Tag Archives: alien saga

Shoo! Alien, shoo! Leave Prometheus alone!

Oh, Ridley Scott. There you are looking back on your career thinking: “Yeah, Alien rocked. And yeah, Blade Runner totally rocked, too!” And you know what, Ridley, you are actually right. They are both fantastic films. I would argue that Alien is far more fantastic than Blade Runner, but because Alien is so fucking out there mega-fantastic that is like saying “Blade Runner is better than 99.9 percent of all films ever made”. And then Ridley? Then you’re all like: “Yeah, let’s revisit this and make another epic Sci-Fi action flick!” Did I mention that you probably look back on films like Gladiator and think that it was equally as awesome? Now there is the problem. Sometimes your films fucking stink. So, let’s talk about Prometheus, shall we?

via thewertzone.blogspot.com

Nothing in Prometheus makes any sense. Whatsoever.
Yup, it’s all a big bag of bullshit. Oh, a nice and pretty bag of bullshit. So shiny you need to look at it. And amidst all the shit squishing and squashing in there we find ideas and performances that are brilliant. But what makes this movie such a bag of bullshit is the problem that many films have: They could be so fucking awesome but somewhere along the way people started to make mistakes and didn’t stop with them. Prometheus is such a case.

via prometheus-movie.com

Everyone and their grandmother has said it by now, but it is worth repeating: The idea that these characters on this ship are scientist is laughable at best. Offensive really, cause what it shows is that obviously no one involved with this project had any idea of scientific work whatsoever. Or they must have hit their heads really hard. From the dumbass boyfriend being all sulky cause he just discovered alien life-forms on another planet and cannot ask them why they made him (not to mention taking off his helmet, cause he just ‘felt’ that he could probably breathe the air) to the “biologist” whose first instinct upon meeting new and aggressive life forms is to touch them in the face. And dear Elizabeth, our supposed heroine, she is what exactly? An archeologist / medical doctor /biologist /geneticist /what the hell? Girl can do it all. Cause she probably studied science. And when you studied a term that encompasses all the sciences ever, you can, of course, do everything that all sciences ever found out and use as their scientific instruments. Cause you’re fucking scientist, duh!

edgy haircut – he must be a scientist! (via flicksandbits.com)

Ok, we could roll our eyes forever because of how hard these people are clearly not scientists. Shall we look at the supposed science then? There is no use averting our eyes, the crap will still get through. The operation super-capsule thingy. WTF? Can do whatever operation needs to be done if you just press a few buttons and hop in. But oh, damn, thing is gender-programmed. Only works on men… For whatever fucking reason. Cause the hard-drive was too small to fit in the program for women? Are you kidding me? And then of course it also works on women, cause wouldn’t you know, just a dramatic effect. So thing operates a squid alien out of Elizabeth Shaw (and boy will we get to how she is not Ellen Motherfucking Ripley) and stitches her belly so that girl can run and jump and crunch and do whatnot AFTER HAVING HER BELLY BEING OPENED BY A LASER-BEAM AND BARELY STITCHED TOGETHER!! She should collapse within 20 centimeters of that damn machine and bleed out is what she should if that movie had any idea of how human bodies work.
But oh, this film so doesn’t. Guess what: the god-alien-whatever-beings DNA matches 100 percent with human DNA! Whoa! Except for no human beings have DNA matching a hundred percent (ok, twins do) and then again every living being on this planet shares a pretty large percentage of their DNA with ours. So instead of being all like: they created us! And they even kinda somewhat look like us! We should really wonder how the hell these beings are related to chicken, and cheetahs and chimpanzees. There is your scientific question, movie, you can run as fast as you want into the other direction, you won’t escape it.
And please, film, Ridely, whoever, tell me: If these beings come to a planet, dissolve and by that create life on a planet – how do they end up being pictured by cavemen? Did they wait for a few million years to come back and say Hi, uh, by the way look at these stars, if you ever figure out what we mean come and visit us there? Oh yeah, that seems to make so much sense, EXCEPT FOR IT FUCKING DOESN’T. The inconsistencies of this movie are to frustrating, it’s almost painful. Just like having just had an operation and then having to …run? jump? fall? scream? Right, Elizabeth?

Ellen, ermh, Ellie? (via guardian.co.uk)

It’s frustrating because the movie plays this “uh, we’re asking the big and important questions” card but instead of attempting to answer them they fall short of answering even the simplest questions that just derive from the plot and the actions. How come the black liquid goo thing kills Elizabeths boyfriend but turns the other one into a killing monster? Why would it even? Makes no fucking sense. Completely unnecessary, strengthens my disbelief and makes me wonder: if the black goo thingy can turn people so easily into whatever fucking monster it wants them to be, why does it have to go to such great lengths to create super-complicated reproduction cycles like the one of the alien? Tell you why: cause black goo and monsters and alien aren’t really logically related and shouldn’t be related in a movie that has no idea of what it is doing.

via flicksandbits.com

What I hate hate hate in movies is the parents-complex thing. So many movies think they provide their protagoinists with motivation because they do what their parents said, or exactly the opposite or something to get their attention. It is there in the recently reviewed Snow White, it lies at the core of The Dark Knight Rises, which I intend to review next and we find it here with Elizabeth Shaw, David the Android, Charlize Theron’s character and oh, basically all mankind, cause we no have to think of those milky white muscle hunks as our daddies. I fucking hate this shit. Having no other motivation for things than you’re parents is the lamest story-telling device in the history of everything ever. Like Elizabeth Shaw is a scientist because of her father, but also religious, because of him, and neither is she a believable scientist nor does her faith have any effect on the plot whatsoever and is nothing but backstory we’re supposed to swallow to think that she is deep and shit, but really it’s just superficial nonsense. Meredith Vickers relationship with her father is so irrelevant, because we have no clue what is going on, we have no clue what her motivation is, and ultimately none of it plays any role in how these events unfold. It is just there and irritating. Granted, it could have been so much more interesting, if the film had focused on the sibling rivalry between Ms. Vickers and David, but we only get glimpses of that. Waste.

AAAAHHHH!! Why does this plot suck so hard?? (via lightsconnoraction.blogspot.com)

The biggest waste in this movie is David, who is also one of the redeeming qualities. Of course the movie looks fantastic, it is beautiful cinematography, the effects are neat. I like how the aliens look, and even though I find it totally absurd, I like how the aliens evolve throughout the movie. But what is really a saving grace and at the same time the major issue is Michael Fassbender as the android David. Because his performance is brilliant and because his character is actually interesting. All the questions that dumb scientist boyfriend mumbles about are just that same that he asks, but he really asks them and he acts on the impulse to want to find out. And along the way he does dubious things, in full knowledge of their dubiousness. Had the movie about him for 2 hours it would probably have been a better movie.

via cinemaforever.blog.de

BUT this movie wanted to hold on to the alien tradition of strong female character with the introduction of Elizabeth Shaw and FAILED. Now, mind you, I like Noomi Rapace and I think her performance was good. And even though I thought “girl, really?” practically every two seconds I still found her character engaging. But my oh my, does the writing on this character sabotage her. We’re supposed to be thinking of her as Ellen Ripley and then again not, cause she is caring, and crying, has a relationship, is compassionate, is religious, yadda yadda. Then we give her some monsters to run from, some gross beings to kill and everyone will think that she is just as badass as Ellen Ripley. Right? RIGHT?????
Hell to the no. Because that was the brilliance of Alien. For a long time it wasn’t even clear that Ellen Ripley was going to be our protagonist. First she is somewhat of a cold bitch and only after some time we find out that we are probably going to spend the rest of this movie – and the rest of the fight against the alien – with her. And she did kick ass with the weapons she found, with the information she gathered. She sweated and screamed and was terrified yet acted on her instinct to survive. In short: She acted like a human being. She felt like a human being. Like the other characters in Alien. In Prometheus we have none of that. They are all tools. Like characters from any CSI series out there we are meant to think of them as real and deep characters because they have a tattoo, or they like to scream out loud when happy or cry because they can’t have babies and nothing in the world is more terrible for the existence of a woman (and in case you don’t notice, I’m being sarcastic here). That is all bullshit. That is all just nonsense, covering up for the fact that none of these people act like real people would. They make stupid decisions because the plot requires them to and none of it stems from any sort of believable motivation. And if you’re characters are void of believable motivations then your film is, ermh, bordering irrelevance.

Looks and feels familiar? (via filmkritiker.com)

It is pretty to look at, it sounds nice. I can appreciate that there were good ideas, that some parts were written well (David spending his time alone on board of the ship). As an Alien mega-fan I appreciate going back to that story, to this being. Re-discovering the jockey on that planet. Seeing the alien again, connecting its birth with the terror that awaits Ellen Ripley in the future. But that is all just intellectual meta-level shit. That’s appreciation for what this movie accidentally got right. All in all it got pretty much everything it had going for it wrong. Nonetheless I don’t want to give up hope. The ending screams sequel and you never know, they might just end up making a better movie when we follow Elizabeth Shaw and David the android to the corners of the universe to find out where the creator-beings came from .
Until then we can imagine how other scientists would behave in a movie like this. Mathematicians probably wouldn’t know fractions. Egyptologist would probably never had heard of the pyramids – or would want to blow them up. Directors would make good movies with a coherent plot – oops, wait. That’s no science. Or is it now?

Bye David, see you in the sequel! (via pcgames.de)

Dun-dun-dun!

If you liked this, you can check out my Alien reviews in the directory HERE.

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Are you afraid of the Other? A color-conscious reading of Alien

I am a white German man and I enjoy the movies of the Alien-Saga helluva lot. That’s problematic. It might not be for many people, it might not seem so for many people, it might be the unthinkable to many people. But when I watch the Alien movies and find myself thinking: “they’re way cool!” I observe myself wondering: “aren’t you just being a privileged prick?”

Instead of reviewing the remains of the filmic Alien-Saga today (there are still the two Alien vs. Predator instalments) I opt for the editorial-style discussion of issues of racism and color in the Alien movies. Since I haven’t reviewed the two vs. Predator movies yet, and since I think they’re kinda shitty and non-canonical, I will mostly ignore them in this discussion. But then again, I cannot really, cause there we encounter some interesting aspects of the whole issue. For more Alien-related posts, please click HERE to get to the Alien master index.

this looks cute, but our discussion won't be, via fanboy.com

Shall I ease our way into this discussion? The question alone should make clear where I am coming from (talking bout my position within larger human society here): I address somebody who is white, western, thinks of her_himself as colorblind and does not think every other thing should be examined in relation to the issue of racism. If you are a person like that, kudos for being so interested to getting this far, please stay with me. To everyone else: Apologies. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I wouldn’t have that default audience in mind when I start to write? A truly diverse and non-me kind of audience? It would, but I don’t. I started to write and I wanted to write the question of “easing into the discussion” just when I noticed what I’m doing. But I am doing it anyhow, this time around making visible though where my own personal starting point is positioned.

this is what an alien usually looks like, via thefilmstage.com

This wordy entrance provides me with a good starting point to go on about the “easing into” anyways, cause for the beginning, let’s not focus on the alien, nor on the human cast. Let us just look at the actions that inform, more as a subtext than really out in the open, the overall narrative of the Alien movies.
Human beings, originally from our beloved Earth colonize other planets. They have mining colonies, they have prison colonies (hey Fury!), they have colonies on planets where they need to install huge, gritty machines that need to convert the atmosphere to make it inhabitable for humans. Now, you might remember, somewhere in the back of your head, or really just right away: Human beings from planet Earth have quite the history with colonialism. And it ain’t a cute one. It is a history of racial oppression that was desperately in need of racist ideology to justify what was happening in the name of whatnot else. Colonizing space seems to be different at first glance for many people, cause it’s about the future and the explorer-spirit, yadda yadda, but ultimately it is colonialism. And we never see or hear about the colonial struggles that the Earthlings might fight (well, we see one, kinda…). This whole notion of colonialism is further reinforced by presenting us with one huge corporation in charge, Weyland-Yutani, very reminiscent of the various colonisation societies and companies that existed during the days of European and Japanese colonialism not too long ago.
A company is a company, and when we expect it to follow principles and values we usually mean human ones. While that might be helpful when addressing the people in charge of running or employed by companies, a company in itself is not a human being, and in a capitalist world order it has interests that have little to do with being human. That is where the whole corporate craziness from the Alien movies stem from: Humanity meets an alien life form, and the corporate plan is to domesticate it, dissect it, study it and ultimately market it. It is potential profit, that is why it’s interesting and even more so than any of the human staff are. And a lot of the vocabulary should already make it clear, there was a perverted little system called “slavery” that humankind once thought to be a pretty neat thing. It was all about domesticating people (of color, usually), of studying them (people of color, usually), tear them out of their environment (consistent of people of color, usually) and market them (to white people, usually). The Alien, even if we don’t touch upon the issue of looking at it as reminiscent of human or regard its color, is basically being treated and approached like an enslaved subject. My point here? Colonialism and slavery, two terrible things, closely intertwined with the issue of racism and color and we encounter them in the context of Alien, thus this whole discussion is totally worth having, based on that alone. Eased into it already? Good.

how about a different color-scheme?, via artasty.com

Cause the domestication and subjugation of the alien happens on the basis of the argument that it is hostile. And oh, it happens to be black. Granted, not human skin kind of black, but black, as in very visibly not white (ha, not just yet, we’ll get there!), and a kind of black that is reminiscent of human skin color.
Ok, clearly, the alien is not a human being. It reminds us – or at least me – of some sort of reptile/spider-like being that creeps around dark corners, has a body that is set up so very differently from the human form that this alone inserts a factor of insecurity (after all, what can it do? We wouldn’t know) and does not communicate with us in any other way than attacking us. The point I’m getting at, why not just say it now?, is that in light of the history of colonialism, slavery and racist ideas many white people considered people of color to be non-human, to have bodies that differ fundamentally from theirs, to be menacing and violent and ultimately fear-inducing, based alone on the appearance. Don’t go batshit-crazy here, cause I am in no effin way saying “oho, the Alien is like a person of color,” that is not, I repeat: NOT, the point. What I mean is: “aha, interesting, the alien fulfils a vision of fear and menace in white minds that’s been formerly (or still?) occupied by people of color in white mindsets.” And that, I argue, is a racist construction. It was then, it is now, and while white people and people of color do not belong to different races, human beings and the aliens very well do, making the word racism just as appropriate, though somewhat different in overall meaning.

One of the central aspects as to why it is ok to hunt and kill the aliens is that (besides them attacking and killing us) they are constantly dehumanized within the context of the movie. Dehumanizing the being you’re dealing with is the general modus operandi when it comes to white people enslaving and discriminating people of color, it is also firmly in place when it comes to killing animals for fur or skin or meat (but I won’t go there now).
However, there is a paradox inherent in the whole construction of the Alien narrative. If the alien only were an animal that we deem a menace but not really a worthy opponent, the movies would be far less interesting. Therefore, we’ve been introduced to fairly human reactions and interactions, with somewhat of a social system, instincts that lead to the protection of their children, and an intelligence that is en par with that of human beings. They need to remind us of ourselves, in order to make for a worthy opponent, and please don’t go “but their social system, that’s like ants!, or bees!”, cause we as human beings set their social systems in human context, use human vocabulary and thereby think of them as somewhat remotely human, before denying it again on other grounds.
We do a lot of the same with the aliens. Their curious and complicated mode of reproduction, including eggs and parasitic development, rapid growth and an interesting lack of sexual interaction between the queen and any other alien, it is there to remind us that they are not human, that their reproduction cycles do not consist of warmth and familiar gestures. Which kind of reminds me how white “scientists” displayed the genitalia of black women in Europe, cause they were deemed strange and only remotely human. Not to forget white western discourses about how people of color threaten to overpopulate the world, cause they have too much sex, with too many children and too little sense of responsibility (yeah, white people – not all, mind you – think that).
Another popular white discourse has been and still is in some corners of white minds the discourse on how people of color, especially black people are not rational beings but are being led by their instincts that are considered to be primal and void of civilization. Colonial discourses were grounded in that kind of shit, and here in Alien we encounter a being that is defined (even explicitly so) by what it does, and what it does is interpreted as following its own primal instincts, without conscience and without rational thinking. Ermh, similar much?

human/alien hybrid, via cyberpunkreview.com

And then, in Alien 4, Alien Resurrection, there it comes: the alien that is closer to humanity than ever before, cause it reeks of Ripley’s DNA, shows feelings, has eyes, a pink tongue, snarls, and is MOTHERFUCKING white. Umh, the less white you are the less human you are? Is that the message you wanted to send there, stupid producers/everyone else involved? While everyone was probably like “whoa, cool visuals!” (and white) it is really just a horrid subtext displayed there. Cause all of a sudden, even if we were somehow able to ignore all the issues I presented until now, and didn’t connect the color of the aliens and its representation with the issue of racism, all of a fucking sudden Alien Resurrection conveniently links the parts together for us, saying: look, we can think of them as human, and hey, the closer they are to real humans, the whiter they get! Beatings and shootings for everyone on the fucking film set, sez I, but only in the vile places of my personality.
Then there is even the mind-boggling issue of an interracial family (which is still up to this day, unfortunately, a whole issue in itself, cause of the reactions of white society) since Ripley and the aliens are now somehow related, and Mr. Whiterson McWhite aka new kinda alien clearly considers her to be his mother. Let us just briefly think about what happens in Alien Resurrection then: the kid of that interracial relationship that is born with white skin turns against his black mother (even killing her) and family and is ultimately rejected by his white mother (and her family) cause it is still related to the other race. Yes, you may hit your head hard and repeatedly now on the table, to make the pain go away. Not only is it an extremely racist message, but it is even an extremely racist message that doesn’t even try to say it’s not. Whoa, in a not good way, I say to that.

My Little Alien by Mari Kasurinen, via thejunction.de

Having talked a lot about the aliens themselves I still want to discuss the presence of people of color in Alien movies. We all know, Ellen Motherfucking Ripley kicks ass in all the right ways, but she is not a woman of color. Ok, some people are just not (curiously basically every other Hollywood hero though), and hey, at least it is not Erik Ripley, so, yay, female presence! So, how many people of color (who, let me remind you, account for the way larger part of humankind) do we find in the main casts of Alien movies? One in the original movie, he dies. None, really, in Aliens. One in Alien³, and yeah, he dies. And one in Alien Resurrection, wanna guess?, he dies. Yay, diversity…? Obviously, with only one character of color whose name we’re aware of none of the Alien movies pass the Bechdel test adjusted to color. L.A.M.E. In about every way conceivable. At least some Latin descent is hinted at, but let’s not even ask for an Asian presence, shall we? L.A.M.E. Let’s say it together next time!
Curiously, this is where I have to start discussing the Alien vs. Predator movies, cause the first of them, and yeah, just hold your breath and sit down, comes up with one human hero – and she is a black woman. Supposedly she is the new Ripley (without ever being seen in the other AvP movie, though) and that alone makes me even kind of forget how she still needs to be acknowledged by the Predator. As for AvP 2- Requiem, I only saw it once and thought it was abysmal. I don’t even remember – are there any human characters we’re supposed to care about (except for dumb college jocks and their ladies)?
The introduction of the Predators into the Alien Universe just reinforces what I stated earlier though: the aliens become prey, they are beings in themselves, but not respected. Their existence is only permissible to the extent that the Predators can enslave them, play with them, hunt them and kill them. The predators just take over the torch. They become the mightier colonizers and masters, their every racist whim is what is to structure the universe.

Sanaa Lathan as Alexa Woods, via moviesmeter.com

On a final note I should maybe explain why I can bitch about how racist Alien movies are and still like them. Part of it is probably nostalgia, I watched and loved the Alien movies long before I ever contemplated racism and white privilege. Another part is white privilege, I guess I am white enough to not be confronted with the negative end of racist action every other moment, so that I can ignore many implications, even though I am aware that they are there. And then there is of course that part of me that hopes that some of the story and imagery is really not just that bad, tells us something about the human condition that transcends the mere medium of film
Oh and, why should be critical with something mean you have to dislike it? Hm, what do you think?