Waiting for an Alien

There is little time left before the release of Alien: Covenant, the long-awaited sequel to Prometheus and the second part of the epic xenomorph saga prequel, directed by the legendary British filmmaker Ridley Scott. We look forward to taking one step closer to unravel the mystery of xenomorphs’ origins and to reveal true intentions of the enigmatic extraterrestrial race of godlike Engineers. We also would like to believe that the new creation of Ridley Scott will not disappoint the fans of his works as well as of the franchise itself, will not lower the bar set high by Alien, Aliens and Prometheus.

The uniqueness of the Alien franchise (I am not referring to the two crossovers about the Aliens – Predators wars that speculate on success of the series and, generally, are not related to them at all) consists in the fact that its each film, directed by different filmmakers (with the exception of Ridley Scott himself who scored by three works) is strictly individual and carries specific pattern of its creator. The films of other franchises, for example, about James Bond, Jason Vorhees or even Star Wars, finally, (oops, now I feel that I will be stoned to death by the enraged fans of bondiana, unlucky number and Jedi chronicles – please don’t do this, my friends, I personally belong to this glorious cohort!) independently from their quality (one is better, another is worse) are mainly similar and do not go beyond the genre that they belong to. It is quite difficult to define which of them was directed by a particular filmmaker (with all due respect to every one of them). The situation with xenomorph saga is slightly different.

Alien (1979) by Ridley Scott is a progenitor of gothic space horror, is one of the most iconic films of the director, that launched his career to the star orbit. Magnificently elaborated characters, almost surgical attentiveness to the finest details and, the most important, the atmosphere of creepy claustrophobic suspense and sticky terror that engulfs the protagonists as well as the audience. Entourage and film set are outstanding – crucial contribution in this regard was made by the Swiss artist-surrealist Hans Rudolph Giger who also came up with unique image of Alien.

Aliens (1986) by James Cameron is already a space action film with horror elements. Extraordinary intense action, wild shooting, excellent special effects – all of this can be easily outlined in the previous and subsequent works of the director: The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar. Aliens is the rarest case when the sequel turned out to be not worse than the original but to some extent even surpassed it (although it is a thankless task to compare them – both movies belong to different genres).

Alien 3 (1992) – is a very underrated film of brilliant David Fincher, his directorial debut in big cinematography. As in his subsequent pictures (Seven, Panic Room) David Fincher pays significant attention here to the psychological component of horror. Of all the films about xenomorphs this is the most grim and dystopian in which he describes in dark colors a penal colony planet inhabited only by rapists, sadists and killers. The threat here is posed not so much by Alien but by these inmates (with few exceptions, I should note) and by a thing that parasitizes in the body of the main character. Oppressive, slow and heavy drama of horrors typical for Fincher’s works.

Alien: Resurrection (1997) by Jean-Pierre Jeunet – in my opinion, is the least distinguished of the franchise. I cannot imagine what motivated the author of surrealistic Delicatessen and The City of the Lost Children as well as of a sweet comedy Amelie when he agreed to direct this sequel to the Alien anthology. Jean-Pierre Jeunet filmed a decent space horror action movie with a bit of grotesque inherent to his works. A very made-up plot about a super-heroine (nothing less than as in cinecomics from Marvel or DC) which is a clone to the key protagonist of previous films. Meanwhile, there is no way to call the picture a bad one – it is a high quality film which stands out by good special effects and perfect acting (particularly one should distinguish a permanent Jean-Pierre Jeunet actor – Dominique Pinon that magnificently portrayed a charming and sometimes funny paraplegic mechanic Vriess and inimitable Ron Perlman as a gorilla-like brutal mercenary Johner). The point is simply that the Jeunet’s picture in many ways falls behind its stronger brethren of the cinematic universe about Aliens (as I mentioned before, the bar was set too high).

Prometheus (2012) marked the triumphant return of Ridley Scott to the theme of Aliens. This time he created powerful and comprehensive sci-fi movie that broached the issues of humanity origins on Earth, of faith and of relationship between man and artificial intelligence. Prometheus is a prequel to Alien that describes the events about 30 years prior to the moment when the crew of the cargo spaceship “Nostromo” clashed in a deadly battle against the xenomorph-Alien. A must-see impressive large-scale film.

And still, what should we expect from Alien: Covenant? According to scarce data from mass-media and trailers (the crew of colonists of the ship “Covenant” explores a remote planet where is hunted by “monstrous creatures”) I am not ruling out that Ridley Scott created some kind of a symbiosis of the first and second parts of the franchise. What will be the result – I cannot say – you should see the picture. But the fact that the Great Master, Sir Ridley Scott himself, returned to the director’s chair gives us big hope.




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