Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”

What a mess this movie is. In some ways that's a benefit, as it disguises the rough edges as some kind of artful obscurity and gives the overall film a kind of haunting incoherence, but more often the film comes across as a big sloppy mess in need of several rewrites. Studio interference was the problem according to David FIncher, who quit the project as soon as principal photography was complete, and that claim makes sense; you can't build sets for a monastic planet and then arbitrarily change it to a prison planet without some incongruity. The film is barely effective as horror, giving us a monster who dutifully attacks on cue (such as the moment when it violates its own vague rules of conduct by attacking the warden in front of the entire prison populace) and who is created by computer animation that obviously isn't ready for prime time. It functions best as a experimental new direction for the "Alien" series, giving it religion and complex characterization in the same dosage that the previous film gave it big guns and explosions. There are noble failures and ignoble successes in Hollywood, and this ranks among the former. Action and horror fans will be disappointed, but fans of independent cinema may appreciate its murkiness of story and grittiness of attitude; this film may have walked down the wrong path, but it's determined to make the most out of its choice, and plays out with conviction.

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