People make bad decisions in the heat of the moment. That’s just human nature. In real life, it happens all the time. In fiction, you have to be careful with how you show those bad decisions being made, lest you strain suspension of disbelief too far, and instead of a bad error on the character’s part we become witness to bad writing on the human behind the scenes’ part. A great in-universe contrast between the two poles is the difference in the behaviour of the human crew of the Nostromo in Alien on one hand, and the behaviour of the crew on the good ships Who Cares What They’re Called in Prometheus and Alien: Covenant on the other. In the former, when Dallas and Lambert vehemently demand that Ripley break quarantine protocol and let them back on the ship in order to treat Kane, they do so out of utter desperation and their actions make sense based on what we’ve learned about them in the extensive character building we’ve seen up until that point. Ripley, of course, steadfastly refuses to yield, and the catastrophic events of the rest of the movie are only enabled by Ash following his mercenary capitalist hardwiring and overriding her controls of the ship door. To us, character motivations are clear, and the reasoning is understandable. Thanks to solid writing the audience can be yanked into the fictional universe and made to forget about the outside world. Even Kane’s foolish breaching of the distance between him and the uncanny space egg before him is done with a full space suit on, and as a result of a compellingly depicted sort of trance arising from his situation. It isn’t the ideal course of action, sure, but when the face hugger leaps onto him, it attaches itself to the face plate of his helmet. At the very least the poor bast*rd kept his protection on while foraging face first in the alien unknown. The same cannot be said of the dolts in Prometheus and Covenant, who repeatedly show examples of a type of idiocy that shatters the fourth wall, crushes it into powder, and snorts bunches of it up its nose-holes without a thought for running a quick chemical check on it first. Kane is a character who made an undestandable, if fatal, error. He doesn’t deserve our contempt. It’s a different story when it comes to the poorly concevied characters in Prometheus and Alien: Covenant and the chucklefu**s who wrote them.
Anwyho, both of these types of writing are on display in a Reddit thread which asks the question: ‘What movies could have been much shorter if the main character just used some common sense?’ You can check out the full thread here, but below are some highlights:
Header Image Source: Disney