing special. However, I think the best thing about the film are the appearance of the aliens themselves. In my opinion they have never looked more realistic, they have visible breath, their vocal sounds are varied, and the audience actually get to have a good look at them when there in the cages which really we have never been able to do before. I guess that could be considered a good or a bad thing, I like it, and gave me a chance to see the aliens in all their glory. Although the days when they were terrifying have long since departed, in this film to see an alien, and you shrug and go, yep, that’s an alien that you are no longer terrified of.

 

My Thumb has moved from Down upwards but this is just a shadow of the former glory this franchise once had and it pains me that a franchise with so much potential ends like this, so my Thumb is going to end being Horizontal

 

 

4/10 - Yes it is better than Alien3 but that wasn’t going to be hard. Still, it is a below average film and just goes to show that film makers should quit whilst they are ahead and stop trying to resurrect the dead.

 

TAC Reviews...Prometheus

Date Posted: 17/12/16

 

Prometheus is a science-fiction film released in 2012, directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace

 

Prometheus Poster

 

Oh how I loath it when the anticipation of a film surpasses the actual film itself, there was so much build up to this film, I too allowed myself to hope. I wanted this film to be good, I wanted Ridley Scott, the man behind the original Alien film to return and give us something amazing. Something that would wipe away the bad taste in our mouths left behind by Alien3 and Alien Resurrection...what we got was yet more shit...

 

Why is it so hard  for you humans to do Aliens justice in this day and age when it was possible in the late 70s and early 80s...?

 

For those of you not in the know, and oh how I envy you, Prometheus follows a group of scientists who find cave paintings in a bunch of ancient civilisations that are all pointing to a group of planets, and they think it must be a map to their home world and they need to go and find them. Now, first problem with this, can you imagine trying to pitch this idea to anyone wealthy enough to build you a space ship? “We want to go find aliens because cave paintings told us to”. Personally I would have them thrown out of my office, and possibly beaten, but no, the corporation’s director decides this is a well thought out idea, builds them a space ship and off they go.

 

Upon arrival at the planet they discover some ruined buildings and one of the scientists gets depressed because all the aliens are apparently dead, spoiler alert. Second problem, the cave paintings are from civilisations thousands of years old, did it not cross the mind of any of these scientists that the aliens may have died out after all that time. What did they think the aliens had been doing for 50 thousand years? Sitting around watching the television? Playing eye spy? What??? I may have been on hold for thirty years which may make you think that I have the patience of a saint but even I wouldn't sit around for fifty thousand years waiting for someone to figure out a few cave paintings I probably made when drunk...anyway...

 

As this band of hapless morons venture deeper into the ruins they discover strange egg like objects, ah the eggs seen in Alien you ask, no, not like the eggs seen in Alien. Eggs filled with a black tar like substance, now whilst some of the idiots choose to stick around, two decide to head back to their ship. Third problem, one of the blokes that leaves is the guy who’s equipment was mapping the ruins and he gets the two lost, yes, lost. The guy who is mapping the ruins gets lost, begs the question of how good his equipment is doesn’t it, if he can’t even use it properly. They get turned around and ultimately get left behind in the ruins when the rest of the team return to their ship. They find themselves back in the egg chamber, and I kid you not a large creature rises up from the tar, a creature that, there is no other way of describing it, looks like a huge penis. Now, I for one would not approach a huge throbbing penis like creature sticking out of black tar, but does that thought rattle through the brain of this hapless cretin? Nope. He walks over to it and attempts to pet it, and to make matters worse as he approaches it, it opens out to take on a cobra like appearance, and still he tries to stroke it. Seriously did these scientists actually request to go to this planet or did the rest of the scientific community think telling them they are total dumb assess and giving them a slap was just too cruel so let them go on their merry delusional way???

 

Fourth problem, being a kind-of prequel to Alien there are several references to the Alien franchise but they make no sense. Carvings on the wall of the ruins suggest the Xenomorph aliens we are familiar with already exist and yet the film’s climax seems to indicate that they were created due to the events that transpired after the team arrives.

 

Fifth problem…you know what I am not going to continue listing them because there are too many...and I am getting bored of listing them. It is not fun and just shows how bad this film actually is because there is little to nothing that is good about it.

 

On that point though I must say that Michael Fassbender is amazing as the android David, he is very creepy, and superbly acted. He is probably the only thing that makes me want to see this film again because his performance is truly great.

 

Now I am aware that others have different opinions to me and whilst I don’t object to a different opinion to mine as long as that opinion can be challenged over a few pints and results in a grown-up discussion that doesn’t resort to childish name calling. Anyone who actually liked this kind-of prequel to the Alien film is wrong, you are entitled to your opinion, but your opinion is WRONG.

 

As you have undoubtably guessed my final verdict is a resounding Thumbs Down, there are some interesting ideas but none of them are developed and on the whole this film just seems like a complete waste of time.

 

 

3/10 – Ridley Scott shame on you for inflicting this film upon us

 

TAC Reviews...Alien Covenant

Date Posted: 28/05/17

 

Released in 2017 Alien Covenant is the sequel to 2012’s Prometheus and is the second film in the new Alien Prequel series. Michael Fassbender returns to reprise the role of David from Prometheus and also takes on the dual role of another synthetic named Walter, he is the only cast member from the previous film to return. Ridley Scott is once again in the director’s chair. Amongst the new cast are Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Carmen Ejogo and Demián Bichir.

 

Alien: Covenant Poster

 

After the abomination that was Prometheus it was pretty safe to say that Ridley Scott seemed to be trying to kill the franchise that he started with the masterpiece that was Alien, personally I was starting to think that as a director Scott just didn’t have it anymore, and Hollywood was still giving him money out of pity more than anything else. Then along came The Martian which was well acted, well written and well directed…yep Ridley Scott was sitting in the director’s chair…so he does still have it. He can still direct and direct well. So, perhaps Prometheus was just a misstep, and maybe Alien Covenant will be another return to his former glory…well that’s what I thought before I saw the film…

 

 

I am now very angry…

 

I am going to drop a spoiler warning immediately after I give you the usual quick rundown of what is happening, because yeah, pretty much everything in this review if going to be a spoiler…but before we get to that bit…let’s pretend this isn’t another piece of utter horseshit and allow me to tell you what is happening…

 

Sooooo…the film opens with an newly created synthetic being activated by Peter Weyland who asks what the synthetic wishes to be called. Choosing the name David after looking at a replica of Michelangelo’s David, the synthetic asks what his purpose is, and Weyland replies that one day they will search for mankind’s creators together.

 

Years later in 2104, humanity’s first colony ship Covenant on its way to the remote planet Origae-6, the ship has a compliment of 2000 colonists in suspended animation, with a thousand embryos also onboard. The crew is made up of 15 crew members, one of which is a synthetic named Walter who looks like the earlier David-model and he monitors the ship’s systems whilst the rest of the crew are in hyper-sleep. A sudden neutrino burst damages the ship whilst its solar sails are deployed which kills several of the colonists as well as the crew’s captain who is trapped inside his stasis pod and burns to death before the rest of the crew can rescue him. Whilst repairing the ship and mourning the loss of the captain, the crew pick up a transmission coming from a nearby planet. Oram, the new captain, decides that they should check the planet out as it is seven years closer their location than Origae-6, seems perfectly habitable for humans and after the captain was burned to death inside his pod none of them want to go back into hyper-sleep.

 

They head to the planet and the majority of the crew head down through an ion-storm to the surface. Once they arrive they start to track the signal they detected. Two of the team, Ledward and Karina, separate from the rest of the group to investigate the local flora after they discover wheat growing on the surface. None of them can understand how an Earth-plant ended up on the surface of an unexplored planet. The rest of the team head towards the signal where they discover an Engineer ship with the dog tags of E. Shaw onboard, one of the crew of the lost ship Prometheus that disappeared 10 years before the Covenant mission.

 

Soon afterwards two crew members, Ledward and another named Hallett are infected by alien spores and rapidly start becoming very sick. Ledward is helped back to the landing craft but soon afterwards a Neomorph…which looks like this…(when it grows to maturity)...

 

 

...Erupts from his back, killing him and mauling another crew member to death. The lander’s pilot, Maggie, panics as she attempts to kill the creature and accidently blows up the lander just as the other team with the very sick Hallett arrive. Unable to save him, a second Neomorph erupts from his throat, killing him and attacking the rest of the crew. The creature is chased away after a robed figure arrives, fires a flare into the sky and scares the neomorph away. He tells the crew to follow him, which they do, and he takes them back to the ruins of a city where he introduces himself as David, the last survivor of the Prometheus mission, and offers the survivors sanctuary.

 

Meanwhile onboard the Covenant the three remaining crew members, including Maggie’s husband Tennessee desperately try to regain communications with the people on the surface of the planet but are unable to thanks to the ion-storm

 

David informs the survivors that the ship he and Elizabeth Shaw travelled to the planet on crashed on arrival, Shaw perished in the crash and David has been living on the planet alone ever since. The creatures that emerged from Ledward and Hallett was the result of a pathogen that was released onto the surface when the ship crashed.

 

He assures them that they are perfectly safe with him whilst they try to re-establish communications, the crew have their suspicions of David and ask Walter to determine what he has been doing in the ten years he has been on the planet. Unfortunately, as the crew discover the devil make’s work for idle hands…

 

Right, without further ado…let me drop this and let’s get cracking…

 

 

Let me say this straight away…David is now the bad guy…so the weirdly creepy synthetic from Prometheus has developed a full on God-complex and wants to destroy basically everyone who isn’t him. Why??? I’ll tell you in a bit…it’ll take some explanation so let me talk about a few other things before we get to him.

 

First let me say that this is the set-up, we have a colony ship that is heading to a perfectly safe and habitable world when the captain decides to navigate to an unexplored planet which might be Earth-like because basically none of them want to get back into the hyper-sleep chambers because the captain was trapped in one when the ship was damaged by the neutrino burst. So abandoning a planet that has presumably been checked and rechecked by very clever people on Earth regarding its suitability the new captain decides to redirect the whole ship to take a look, and not surprisingly almost immediately after they land the shit hits the fan with two crew members being infected by the same black-stuff that mutated the crew members of the Prometheus. So, the crew have been on the planet for a matter of minutes before they start to get in trouble which makes you wonder why they didn’t get back in their landing craft get off the planet and head to Origea-6 which they knew would be suitable, because it is where they were heading in the first place.

 

The two creatures that are birthed from the unfortunate humans infected look nothing like the creatures we saw in Prometheus, and whilst they look a little like the Xenomorphs we all know and love, as you can see from the picture above they look like albino versions of them that don’t get much to eat.

 

Now the method by which the lander is destroyed is perhaps the one of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen that was supposed to be taken seriously. So, Ledward is obviously in a lot of trouble, he is coughing up blood, he is sweating and he looks on death’s door, once he arrives at the lander being assisted by Karine (Oram’s wife) Maggie locks them both in the medical bay despite Karine begging to be let out. Blood pours over the floor as the neomorph bursts from his body, Karine slips on the blood as she tries to help him and is mauled to death by the alien which is about the size of a cocker-spaniel at the time. Maggie, having run off to get a gun, returns to medical bay, opens the door and slips on the same pool of blood that Karine did and fires the gun into the air. She then runs off with the neomorph in pursuit and whilst attempting to shoot it, manages to hit some fuel tanks, and…wah, wah, wah…the whole lander explodes stranding everyone on the surface. The whole sequence made me laugh out loud because the only thing missing was comic sound effects as not one, but two, crew members slipped on the same pool of blood and ended up flat on their arses…so Maggie from Alien Covenant gets the prize for officially the worst attempted rescue in the history of cinema…because not only does she lock Karina in with Ledward for basically no reason as there was plenty of time for her to escape before the neomorph emerged. But also, when she did come back with a gun, she managed to fall on her arse, and then blow herself up…so yep…how were the recruits for this colonisation mission chosen?? Were they just picked from a line up of retards at the nearest institution to the landing site 10 minutes before Covenant took off???

 

So, why is David the bad guy now???

 

Well, he believes himself to be a superior form of life…so yeah…Alien Covenant is playing that old chestnut. So you can add David to the likes of the Daleks from Doctor Who, The Machines from The Matrix films, Anubis from Stargate SG-1 and every other Saturday morning cartoon villain that wants to wipe out all life in the galaxy so they can create a superior race in the wake of all other life-forms’ demise.

 

Plus whilst we’re on the subject of David, we learn during the film that when the ship he and Shaw were on arrived at the planet it was populated by Engineers whom David unceremoniously kills by dumping the pathogen in the ship’s storage on them. He has his head back on his body, so presumably Shaw stitches his head back on, and he is able to function as easily as he did before he was decapitated. Shaw is nowhere to be seen and David murders her at some point after they arrive and dissects her. Not a 100% sure why he did that really, but he does, and yet seems to mourn her loss…er…maybe you shouldn’t have murdered her then if you were going to miss her. Obviously sticking his head back on was a bit of an error on Shaw’s part. Now whilst he has been alone on the planet he has been studying the pathogen in greater detail and started conducting his own experiments to create his own forms of the creatures. He has successfully created the eggs that we are familiar with along with the face-huggers that we know from the rest of the series. The only flaw in his design is that the face-huggers need well, a face-to-hug in order to impregnate a human, to create David’s ultimate life form. Isn’t that a little bit of a design flaw?? It’d be like me saying that I have discovered a means of creating gold I just need a rare mineral that doesn’t exist before I can start production.

 

I feel I should remind you that the Covenant wasn’t sent to investigate the signal, they just happened, happened to pick it up during an accident so how was David planning on luring people to the planet to incubate his creation if no-one knew he was there and had absolutely no reason to go there in the first place??

 

I don’t understand what his overall plan was…plus they made a big thing about wheat being on the planet’s surface and ask who planted it. But this question is never answered. Did David plant it?? If he did why is it so far from his base of operations?? Was he bored one day in between dissecting the only human that cared for him and making his ultimate life-form so he wandered a few miles and planted some wheat…again…why????

 

We see people being attacked by face-huggers and the captain becomes David’s first victim to be face-hugged, and is unconscious for a matter of minutes before waking up, and having a chat with David before the xenomorph emerges from him. So unlike Kane who was unconscious for hours and the xenomorph incubated for around 24 hours before it burst out, the one in this film is alive and kicking out of its host before anyone has even noticed the captain is missing. The second impregnation is even shorter, the face-hugger leaps onto a guy’s face, is almost immediately cut off, but in the second or two it was on the guy it has managed to blow its load down his throat and impregnate him. So in a matter of seconds a guy is face-hugged and impregnated, only this time, the xenomorph in him takes hours to emerge instead of minutes. So when it is convenient to the plot the xenomorph comes out in minutes and when it is better for it to hang around inside the guy for a bit longer, that is what happens. As the face-hugger is cut off, some of its acid blood gets on the guy’s face, and the stuff that can eat through the hull of a spaceship is halted from eating through his head when someone sticks a plaster on it. Why didn’t anyone try that in any of the other films?? A simple plaster on the hull of the Nostromo would have prevented the acid dissolving it, or if the cells of the xenomorphs in Alien Resurrection had been lined with plasters then the xenomorphs wouldn’t have been able to escape their confinement…I have a space ship and in the interests of science I flew into orbit, poured some molecular acid on the floor and tried to stop a hull breach by sticking a plaster over it. I can definitely verify that if something is dissolving through the hull sticking a plaster will do absolutely nothing, and now there is a hole in my ship which Abbie is in the process of complaining about and, noticeably, not fixing.

 

You may have also noticed in the previous paragraph that I said that the second face-hugger is “almost immediately cut off”, cast your mind back to Alien in which Dallas and Ash tried to surgically remove the creature from Kane but were unable to because of the face-hugger’s acidic blood, or a moment in Aliens when Bishop finds a report which stated that one of the colonists on LV-426 had a face-hugger on him and the doctors killed him removing it. So, a man in Aliens died when the face-hugger was removed before implantation and yet in Alien Covenant a man has it on him for a few seconds, during which time he is impregnated, and one of his crew mates grabs a simple combat knife and is easily able to cut the face-hugger off without an problem.

 

The worst rescue in history wasn’t the only thing that made me laugh out loud during my viewing of the film…no, it is during the scene in which the chest-burster emerges from the captain. David is sitting nearby waiting for the creature to emerge so he can…I dunno…bond with it I think…and when it does the creature looks around and David lifts his hands up only for the creature to imitate him. The scene made me laugh because I was really hoping that the alien would look up at David, raise its hands and say “I am Groot” in Baby Groot’s voice…sadly it doesn’t. After I thought that it made me realise how un-invested I was in the film because I had imagined a chest-buster saying the words “I am Groot”.

 

Quick point, why was James Franco cast as the original captain of the mission??? I like James Franco, I think he is a good actor, but why cast him if he will only appear in a very brief video his wife watches after his death because he is burned to death in the first few minutes of the film. I don’t see the point of casting someone so obviously recognisable if he is going to be unceremoniously killed before he gets any actual screen time.

 

I am honestly getting tired of doing nothing but picking holes in this film, but unfortunately there is more to tear apart, and one of the main ones is Walter and David. Ask yourself, we have two synthetics that look identical, and can only be differentiated by their accents, David speaks with a British accent (well obviously because he is the bad guy) and Walter speaks with an American accent. Now, ask yourself, we have a good guy and a bad guy, both look identical to one another…can you see where I am going with this??

 

Yes, in addition to David being nothing more than a clichéd bad guy who wants to wipe out humanity and replace them with his Xenomorphs, we also have the good-guy-bad-guy switch-a-roo. During a fight between David and Walter later in the film Walter is poised to kill David, when he is given the choice of “Serving in Heaven or Reigning in Hell”, at which time we cut to the survivor crew members escaping. “Walter” appears and escapes with them back to the Covenant which means we are expected to believe that, again, in the matter of a couple of minutes, David somehow overpowers Walter despite being at his mercy, changes into his clothes, cuts his hand off (Walter’s hand gets bitten off by a Neomorph) cuts his face to mimic the wounds Walter had (which is pointless because the wounds Walter sustains happens when the rest of the crew didn’t see them so David cuts his face to fool the audience) and races to be evacuated before anyone can twig what has happened. Is Walter alive?? Who knows, maybe he is and he’s going to spend 10 years on a planet pissing about with a pathogen to create a new form of life that can only exist when there are humans around to incubate them.

 

By the way…remember this guy???

 

 

This is the Deacon and it was created at the end of Prometheus when the…hang on…let me get this right…when David infects Shaw’s lover with the pathogen so he mutates, before he is killed he has sex with Shaw, leading to her being impregnated by a weird squid-like creature, which is later removed by caesarean section, that then grows to full size, and then attacks and impregnates an Engineer that was trying to kill Shaw…now guess what happens to him??

 

Well all we can do is guess because we never see him again, the events of Covenant takes place on a different planet so the ending of Prometheus was even more pointless because the creature created is somewhere else entirely and has nothing to do with anything in this film.

 

Is there anything good in this film, at all???

 

Yes there is, Michael Fassbender is superb as both the soft-spoken but obviously insane David and the more robot-like Walter. David was deemed too human so later models were given less free will and are driven by their duty rather than being able to think freely for themselves. This works because we see other versions of synthetics through the Alien films which almost show the bugs being worked out as Weyland developed the synthetic line which began with David. The rest of the cast are decent enough but unfortunately they basically exist to get killed and I have hardly bothered using their names in this review because they are pretty forgetful.

 

The film spends most of its time wallowing in the shit left over from Prometheus when the crew are on the planet, when the survivors return to the Covenant we do get some classic alien action on the ship itself. The xenomorph emerges and starts to terrorize the survivors leading to the remaining crew banding together as they attempt to kill it before they resume their journey to Origae-6. Sadly this sequence is not without its problems as the crew are easily able to track the creature using the ship’s internal sensors (which admittedly were damaged on the Nostromo) and are easily able to lure it into a cargo hold to be blasted out into space. Plus for the first time we get “Xeno-Vision” in which we see what an alien sees which is basically the same as a human’s eyes except with loads of floaters in its central vision. I always thought the xenomorphs used sound, or echo location, or some other sense to track down other creatures in their vicinity but apparently no, somewhere inside their skull is a pair of eyes.

 

Honestly I didn’t hate this film, it was just disappointing, once again the trailers wrote cheques the film couldn’t cash. Pretty much everything we saw of the xenomorphs in the film was what we saw in the trailers, killing it was ridiculously easily, and the twist that “Walter” was really David couldn’t have been telegraphed more obviously if there had been a sign saying “Walter is really David…shhhh…that’s the twist ending”. It is better than Prometheus but then having one of your testicles removed is better than Prometheus so that is not exactly an endorsement. My Thumb is squarely Down and I think I’m going to stop giving Ridley Scott the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the next Alien film in this prequel trilogy, I’m not getting suckered in, I’ll expect it to be shit so hopefully when it is the bar will have been set so low I might actually be able to enjoy it.

 

 

4/10 – Set your sights as low as you possibly can (but still slightly above Prometheus) and you might get something from this film. As for me, yeah Michael Fassbender is good in it, but he can’t save what is basically a jumbled mess of story threads, unfamiliar and generally pretty retarded characters plus a villain that we have seen time and time and time again.

 

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