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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Alien: Covenant

- Android David 8

This week's movie rental was Alien: Covenant ...

a 2017 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott ....The film is a sequel to Prometheus (2012), the second installment in the Alien prequel series and the sixth installment overall in the Alien film series, as well as the third directed by Scott. The film stars Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride and Demián Bichir, and follows a crew of a colony ship that lands on an uncharted planet and makes a terrifying discovery.

I've seen all the movies in this series, including the earlier prequel, Prometheus (I wrote about that one here). I was very disappointed in Prometheus and was starting to get that same sinking feeling as I began to watch Alien: Covenant. Then I stopped and looked back .... Scott had directed one of the earlier Alien movies in the series, but which one? Aha - the first.

The first in the series of movies, Alien, came out in 1979 and though it was science fiction, at its core it was horror. it was well received ...Alien was nominated for two Academy Awards, winning for Best Visual Effects. Aliens received seven nominations, including a Best Actress nomination for Sigourney Weaver, and won for Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Effects .... Alien was also inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for historical preservation as a film which is "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." The American Film Institute ranked Alien as the sixth most thrilling American movie and seventh-best film in the science fiction genre, and in the AFI's 100 Years.

Here's a clip - the crew knows an alien is on the ship, somewhere in the duct work, and they're hunting it with flame throwers because using other weapons causes it to bleed acid. The Captain (Tom Skerrit) gets killed and Ripley must get the diminishing crew members to follow her lead ...

But my favorite of all the Alein movies was the second, Aliens, directed by James Cameron and much more science-fiction-y (I wrote about it here) ....

But anyway, what I realized was that what I didn't especially like about the Scott versions of the Alien series was the emphasis on horror over science fiction .... horror seems to be about gore .... science fiction is about thinking new things. Horror has its place, sure, but I think it's on the second tier.

So, I did watch the film and thought it was well made, with good cinematography and decent acting. The script was sort of interesting if you've been trying to figure out how the alien species came to exist in the first place. If you like gore, there was also a whole lot of squishy killin' & dyin' ;) I liked best the part where David, the android from the Prometheus film, meets and interacts with Walter, an updated model of the same android from the crew of the Covenant (Michael Fassbender plays both).

Here's part of a review from New York Magazine ...

Alien: Covenant Is an Origin Story We Might Not Have Wanted

[...] A ship — the Covenant — carrying colonists to a distant, habitable planet is threatened by an explosion in space that forces crew members out of suspended-animation pods and incinerates the commander (a cameo by an overexposed star whom most of us could do, in this instance, without). While they’re awake, they pick up a faint human signal from a closer, more habitable planet. It’s eerie, that signal: You can hear a John Denver song. Is it a siren luring them to their deaths? If it weren’t, this wouldn’t be a horror picture, so you start looking at the characters as meat and wondering in what order they’re going to be eviscerated. You certainly can count on the new commander, played by Billy Crudup, to make the wrong decision. Singled out by others in the crew because he’s a “man of faith,” he can’t conceive of a universe as fundamentally nihilistic as this one.

The focus of Alien: Covenant turns out to be less on the title character than on an android called David, who appeared in Prometheus and whose “birth” is depicted in a prologue. Played once more by Michael Fassbender, he’s rather fey in his form-fitting white bodysuit attempting to mimic the gait of a human. You know you should worry when his first question to his creator (Guy Pearce) is, “If you created me, who created you?” It’s a bit early for existentialism.

Co-screenwriter John Logan also wrote the final and much-reviled Star Trek: The Next Generation movie, Nemesis (I liked it), and he knows his way around android f2fs. When David ultimately meets his “brother,” Walter (Fassbender), a member of the Covenant crew, the two discuss the ins and outs and what-have-yous of being human. In Star Trek, that man-machine nexus was — as in all things Star Trek — hopeful. Here, there’s some doubt about David’s ultimate motives, which puts Alien: Covenant squarely in the tradition of the Terminator and Matrix movies. And, of course, the novel Frankenstein, which carried the subtitle The Modern Prometheus. No less than Stephen Hawking — who survives with the aid of machines — has predicted that we have 100 years to live before evolved machines take human imperfection as justification for wiping us all out .....

Here's a trailer ...


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