Ridley Scott on the problem with Sci-fi12,680 Views145 RepliesAdd A Reply
Just stumbled across this article about the recent slump in Sci-fi releases, including Alien:Covenant.
In the article Ridley Scott was quoted saying "One of the problems with science fiction," said Ridley Scott back in 2012 ahead of the release of Prometheus, "is the fact that everything is used up. Every type of spacesuit, every type of spacecraft is vaguely familiar. The corridors are similar, the planets are similar. So what you try to do is lean more heavily on the story and the characters."
What's gone wrong with Sci-fi on Esquire
This comment from Scott seems at odd's to a lot of the criticism around both Covenant and Prometheus; notably poorly developed 2 dimensional characters. The most robust character we've had so far in Scott's prequels, Elizabeth Shaw, was quickly and savagely written out for Covenant and replaced with the doe-eyed-suddenly-turned-warrior Daniels. While flawed, Shaw at least had some degree of humility and relatable motives.
For what its worth, personally I think the problem with Sci-fi is how safe the movies have become. Scott's comments about the familiarity of it all, is because modern Sci-fi films are clones of previously successful premises. Gone are the visionary grand scale space opera's of the likes of Authors Frank Herbert, Alister Reynolds and Isaac Asimov to name just a few. There is little risk.
Prometheus was on right track, bringing something new and fresh to the Alien franchise, steering it in a new direction that didn't necessarily have to focus solely on the Xenomorph. The Engineer's were grand, and the scale of their reach could have been epic.
But this has since been stifled and cut-down by Alien: Covenant's focus on David and his part in the genesis of the Xenomorph. A large part of the Alien lore was the ambiguous and ancient endless mystery of the origins of the Xenomorph. This has effectively been diminished to just an act of rebellion and revenge by a self-aware Synthetic with a chip on his shoulder.
Why? Because the Engineers and Shaw's agenda to unravel humanity's genesis was too risky a premise, whereas the tried and true (safe) egg->facehugger->chestburster->Xenomorph would get bums on seat.
But, it didn't.
I understand that the prequels, so far, don't have a lead character throughout. But, maybe Ridley Scott is trying to do this on purpose. Ripley has been a lead character for 4 movies and almost a 5th! I feel like Scott is trying to emphasize this fact by not carrying over any lead characters from any of the prequels. Well, at least lead characters that are on the side of humanity. We do have David, but he is a villain. So, instead of a good, caring, person who is on the side of good, we get an evil, self-centered, android who is on the side of bad. I think Ridley Scott is just trying to reinvent a big part of the Alien franchise, which is the fact that Ripley is the main character in the original 4.
Still, deeper characters in each of the prequels movies would have been nice. Still, the movies have been limited to 2 hrs. Maybe they should be limited to 2hr 30min to allow more character development time.
Longer movies could make a big difference in a good way. Then the problem of pleasing fickle fans comes into play. It was too long whaah!
Also, it might be harder to take risks with studios wanting to play it safe for profits sake.
A large part of the Alien lore was the ambiguous and ancient endless mystery of the origins of the Xenomorph. This seems like a double edged sword in that a lot of people don't seem to like ambiguity and want every minute facet Xenomorph explained in painstaking detail.
I will only say that half of that article was netflix bashing, saying that their characters are bad, but what about mainstream Hollywood schi-fi characters? Are they really that good?
ignorantGuy its funny you say that. I originally come across the article on The Expanse's main Facebook group, they were defending the series against such Netflix bashing.
The Expanse like several other Netflix series use low-key, non-established actors that have hours of run-time to develop their characters. And it works! Their characters and plots are in the order of magnitudes more robust and relatable than big name actors in 2-3hr blockbusters!
I am all for series like this taking over the mantle of cinematic entertainment! I would go so far as to encourage the Alien franchise to get on-board too.
Let Marval/DC fans have their popcorn and explosion fest of spoon-fed unintelligent blockbusters.
But they said also about Annihilation that was involved in a whitewashing scandal, but I have never heard about (and they link it to themselves) and they frame it as the cause for it not being in the UK. wtf?
Well the most interesting (more then any X-men, Logan, F4, Spider-mans, Avengers, etc) of the Marvel stuff I find to be Legion and that is also a series now in it's second season.
Sorry Hollywood, but it is time for you to adapt. When did you make the last truly intelligent character or charismatic?
ignorantGuy yeah Im not sure about that the whitewashing scandal, Im guessing something to do with distribution rights perhaps?
In Australia, we got Annihilation via Netflix. Good film, but again unravelling and exploring what is inside 'the shimmer', and the motivations driving the teams that went inside could have much better explored via a series. Series are the definitely the way forward for that multimedia experience :)
That I said also. I have never about it either before the Esquire claim. It appears that in the book the protagonist is partly Asian... ok what ever.
I did not understand what the fuss was about the Ghost in the Shell movie, as in the anime/manga the characters are not very asian looking in the first place and in that world Big Corps replaced governments and Almost of the protagonists body is robotic.
I still like the David character (and Fassbender) but the more I watch Covenant the more Im not to keen on how he was portrayed in that film. I liked him in Prometheus where he went about his nefarious business under the radar of the others, manipulating events with a subtle hand.
Instead of being directly confrontational, and vindictive like he we see in AC he conducted himself without emotion, and it made him more dangerous and unpredictable...and that made his character more dynamic. In AC he is just a mad scientist.
They needed to put Advent in the film, it showed his more unemotional/unremorseful side.
only my opinion but where the alien franchise is now is where we deserve it to be. the Prometheus haters were loud and the Prometheus lovers were silent. RS WAS going for something new. he knew the issues with sci-fi and wanted to do something different as shown in Prometheus. if fans had just waited to see where Ridley was going I believe the Prometheus sequel wouldv been soo much better I think. but no. they moaned n moaned n RS and Fox changed things up and went the safe route they believed the fans wanted. ridley couldv gave us a prequel trilogy that other directors couldv advanced for another 10 movies in all sorts of directions but now that's not possible. good job....
I admit my guilt for staying silent, but I never could imagine that such a loud minority could be so "persuasive".
In regards to the OT....
I think every genre its quite hard to come up with something Original, we have the Golden Era of the 70's/80's and 90's where even some of those ideas had been done to a degree prior but the late 70's allowed for better effects to make the worlds more believable. So what RS said is true but it applies to more than just Scfi-Fi.
I would say the Sci-Fi Genre is still something you can come up with something more Original much more easier than others, i would say Fantasy Genre too.... because your not restricted by as many boundaries but its still hard to come up with something REALLY Original.
sometimes a Original Idea would come along or one that has more original elements than many movies around, but these are NOT Big Budget movies.... where in this case THESE ideas could be Ripped-Off and borrowed or incorporated for a Bigger Budget Flick... that some may see as quite Original but in reality borrowed from a less known movie that already touched on some kind of ingenuity.
What i am saying is its not only about finding something Original its about Executing this idea and what kind of Budget/Cast these movies have.
We also have a way of being somewhat Original by Merging TWO Concepts/Genres into one to give something Persudo-Original as we saw with CLOVERFIELD... it was not Original... we have had Giant Monster movies since the Dawn Of Cinema... The Found Footage Genre was also not Original but the Combining of the TWO is what made Cloverfield somewhat unique... but its a case of doing a Sequel that is again Found Footage would simply not be Original or Groundbreaking anymore.
so this brings us to what Ridley Scott said about Characters... while you can struggle to find something NEW anymore, that does not mean a idea that has been done Can-Not be made to feel Fresh! And also its about having a Good Story and Great Characters/Dialog that really can make a already DONE idea appeal a bit more.
I sadly dont think the Prequels have been Great in its Characters, Prometheus was not too too bad.... David was by far the Stand Out Character.... but then with Alien Covenant.. they brushed under the Carpet Dr Shaw with the Engineers and David while in some scenes was interesting, in others he was NO-WHERE as well done a Character as in Prometheus..
With Daniels... she was a high ranked Character, her and her Husband were the Leaders of the Expedition but the Character of Daniels just never seemed to work, i think because the movie was going back and forth a bit between a few Characters... Oram, Daniels and Tennessee that it was hard to gauge who was really the lead. And it appeared they was all just attachments and plot devices to give us the Walter vs David Story.
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017
What about a full movie from the perspective of a Xenomorph from chest bursting to what ever happens to them at old age.
I think the whole Prometheus vs Changes debate, all comes down to NOT how well at the Box Office Prometheus did but how a majority of fans had problems with the movie and its direction. Ridley Scott had said its a loose prequel, it has some connective tissue but it was set to give us something NEW and explore the Space Jockey/Engineers and set up a explanation to the Universe and a sequel would Steer from ALIEN.
But there was a lot of Fans and Public who picked up on these flaws or complaints.
*Its a Alien Universe Movie but does not show the ALIEN (Xenomorph)
*Its a Prequel Movie but it does not give any real definite clues to HOW/WHEN/WHY the Xenomorph was created or Originated from and a Sequel that would Steer Away from Alien would mean NOT getting these Answers a number of Fans thought Prometheus would give.
*Some Fans were not pleased about the way the Space Jockey was reduced to 7.5ft Bald Angry Humanoids, and the whole Gods/Creation Philosophy and themes NEVER really connected or had anything really to do with the ALIEN Franchise.
*Sadly Dr Shaw's Character was not considered too interesting, and Fans of the ALIEN Franchise are not so much interested in her Questions that could defy her Faith... They wanted ALIEN Environments, Alien Origins Answers.
So FOX would have been looking at these kinds of complaints, and things that it appeared Fans may have been less/or more interested in and HENCE it guided them to make changes to incorporate the above, as FOX felt doing so would surely mean more Success than Prometheus.
*Prometheus just never had that ALIEN Haunted house Feel, it never had that ALIENS Action Feel and it certainly lacked Horror and Gore and Humans Dealing with Horrific Alien Creatures as good as the ALIEN Franchise had.
So they took the maybe interesting parts of Prometheus which was David and the Black Goo..... looked at the Criticisms for Prometheus and added what they felt Prometheus was lacking but SADLY it lead to a somewhat Forced/Rushed Movie that tried to be a bit of everything.
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017
"What about a full movie from the perspective of a Xenomorph from chest bursting to what ever happens to them at old age."
Certainly would be a NEW ish Spin on the Franchise from the POV of the Xenomorph, but would something like this work?
You would have to have Characters or else it would maybe not work or please general fans..... so it would end up maybe more like a FRIDAY THE 13TH Part 13 But have more of the Scenes from Jasons POV
I think these kinds of ideas work better for a Game....
I think Prometheus was offering ideas that while not Original it was a attempt to merge a number of ideas into something some what Fresh. I think now its become a MESS due to the Direction Alien Covenant had taken the Prequels.
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017
Featured this, excellent post~
fans wanted an 'alien' movie. they thought RS would give a masterpiece where an alien chases people. basically a rehash of the original but with enough differences as to be a stand alone movie but didn't have the IQ to see that the franchise needed a different direction. didn't even get it when RS stated he was going to investigate the only true mystery in the franchise which was the SJ and the eggs but to do that in a trilogy, some patience was required but no, they wanted f*****g aliens so now we have a movie that does nothing for the franchise except probably lead up to destroying the whole mystery of the derelict scene. changes changes changes and ill bet wer getting about 30 percent of the story RS wanted to tell.
so to the OT, where alien is concerned as it is an alien forum, its got nothing to do with the 'wev seen it all before' issues facing sci-fi. its down to a magician behind a camera having a vision im betting is 30 years old and after 1 movie hes been forced to dump a lot of his ideas in favour of the safe tried and tested path.
Totally ali81 ;)
Alien Covenant was forced into being a Direct Prequel... where its events would eventually lead to ALIEN to Spoon Feed the Answers of the Xenomorph Origins and set up sequels to eventually lead to the Derelict/Space Jockey.
It carried over the Black Goo, trying to explain what this stuff could do, it brushed aside Dr Shaw and the Engineers because FOX felt Fans wanted Xenomorph Origins and Xenomorph related Shena****ns and that they could continue David's ARC and explore the Creation Themes and Philosophy with David and so did not need Dr Shaw or Engineers.
The movie tried so hard to please every fan.... Alien Fans... with some Alien Movie kind of Action (just for such a limited time) Aliens Fans with some Aliens kind of Action (Neomorphs and again such a limited time)... while still reflecting it about ORIGINS and WHEN/WHY rather than HOW/WHERE the Xenomorph Orgins came about... where RS/FOX felt the David Curve-ball would be interesting... while it covered the When/Why/Where and loosely How.... i think the Curve-ball is something that has not settled well with Fans.
RS also knew you had be invested in the Characters... so SLOW Build up was used with Alien Covenant so that they dont rush into the Xenomorph/Alien Encounters and $&%& Hitting the Fan too soon... Sadly the Build up did nothing to really bring home the Characters.
The ALIENS (Xenomorph type attacks vs Humans with Guns) and ALIEN/ALIEN 3 (Xenomorph on a Ship, Xenomorph on the loose Hunting Humans) kind of scenes did not have much time dedicated to do them ANY Justice and they became just Plot Device Cameo's
Because the Majority of the Plot was around David and his Agenda/Actions and his interactions/differences with Walter.
The Movie was trying to FORCE too much in too short a time... this MOVIE needed about 3 hours to do any of the Plot Justice.
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017
What about elder and civilized Aliens taking up pulse rifles and killing savage Apes ? (Congo meets Alien in reverse)
if u go back to alien, nothing happens for over 45 mins but was any of it boring? hell no. I do agree the script was poorly written but I feel there are a mixture of things affecting AC from bad writing to horrendous casting but the under lying truth is we the fans have to shoulder a large proportion of the blame here. for me there is no sci-fi issues that affect AC, its the worst film in the franchise by a long way due to the studio playing it safe due to the Prometheus backlash (which I don't actually get but I loved Prometheus so im bias) and the hope of pleasing the unhappy. I think Prometheus and RS are getting some of the recognition it deserves now for where it was trying to go but how sad is it that the sequel had to be ruined for that to happen.
I think this would be a bit Popcorn/Comics take on the Franchise... maybe we cant rule out seeing the Xenomorph Evolved to be able to use such Technology but i think it takes away the HORROR/ALIEN Element of the Organism.
I certainly would be up for introducing a Species that are similar to the Xenomorphs as in a Bio-Mechanical/HR Giger Aesthetic that have more Advanced Technology and even maybe suggest our Engineers had Stolen/Re-Engineered from this Species.
But i think you point was in Aliens as in a Alien Species and so indeed if this is the case, its something i think that could be introduced and you have to WONDER did RS have this in mind when he came the Whole WAR OF THE WORLDS comment... and how he Felt the Alien Franchise could take some hints from the Star Wars Franchise... so maybe MULTIPLE Alien Species?
I think RS with his Prequels and the Engineers linked to Genetic Space Gardeners... was something more than him just seeing the Franchise limited to Humans, Engineers, and Synthetics and various Xenomorph/Black Goo Bio-Weapons/Organisms.
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017
IG, is that not alien meets congo then? lol
"if u go back to alien, nothing happens for over 45 mins but was any of it boring?"
Certainly agree.... i think this is why Alien Covenant had its similar slow burn start.... and Alien Covenant was actually NOT that bad.. until David arrived and took them to the Cathedral Dome, it was at this point a lot of the Plot Revolved around David and Walter and the Human Characters just become Plot Devices.....
From when David had taken Oram into the Egg Room and until the END of the movie, all the Scenes/Plot points from this point were Rushed because there was so much to cover in such a Short Space of Time. Hence the Necessity for the Quicker Xenomorph Gestation Time.
From when David and Oram enter Davids Work-Shop is where the movie needed a extra 45 minutes to do every Scene/Plot after this JUSTICE.... so its shame for such a short time to cram so little in.
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017
Yes it is, and I would rather see that then another technology is 95% evil or how robots are immortal despite being decapitated in the previous movie. But the reversal of roles would be interesting.
Id agree that most aren't too into the whole thing being about David. the company fitted in nicely to the original films as a side plot, a sinister conspiracy plot behind the main movie focus but the beast was still the main focal point. theyv put far to much onto David and totally sacrificed the engineers for no real reason. the SJ in the derelict has become nothing more than a ***** species
I can see why the direction change happened.... as Technology is Knowledge and Evolving Knowledge and Technology can down the line lead to a Hubris.
The Change of Direction to brush Dr Shaw and Engineers under the Carpet was a bit of a disappointment but we have to ASK how else would this have ENDED?
And so these are Questions needed to be solved in a Prometheus Sequel (prior to Alien Covenant Changes).
*We can assume Dr Shaw puts David back together to be able to leave LV-223 and go to Paradise.... HOWEVER.. Once David is back together then Dr Shaw is at the Whim of David and he can basically do what he wants and so its a Question of Does David KEEP to his side of any Covenant they made... and the Big Question is WHY.... whats in it for David?
*Does David take the Juggernaught to the Engineers Homeworld PARADISE? He could take a Detour first... or go some other place and basically give Dr Shaw what ever Reason or Excuse, he could even suggest any other place they GO is Paradise or that Paradise is NO more.
*IF David takes Dr Shaw to Paradise, or where ever else related to the Engineers.... Would this place have any BEINGS remaining, and if so we have to ask...
a) Are these beings aware of who Mankind Are?
b) Are these beings aware of LV-223 and/or the plans to Eradicate Mankind?
c) How would these beings Receive Dr Shaw and David? If they are as hostile towards us as the LV-223 Engineers this does not Bold Well for them.
*What is the outcome of discovering the Engineers or other beings on Paradise or where ever David would take the Juggernaught. There has to be a way to explain WHY the Engineers play no part in the Alien Franchise from 1979-1997. If they discover these beings who have bad intentions for Mankind, or did but chose to abandon us, they surely would be concerned now THEY KNOW we can Find them.
*What is in it for DAVID what is his Agenda... i think now he is FREE he would not want to Serve, and its likely he would be interested to find out more about the Engineers/Their Creation and gain more of their Knowledge and Power... Provided it is of NO Risk to David. It is likely David would want to be the KING now and Play GOD.
So that was basically the Set-Up as far as David and Shaw and what they DO NEXT and Ridley Scott gave us a insight to this...
He mentioned along the lines of.... THEY (David and Shaw) are off to the Engineers Home World, where THEY do find these BEINGS. But these beings are NOT Gods... not in the TRADITIONAL sense and they are FAR from BENEVOLENT... However David is bringing HELL with him and what happens if the Black Goo INFECTS a God or a Machine?
This certainly answers some of those Bullet Points i made earlier, so they are indeed off to where the Engineers came from, the beings they discover are not Benevolent.. not as far as Humanity and our Purpose is... But David has the Black Goo.... does he Destroy them? Or does the Black Goo become a Bargaining Chip for David something that will make those beings Re-consider how they react to David and Shaw.
The Source i had from February 2015 based of Drafts from October 2014 (they claim) had painted a picture of what Prometheus 2 would have been... And indeed it paints the picture that Dr Shaw ends up finding out her Answers at First Hand by revealing the Truth was Sinister, and that David wishes to play GOD and he basically uses Dr Shaw to CREATE his OWN Xenomorph/Deacon well he Re-Creates it.
And ALAS... 6 Months latter when we get the Announcement about Alien Covenant and 14 Months prior to Shooting... many parts of what the Source Claimed ACTUALLY are passed on to Alien Covenant... with some Changes off course...
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017
Prometheus and Bladerunner (and 2049) deal with audacious questions. Who created us and indeed what is creation. Both P.L. and BR2049 covered similar issues. The Engineers .. engineered and the Tyrell Corporation.... engineered and both found their creations grew beyond their visions.
In to that comes ambiguity Shaw, K, David, Deckard and Stelline with Shaw and Stelline the sandwich on the outside of three ambiguous creative outcomes.
Thats what my generation wanted from Prometheus and Bladerunner sequels. That AVP Galaxy think that Covenant is better than Prometheus and enthuse about the Predator shows the audience is deeply segmented. Thats what you get when you play around with a franchises aesthetics. Ridley wanted to explore the mystery of his first film and create more mystery that was achieved with BR2049 on the back of BR with Prometheus he left himself vulnerable which is ironic because every movie in the A L I E N franchise since A L I E N S has suffered the same problem. If he had nailed Prometheus (narrative momentum, bullet proof risk behaviour, linkage some obvious answers and some great questions) he could have gone on.
the biggest issue facing RS where Prometheus especially is concerned is we know where it supposed to go. that's the trouble with prequels. we know the ending and so the alien fans were just waiting to see the film and then after it say 'awe so that's what happened' and 'so that's why this'. they didn't get that but in their pursuit of shooting Prometheus down they forgot the basics of the first film in a trilogy. u r not meant to get any of the answers. its supposed to raise questions. THERES 2 MORE FILM TO COME DUMBASSES. what exactly did people expect to get out it?? everything revealed so theres no point in any other films? for me, as a first in a trilogy that WAS supposed to be a stand alone series that 'came in through the back door' to alien and delve into the only remaining true mystery of the franchise, Prometheus was a great start imo. went in a different direction and if allowed to proceed on its intended path the whole franchise could have been blown wide open for countless other films in so many different directions. but, sadly nope. we get a follow up film that's 20% what was intended and 80% heres ur f*****g monsters u moaning faced degenerates. ah well. awakening will be what it will be.
I could not have said it any BETTER ;)
Indeed Michelle RS was trying to explore something Greater, to OPEN up the Franchise beyond just the Xenomorph... but giving in to the Fanbase that would rather had a Blomkamp ALIEN 5 has only just SHRUNK the Franchise even Smaller than maybe ALIEN because that Scope behind the Mystery and Prequels has now been Shoe-horned into a Corner...
RS holding on to his Guns with his Philosophy by persuading the Change to David being the Creator.... which has upset mainly the Fanbase who contributed to Prometheus 2 becoming the Alien Flick that Alien Covenant was...
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017
Well that poll on avpgalaxy was taken from a little more than 3000 votes, with a maybe 30 more Covenant answers. That's absolutely not relavant. On the same site there is another poll which says that more people would like to see Alien 5 than Covenant 2, with 7000 votes. Both irrelevant because of the small numbers. With sites with many users like IMDB, RottenTomatoes or Metacritic Covenant is worse by about 0.5-0.6 points out of 10. There is a downward trend in the audiences as a whole.
And even the Predator has some pretty loud voice who are worried.
You missed my point entirely. I indicated that the fan base, of which AVPGalaxy is a very prominent and well respected component, is segmented. There is an element of echo chamber feedback where particular sites will produce particular outcomes but the overall mosaic when put together is highly fragmented.
This conversation has mentioned AVP/AC Com and general movies goers who can be bothered to contribute to movie feedback sites. The overall outcome is indecisive except in one regard Prometheus made more money.
What all the feedback I have read agrees on is Ridley misread the criticisms of Prometheus. People wanted more clarity as to how what they found on LV 223 related to the Xenomorph not more Xenomorph. That was one of the questions that should have been answered before moving on to much more fertile territory.