George Pan Cosmatos's Leviathan goes down as the single most derivative sci-fi horror hybrid of the past several decades. Just how derivative is it? Alien helmer Ridley Scott could have (and probably should have) sued the pants off of Cosmatos -- not simply for plagiarism, but for copyright infringement. Every scene in this lackluster thriller may work on its own terms; in all fairness, Cosmatos demonstrates an apt ability to build tension and a deft hand for action scenes -- but the picture represents such a blatant steal from Alien that it must certainly have inspired scores of legal threats. (Not even Orca was this ripped-off.) The following elements feel cribbed, point-blank, from the 1979 Scott film: 1) the central premise of having a multiracial crew of men and women "picked off," one-at-a-time, by an unseen menace; 2) the set design of the ship; 3) the design of the central creature; 4) the criticism of multinational corporations that deliberately send experimental crews out on perilous missions and then abandon them to death's jaws; 5) the concept of having the creature consume the crew members from the inside out (remember the alien bursting through John Hurt's stomach?); 6) the notion of keeping the audience in a state of dread with "false attacks" on the crew; 7) the space suit worn by the protagonist in a "final battle" with the alien menace; 8) a mold-encrusted, insulting ending where the creature "is not really dead." "Insulting" is the operative word for the entire picture, in fact; surely Cosmatos and his screenwriters, David Peoples and Jeb Stuart, didn't believe that by changing the galactic environ to an aquatic one, viewers would overlook the similarities?! Peter Weller does okay as the barrel-chested lead (how refreshing to see him playing a hero here after his abusive monster in the godawful Firstborn) and the famously green-eyed Meg Foster is suitably vile (has she ever played otherwise?) as a representative of the home corporation. But Richard Crenna and the other protagonists lack the charisma of Harry Dean Stanton, Veronica Cartwright, Yaphet Kotto, and the rest of the Nostromo crew. You want happiness? Stick with Ridley.
by Nathan Southern review