Alien: Covenant Review – Promises, Promises

Alien was a franchise in which each sequel was the distinct vision of its filmmaker. Now Ridley Scott is the only director to have made more than one, let alone three, and the series is in a decline more drastic than Alien Vs. Predator. Alien: Covenant is full of bad decisions, both by the creative team and by the characters themselves.Alien: Covenant

There are good set pieces in Alien: Covenant, but the story connecting them is nonsense. Explaining how the xenomorphs were created is a mistake itself. Now it’s not some unstoppable force of nature. It’s some convoluted exposition that can’t possibly be satisfying, even if it were better than this. A prequel doesn’t have to explain its successor. In fact, it shouldn’t. If the original worked, then that’s all the explanation that was ever necessary. Just be a new story set earlier in the timeline.

The end of Prometheus gets Alien 3ed in a line of dialogue. It’s fine if Alien: Covenant wants to distance itself from the previous film, but be clever about it. They did not distance themselves from dumb scientists though. I know Chris Oram (Billy Crudup) just got the captain job due to a tragedy, but he is not only the worst captain ever, he’s a terribly crew member to begin with. Every decision he makes is bad. I don’t understand how he got any job on a spaceship. A monkey would be more useful. At least a monkey can be trained to follow orders.

Faris (Amy Siemetz) panics when she first sees an alien. That’s understandable, even if she’s an astronaut and medic. But then her husband says he’s never seen her scared before. So the first time in their married life she’s ever been scared, she turns it all the way up to 11?

Under Oram, the entire crew of the Covenant goes off on an unauthorized mission to this planet. So the crew has awoken from hypersleep because of an accident, and because the accident killed some crew members, they’re reluctant to go back to sleep for the 7 year trip to the planet they’re assigned to colonize. Excuse me, do the 2000 colonists who signed up to go to the 7 years away planet get a vote? Even if there are no aliens on the new planet, those colonists signed up for a different planet. If they wake up from hypersleep somewhere else, that sounds like a lawsuit to me. Or even in the future, are space colonists still at the mercy of whatever the crew decides to do? It’s United Airlines in space.

Oram’s crew certainly answers to someone. They didn’t plan this colony. They’re just hired to execute the mission. And I’m sorry, you think a random new planet you just found out about sounds like a better option than the one they spent years studying and proving could support life and facilitate your mission?

How does any of this lead to the Space Jockey from the original Alien? Alien: Covenant already takes place long after the giants went extinct. So what, are we going to find out someone brought the giants back, or there’s ANOTHER race of giants who became space travelers who encountered the xenomorph on LV-426?

There’s a “twist” that could not have been revealed as anything else, since an earlier scene blatantly cuts away from the resolution. The only reason not to show the end of that scene is so that they can say the outcome wasn’t what you expect. But because they didn’t show the scene, you expect the outcome anyway.

Alien: CovenantI don’t get how they’re naming androids now. It was alphabetical with Ash, Bishop and Call. David is sort of anachronistic because he predates Ash, but we allowed it because his movie came after. Now they’ve jumped to Walter (Michael Fassbender)? Androids now do martial arts too. Forget that this upgrade was removed from subsequent Ash, Bishop and Call models. Cinematically, this is more than a decade too late from the post-Matrix boom. Are we still supposed to be impressed to see martial arts in a Hollywood movie?

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that any Alien movie now is going to have CGI aliens. It’s not ideal but the set pieces with them are still good. It’s just the CGI aliens look more like a guy in a suit than the actual guy in an alien suit at the end of Alien. They definitely show the creature too much, and one of them makes Predator mouth sounds, so I guess Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem is canon after all.

There is a silver lining though. Every bad Alien movie makes my beloved Alien: Resurrection rise in esteem. Now it’s not even in the bottom three! Well, well, well, Neil Blomkamp’s idea is looking pretty good right now.

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