I have a long history with the original Blade Runner. I first saw it when I was seven-years-old, I think. Harrison Ford was on the cover, it looked futuristic and cool, in an action-packed sci-fi sort of way, given the, I don’t know, “space pistol” he was holding. Blade Runner, it turns out, is not appropriate for children. Not because of the violence, sex and nudity (though for some that may be a valid reason), but because it is a slow, ponderous movie that is more concerned with the philosophical notion of humanity than with action.
I’ve seen Blade Runner maybe about a dozen times—including the theatrical version, the director’s cut and the “final” cut. I understand Blade Runner is a masterpiece, and while I do like it, it’s just something that resonates with my on any sort of personal level. I can ooh and ah over the visuals, which are no doubt incredible. The movie spawned countless imitations. I know the history of the film pretty extensively. I just don’t really give a shit about it.
Sometimes while watching the latest entry in the Alien franchise, Alien: Covenant I wondered if Ridley Scott, the man who directed both this and the original film that kicked everything off, had even watched Alien.
Alien: Covenant seems to follow the path of Prometheus, as opposed to the original Alien. As such, it is populated with characters who make the worst possible decision in any situation. I’m not sure which film I enjoy more… or less. Both Alien: Covenant and Prometheus are dull, lifeless exercises in… I don’t even know what. The movies don’t seem to be thrilled with any of the ideas that they’re presenting. In Alien: Covenant, while exploring caverns, the movie simply allows the exploration to happen—when this moment should be a wonderful, exciting sequence filled with wonders and horrors and delights, it’s treated like the characters are walking to the grocery store.
The Alien movies are unique in that every entry was directed by a relative newcomer who ended up doing amazing things with their careers. Ridley Scott, James Cameron, David Fincher and Jean-Pierre Jeunet have, outside of their work on this series of films, have created classics of the cinema. Unlike many on-going film series that have lasted decades, each one presents a new take on the original and expands upon it in thoughtful way… well, except for Alien Resurrection, which had some interesting ideas, but goddamn.
Movies just don’t get more iconic than the original Alien does. Everything about it memorable: The story, the tension, the creature, the human characters, the dialogue, the costumes, the set design, the sound design and the famous and suspenseful false ending. Everything about Alien is classic. It’s a classic movie that transcends being simply a horror movie or simply a sci-fi movie or even a sci-fi horror flick… no, it’s much more. It’s a master class on filmmaking itself. To study Alien is to study an example of near-perfection in cinema.