Alien is one of the most important franchises in my long list of fandoms, mostly because of a love for HR Giger’s designs, and partly because of the long running canon that is so incredibly immersive. A simple yet unstoppable life cycle with a simple objective: adapt.
So when it was announced the Alien Prequel was going to happen, I was ecstatic! Ridley Scott coming back to the world he helped to create? I was so ready.
And then I saw the film, and I was in a bit of shock. I wanted to like it, I DID like it, but there was so much “missing” or different from what I was expecting, it was hard to put it into words.
Well enough time has passed, so I’d like to share some of my (and other people’s) thoughts on the subject.
I actually filmed myself crying at 2 am after coming home from this film’s midnight release. I won’t be posting it because it’s absolutely terrifying. I’m delirious and upset in it, barely comprehensible. I’ve had a chance to re-watch it and will try and translate my rambling. Basically there was so much I really REALLY wanted to like, but it wasn’t the prequel I felt we deserved. Number one as a Giger fan, and number two as a Xenomorph fan. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing film and a great ancient aliens themed story, but it’s NOT a suitable Alien prequel in my opinion. There is so much I wish would have been done differently, so much more I was expecting. And bottom line for me, it didn’t bring the Giger elements to life with the epic visuals and visceral realism they deserved. The biomechanical wasn’t alive, it was just limp and squishy. Sorry, but that’s what I got out of it.
I do have to say, the ancient alien theories, space jesus, and replicant/android stories were all great parts of the film for me. The film itself has a epic and grand scale WITH a comprehensible and intelligent script that is rare to see come out of Hollywood these days. BUT… there’s the but… it all falls short for me when trying to apply it to the Alien canon. Even if you never have the Queen life cycle, it still doesn’t fit. The space jockeys are humanoids in space suits? NO no no no! The jockey is fused to the chair, like he was grown into it. It’s not an unexplored idea (Farscape anyone?), and wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to elaborate on.
And the primordial black goo? Sure, it creates life from life. In terms of the Engineers, it takes the basics of them to create us, and the Xenomorph is the amplification of our truest nature and base instinct, to kill and multiply. To survive. It all works for me up to that point.
But then it takes a turn for the worse imo, when the timeline shifts, it’s a different ship, and different planet, and a different type of technology than I’ve always pictured Giger’s art working as.
As you can tell I’m ultimately conflicted. It is an absolutely amazing final product, but you have to understand I have dreams of how Giger’s imagery moves and works, and this film did not represent that. Lets go back. Ridley Scott captured this right away in the first film, and so simply too I might add. The egg feels alive with fiberglass and shadows of rubber gloves, the face hugger looks real with foam rubber and shellfish parts, the chest burster is puppeteers moving it’s arms and beating it’s heart as if it’s alive, and the Alien is an awkward and terrifying new life that wants to simply kill and create new life, played by an awkward and alien looking young man who was cast simply because of his presence (love you Bolaji Badejo, wherever you are). It brought to life Giger’s art in it’s most visceral form.
This movie is beautiful to look at, and completely immerses you in the story. And there’s all the concepts there to make it a great and direct Alien prequel. But then at some point in the process, like he’s done before with Blade Runner (if you haven’t watched the making of documentary on the most recent dvd set, you should), and rightly so since he’s the chosen director, he picked up the pieces and made something he thought would be better.
I can still be in love with production and creature design. The amazing sculptor Dayton Allen over at Sith_fire30 Creations found this gem, a montage of early concept designs by artist Carlos Huante from the early days of preproduction. It’s worth watching just to see what COULD have been.
Also, there’s plenty of resources out there to explain the making of this film, but this is one of my favorites. comicbookgirl19 is really great at explaining things in her vlog, it’s really worth watching;
In short, although this film isn’t what I wanted it to be, it still has me thinking about it as an epic cinematic event in my life. I’ll just keep over analyzing it while enjoying the scenery in my Giger themed bathroom.
(self portrait of me at 19 with Giger art)