The fans have spoken… and catapulted ‘Prometheus’ to an opening weekend of $50 million. This is no small feat, given that the movie studio had serious fears over whether an R-rated film could deliver the financial goods. But this is Ridley Scott that we’re talking about: The director that set the bar so high with Sci-Fi classics such as ‘Alien’ and ‘Blade Runner’, that no other filmmaker could surpass it.
So why are fans obsessed with the ‘Alien’ movies?
3 simple reasons: A kick-ass heroine, “Survival of the Fittest” themes, and morally ambiguous androids.
1. A Kick-Ass Heroine
The quintessential action heroine that set the benchmark for a fully-realized character, Ellen Ripley echoes in our collective consciousness. In ‘Alien’, Ripley displayed remarkable adaptability. Not afraid to show caution or fear regarding the unfolding events, she was also able to make tough choices, exhibiting courage as the alien unnervingly played a game of cat and mouse with the Nostromo crew.
In the sequel ‘Aliens’, Ripley continued to evolve as a character. Despite being severely traumatized and as the lone (human) survivor, she chose to face her fears by agreeing to join a corporate and military expedition to locate missing colonists. After discovering a young girl alive on LV-426, Ripley’s fears were quickly replaced by strong maternal instincts. Her showdown with the queen alien in order to protect Newt, exemplifies what makes her the ideal template for all heroines to come.
2. “Survival Of The Fittest” Themes
When ‘Alien’ opened in theaters, people quickly realized that this was not for the faint of heart. The film examined a few of our worst fears as a species: the vast and threatening realities of space exploration, corporate motivations prioritized over the value of human life, finding life-forms that were not only unfriendly, but wanted to use us as incubators to perpetuate their species, and the possible extinction of the human race as a result of this.
In addition to these factors, we were introduced to the perfect predator. The original creature in the ‘Alien’ movie was meant to have a life-cycle that was self-sustaining. But in ‘Aliens’, the xenomorphs consisted of face-huggers, a swarm of incredibly fast-moving, fully grown aliens, and the imposing queen (who gestated the eggs that hatched the face-huggers). As if we didn’t have enough to contend with, it turns out that they all have acid for blood. Could Nature be any crueler than that?
3. Morally Ambiguous Androids
It would make sense that in the far reaches of space exploration, funded by a corporation with vested interests, that they would develop androids to ensure the success of costly missions. And so it is in the ‘Alien’ universe. What makes these characters so riveting, though, is that we’re not necessarily made aware that they’re artificial beings, nor are we entirely certain of their motives. This greatly contributes to the suspenseful elements of these movies, and begs us to ask philosophical questions about sentience.
As for ‘Prometheus’, Michael Fassbender delivers a scene-stealing performance as the android, David. Though there are mixed reviews for the film, I highly suggest seeing it in 3D. As most Sci-Fi fans can attest, we have to see it for ourselves: It’s been too long of a wait!