I’m going to get the obvious observations out of the way.
This is not an Alien prequel. I’m not sure why they billed it like that, unless they couldn’t come up with an advertising team clever enough to suggest that it’s set in the same fictional universe as Alien. Because it is, but that’s pretty much the limit to the connection-and remember that fact, because it’s one that’s necessary to understand a lot of my criticism of this film.
It’s a flawed film. I’m probably going to be nicer to this film than a lot of reviewers because I actually find it watchable for all of its faults. As in, I was noticing a lot of things that didn’t make sense but still enjoyed the movie. I spent a lot of the movie wondering where the plot holes I kept hearing about last summer were, and then with some post-viewing googling realized I had actually found them but didn’t find them to be nearly as distracting as a great deal of my fellow bloggers.
Honestly I feel like a lot of the movie’s weakness, and a lot of the general hate surrounding it, is that they were expecting a blow by blow of why Ripley had to do what was set up in Alien. I feel like the last fight scene of the film could have been cut and you would have had the same movie, just without a lingering sense of an image shoved in to be able to connect the film to a pre-existing franchise. This movie isn’t Alien. What it is, and what I think its strength is, is a fairly meta dark space opera. I feel like while not nearly as meta as what Whedon did with Cabin in the Woods, you can see about a dozen different franchises running through the movie, but in a way that doesn’t feel lazy or stolen.
As for the weaknesses not related to its odd marketing campaign, I really feel like, not to be insulting to anyone-or at least incorporating myself into this group because I found them too-you have to be a geek to either see them or be bothered by them. One of the few I feel like isn’t a huge spoiler is the suggestion that two completely different universes managed to evolve a similiar enough linguistic history to be able to communicate. At least Star Trek suggested that there were fairly illogical, once you think about it, universal communicators. These two planets are apparently just somehow coincidentally linked that way. There’s no way this works.
But I don’t expect everyone to be a sociologist, linguist, or anthropologist either and with the exception of one major plot hole, I think the film is pretty viewable with the flaws. Even if it wants to bash you over the head with some rather clunky symbolism. Just take it as its own film and ignore pretty anything you’ve ever watched involving a chest buster.
Now I want to go watch Event Horizon.