You’ve probably already seen this, and if you are as big a fan of the original 2 (possibly 3) Alien films as we here at GZ are you might be feeling a tad, well, let down. I’ll have to preface this review by mentioning that, as I am an imbecile, I ended up seeing this at the awesome BFI Imax in london, which has a gigantic screen and a spectacular bowel-loosening sound system. Unfortunately I managed to purchase a ticket in the first row, which, as anyone who has been in the same position will confirm, is like trying to read this review while lying on your back with an ipad in your mouth. It’s borderline unwatchable at that angle and for seventeen english pounds, quite the rip-off.
On the the film itself….as you may have gathered its a prequel to the Alien movies, showing some backstory to the crashed alien ship and “space jockey” glimpsed in the first movie. A team of researchers and devious company types find a pattern of ancient runes and paintings suggesting some kind of prehistoric GPS co-ordinates, make a few staggering leaps of deduction and fund a trillion dollar jaunt halfway across the galaxy to discover what exactly is out there. The film shifts along at a decent pace, looks great and works as a moderately enjoyable, slightly goofy sci-fi action thriller, but its not the epic we were hoping for, and doesnt tie in with the first Alien in as neat a way as I hoped. Primarily, and I hope it isnt too much of a spoiler, it doesnt actually explain the crashed ship in Alien, just suggests how something like that may have occurred.
The script (by one of the guys from Lost and another writer whose previous credits include the apparently abysmal “invisible aliens” invasion pic Darkest Hour) never rises above the functional and its just a lumpy retread of Erik Von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods with a bit of extremely limited xenomorphy action thrown in almost as an afterthought. The origin of the Aliens is merely alluded to, and in a way that makes the “Queen / Egg / Facehugger / Big Bad Alien” lifecycle even more difficult to comprehend. There’s scenes that end abruptly and scenes that seem to arrive out of nowhere…there’s an amazingly casual triple kamikaze scene near the end which seems straight out of the Scriptwriters “Oh No We Seem To Have Too Many Characters Still Alive” cheat sheet. This movie needs a directors cut just to restore narrative cohesion, let along clean up any ambiguous plot fissures.When the lights came up there was an audible “That’s it?” from large sections of the audience (those of us in the front rows were too busy trying to realign our spinal columns)
To sum up..adequate performances, particularly the boy Fassbender as a Peter O’Toole-obsessed android – forgettable music (big mistake there) excellent effects, some mildly effective nasty bits but in the end skips the answers we wanted and asks questions that didnt really need asking. The 3D is completely redundant as well. The overall feeling is a hell of a lot of technical blood sweat and tears were poured into a ambitious but intellectually wafer thin retread of the not-exactly-great Sphere…after the horrors of the Aliens vs Predator series perhaps a reset like Prometheus was needed, but now we probably need to wait for a sequel to get the movie we’ve been waiting and hoping for.