Quick Critique: Alien Covenant

Well. Kinda talked myself into this one.

A colony ship named Covenant is filled with couples and embryos in order to populate a new planet. However, they are interrupted by a freak neutrino blast that heavily damages the ship and kills the captain whilst still in cryogenic sleep (James Franco, no seriously). Whilst trying to repair and considering their options, the crew option to land on a nearby planet due to picking up a transmission of Country Roads by John Denver. Upon landing, they find a very Earth-like planet and vegetation there. They run into David (Michael Fassbender), the android survivor of the Prometheus expedition from 10 years ago and model of Covenant’s android Walter (also Michael Fassbender, obviously). Upon exploring their surroundings, they discover something disastrous: a familiar alien menace that starts to attack the crew.

Following up the critically mauled Prometheus, it’s hard to tell whether Alien: Covenant was Ridley Scott making concessions to the dislike of that movie or if this was genuinely his plan for a follow up to the 2012 movie. As it stands, this film is very much taking cues from Aliens, with the larger cast and a more action-oriented style in mind. With this, and a bigger emphasis on the Xenomorphs including new iterations of the creatures and discovering their origins, Alien: Covenant seems to be designed to win fans over who were left wanting from the last installment. It failed. Pretty epicly at that.

Covenant does have some decent ideas here and there, and while the visual impact of Prometheus is lacking here, this film certainly looks great, but we are left with a script full of stupid, stupid moments and character actions, as well as a cast who just aren’t that compelling. They certainly act more realistically to certain situations, but none of them are really that memorable outside of a surprisingly nuanced turn from Danny McBride and Michael Fassbender. How hammy The Fass is here is something to truly behold, but sadly he fails to make David anything other than a 2-note villain.

This eventually leads into moments that are more comedically baffling then they are intense or scary. The first attack of the cutely named neomorphs is more like a Three Stooges skit than an alien attack, and the real action set piece was designed for a movie that took itself way less seriously. Even if you didn’t like Prometheus, the reveal of what happened to Shaw and the Engineers is maddening, and the themes of creation and human survival are handled with the same grace and ingenuity of a jackhammer.

Alien: Covenant manages to keep a lot of the issues of its predecessor, fix some minor ones and still fails on making a satisfying Alien movie. Director Ridley Scott feels more asleep on the wheel this time around, and while even a bad Scott movie is still technically accomplished, the nonsensical and unintentionally comedic moments reflect really badly on the much-accomplished filmmaker. It feels long past time we put this series on cryosleep again until somebody comes up with a more satisfying way to handle the beloved extra-terrestrial creatures. With little chance of that happening, let’s see the original architect of the franchise go back to the source and completely bastardise his own creation and make us want to start all over again.

Wait, wait…does that mean both these movies were a meta-analysis of the direction this franchise took?

OH MY GOD THIS IS BLOWING MY MIN-no wait, that’s stupid.

Or is it…?

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3/10

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