In Hollywood, Ridley Scott can hear you scream. After backlash against his ambitious prequel Prometheus, the seasoned director admitted that he knew how the fans “were really frustrated” and “wanted to see more of the original [Aliens]”. And so in Alien: Covenant (review), he ramps up the monstrous terror and holds back on philosophising.
Still, not everyone is enamoured with his latest venture. For all that is flawed with Alien: Covenant, many complaints fall upon the same point of contention: the flute scene. The strange insert has since baffled many. In it, David (Michael Fassbender) places a recorder/flute in his doppelgänger’s hands.
“Watch me, I’ll do the fingering,” he says to Walter, teaching him the art of music in an intimate test of his loyalties.
But is there something more in this act of eroticism than pure evocation? I find it interesting, and have decided to take a closer look. If you haven’t seen the film, there will be spoilers, so come back later. If you have, let’s discuss the “controversial” scene.
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Alien: Covenant (dir. Ridley Scott, 2017) – The crew of a colony ship decides to abandon route in favour of an uncharted planet, where they encounter a fatal parasitic threat.
Alien: Covenant strikes a neat balance between Alien’s horror entertainment and Prometheus’ conceptual ambitions.
Fifteen years after Alien: Resurrection ended the well-loved franchise, Ridley Scott took a bold chance. With Prometheus, he reinvented his familiar story with provocative revelations, complicating a slash-and-dice formula with layered, philosophical mythology.
This alienated some fans, who baulked at reduced body horror and potential answers to the unknown. Mysticism is after all, what had made Alien terrifying in the first place. Others find joy in dissecting theological implications, savouring consequent food for thought.
For a fan who stands in the middle, Alien: Covenant feels like a satisfying compromise. Harmony is attained between the best of both worlds, as the original’s blood fest is dished up with the prequel’s intellectual fodder on the side. An elegant opening plays to the latter, reiterating the complex dynamics between man and machine.
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Morgan (dir. Luke Scott, 2016) – An artificially-created humanoid lashes out on its creator, sparking off an investigation at the secluded research facility.
Initial intrigue falls away as Morgan trades moral conundrums for derivative action.
Morgan (Anya Taylor Joy), a bio-engineered child, blinds Dr Kathy Grieff (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in a sudden vicious attack. Sent to investigate the unprovoked act of violence, risk consultant Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) arrives with psychiatrist Dr. Alan Shapiro (Paul Giamatti) at the remote research facility to determine Morgan’s viability – and fate.
An inanimate object may be disposable but a life is not, which makes creation a dangerous game. With his directorial debut, Luke Scott echoes the fascinating themes of his father’s sci-fi masterwork that in turn, takes cue from Greek legend Prometheus.
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The Martian (dir. Ridley Scott, 2015) – Alone on Mars and presumed dead, Mark Watney must find a way to signal to Earth that he is still alive.
Is Matt Damon worth saving again? Ridley Scott’s Saving Private Ryan in space makes the answer a resounding positive.
There’s a spaceman, waiting in the sky. Stranded on Mars and presumed dead by his crew, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) draws upon both wit and strength in human spirit to survive the punishing wait for rescue.
While science fiction frequents dystopias and themes of despair, The Martian chooses a different route and births hope where all is forlorn. Emphasis on shards of hope amidst debris of disaster makes a strong case for NASA’s quest for interstellar travel, one often maligned by cynical corporations.
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