Posts tagged #Aliens

Aliens: Colonial Marines – First Impressions

I’m a xenomorph fan and like most xenomorph fans, I was excited for Aliens: Colonial Marines. When the game broke its street date and was released a few days early, reviews and opinions started pouring in. Most of what I read was negative. Of course, I was pretty shocked. From everything I had seen on the game, it looked like it would be really good and close to the feel of the Alien films, but all these opinions were saying the opposite along with other negative criticisms about various aspects. Ignoring these early impressions, I decided to take the plunge and proceed with purchasing the game for PC.

In a word: I like the game. Is it the best thing I’ve ever played? No. Does it show signs of being in development limbo for several years? Yes. But from the 3 or 4 missions I’ve completed, I can say that it’s a good game. At this point, I’d probably give it a 7/10. The only thing I could agree with from these impressions is the fact that some of the AI is kind of dumb at times, but mainly on the part of the human characters.

After the game was actually released, official reviews started pouring in, most of which were horrible. IGN’s review stated, “You don’t ever actually feel like you’re actually in danger. You don’t feel overwhelmed. In fact, over the course of its six hour campaign the game never gets even remotely close to replicating the genuine feelings of fear and dread that simmer throughout James Cameron’s cinematic classic, simply because its xenomorphic enemies are so mindless.”
I have to disagree with almost every bit of that.

Let’s take these one by one, shall we?

1.       “You don’t ever actually feel like you’re actually in danger.”
Apparently IGN didn’t play the mission where you have no weapons, are being chased by some sort of giant xenomorph (not a queen), and have to move slowly throughout the underbelly of Hadley’s Hope in fear of waking up the sleeping “acid-filled exploding” new aliens. I was genuinely creeped out by this section. I felt like I was in plenty of danger as I didn’t want to die by waking one of those jokers up; when one did wake up, I had to remain perfectly still since these new xenomorphs operate completely off of sound. When it came right up to me, slowly circled, and eventually trotted off, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Plenty of danger, indeed.

2.       “You don’t feel overwhelmed.”
There are a ton of xenomorphs that show up all the time which you have to fend off, sometimes having to protect a squadmate as they complete some kind of task. How do you not feel overwhelmed?

3.       “…the game never gets even remotely close to… the genuine feelings of fear and dread that simmer throughout James Cameron’s cinematic classic…”
Excuse me? Did you guys even watch Aliens? If we were talking about “simmering fear and dread” in the original Alien film, I could get behind your point, but we’re talking about Aliens. Aliens was a high-octane, action/sci-fi flick. Ninety percent of the movie was spent blasting xenomorphs and another five percent was Ripley fighting the queen with a loader. There were some “fear simmering” moments (which accounts for the remaining 5%), like the infamous turret scene, but the majority of the film was action oriented.

4.       “…the xenomorphs are so mindless.”
While I don’t completely agree, I can see where they’re coming from. The xenomorph AI isn’t as complex as it was in the most recent Alien’s Vs. Predator title, but it’s not terrible by any stretch. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “mindless,” though. Less advanced than AvP, sure.

Another thing related to the AI (which seems to be one of the game’s largest criticisms, including IGN) I don’t agree with is when IGN writes, “The problem lies with the aliens themselves; they’re not smart enough to hunt in packs or take you by surprise; they just willfully hurt themselves in front of your short, controlled bursts.”
Again, the xenomorph AI isn’t the greatest in the world, but really, when has AI in a game ever been smart enough to “hunt” the player? The only thing I can think of is in AvP when the xenomorphs will sometimes try to get behind you rather than attack you head-on, but I wouldn’t call that “hunting.” Like I said before: That’s something that shows the AI in this game isn’t as advanced as it was in AvP. But in all fairness, AvP and A:CM are two different types of games. They’re both first person titles, but AvP had varied game types by being able to choose between the 3 species… Two of which you had to play as hunters. Here, you’re stuck with the marine and only the marine in a story that needs to be a little faster paced like the film it claims to be a sequel to.

Also, everyone needs to be aware that this game is pretty old and has been in development for quite some time. It has switched developers more times than I have fingers and toes. No matter what Gearbox (the last developer) did to the game, the only thing that would have “fixed” the outdated features in the game would be to rebuild it from the ground up, which would have delayed the game even further. That being said, the game is pretty good for having been a complete and utter disaster when it comes to developing software.

Once I finish the game, I will give my full review of it. But as of right now, I’m really enjoying it and, for me at least, Aliens: Colonial Marines is mostly a success so far.

Source: IGN

!!! Is That A Xenomorph In Your Chest Or Are You Just Happy To SeeRidley Scott (Prometheus Reviewed With Spoilers) !!!

I Have Seen The Alien And He Is Us?!?

Spoilers, Spoilers Everywhere, You Have Been Heavily Warned!!!!!

Sir Ridley Scott is one of the greatest directors working in the film industry today and has been for many, many years past. He has a vision and storytelling ability that few can match in terms of originality and sheer beauty. For all the great things that Ridley Scott is as a director, he is also something else that makes him either a complete genius or the most evil mastermind on the planet.

Sir Ridley is "ONE BIG LIAR"!

I'll say the again, Ridley Scott is "ONE BIG FAT LIAR"!

And the same goes for Damon Lindelof, for that matter, but we'll talk about that later. Sir Ridley has been saying for months and months that "Prometheus" is not a prequel to "Alien". He said in interviews that there are elements of what he called Alien DNA in this story, but that this movie will not directly tie into the first movie. Well, in a sense, he is correct, but he is selling his new film extremely short in terms of how closely the two are connected and that is a disservice to the fans as well as the movie itself. Does this make Ridley a bad guy? I don't think so. In a world (I'm using my "movie trailer guy" voice) where the entire plot and any surprises a movie has can readily be found online months, dare I say years sometimes, before a movie is released in theaters, creators have had to resort to extreme measures in order to insure the secrecy of their respective projects. I could write an entire column on the pros and cons of spoilers, so I won't really discuss it here (my main thought is that it is up to the individual to determine if they want to know everything about a film or remain ignorant to all types of information... you know, free country and all). Spoilers are now, for better or worse, part of our movie going experience. Scripts are guarded by security forces, non-disclosure agreements are signed, and, now, flat out lies and half truths are told all in an attempt to keep you from knowing what filmmakers have in store. We all know that this is an impossibility, all great secret plots eventually see the light of day (Oswald did not act alone, of that I am convinced... well sort of). Movies eventually get released and all secrets are revealed. I just don't know that they have to lie to me to keep me as pure as the driven snow so I'll put "my bum", as Ridley calls it, in the seats. Just come out and say what everyone knows from the images and trailers and don't be non-committal to the point of absurdity. This brings me to why Ridley Scott is a great honking liar.

Spoilers Ahead, Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here!

Prometheus is a great movie, anyone who says otherwise went into the movie with a preconceived notion of how they wanted it to be. It wouldn't match anyone's ideas for a prequel to Aliens (yes, you read that right). For all the evasive maneuvering and word wrangling that the creative minds behind this movie did, there is nothing like "seeing"to make you understand the truth behind the facade.

This Is A Prequel To Alien And Aliens!!!

Again, This "Is" A Prequel To Alien And Aliens!!!

From film structure, to scene dynamic, to sound design and score, to production design, to charater portrayal, to dialog choices, this movie is a true prequel to Alien in every sense of the word. For all the runaround we got from the filmmakers, once you see the finished film you would be hard pressed to try and convince me that this is not a prequel. Some of the choices that Sir Ridley made seemed to be done entirely with an eye toward tying this film directly into his previous one. I got the feeling that in some cases he simply walked into a department head's office (production design, sound design, score) and said, "Get a copy of the Alien DVD (or Blu-Ray if you prefer) and use that as a reference for everything you do on this film." He goes so far in that direction I found myself thinking I was actually watching Alien during some scenes. The most interesting aspect to this movie is that compared to Alien, Prometheus takes the original formula and reverses it. In Alien you had a straight up slasher flick packaged in a Sci Fi box. You could have taken that formula, gotten rid of the Sci Fi, and set it in a summer camp and you would have had Friday the 13th. Prometheus is the opposite of that. It's a movie that's straight up science fiction with elements of horror thrown in for effect. Remove the horror and you got 2001: A Space Odyssey. "Come on Todd, where did you get that preposterous hypothesis? Did Steve tell you that? Steve." Why no, fake Jermaine Clement in my head, that idea comes from the fact that both movies deal with the beginnings of life on this planet (although in a fictional sense). "But Todd, Prometheus is NOWHERE NEAR AS GOOD AS 2001!!!!" Hey calm down there, I know that you worship Stanley Kubrick, but there's no reason to shout. Both movies stand on their own in terms of thought provoking ideas and they were both meant to illicit discussion among the audience (and they are uboth movies that you should see for yourself). So once again to reiterate, Alien equals horror with a little Sci Fi and Prometheus equals Sci Fi with a little bit of horror.

It almost feels like (and Josh pointed this out after we saw the movie) that Prometheus made Alien and everything after it insignificant. We find out that the Xenomorph was just a tool, a weapon if you will, and those people on the original ship died to prove that point. You can make the case that the company, Weyland-Yutani in the previous films, were looking for ways to supplement their gross profits by obtaining this weapon to use in their military contracts. Prometheus pushes this concept by showing the lengths to which Peter Weyland will go to further his own ends. It appears that his company continued to follow his lead in using aggressive (and very unethical) means to continue their existence. The idea of big corporations using employees as expendable commodities seems to be a recurring theme (hooray for you, Occupy Wallstreet, in the future of a fictional universe you were right). In Prometheus, the mission is not to acquire knowledge (like Shaw and Holloway want) but to serve the needs of a man bent on prolonging his own life (check out the crazy exoskeleton suit that old Peter puts on at the end of the movie). I digress for a moment to say that if you are going to an undiscovered, hitherto unknown, location, whether it be for exploration or not, always carry A WEAPON!!! I cannot stress that enough (even in Star Trek they carried phasers). From Birk (in Aliens), to Peter Weyland, to Gordon Gecko (yeah, I know, different movie), the saying holds true for those that are morally corrupt, "Greed, for lack of a better word, is "Good".

Let's go ahead and get this out of the way, shall we. The Xenomorph "is" in the movie, albeit in the last minute of the film and in an early stage of it's evolution to the creature we know today. The "Facehugger" is also in the film but it is nigh on unrecognizable in the form that you see (watch for the giant squid thingy that takes out the Engineer near the end). "But Todd, those two things were not even close to what we saw in the original franchise films." Sure, but isn't that the point. This film takes place in 2093, while Alien took place in 2122 (how do you know that? Some other dedicated people have made it their business to know, that's how). So we can see the progress (story wise) that could have taken place between Prometheus and Alien. There is plenty of time for the Weyland Corporation to buy out Yutani, find out what happened on LV-223, begin searching for another Engineer Bioweapon Facility, find the distress call of another Engineer ship (the one on LV-426), send their company mining ship, the Nostromo, down to bring back a specimen (Xenomorph), and the rest as they say is "history". Interesting side note for all you people crazy about connections and backstory, the star system that LV-223 (Prometheus Planet) resides in, is called Zeta 2 Reticuli (actual star system in real life space) and this is the same system that contains LV-426 (planet from Alien and Aliens). There is not much of a stretch to think that when the Engineers abandoned the facility on LV-223, because their Bioweapon had turned on them, that one of the infected Engineers then escaped in a ship and crashed on LV-426 setting up Alien. This is the reason behind Prometheus all along. Ridley Scott wanted to show you the importance of the giant in the weird chair they found in the first movie (and briefly seen in the extended cut of Aliens). He has always said that the real question of Alien was not what the Xenomorph was, but who this giant is and why he's there in the first place. If you haven't figured it out by now, the Engineer in Prometheus is the Space Jockey from Alien and this is his story (or their's to be more precise). We find out that the real evil behind the Xenomorph weapon is the Engineers themselves and that, while the Alien itself is terrifying (as any weapon of mass destruction is), they (the Engineers) are the real threat to unsuspecting civilizations, some of which they created (hence the shrinking importance of the Xenomorph later on). Some people won't like it that Sir Ridley has done this to their beloved movie (much the way George Lucas killed their childhood dreams of Star Wars, give me a break). But guess what, just because the movie is not up to your glorious fan fiction (see below):

"About Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) being a clone of a clone from the start of Aliens, after the events of the first film, in which she actually died, hence the clone, and everything that occurred from that point on is happening in the computer simulation the corporation is running in her head because they need to find a way to avoid the ingenuity she shows in defeating the alien, which she didn't do, from repeating in other people that they might send the Xenomorph against thus reducing the gross profit they can reap from the sell of this new creature to the military for use in containing uprisings in company run mining operations throughout the universe."

(Wow, I said it was your fan fiction, I did not say it was good) doesn't mean that Prometheus is a bad film. If you think you can do it better, by all means, go for it (see how far 20th Century Fox lets you get with that). For me, Ridley tells the story he wants to tell which is exactly the one I want to see. It's great to see someone take something that they started, to places you never expected. Well played Sir Scott, well played.

Let's talk about the cast, shall we? Noomi Rapace is awesome as Elisabeth Shaw. Not a surprise after her turn as Lizbeth Salander in the Swedish version of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo". Ridley has a knack for picking the right actress to play the strong willed female protagonist seen in a great number of his films and I don't think it is a coincidence that both Prometheus and Alien are alike in that respect. Michael Fassbender is spot on as the required (in an Alien movie, anyway) android, David. He plays the character in a way that embodies both Ian Holm's and Lance Hendrickson's performances as the synthetics of their respective movies. It is both subtle and grand at the same time. Might I also take a minute and state for the record just how awesome Idris Elba is. The man is God's gift to the film industry and a potential man crush for all who go that route (I'm looking at you Josh, with your man crush on Johnny Depp). Charlize Theron is great, especially after her motivations are revealed later in the film. You get the since that, she gives a much more nuanced performance with more emotion than you would expect in a character who is representative of the corporate monster sent to protect it's own interests. It becomes hard to say who the real evil is. Is it the Engineers, is it the Corporation, is it Peter Weyland himself (you can't blame it on David, he was just following orders), it's hard to say? Guy Pearce, in the little screen time he is given, is crazy old guy awesome. He is completely unforgivable as Peter Weyland and even under generous prosthetics that fact comes across. Logan Marshall-Green as Charlie Holloway really surprised me in the way he handled his character. He is the aggressive type, wanting what he wants on his timeframe. While not wholly unlikable, he could come off as a hot headed impatience sort sometimes, case in point, he says, when they land in front of these obviously man made structures, that he wants to get out there and get rolling on their mission at which point Idris Elba's character asked him why he doesn't just wait till the next morning to which he replies, "I don't like to wait to open my Christmas presents." (Note: it's the Christmas season when they reach the planet and the Prometheus begins to land.) Logan Marshall-Green also has one of the greatest lines spoken in the movie. When they are in what they call the temple for the first time, they enter a chamber that has a giant head in it, you've seen it from the posters and the trailers, to begin gathering some clues as to what actually happen to these beings. The area suddenly becomes beseeched by a dust storm unlike anything seen on our little planet. This problem urges them to make a beeline for the ship as fast as they can. As they are gathering their stuff, David decides that he needs one of the vases siting on the floor. All the others are hauling tail while David plays slow @$$ causing Holloway to yell at him to come on. Logan Marshall-Green says this line (I will try to convey as best as I can the volume, tone, and general stress in the words he says), "DAVID, WE ARE LEAVING!!!" Why is that your favorite line in the movie (when there are clearly other choices)? Because of the way it is said and the significance of what it means in the larger context of the films as a whole (a fact that people will come to appreciate down the road). This single line, whether it was intentional by Sir Scott, a product of the writer, or the homage from one actor to another, may never truly be known. But it serves as one of the most blatant example of Prometheus tying itself back to the original movies, and doing so not just to Alien but to James Cameron's Aliens well. When the colonial marines are in full retreat from their first encounter with large quantities of Xenomorphs under the atmospheric processor, Cpl. Hicks is trying to get everyone that's left alive into the APC so they can get the H.E. Double Hockey Sticks out of dodge while they still have a chance. To do this, Hicks yells out a single statement: he says, "MARINES, WE ARE LEAVING!!!" While the recipient of the message is different, the tone of voice used, the urgency in the way it was spoken, the emphasis on the exact same words, vocal cadence, and the fact that the words are spoken by two characters who's names begin with an H (I might be pushing it with that last one but it is mighty strange, and as I heard on Fringe, that there are no more coincidences) points to some thought of the connectivity between Prometheus and the films that came before it. Michael Biehn and now Logan Marshall-Green are the Lizard Kings!!!

An Open Letter To Damon Lindelof

Dear, Damon (can I call you Damon?)

Damon Lindelof, oh Damon Lindelof, you Ridley Scott enabler you, what were you thinking? After all the things that you went through with the finale of your TV show "Lost", after all the hate mail and harsh criticism you took after daring to end a beloved TV show in "that" manner, after all the shots that were taken at you for "screwing up" (not my words) Star Trek, you must have some weird, misogynistic condition that compels you to take on projects that will elicit extremely heavy criticism from the very outspoken fan community that these things are aimed at. My heart goes out to you. I hope, I might convince you that those people are in the minority and that you have consistently lived up to many people's expectations when it comes to your work. You have all the respect that I can give you to be able to produce great content under lots of stress when you are being held up to the rose tinted lens of the past. And to your credit, even though you are a gigantic liar, you are a team player and know how to work it, in the "Spoiler" era we live in. I can only assume that you learned this trait from J.J. Abrams (an incredible boss and a saint to all) after spending large amounts of time in his circle of secrecy. You certainly know how to dodge a question, just like a politician who got caught attending a Secret Service party in South America. You must continue to do what you love and keep fighting the good fight as the vice president of the anti-spoiler league. Oh, and Prometheus was really good and yes, I understood "Lost".

Yours Truly, D. Lindelof

The other name in the credits connected to the story is Jon Spaihts. I have read in interviews he's done that the script he wrote was way more heavy on the Xenomorph and Facehugger aspect than the current incarnation we have today. I am glad that he is a fan and he and Lindelof have said that a large piece of that script remains in the finished film. But, I am also glad that those things were toned down considerably in the final product because, in my view, it would have made it less original and just a rehash of the same old story I've seen in the past. We may never know how much of Spaihts' original vision remains but even if it's just the broad strokes of the story we see, then I would say that he succeeded in his mission.

The music in Prometheus is fantastic. Marc Streitenfeld has set himself as Ridley Scott's personal John Williams. With a little help from Harry Gregson-Williams, Marc has created a score that not only is full and powerful, it's also the right fit for a movie set in the Alien Universe (Oh... I also like to name drop film composers wherever possible). Everyone will be glad to know that pieces of the late, great Jerry Goldsmith's original score for Alien makes their way into Prometheus and shows us another connection to the previous film.

A few minor things to think about and discuss before I go. I made the comment after the film that I was wondering why the Engineers would want to destroy their own creations. The answer could certainly be, "because they can," but I find that hard to believe in the complexity of a story like this. My thought is, "what if we were intended to be the perfect weapon and earth was just another bioweapon facility on a grander scale?" We became to sentient to be allowed to continue our existence (we, as a race, are very good at finding ways to eradicate large numbers of people in the most efficient way possible, much like the Xenomorph). The Engineers needed a way to completely remove us from the planet without creating an equally sentient weapon to accomplish that mission, hence the Xenomorph (or something similar). That begs the question, "Are we the real alien of these movies and are we really the ultimate threat?" Things that make you go "Huh". Feel free to discuss below or in our forums.

The entire cast and crew did a wonderful job putting this movie together. They should all feel very proud to be named among it's creators. That brings me to my final thoughts (What...huh...What's all this then, I wasn't finished with me kip (British word for "nap") yet, Oh... You're at the end, eh? Well bully for you old chap, it's about bloody time if you asked me. Well.. Get on with it). Thank you random British guy I will, Prometheus is great science fiction movie, it's also a great movie in general (from a pure entertainment stand point), but first and foremost it "is" the perfect "prequel" to Sir Ridley's master creation that is Alien. You could not have made this movie and have it be just like the first Alien film. It would have immediately fell flat on it's face. What we have in Prometheus is the backstory we never got in Alien (or knew we wanted for that matter) and it's sequels and that give this movie a reason to exist beside all the others in this shared universe. This movie is beautiful to behold (if at all possible see it in IMAX 3D because it's the only way to go) and the 3D is some of the best I've seen since Avatar (shared universe? Come on Ridley and Cameron, make it happen). Prometheus boosts some impressive visuals due to the use of Red Epic cameras with 3D rigs, so no backend conversion for this baby and it shows. I'm not trying to tell you how to see this movie (yes I am) but your doing yourself a disservice if you miss this movie in an IMAX setting (fair warning). Again, don't take anybody's word for it, go see it yourself. Oh, and have fun, that's what films are for (did anyone else sing that last part like Dionne Warwick? No? Ok, just me then, but I bet you can't read it now without thinking that...Ha, got ya!).

Todd "Game Over, Man, Game Over" B.

Also check out the viral site for Weyland Industries, here. You will find all kinds of cool stuff that connects the movies together. Have fun.