(Sorry for the shoddy quality of this blog. I didn't get a chance to clean it up and just wanted to put something up here. Been feeling a bit of lack-of-contributing-guilt. Hopefully it makes for a decent read anyway).
Amongst the many problems both Aliens: Colonial Marines
and Resident Evil 6
run into, remaining tied to some nebulous and evil corporation is the shared crime that I am so sick of being committed.
In terms of Colonial Marines
, part of it is because I'm just not as much a fan of Aliens
. As in, the second film. Don't get me wrong, I love all three. I watched James Cameron's influential take first like most my age, and I bought the trilogy on Blu-Ray even though I already owned them all on DVD. In truth, I only did as much for the uncensored Wreckage and Rage Alien 3
For some reason they kept putting in this crappy fan film written by Joss Whedon, too.
Don't get me wrong, Aliens
is good. But James Cameron is no David Fincher or Ridley Scott, who made films that are, to me at least, infinitely more interesting to watch. James Cameron is good when you want an action film that goes above and beyond the call of duty. James is actually trying to say something with how conceited the marines behave, how inept the armchair lieutenant is, and how easily they all get their asses kicked by the xenomorph threat. It's inspired by Vietnam and how we didn't know what we were getting into when we dropped our soldiers into that territory. There's the whole maternal instinct thing going on as well, but that's been analyzed to Hell and back. The thing is, this stuff is only so interesting each time you see it.
Contrast this to the original Alien
, or for me, Alien 3
. I know, I know, everyone hates Alien 3
because it was ORIGINALLY supposed to have Hicks fighting the xenomorphs on Earth, and instead they killed Hicks AND Newt which made the end of Aliens
pointless! Alien 3
as a whole totally sucks now!
...only it doesn't. In fact, I'd argue that an Aliens flick that tries to be bigger and badder than James Cameron's Aliens
is bound to be worse and less interesting, or at the very least not as fulfilling. People have these large expectations of these huge epics, but something is always going to have to give. Either you won't have interesting characters, or you won't have as many big, satisfying conflicts as you'd want to see. If you go back and rewatch Aliens
, the xenomorphs themselves are hardly in the film at all. The movie is much more interested in Ripley, and the story that is told, while interesting, is only as deep as James Cameron is capable of.
In fact, I suppose I could make a joke about him searching for depth under water or something. He does love water.
You know what you get when you focus on things being bigger and badder? Resident Evil 6
. In fact, you get the Resident Evil
series as a whole. My favorite two games in the series are REmake
and Resident Evil 4
, and mostly because they have nothing to do with the rest of the series (aside from Leon S. Kennedy).
I don't know how much REmake
added, but it was my very first experience with the franchise. I absolutely loved it. I loved the feel of the mansion. I loved the story behind it. I loved Umbrella's isolated, secret facility dedicated to developing a biological weapon that inevitably goes wrong. It also makes sense that a company doing dirty dealings would try to hide their activities, and it makes sense that an employee might decided to sabotage it and then sell all the materials they could muster on the black market.
On its own, REmake
works as well as such a story could work. Unfortunately, things had to keep getting bigger... and bigger... and bigger.
It turns out Umbrella owned half of Raccoon City, or close enough. They have even MORE laboratories under the city and are making strains of a virus that they hadn't even perfected yet. I mean, think about it. This company didn't even sell any of these biological weapons before paying big bucks to stick a lab under a city to make more. What's the payoff? What sort of company would pay so much into something that evidently had incidents when they first built the lab, and ran into another one later?
Then it turns out there was some secret base located in what, Antarctica? I never got to play Code Veronica
, but I remember it was yet another location. Then there was evidently research going on in Africa. That's an awful lot of bioweapons to be making for...who? Who exactly was buying all of these bioweapons? They never even showed up until 1998 in Raccoon City.
Now there's a whole Neo-Umbrella, and they're...what? A terrorist group? Wasn't Umbrella supposed to be a pharmaceutical company that also expanded into military technology and a variety of other markets? Weren't they supposed to be one giant company that screwed up big and was dismantled after Raccoon City?
By Resident Evil 2
, Umbrella was a stupid company. By Resident Evil 6
, they were impossibly moronic and it is amazing they even remained in business as long as they did. Capcom forgot they were creating a company that got into some nefarious business and instead made them some nebulously evil thing without any purpose but to create monsters with no return on investments. Talk about a money sink. I'm sure the board of shareholders would have had a lot of faith in that.
The same could easily happen to Weyland-Yutani, and in terms of the video game universe it already has. In the films, the Alien is a curiosity to the company. It seems like something that could be researched and weaponized. It also seems like this is a future where no one has ever encountered alien life, meaning their goals may not be to weaponize the creature. In the first film Ash expresses fascination with it, stating he "admires its purity". However, they didn't spend a lot of money in terms of trying to get it. Crew was expendable, and I'm certain the plan was for Ash to kill the crew and bring the creature back to the Company. It was a minor footnote in the story as a whole to emphasize the "space truckers" concept. These people were expendable. Their only purpose was to carry materials from one location to the next.
"You have my sympathies."
, Weyland-Yutani happened to be Terraforming this world. Was the terraforming intentional? Did they know LV-426 was the planet Ripley and company had explored and intentionally set up a colony there? Perhaps, but a colony could work in terms of long-term profit and could have personnel much more fitting for researching xenomorphs than a crew of space truckers. If a colony on LV-426 was just coincidental, then Burke going down with the Colonial Marines could make sense. He's there to assess whether the terraforming facility can be recovered and to make sure it can. As he states, it has a substantial dollar value attached.
We can still believe Weyland Yutani would have Burke ferry the aliens any way he could. The facehuggers were there. He could have two people impregnated and carried home. Then Weyland Yutani could research the creatures.
This theme is still carried through in Alien 3
, where they want to get that damn Alien. "Ripley, think of all we can learn from it!" Evil Bishop exclaims. The assumption is that Weyland Yutani is an evil corporation, but it is more that the ends justify the means. Especially since LV-426 was destroyed. For all they know, this is their last chance at studying this creature, learning about its physiology, its evolution. They're desperate to keep this thing alive, which is why Ripley becomes such a high priority.
Weyland Yutani is a sort of evil you can believe. They clearly have operations beyond just trying to get this Alien, and their efforts to retrieve it are rather minor in comparison.
Until Aliens: Colonial Marines
. All of a sudden Weyland Yutani has their own army to send down in addition to scientists, all of which have no problem killing other humans in order to study these dangerous creatures. If Ripley and Newt had been impregnated, or the crew of the Nostromo had been killed by an android, then there would be a handful of people with knowledge of the truth. Only a handful, and you could keep everything else a secret.
This? This is an operation bound to result in conflict. There's no way Weyland-Yutani has that many loyal employees, especially when the Colonial Marines are shooting them up and Xenomorphs are loose all over the place. It makes absolutely no sense.
Weyland Yutani has become Umbrella.
Now, there are a lot more issues with both games than just the stupidity of these corporations, but they both could be improved if writers could just learn to give up certain iconic elements. You don't need Weyland-Yutani to make an Aliens story, and they shouldn't be as largely emphasized as they continue to be. Umbrella should have been done with after Resident Evil 3
. Abandon these elements, and create something new with the base necessary elements. Xenomorphs, monsters, and isolation.