As Stewie said when he learned that Child Services would be taking him away, “Finallllly!” Yes, that’s how I felt when we hopped in the car and were on our way to the theater. And though I am a week late in getting this review done, because last weekend we were diverted to see The Avengers, I think the wait was worth it!
And I should get some bonus points for doing it today. Because, as often proves the case with me, the cold has doubled back and reinfected me. You could say I was extra sympathetic to some of the characters in the this movie! But I don’t want to give anything away, I promised myself in advance that I would rate this movie without giving anything crucial away. So here goes…
The movie was pretty damn cool! The premise of ancient astronauts, which I knew they were employing here, is one I think pretty highly of. And the fact that they were going back to the Alien universe in such a way that they really wanted to capture the feel of the original was also pretty pleasing. And just about everyone I’ve heard speak on the subject has said that the visuals and effects were state of the art. They weren’t wrong.
That being said, I think they could have done the whole “Engineers” thing a bit better. In fact, what they had to say about their coming to Earth and what they looked like (which I shan’t get into for fear of spoilers) kind of called to mind how Stargate and AVP tackled the whole “aliens tampered with our history”. Still, Scott is nothing if not a master of crafting worlds and believable settings, so it was by no means in the same category. While I felt it could be better, it was still pretty damn good!
The Big Questions:
What’s more, this movie also filled in a great deal of details from the Alien franchises back story. Questions like what are the Xenomorphs, where did they come from, do their hosts and environments influence their appearance, why were they found aboard the Space Jockeys (“Engineers”) ship, and just who are the Jockeys anyway? All of these questions were addressed in this film and answered in one way or another. And of course, they left just enough mystery to keep the option open for further explorations in the Alien universe.
And I was pretty pleased with how they went about answering them, mainly because I’ve been studying them for some time now and heard quite a few theories. And sure, covering all this stuff did generate a certain “prequel duty” feel here and there, but Scott’s handling of all that seemed far superior to most others efforts. For one, I never really felt like they were wrapping things up in a neat little package, which is an annoying tendency to be found in most prequels. Take the Star Wars prequels, did those not feel like they were simply trying to connect the threads irrespective of plot? Yeah, well that wasn’t the case here.
And that, I think, is what is best about this movie. Though it is technically a prequel, Scott and the makers seemed determined that it feel like a standalone story. I recall him saying as much in the course of an interview, and I truly felt like they succeeded. Granted, there were some flaws and some holes here and there, but these were hardly fatal and didn’t leave me thinking, “holy crap, that movie made no sense and was totally pointless and stupid!” Expectations and hopes were certainly high for this film, leading some to come away disappointed. But what can be said about them?
Sure, this movie wasn’t Alien, but there’s a reason for that! Scott already made that movie thirty-three years ago, and several directors have since taken the franchise in many different (and some would say wrong) directions. Going back to the before the beginning was the only option left really, reopening the franchise at a point before the original to answer all the tough, enduring questions that have fans have raised over the years. And that was no easy task and I could see beforehand how it would be riddled with potential pitfalls.
But in the end, I came away pretty pleased. Not only was this movie pretty good viewing, it was also a faithful return to the Alien universe… Frankly, I’d like to see what they come up with next!