When I was a child, I used to marvel at the awesome Science Fiction art done by master artists like Chris Foss, Vincent di Fate. They were inspirational, beautiful, magnificent artwork. They filled me with awe, wonder, excitement - they captivated my heart and imagination.
Beautiful, well crafted things fascinate me. And 30 minutes into the film - I'm pure joy at the sheer beauty of the set design and mesmerized by that haunting soundtrack - Chopin Prelude Op 28, 15 - listen here:
In fact, I think I could just watch the film with Ms Vickers (Charlize Theron) and David (Fassbender) walking around that huge space ship discussing the meaning of life or whether androids can dream electric dreams. There were similarities with other films - David's voice and sinister child-like curiosity and malevolence which bears a striking resemblance with the computer Hal (Space Odyssey 2001) that I also found cute.
This film is not for everyone -so if you are into action films with plenty of pew-pew scenes - minimal dialogue, plenty of female nudity and sex scenes, or if you are intolerant of illogical plots - then I may suggest you look elsewhere.
OK - so the scenery, set props, spaceship design, and Charlize Hardon:) in a jumpsuit are bound to win the Academy Award for sheer awesomeness. But what about the plot, acting, etc..?
Acting wise - I thought they all did a good job - see Charlize Theron - but plot wise was for me a tad disappointing.
Ridley Scott seems to have lost his touch - what we get in the 2nd half of the film is more like a B-grade Horror film. Stupid people doing illogical things which gets them killed. What we needed to see was a great sense of foreboding, dread, and an inescapable sense of despair - see Shutter Island, Inception, and the first Alien movie. I thought the Chopin's piece was foretelling that?
Anyhow - let's recap - the big ivory colored alien spacemen (BIAS) came to Earth and created life millions of years ago - they spent their time cultivating it - hence the drawings in different civilizations and times. However 2000 years ago - during the time of the crucification of Jesus Christ - something bad happened and the BIAS lab millions of years away get all killed mysteriously. Apparently we are meant to believe that its somehow people's fault. Let's see - technically Advanced space alien that can travel light years got infected by their creation's evil.
Hmm... so when the spacemen were watching the stoneage man's cannibalism, brutality, countless tribal wars, Mayan human sacrifices, and the multitude of horrors humans were inflicting on each other - they couldn't tell that we are capable of acts of great evil as well as good? And they were actually surprised that a provincial Roman governor executed JC, their messenger? Hmmm... maybe they weren't as intelligent after all or maybe they were untainted by evil and totally innocent? It has a nice Garden of Eden echo to it and makes for a nice wooly-headed background - like carpet under your feet.
More on religious parallels later on.
So back to the present - two Scientists/archeologists discover a dozen of ancient drawings which seem to point to a distant solar system that contain a planet like Earth. They - Holloway, a male scientist who screams woohoo a lot and Elizabeth Shaw, a devout Christian female scientist - notice the cross around her neck -convince Weyland, a Rupert Murdoch archetype, the CEO of Weyland Corp, that this could be the place where the Alien Space Gods who created mankind live.
Weyland is so impressed that he spends 1 trillion dollars of the company's money to sent them far into space to track down the planet.
Apparently inflation has really wacked out in the future because even with 1 trillion dollars Weyland can't hire a professional group of astronauts. So we're saddled with a motley crew made out of the "wrong stuff" - the typical smart ass spaceship captain, the (I F@#king goofed up) Navigator from the Spaceship Icarus (from the movie: Sunshine), a geologist who got his degree from the School of Scottish Soccer Hooligans - notice his fascination with balls and the usual riff-raff from the slasher horror movie genre - Alien fodder.
This haphazard approach extends to the science team who behave in a untypical stupid un-scientific ways like landing straight on the planet without first sending a probe, or conducting a planetary survey etc.. No, they just rush in, land and by some hapchance come across an Alien Space Temple - which they immediately rush to check out. No thought seems to be given to the possiblity that life or other cities may exist on other parts of the planet.
The shambolic attitude carries on - the scientists remove their helmets in the Alien space world in effect contaminating their environment - and allowing themselves to be infected with whatever bacteria human science hasn't encountered yet.
Then they make the Greatest Discovery of the millennial, they find a decapitated 2000 year old alien space head which for some inexplicably reason is still alive after 2000 years - and then they experiment on it without even a surgical mask or contain in a sterile contained environment. Considering that they are suppose to be top notch scientists it is baffling to see them experiment with the alien head with the aplomb of Sec 1 school students.
The only one who seems to have a clue is the humanoid robot - David. But he behaves like a child, curious. Constantly wanting to touch things - open Alien space doors - and seeking to conduct secret experiments with space alien goo, alien/human fetus. Typically the humans constantly choose to remind this machine who is built to replicate humans, esp. Holloway, the male scientist - that he is not a human and has NO SOUL.
Hey sister soul sister... there are many religious metaphors and Christian allusions running through the show - I think its a nice touch, cute, but I expected more subtley. But Ridley Scott keeps slapping us our faces with them and its gets damn irritating.
1. Prometheus - the god who gets his abdomen ripped out (endlessly, he regenerates) for giving fire to the humans.
2. Female Hero Scientist - rips out her belly to take out the alien space fetus
3. Alien - impregnates host through the mouth and fetus rips it way out through the host's stomach
4. BIAS Space Alien, with Jesus Christ like cloak, has to drink a cup to kill himself to create the world. He hesitates too.
5. Holloway allows himself to be burned to death carrying on the Prometheus theme.
Rain in Spain Falls mainly in the Plain... boring.
I was esp disappointed when Rupert Murdoch look-a-like got beaten to death by the BIAS spaceman - his last dying words were "So there's nothing out there?" Insert Atheism vs Religious arguments here. Frankly, how tediously predictable. I'd expect the rich old dude's last words to have been - "Damn should have stuck to the cryo crap", not a nod to religion, esp. when he came all the way out there to beat death and old age.
So I have some problems with the film - but then I see gorgeous Charlize Thezon with her golden hair walking down that white luminous spaceship corridor in her jumpsuit - and I go... wow, awesome, God loves man.
Ridley Scott seems to have lost his killer touch. To have clouded his film with 3rd rate religious metaphors, stupid stupid scenarios like the two lost frightened stupid 3rd rate geologist/biologist who get lost in the BIAS temple and who nearly die of fright upon finding dozens of dead BIAS spacemen and then freak out when they learn of a possible alien presence- but then suddenly become all too friendly when they see two Snake like creatures emerging out of the black goo. I mean, c'mon. WTF? Did Ridley Scott spend hundreds of millions of dollars to make a B-grade horror film with million dollar props? Disappointed, Dude.
But, let's not be too critical here- we did see Ms Royal Hawtness Charlize in a space suit. Let's keep some perspective.
OK. But we do have the ingredients of a possible epic here. Now this is how I would have done it.
Sticking a bunch of losers and misfits onto an alien world and watching them die miserably deaths is so predictable and boring. Instead, I would written the science team as extremely disciplined, skilled, integrated, coordinated and militarily trained. (Who despite all their superb training get killed by an incredibly horrible beast - now that's epic).
That's the way it should be if you had a budget of 1 trillion dollars and a spaceship carrying the CEO and also the heir to Weyland Corporation.
And did we even need to have the "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" riding along as well? Frankly I'd have dump her back on earth along with the loony "Let's get Drunk cos I couldn't find any Live Space Aliens" boyfriend. Their characters were a joke - A ( for amateur) grade scientists. If they were going to come along - I'd make sure they had a very secondary role. The scene where Dragon Tattoo lady knocks out two co-workers- then runs out to get a emergency cesarean to pull the squid like Alien creature out of her belly and then gets her abs stapled before running all bloody to Weyland's room and then goes to join the final mission - was absolutely hilarious - in a bad way. Who the hell dreamed up this crap?
No surprise but I'd have put Charlize Theron - Ms Vickers - as the main heroine. The Alien's franchise has always been about a strong woman who survives against the odds and defeats the evil monster. I'd have soften her image a bit - make her character "religious" - and she's coming for the ride (instead of sitting in the comfort of her million dollar condo or scuba diving or skiing in some paradise) because she loves her dad, Mr Weyland.
I'd also have written a bigger role for Guy Pierce (or an older actor) - Weyland. I'd also have got rid of all that awful makeup and fire the makeup artists who made him look like the Star Wars Emperor!!! Can't they find a decent old actor? Sean Connery? Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister Game of Thrones)?
Weyland is there because he's seeking to attain longer or immortal life and also because he's actually curious about the big questions of life.
Vickers however is a believer and is closed minded about such things - all she wants to do is to help dad with his mad quest and then return him back to Earth. Cast wise: I'd give her a soul mate so that she can have a sounding board. I'd have chosen Chris Evans because I liked his character in Sunshine.
Vickers is a hardened leader but she has a soft spot for dad. It is clear that she loves him a lot. She feels the need to maintain a tough demeanor so that she can maintain her control over things, over men, etc.. In terms of character development - we see her mellowing out as she attends to the sick and injured and slowly cracking under the strain of leadership. But of course in the end, we get that "Rocky" moment, where she gets off the dust and the bodies of her dead men, and fights back and wins.
Anyhow, after conducting a rigorous planetary survey - the probe robots find the temple and the scientists proceed there on a secondary transport ship, leaving the mother ship orbiting in space. With the state of the art weapon system "Starcraft/Appleseed" mechsoldiers, they look unstoppable. The temple is big so the groups split up to examine the alien artifacts. The scientists/biologists/etc.. are all extremely excited.
But Vickers remains on vigilant.
One group led by Holloway finds the room filled with jars and filled with what looks like black oil, some of them have fallen down and cracked open. He wants to conduct a closer examination and take samples. Vickers orders them to retreat and let them robot probes take samples. But Holloway steps inside ignoring her, they look inert but upon further examination, more black goo oozes out and envelopes him and his team. They start screaming. The eyes turn black and they turn into what looks like zombies. The survivors rush out but Vickers does not hesitate she fires a missile and seems to destroy the whole lot of them utterly, much to the dismay of bleeding heart Dragon Tattoo girl.
Vickers immediately orders an evacuation. All samples are dumped much to the dismay and disgust of the scientists.
DT girl however is inconsolable. But she receives a brief transmission from Holloway who says he is alive and needs help. She convinces David who is programmed to help save human life (not destroy: first rule of Robotics).
They leave the spaceship to go look for Holloway... Vickers is not amused when she finds out. With stony indifference, she prepares the ship for takeoff without them. And for good measure plans to Nuke the place. The scientists and her father however are horrified. We didn't travel half way across the Universe to abandon and destroy such a major discovery.
She doesn't listen. And the ship slowly takes off. But from the side of the Temple, a shiny object emerges. Before anyone can say, "Fuck, its a gun." It fires a bolt of high energy at the ship, all power is suddenly lost and the ship plunges to the ground. Blackness.
When they wake up, Vickers asks her ship's engineers how long it would take to send another rescue craft down to save them. But in the meantime, they have to deal with that strange alien space gun. But most of the heavy machinery and weapons were damaged during the crash.
What will Ms Vickers do next? She mulls over the options -
1. Move to a safe zone and get the mothership to nuke that Alien Space Temple and gun
2. Go to the Temple and destroy that gun.
Easy. Option 1. However, dear Daddy had decided to remove the mothership with any plantary bombardment weapons to make space for more science research equipment - which causes Vickers to snarl, "All that f*&ing NASA Shit and they didn't realize that f@3king Temple had a motherf@3king big ion gun?!!!!"
Looks like they have to do it the hard way. Thank goodness Vickers likes it hard.