Alien: Covenant (2017)
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, James Franco
Directed by: Ridley Scott (The Duellists, G.I. Jane, Black Rain, White Squall)
Synopsis: Spacecraft lands on mysterious planet. Crew then explores new planet and finds strange new alien race and stupidly interferes with it. Hilarity ensues.
What works: The cinematography. Seriously, if you seen the trailer, then you already seen the best that this dreck will offer you. However, Scott’s movies always look great even though they may lack in everything else—they at least are pleasing to the eye aesthetically.
If you’re a huge Alien franchise fan and missed the Xenomorphs, then you will be somewhat pleased since this film features the most Xenomorphs since Aliens (well, maybe since the Aliens vs. Predator flicks but I really haven’t seen those).
Michael Fassbender carries the whole film. He continues the David storyline from Prometheus and it ALMOST works. If only the philosophy and mythos wasn’t written at a dull, middle-school level. Speaking of Prometheus….
What fails: Surprisingly, this film ruins Prometheus. Or at least what Prometheus was trying to accomplish in it’s heavy-handed philosophy and pseudo-science. I can’t believe I’m somewhat defending the awful Prometheus but during my viewing of Covenant, I was left cold with where they were going with it. Without going into too much spoiler-territory (and to be honest, I rather not waste my time here), this movie’s story centers all around Fassbender’s David character and his ability to emote more than previous android models as well as have the desire to create, specifically life. If they did this effectively, then this movie would’ve expanded on Prometheus as well as given us a much more interesting science-fiction story. But they just had to have Xenomorphs in it killing people making love in a shower. (I’m not kidding)
The main problem I had with Covenant (and I had many actually) is that it was basically three plots or themes trying to make sense of each other in one silly movie. You had the David vs. Walter angle (Walter is a newer model of the same android [also played by Fassbender] but he tells David that David was made too “human-like” and that he, himself was made to be more subservient and robotic in nature), you also had the David wanting to be more human and wanting to play god. And finally you had the crew of the Covenant vs. the aliens. Scott may make beautifully looking flicks but he seems to have trouble articulating his lofty and grand stories. I understand what he was trying to do by trying to introduce more classic Alien horror combined with his Prometheus existentialism since Prometheus alienated a lot of the fans of the franchise but I’m sorry he failed…again. This film raises more questions and arouses more nitpicks to the story and mythos of the Alien franchise than Prometheus did.
My other main gripe is the same I had with Prometheus is the lack of any or all interesting human characters. The crew of the Prometheus as well as the Covenant are easily some of the dumbest and underwritten or fleshed-out sci-fi characters. Save for David these movies’ humans are so disposable and generic it’s shocking I didn’t fall asleep. The captain of the Covenant (played by a very wooden Crudup) was written with the caveat that he was very “religious” and “spiritual” and this never played out in his characters actions or motivations at all. AT ALL! Katherine Waterston’s Daniels was just a carbon-copy of Noomi Rapace’s Shaw from Prometheus which was another poor carbon copy of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley.
In fact, I should go on a short rant at the complete lack of originality in Covenant from the original Alien. Female officer who stands her ground from the captain but ultimately becomes the leader and best fighter of the lot. Face-huggers grabbing people who stupidly look into a strange egg. Xenomorphs lurking in the ship’s shadows and the crew track it with computers. They even dispatch the alien the same way as the 1979 original with the good ‘ol airlock into the vacuum of space! Seriously, just stop making Alien movies since you clearly cannot come up with anything new here.
No really. I’m fucking serious. Just. Stop. Making. Alien movies. Please.
Overall: It’s strange that I wasn’t completely bored watching Covenant but I can somewhat say that the action and horror elements were paced out well enough between my nitpicks and eye-rolling at the dumb schemes of philosophy that I can honestly say I wasn’t itching to leave early. However, that’s not saying much at all. AT ALL! The horrible screenwriting, especially with the characters is a terrible waste of talent here. I scoffed at so much bad decision-making with this installment and have a ton of questions that remain unanswered and probably will never get them answered. Some have no bearing on the plot but I’m sure that these things that I had issue with were just poor screenwriting and due diligence with the rest of the franchise. There’s a good movie in Covenant in there somewhere but sadly the Xenomorph that was implanted in the womb died because it didn’t have enough time to gestate or maybe the person it infested had no soul at all.
Ridley Scott really needs to consider to retire. Like now. It’s time to give it up I’m afraid.
Score: 3 “Android Making Out Sessions After a Recorder Solo” (out of 10)