Back when I was about eight years old my parents visited my godparents’ house to play cards, as they did regularly. They were sitting in the well lit kitchen, while I watched a movie in the dark living room that would have a major impact. That movie was (can you guess it?) Alien. The opening and the music that accompanied it are still etched into my brain. I did not watch it the whole way through. What I did see though, gave me nightmares for a long time. Funny enough, Alien is now one of my all time favourite movies, sitting in at least the top three. Moving on to the present day, last Thursday I got to see the latest installment, Alien Covenant, in this long running franchise.
Alien; Past and present
The Alien franchise is almost 40 years old, as the first one was released in 1979. The series has high points, some very low points and nothing much in between. So here is a short rating of every movie until now, I am excluding the Alien vs Predators movies.
Alien, directed by Ridley Scott, is piece of art, even so many years later. Dark and filled with suspense in the beginning like a thriller, and the second part claws you in the face like the slasher it is. Great acting in this movie. Sigourney Weaver killed it, no pun intented, in this movie. The set design is beautiful and what I love the most are the practical effects. Yes, things look better if there really is something in front of the camera. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. It is a classic with a lasting impact for a reason.
Aliens, directed by James Cameron, is a hell of a ride. Action packed, funny one liners and all out until the movie is over. Once again, a slow start, but the pace picks up and when the ride really starts, it never lets up. Great acting, mainly because of the group dynamic that exist between the marines and Ripley’s outsider perspective. A fun ride and a great way to get into the Alien franchise.
Alien 3, directed by David Fincher, is depressing, to say the least. Gloom and a sombre atmosphere set the tone and even the great ending can’t save this movie. Ripley crashes on a prison planet and has to survive. Only watch if you want to be a die hard fan. Otherwise you can skip this one.
Alien Resurrection, directed by Jean- Pierre Jeunet and written by Joss Whedon, is a camp filled piece of sequelitis. The movie is very dated, thanks the fish eye lens, which was a craze in the 90’s. Lots of hamming by certain actors, Brad Dourif is great, as is Ron Perlman. Great special effects and the ending is as beautifully crafted as it is funny. Watch if you want to have a popcorn movie.
Prometheus, directed by Ridley Scott, is not a sequel but a prequel. As I have come to understand, it functions as the beginning of the Alien Universe. Confirmed by the fact that Prometheus, Alien: Covenant and two films that are in development will all lead up to the first Alien. Beautifully shot, spectacular locations and some great acting, mainly because of Micheal Fassbender. Prometheus did not answer all the lasting questions about the Alien-universe that people hoped it would, but it set in motion the vision to do so. Worth watching, especially if you want to watch Alien: Covenant, though it’s not mandatory.
After that short trip down the history of the franchise, it’s time for the main event. The movie opens with Peter Weyland speaking with his newly activated syntenthic David. The same David who went on the Prometheus, linking both movies from the get go.
The year is now 2104 and the colonization ship, Covenant, is on it’s way to Origae-6. Filled with over 2000 colonists and over a thousand embryos. Walter, a syntenthic resembling David, is taking care of the ship with the help of the ship’s computer Mother. A sudden neutrino burst damages the ship and the ship’s crew has to be awaken from their cryo sleep to help deal with this disaster. After all is repaired, they pick up a signal and decide to follow it, because the world looks promising as a colony world. The setting for the rest of the movie is set.
From the moment the music and the opening crawl start, I was transported back to when I was a kid. Ridley Scott has shot more eye candy, from the scenes in space to the planet side shots, it looks simply amazing. Two actors that really stand out in my opinion are Micheal Fassbender and Katherine Waterston. The movie is not perfect, I like the first half better than the latter. Like the first Alien, there is a slow build up in the first half that sucks you in and the second part is where the gore and action starts. And following a signal to a planet, sounds familiar? You can watch Covenant without watching Prometheus first. If you do watch Prometheus, certain scenes will hold more value.
Suffice to say, I went into the theatre not expecting that much and left the theatre very happy.