Upon first glance at the title it might seem like some "click-bait" article trying to get read. And perhaps, no matter what you read here, that is how you're going to see it. However, once you finish reading this opinion piece (and remember, this is simply my opinion), you may very well agree that Ridley Scott is no longer the man to handle the Alien franchise. Especially after watching this weekend's less than stellar Alien: Covenant.
When the first Alien movie landed in theaters in 1979, it was groundbreaking. It featured incredible special effects, a plausible look at the space program in the future, and a scene of such amazingly grotesque proportions (the alien exploding out of a crew mate's stomach), it still shocks people to this day. The film was smart, it featured a female kicking ass, and in many ways, the first Alien movie directed by Ridley Scott is still ahead of it's time.
After this, Scott appeared to be done with the franchise. He would go on to direct the groundbreaking Blade Runner, the famous Apple commercial depicting 1984, Legend, Black Rain, and a host of other iconoclastic projects.
Meanwhile, the franchise of Alien would get a bit of a makeover. The next installment in the franchise would be Aliens. This supercharged, action-fest would come to us courtesy of eventual giant James Cameron. This film was bold, audacious and clearly had none of the 1970s vibe that its predecessor had. It would also go on to represent the gold standard as far as sequels go.
Despite Alien 3 landing in the hands of the brilliant David Fincher, this movie just didn't go anywhere. It was, however, filled with the dark motifs that Fincher established in his previous music videos. Now the original Alien may not have been filled with action, but it's hard to deny that in that movie, danger doesn't feel like it is around every corner. Alien 3 didn't have a lot of action, the danger quotient was low, and as a result, this film just doesn't achieve the level of fear that we have come to expect from this franchise. Perhaps this was just a harbinger of things to come once Ridley Scott returned to the director's chair?
The fourth installment, from City of Lost Children and Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, can best be described as a dense film. Anyone familiar with the work of this director should've expected nothing less. This film, while better than Alien 3, seems more like a hybrid between Alien and and Aliens. Basically, Ripley has been cloned and now has to stop a ship filled with aliens from making its way to earth. Ultimately, Jeunet acquitted himself well here.
In the mean time, we were given Alien vs. Predator, which continued the "beef" between the Alien and Predator that was seemingly started in Predator 2. How can anybody forget the Alien trophy that was revealed to us in that mugging moment? Who knows, I am sure that somebody reading this will say that that this beef actually dates back to the mid-1980s when Aliens and Predator first hit screens.
Then it was announced that there would be an Alien Prequel. Titled Prometheus, this origin story was nothing if not polarizing. The characters in the film have supposedly found evidence of human origins. As you can guess, this is where the Aliens come in. However, they don't really ever do that. As a result, we got a very high-minded film, filled with uneven ideas, characters that we can't attach ourselves too, and worse than all that...There's no real tension. Ultimately, this film plays as more of drama than a full blown Alien film. In fact, upon it's home video release the back cover declared, "Questions will be answered". If this isn't a mea culpa on the part of 20th Century Fox marketing, I don't know what is.
Ultimately, this film felt like Ridley Scott had blown it. As if the 33 years between his first and second Alien endeavors, Scott had lost his fast ball. He seemed so set on creating this mythological tale, that he lost sight of the Alien story, the Alien character development, and the Aliens themselves. However, there were aspects of this film that were bold. The very idea that in an age of superhero films and big budget blockbusters, there could actually be a big budget film with some semblance of a brain was inspiring. Ridley Scott was clearly trying to re-invent this genre, but ultimately Prometheus left more people wanting as opposed to wanting more.
Which brings us to 20th Century Fox's Alien: Covenant. A big problem that people had with Prometheus was the fact that the Alien from the Alien films was barely even in it. So...It seems like Fox laid down the law with this new film. And Ridley Scott has done very credible work here. The special effects are dynamite. The execution is spot on. The story is solid and does itself proud in the Alien universe.
However, it was hard not to watch the big, complex film that Alien: Covenant is and not feel like Scott was just going through the motions. He has told this story before. The only other Alien film to really compares this one to is the original film from 1979. And believe it or not THAT is the problem. Had Alien: Covenant been the first of the new films, this would've made a big difference. It just would've shown a director more in tune with the franchise he created.
As a result, Ridley Scott seems almost bored. As good as Alien: Covenant is, Scott seems to be going through the motions. As if he is delivering the film he thinks fans want, rather than the film he wants to make. This is never a good situation. He can talk all he wants about having more Alien films to make, the reality is that he wants to make different sci-fi films and the only real way to sell them is to (whether it makes a lot of sense or not) put them in the Alien universe. Heck, I am surprised that The Martian isn't somehow connected to Alien!
So, it is with all the respect that I can muster that I ask Ridley Scott to walk away. Find your bless elsewhere. If it is in great movies like American Gangster or Body of Lies or Black Hawk Down, please, go in that direction. Heck, if it is films like A Good Year, have at it. My point is that Ridley Scott is still a great director. He hasn't lost his way in that department. Ridley Scott just needs to hand over the directorial reigns of the Alien franchise to a newer generation of filmmakers that are worthy successors.
Imagine what a David Fincher would do with an Alien film now? Or, could you imagine Damien Chazelle's take on this film? What about Barry Jenkins? What if he could bring some of his stripped down, Moonlight sensibility to this world? Or, think about the statement Ava DuVernay could make with this cinematic universe that has been established by Ridley Scott?