Monday, July 2, 2012
By now, you've probably heard a lot about this film. Unless you live under a rock or were never a fan of the Aliens films to begin with (stop reading this blog, just kidding, no really) and have tuned out any and all marketing. The film has been really polarizing with no one taking a middle ground. Viewer's comments vary from the very philosophical (espousing the virtues of various metaphors) to the film being a total mishmash of ideas that go nowhere which ultimately renders the film pointless. Put me squarely into the latter category. I can't remember the last time I was this disappointed by a film going experience.
Warning: spoilers abound.
Our film begins with one of the architects of the world in which our characters and chest bursting aliens live in (hinted at in the original films, now known as Engineers), setting things in motion by contributing to the primordial ooze. The implication being here (I think), that they originated human life.
Flash forward many years and a husband and wife team of archaeologists (Logan Marshall-Green and Noomi Rapace, respectively) uncover ancient cave paintings, that when put together alongside many of civilization's examples, seem to suggest that a group of powerful beings created the universe. The team also infers from these paintings that their creators want to be sought out but who knows why exactly. 'Who knows why exactly' will be a common sentiment as you sit through this film that frustratingly goes nowhere and who's only purpose seems to be to fit into the Aliens universe.
Flash forward in time once again and we see an android named David (Michael Fassbender) on board a ship as he learns about human life through language and cinema. He's also taking care of the crew who are in hyper sleep as they make their way to the 'promised land.' As they begin to awaken from their slumber, we're introduced to the group which includes the husband and wife team and a woman named Vickers (Charlize Theron) who represents the interests of her financier. He was obsessed with getting in touch with these god-like creatures and even in death (or so it seems), he wants this group to prove what he believed all along. Namely, that they were the originators of life on earth.
From here on out, our group explores what seems like intricate tunnels and passageways, coming upon the dead remains of various Engineers who were there at one point. But what killed them all? They come to the horrifying realization as various crew members come into contact with canisters of black goo and foreign bodies which seek to take over their physical selves.
The problem with the film is two-fold: there are too many story threads running through it which are never tied together (read: tons of plots holes) and the film, while philosophical on some levels (i.e. man is undeserving of what it has been given), never answers any of the questions the viewer grapples with by film's end. As such, the film expects entirely too much of the viewer (in terms of deciphering what it all means) but offers little in return. There just isn't enough here to grasp on to.
Maybe more answers will come in the next films (which will definitely happen) but I don't expect them to. The closing scene alone points to the film existing for one thing and one thing only: to bring us into the Aliens universe. But as my movie going buddy said to me 'Despite how much I was monumentally let down by this (seriously, 30 years for this?), I will probably see the sequel.' And dammit if I didn't agree with him. I think that speaks to the power of the franchise and how much we love it.
Cortez the Killer