The Corner


Androids and the Meaning of Life

I saw Alien: Covenant this weekend. It wasn’t very good. It was better than Prometheus but so was Paul Blart II: Die Blarter — or whatever that was called. I should say “spoiler alert,” since I will discuss some things in the movie. But I won’t give away any major spoilers here because there aren’t very many to give away (there’s basically one, which even my 14-year-old daughter saw coming a million miles away). For the most part, it’s the same stupid idea over and over again. The humans keep making the same mistakes. The safety protocols for alien life, including microbial life, are less strict than what I practice when I’m in the dog park. Admittedly, I’m a bit a of a germaphobe, so maybe you think it’s weird that I don’t put my face right up to a creepy, mushroomy spore pod thing and then poke it so that whatever comes out can go straight into my nose or lungs.

But I would like to think that even most nature-lovers would be reticent to do that kind of thing on an alien planet.

The most obvious of Ridley Scott’s motivations for continually making these movies seems to be that the money he gets for them spends well enough. But, the only slightly less obvious explanation is that the Blade Runner director wants to make a movie about androids and the meaning of life but the studios won’t let him unless he punctuates the dialogue with a certain xenomorph monster that the kids will pay to see.

And speaking of androids, Michael Fassbender, who reprises his robot role from Prometheus and as a second, outwardly identical, robot is really very good. But I would much rather Ridley Scott had made a My Dinner with Andrestyle movie with the two robots just talking to each other for 90 minutes. That’s clearly where Scott’s heart is.

Note: I know there are differences between androids and robots. I just refuse to acknowledge them here in order to cause the people who care unprovoked discomfort.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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