Sunday, 16 February 2020

I need to get my Alien/Aliens thing off my chest... again.


Me: look, I think I need to state that I don't think Aliens is a bad movie - I love it, it's one of the greatest 80s action movies - but I think it was a bad sequel. Gone the tense Lovecraftian nightmare. Now they're big insects you can shoot, and they have a boss level.

Aliens is fantastic - action, suspense, it's eminently quotable and it looks amazing. The thing is, when they make the alien just a drone in a hive that has a queen laying eggs you have a real-world analogy and any mystery is out of the window.

They're no better than the ants from 'Them!' They're no longer that dangerous, you can 10mm explosive tipped caseless them into the stone age as long as you're not standing too close. Any mystery, horror or threat is minimized. Aliens did an amazing job of the tension as the marines were unprepared, but I can't help but imagine that the Aliens are manageable if you are prepared. The cosmic horror and mystery is just flattened and the whole thing is just a shootout.

There was a lot more to explore as far in the alien's mysterious past, and Prometheus and Covenant tried that but misfired. Perhaps not exploring the history of the creature and leaving it vague would have been the better choice. A queen laying eggs is a little dull, but an Alien morphing a body into an egg? What the hell? That's infinitely cooler.

But now it's classed as a Xenomorph and it's been given labels and a defined background, the mystery is gone and with it the horror. Any 'fear of the unknown' is redundant, because it's not 'unknown' any more.

The greatest strength of the alien was the fact that we didn't know, and it was so far beyond our understanding it scared us. Terrified us.

But now we do know, and it's a terror we could deal with. So now the terror is gone and we can sleep easier knowing we have options. Options to rid ourselves of the nightmare. Guns. Nukes. Sharp sticks.

And that's kinda sad for me.

Nobody: What?

Me: Nothing.