For the last few years I've been frustrated with the types of movies Hollywood has produced. The endless stream of remakes, for one, is especially disappointing. The fact that they are remaking Total Recall bothers the hell out of me, but I digress.
I'm a big fan of Alien and Bladerunner, so for the first time in a long time I was excited to go to the theater. It was a mixed bag. I'm going to whine and complain a bit, so bear with me!
I wouldn't say it's horrible, but it wasn't that great either. Too many things went unexplained to the point that parts were incomprehensible. Leaving something of a mystery is fine, but it wasn't handled well. For example, in the beginning scene, what was up with the alien guy dissolving? Why did he kill himself? Was that CGI animation of his DNA dissolving into the water significant in some way, and if so, how? My wife suggested that his DNA "seeded" the Earth, leading to humans, but if that were the case why were their pictograms around the world indicating people worshiped the aliens? Clearly they contributed more than just their DNA.
I also didn't get how one of the alien-movie-type creatures emerged from the alien guy at the end...weren't we dealing with a different alien menace earlier? Did it mutate? What the hell is going on, anyway? Ok, so they created us, and they want to destroy us. Given that they started making this alien bioweapon when humans were still using bows and arrows, wouldn't it have just been easier to swing on by the ol' planet earth and carpet bomb it? Is it that complicated?
Also, I realize over-the-top action is probably to be expected, but come on. You can't have an emergency cesarean, staple up your stomach after all those muscles have been severed, then go running around, leaping across crevasses, etc. in that condition.
But probably the biggest disappointment for me is the origin explanation for humans. By and large I don't like it when this type of thing is done to explain human origins, though I did like the more recent way it was done in the Battlestar Gallactica series.
I've heard that some cops can't stand to watch crime shows because of the way crime scenes and police behavior is depicted, and that lawyers often have a hard time watching courtroom shows. Similarly, since I am an anthropologist who specializes in human evolution, it is painful to me to see them setup a totally implausible scenario for the origin of humans. I get it, this is sci-fi, but it ruins my ability to suspend disbelief. There is too much evidence for the evolution of humans on Earth to just say we were plopped down here by aliens. Without going into technical detail, that is the long and short of it. It is lazy writing, not to mention an overdone concept.
So in the end it was an ok way to spend a couple of hours if you have no expectations. I liked the synthetic's character. I don't mind the philosophizing about what it means to be human, (I'm a big fan of Philip K. Dick) but the way the movie handled it was sophomoric. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a movie elitist, and I generally like movies that are not supposed to have deep meaning, but if you're going to tackle this issue at least add something new to the conversation.
I've read a lot of reviews that say the movie tried to do too many things. In general I agree, but the bad taste it leaves is that it doesn't do any one of those things very well and it feels like this is a movie written specifically to spawn sequels. So while it sets up a bunch of things to explore in later movies, right here and now the movie doesn't do much for you. I think a movie should stand on its own, and this one IMHO doesn't.
Apparently they are in the early stages of making a Bladerunner sequel (still working on a script I think). Thinking about that makes me feel a peculiar mix of hope and dread. I'm afraid of what they'll do in a sequel.