Alien Covenant: Review

alien

Last Thursday I decided to forego sleep and see a late showing of Alien Covenant. I’ve been dying to see this ever since it was announced, which was bolstered by Ridley Scott’s promise to have listened to the fans and delivered where Prometheus did not. My spoiler free review of this movie is as follows: As far as a standalone movie, it’s decent and watchable. It’s an entertaining film, but it doesn’t really stand out in any significant way. As far as Alien canon goes, for those who adore the franchise as I do, it’s a disappointment that they used too many tropes and ridiculous decisions to shit all over the established canon and diminished the franchise as a whole.

NOW FOR THE SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OK, from a standalone movie (not caring about canon), this movie is at best entertaining yet unremarkable. It starts out with a scene between Weyland and David (the android from Prometheus). Problem is, since the scenes with a young Weyland were cut from Prometheus, there’s no real way for most people to know who the fuck that is. The scene is foreshadowing for the reveal towards the end, but it drags and is a very boring start to the movie. Also, it’s apparent from this conversation that David is “off”, so it’s odd that Weyland chose to keep him around, even after his model was upgraded. It’s also odd that David was unaware of this upgrade. Were they somehow able to create and produce self-healing androids in the short amount of time between the two missions? Just seems odd, but we’ll take that one on faith.

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Sorry Hudson, but it is…and it gets worse….

Next you’re sort of introduced to the crew. Some good shit happens here. The scene where the original captain dies in his cryo pod is cool (pun totally intended). After that, they work to fix up the ship and you get some interaction. Problem is, most of it feels kinda disconnected, weak, and forced. The banter between the characters doesn’t really point towards any sort of cohesion as a group. Also, the whole fact that they were a bunch of couples really didn’t have any use or place in the plot whatsoever, aside from Daniels giving exposition about the cabin her and her husband were gonna build. Fassbender did a great job acting, as usual (sans his ‘southern’ accent), but I really didn’t give a shit about any other character. There was very little actual connection. People died, and no fucks were given. In contrast, I was bummed when many of the characters in Aliens died (especially Hudson and Vasquez), and when some of the characters in Alien 3 died (especially Dillon). This is because the script was there, the scenes were there, and the acting was on point. I think Covenant had a good cast, they just didn’t have as much to work with. Then they marketed it as if Daniels would be similar to Ripley, and she wasn’t. She was stronger willed, but she lacked the conviction and confidence that made Ripley who she was.

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He’s in the film in his cryo pod for about 20 seconds, then dies. Such a waste.

Crew aside, the decisions in this film are also stupid. They decide to veer off course to investigate a planet they know nothing about, while also putting thousands of lives in jeopardy in the process. They go to the surface and don’t take any samples or readings before going out without helmets on, knowing that any alien world could be host to unknown diseases they’d have no immunity to, and could bring back to the colony ship. They split up at just about every chance they get, on an unknown world and with an android that is an unknown quantity.

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My reaction to most of the crew’s decisions…

Finally, we get to the destruction of the Alien canon. This, for me, is the part that breaks my heart. So first (timeline-wise), David and Shaw go to the Engineer home world, dock over a huge courtyard, and bomb the shit out of them. Originally, they went there for answers, but nope, bomb time. Also, for an advanced race such as them, their “city” looked like ancient Rome, and there weren’t many of them at all. Maybe a few thousand. Not what one would expect from such an advanced civilized race. Also, they were allowed to dock without any apparent communication. No “unidentified craft, please respond”. Nope, just come on in with your doomsday ship, and we’ll all line up under you like a bunch of fuckin’ idiots. Now, for some reason, before the Covenant arrives, David kills Shaw and dissects her. This appears to go against what is seen in the online video of them that was released just prior to this movie. She put him back together, they seemed to care about what happened to each other and had some sort of friendship. However, out of nowhere, boom, she’s dead. I don’t think he experimented on her with a chest burster due to the fact that there are no other aliens on the planet when the Covenant arrives.

Now the Covenant shows up, and we have people stepping on the spores that impregnate people with these neomorphs. This whole process, in my opinion, was great. I liked how it went into them, gestated, and burst through their spines. Very cool shit. The only not-so-cool thing was the trope of the dude getting sick, feeling sick, and saying “nah, I’m fine, nothing’s wrong”. They’re on an unknown world where diseases can easily affect them, why wouldn’t he bother saying something. The scenes could have had just as much impact, and it wouldn’t feel cheap. Then we move along to the shit with David. Apart from him killing Shaw and taking her apart, we find out that HE is the one that created the Xenomorph (It’s not exactly the same, but extremely close to the classic ones). He lures the captain down to his egg chamber, the idiot captain puts his face in the egg, and BOOM! Facehugger to the grill. Then, an insanely short time later, he wakes up and almost immediately gets his chest cracked open by his new baby Xeno. Now, there were many atrocities during this whole bit. First, facehuggers stay attached for a long time, not a few minutes. Second, when the remove themselves, it’s at least a few hours before the chestburster comes out. Third, the chestburster is more of a snake-like creature and not just a miniature NECA figure of a warrior alien. Finally, to top it all off, it starts mimicking David is some silly ass scene that was just so ridiculous that I almost laughed in the theater.

So there it is. David created them. No idea how, with no queen and no hosts aside from Shaw, whose body didn’t appear to have hosted anything. The entire space jockey/engineer story is washed away and ignored so we can see the android create the Xenos, thus David fulfills his foreshadowing scene in the beginning saying that creators get killed by their creations. How very Mary Shelly. This just irks the shit outta me, and goes against much of the other established canon, even from Prometheus. For example, Xenos and a queen are seen in the ship in prometheus, so how did he create them when they existed before?

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Damnit Ridley, you’re following the wrong example!!!!

Now we get to the Xenos themselves. They did look pretty cool, for the most part. The CGI wasn’t all that great, but the design was good. Sadly, they were kind of stupid, and not all that scary. During the fights with them, I didn’t really feel like the crew were in mortal peril. There was just so very little tension in the scenes. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat, and honestly I felt more excitement during the neomorph battles in the wheat. They seemed smarter, which goes against the whole perfect organism thing. Another thing that really helped with the previous films, sound and music. The others used both to set the mood so incredibly well, and this movie just falls short of that. There weren’t really any memorable moments in the score or sound effects that I recalled even when walking out of the theater.

Now, the ending. First, how’d they kill the Xeno? Yup, you guessed it, right out the airlock. Also, that scene was just a bit silly, with her dodging at the last second as if it couldn’t see the huge ass fucking bulldozer approaching from behind her. Then, she is seen joking around with Tennessee, the dude whose demeanor is NOTHING like someone who just lost the love of his life, and most of his fellow crew. Finally, Walter. He puts her in her pod, and she then realizes that it’s really David. First, David can’t heal and Walter can, so she should’ve known earlier when she was stapling his face. Second, the hole in his chin mysteriously disappeared. And finally, C, his hair is a different color and cut. Did he hit up the salon on the way? I don’t think the engineers had much use of hair care products. It was such a ridiculous and stupid trope to throw in there, and so incredibly obvious, that it was downright insulting at this point.

Some will say that this is all butthurt because this wasn’t the Alien movie we all wanted. I call bullshit on that. This was more like the TV show Lost. It seems like there were all sorts of different directions he wanted to go in, so he went in all of them, and couldn’t decide which would be the official story. Then he expects us to be OK with him choosing the dumbest and most cliché direction of all, and ignore all the plot holes and the shitty change of tone that now affects the entirety of the franchise. Changes to canon like this are like the butterfly effect, they bloom outward and change the rest of canon, for good OR, in this case, bad.

 

 

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