I haven’t been the biggest fan of Ridley Scott’s output over the years, but there’s no denying his one two punch of “Alien” and “Legend” is immense. Often times modern audiences forget to cite “Legend” as one of the benchmarks of the fantasy genre. It’s probably the quintessential dark fantasy film and the one film I think of when I refer to fantasy films. There’s everything here from goblins, and trolls, to unicorns, and a valiant warrior, in the form of Tom Cruise. There’s also the unparalleled performance by Tim Curry whose delivers a stunning turn as the Lord of Darkness.
With “Prometheus” Ridley Scott met the other side of his “Alien” mythology by visiting the very early dawn of his universe that saw the very evolution of his xenomorphs. After it hit with a thud resembling a wet diaper smashing in to a garbage can, Scott hits the other extreme by delivering a movie in the vein of “Prometheus” that’s just as flat and just as stupid. Director Ridley Scott has lost the grasp of his own film and has really failed to learn how to deliver a well measured and compelling horror tale teeming with themes about sexuality and human biology. Instead now he gets to literally have his cake and eat it too, by offering up a ham fisted goofy prequel that feels like a glorified fan film. All the while also continuing his descent in to pseudo-intellectualist allegories and on the nose metaphors about God, the Devil, Heaven, Paradise, evolution and birth.
It’s been quite a while since director Ridley Scott brought a film so rich and entertaining to the big screen and it’s a thrill to see Scott bring audiences what is one of the more riveting tales of a castaway trying to survive in the wilderness. Adapted from the novel, Scott delivers a truly compelling drama about lone astronaut Mark Watney left stranded on Mars, who spends his time trying to survive and build his own ecosystem in a harsh alien world incapable of supporting life. What’s most exceptional about “The Martian,” is that it tells the tale of a very motivated hero who spends all of his time trying to solve his problems and very little of it moping around and fearing death.
As its successors, carbon copies, and wannabes have shown, “Alien” is a film that easily could have taken its premise and diluted it in to exploitation or just another stock monster movie. There’s something eerie and absolutely unnerving about “Alien” from the moment it begins. Director Ridley Scott, paired with the brilliance of H.R. Giger and Dan O’Bannon, spawns a truly creepy tale of a phallic alien hatching in the belly of an old ship that begins wreaking havoc on its surrogate caretakers. It takes a powerful woman to conquer the male manifestation with a protruding orifice, one who defies all kinds of gender stereotypes and tropes.
I would really only suggest “Legend” to the hardcore fantasy aficionados. It might even be a little too heavy for “Lord of the Rings” fans. As a kid I loved watching what Ridley Scott gave movie fans, but I never quite understood it until years later. Scott touches on some heavy concepts both philosophical and spiritual, and he does so with a palette of monsters and unicorns. Director Ridley Scott composes a rather brilliant and dark fantasy epic about the concepts of light and dark, and good and evil. In truth, “Legend” is a twist on the tale of Adam and Eve, except with more fantasy, magic, and monsters.
“Creature Crypt” is a four part weekly column that spotlights two creatures from our childhood that made us in to rabid horror fans. These are the creatures that scared us, wowed us, made us cry, and made us hope they weren’t under our bed.
Basically what’s hypothesized in “Prometheus” is what if the thing that created us sought out the answers to what created it? And what if in the process of figuring out its own creation, it managed to accidentally create us? And what would happen if the thing that created us in a mission to figure out what created it, actually really wasn’t a God, and pretty much hates out guts for being accidental spawns of its experimentation? It’s a dichotomy and a contradiction that’s worth exploring, because it’s a startling and absolutely crushing notion to comprehend, but not with “Prometheus.”
It doesn’t matter whether or not fans prefer the raucous party that is “Aliens” or the slow burn terror that is “Alien,” no matter what there will never be another film like Ridley Scott’s “Alien.” Many have tried to duplicate the subtle horrific tale of a group of scavengers stuck on a ship with a creeping alien capable of striking them down at any moment, but very few have been able to capture that thrill and chill that Scott embodied so well with his fixture. Though “Aliens” is a welcome addition to any repertoire, not even James Cameron could capture the dark essence of the alien creeping in the corners of this creaky barge ready to murder and harvest any human host it could seek out. Ian Nicholas brings together an absolutely incredible compilation book that makes up the essential encyclopedia chronicling the development and making of “Alien.”