I’m not one to generally hate on remakes or prequels or re-imaginings or whatever terms the kids use these days, and I wasn’t in a tizzy over this one, either. It wasn’t surprising when this one didn’t get positive reviews, but if you know me, I tend to find an enjoyment factor even in the most mediocre of films. So what did I think of this… thing? (haha, see what I did there?) What we have here (besides a failure to communicate) is a strange prequel/remake hybrid starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s anime eyes as Kate Lloyd, a paleontologist who is hired by Dr. Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) to come to Antarctica after they find an alien spaceship under the ice. Along for the ride is Tom Hardy/Sam Worthington hybrid man-thing Joel Edgerton as Sam Carter; Eric Christian “No I’m not related to them” Olsen as Adam Finch; and Mr. Eko himself, yet again trapped in the middle of fucking nowhere getting attacked by a giant monster that can take human form. Poor Mr. Eko.
For the first 30-40 minutes, I didn’t think it was all that bad. A bit of a slow burn, like the original (which really isn’t the ‘original’. After all, this is a prequel/remake of a remake of a film that was an adaptation of a novella). But the casting was decent, and the setup was alright. The problems arose once the thing itself entered the story. That’s when the movie stops making any damn sense. It sets up that the alien can only imitate who or what it eats, right? Not to mention it takes quite a while to change into that figure after doing so. So why is it immediately becoming just anyone it wants to? I swear, at least half the people it pretends to be never even came in contact with it–especially the first ones. There are probably only one or two, at the most, that I can believe it absorbed and became. Not to mention the alien can either imitate a person very well or is very unstable, depending on how the plot needs it at that time. And what got really annoying after a while is how it continually tried to trick you into believing who the alien was. But it only made it doubly clear that it was going to be the person you least expected it to be. Every time. It would have been more shocking had they actually thought it was one person–and it actually was.
Then there was the “test” scene (Warning: Skip this paragraph if you don’t want minor spoilers). The blood test scene in the previous film was a fantastic scene. Here, they set it up to do a blood test, but are thwarted (because shit caught on fire… which is exactly what the alien hates. So why would the alien start a fire, again?). What I don’t understand is how they were all defeated because the “test” they were preparing was destroyed. Isn’t the test just putting a hot piece of metal into a puddle of somebody’s blood and seeing how they react to it? How does that take preparation, and how does destroying a lab thwart their attempts? But anyway, they replace it with the “fillings” test, since the alien can’t reproduce anything inorganic. And it’s probably the least scientific method they could have done. “Oh, you’ve had perfect teeth? Alien!” Congrats, movie. You just made millions of kids want cavities so they aren’t accused of being an alien.
Anyway, then we get to the CGI. Holy balls. The original was so effective because of its visceral practical effects. When you saw the alien or the guts or any of that stuff, it was all real and all there. But here, it was all done as CGI, and it just looked flat-out ridiculous. If you want to put people in weird positions in crazy costumes and make them move creepily and effectively without the use of CGI in a modern film… just take a look at Silent Hill, for starters. They did it rather well there.
So yeah, I started this movie thinking “Why is everybody hating on this so much?” But about halfway through, I figured it out with a resounding “Oh.” The bulk of the film isn’t that great and doesn’t make sense. But I will grant it that it has a solid setup and a decent ending. I even liked how they tied it to the previous film at the very end (which, of course, I was waiting for the whole time). But of course, it wasn’t enough. It isn’t a painful movie by any means, it just… isn’t good.