Alien: Covenant – Review

Alien is kinda the gold standard of sci-fi horror. Or thriller. Whatever. It’s been imitated, duplicated and elaborated on but it’s never been matched. Before you say ‘Aliens was better’; Aliens is not a sci-fi horror movie, it’s a war movie with Aliens in it. This has been the problem with the Alien franchise since Aliens; each film tried something new, but with less and less success. After Ridley Scott returned with Prometheus, fans were hopeful but ultimately disappointed with a prequel that was so subtle that it barely resembled an ALIEN movie at all. Now Ridley Scott has called ‘lol jokes’ and said this is the real deal, daddy-O. Alien: Covenant rises from the chest cavity of Prometheus as ANOTHER prequel but this time THERE’S AN ALIEN GUYSSSSS! WHAT?! So does an Alien make Covenant the saviour we need? Puns can’t save me now.

“Excuse me sir, I’m collecting for the girl scouts – HEY DON’T YOU CLOSE THE DOOR ON ME *hisssssss*”

                              *!HOLY DISCLAIMER BATMAN!*

You mightn’t know but I once went to El Dorado with my best bro and became a God for a little while (Disney made a biopic on it, FYI). BUT that doesn’t make my opinion gospel, and whether I love or loathe a movie I think everyone deserves to like what they like and be left alone.

That said, I do not like Alien: Covenant and ham. I do not like it, Sam I am.

                                   *!DISCLAIMER OVER!*

Alien: Covenant is directed by Ridley Scott and stars Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class) and others as the crew of a colonist ship that stumbles across a strange signal and goes to investigate. There’s no way that could go wrong. Needless to say, it goes wrong. And so begins a trip down memory lane as we witness a large roster of characters swiftly die, with some twists and turns that are more obvious moans and groans. Alien: Covenant heard the cries of the Prometheus detractors for ‘more ALIEN’ and decided to say ‘okay here’s your Alien, but we’re still gonna try and tell that Prometheus origin stuff mmkay?’. The trouble is the thought provoking framework of Prometheus is not here, just the hollow husk of some of the ideas of god complexes. Covenant attempts to be a little bit Alien and a little bit Prometheus, but it quickly discovers that when you juggle two chainsaws you end up chopping your damn hands off.

Hello, we are ‘expendable crew feat. budget Ripley. We’re definitely not going to die’.

Flogged to death for its crap characters, Prometheus was largely held afloat by Fassbender, Idris Elba and Charlize Theron. And Noomi Rapace was fine. Alien: Covenant has Billy Crudup (minus blue dong) and Danny McBride do the heavy lifting as the only interesting characters in the film. While Noomi Rapace’s Dr Shaw is given a nod she sadly doesn’t save this film from itself as Covenant dishes up an expendable cast of dull, lifeless lambs for the slaughter. Everyone is fine, but no one is great. A recurring theme for this movie. It also commits the cardinal sin of casting Demian Bichir and underusing him. Credit to Michael Fassbender for going ‘all the way’ with his part here, but at one point this goes 1984 Supergirl weird. Some might call this symbolism (or art) but you can’t take a crap, wrap it in tin foil and give it to Queen Elizabeth as earrings. Unless you’re Mugatu.

Seriously me after seeing the positive response to Alien: Covenant.

Now it’s time to be nice. Ridley Scott can be hit-and-miss, but if there’s one thing that man can direct it’s sci-fi. Scott really has an eye for sweeping visuals in the sci-fi setting, and in Alien: Covenant this really shows. Much like Isla Fisher in Wedding Crashers, this movie has *serious* problems but boy does it look good. There’s a pretty effortless sense of atmosphere that Scott can really ink into his sci-fi films and this is no different. Alien: Covenant is a pretty film but here’s where I twist the knife; that damn alien. Fire your rage cannons at me but there’s a reason that Jaws is a masterpiece and Jaws: The Revenge failed. Don’t show so damn much of the shark! Okay, I’ll concede that the CGI here is not bad at all, but I do think we see way too much of our penis-headed friend in this movie. This was only made worse for me with a disgraceful chestburster scene that seemed to be a remastering of Spaceballs. Watch it and you’ll see.

This Spaceballs cameo made me wanna Barf (hehehe)

Someone must have told the Alien: Covenant writers that if they think too much they’ll hurt themselves because Alien: Covenant dips and dives from smart to freaking stupid. Alien: Covenant is basically a paint-by-numbers script wrapped with a dash of ‘high mindedness’. I know we’re trying to bridge the gap between Prometheus and Alien here but holy hell we’ve gotta get away from this freaking planet. And dumb scientists that stick their faces over alien eggs because someone said they’re ‘perfectly safe’. No I’m not kidding. The Alien franchise deserves more compelling characters than this. And then comes the rehashing. Remember the radar blips? Awesome right? Well they’re ham-fisted in as a freaking landing beacon sound for ‘suspense’. Sure, the power loader fight is legendary. Let’s rerun it with a crane arm and a digger claw instead! Because third act fight scene. Oh and shady android is shady. Not to mention there’s a shower sex scene where Alien goes all slasher movie villain on us. Because shower sex. Urrrgh.

Actual still from an actual scene that actually happened in an Alien movie. Wot.

My biggest issue with Alien: Covenant is not that it’s just plain bad, because it’s not. It’s just plain boring. Sure, Aliens is definitely a bit long-winded in parts, but at least it’s interesting. Alien: Covenant is just so painfully boring. Yes there are action set pieces, and they’re fine. But that’s it, they’re just fine. They’re not memorable, they’re not exciting, they’re not a mark on the tension in the vent scene from Alien or even the caesarean scene in Prometheus. If I had to gauge Alien: Covenant’s tension level I’d say it firmly sits alongside AVP 1, and that’s a Paul W.S Anderson movie. It’s not awful, no, but I was so bored out of my skull by this movie that the moments that Alien: Covenant woke up and got moving again I frankly didn’t give a shit.

Oh, we’re just gonna forget this thing happened? Okay, cool. Thanks for following that up, Alien: Covenant.

The Verdict:

Honestly I was very, painfully disappointed with Alien: Covenant. I think this movie tried too hard to be two different movies, and never attempted to just be itself. Say what you will about Prometheus, but at least it can stand on its own as a solo film – a little convoluted, but still, not awful. Alien: Covenant is serviceable but ‘meh’. Certainly not memorable at all. It kinda just rides on the coattails of the Alien name and the fact that there is an Alien in it, but that’s about it.

Burn me at the stake if you must, but as a moviegoer, let alone an Alien fan, this movie had me bored for most of the runtime and willing it to end.

Wicked Cool scale: 65%
Alien: Covenant gets a C+ because disappointed as I am, it’s still far better than Alien: Resurrection. And probably Alien 3. Sorry David Fincher.

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