I had some serious issues with Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel Prometheus, as it seemed to be a film that just randomly threw in mythology and then never bothered to explain anything – maybe Scott had hopes that we would all be patient enough to wait for the sequel to the prequel – but then he also populated Prometheus with characters who performed actions that varied from odd to bloody stupid and made it difficult for us to give a damn about them, and this brings us to Alien: Covenant, where Ridley Scott explains nothing at all about the mysterious Engineers and also populates this entry with an even larger cast of characters who do nothing but complete one moronic thing after another.
The movie deals with the colonization ship Covenant and its crew of irascible morons, who are awakened seven years early when a neutrino burst from a local star severely damages their ship, and onboard this ship is Walter (Michael Fassbender), who is a later model of the android David we met in Prometheus, and he is able to get most the crew up to deal with the accident, but unfortunately, the captain burns to death in his cryo-pod. Second-in-command Oram (Billy Crudup) takes charge but when they intercept a strange transmission from a hidden Earth-type planet he decides they should investigate a strange new world. Daniels (Katherine Waterston), the widow of the recently deceased captain, thinks this is dangerous, and that it would be a mistake to alter a mission that had been planned out over several years of study on nothing more than a whim and a hunch. Thus begins the film spiral into “What the fuck are these people thinking?”
Daniels is obviously the film’s main protagonist, her ignored warning is to make us side with her when things turn to shit, but then she joins in with the rest of the crew in constantly doing idiotic things that makes one shake your head in despair. Let’s talk a little more about the crew, the Covenant is a colonization ship, so it is packed to the gills with families willing to start a new life on a distant alien world, but what is beyond the pale of stupid is that most of the command crew are married to fellow crew-mates. How can a person be expected to make a rational and emotionally free decision if what you need to do, to complete the mission, could jeopardize the one you love? Ship’s pilot Tennessee (Danny McBride) is willing to fly the Covenant down through a dangerous ionic storm, endangering the lives of the thousands of people in cryosleep simply because he has lost contact with the landing crew, which his wife was part of. And just how unprofessional is this crew you ask? Well, when the lander touches down on this mysterious alien world they all step out of their ship without any thought as to how unsafe the air could be.
Our cast of numbskulls proceeds to explore the alien terrain, splitting up because sure why not, and they discover a crashed derelict ship that we the viewers know was last seen being piloted by Dr. Elizabeth Shaw and David at the end of Prometheus. This is when the shit hits the fan as alien spores are quickly inhaled by a couple of crew members, creatures burst out of people, ships explode in balls of fire, hordes of xenomorphs attack out heroes, and then long lost David shows up to rescue them. What follows is some great nail-biting action, and loads of created tension, but sadly as I didn’t really give a shit about any of these space yahoos it really failed to get me invested. Now Ridley Scott certainly knows how to make a beautiful looking movie, and this film is gorgeous at times, but someone at some point should have slapped him across the back of the head and told him to leave the Alien franchise alone. Where did the alien that was discovered by Ripley and the crew of the Nostromo come from? No one the fuck cares, that’s where.
Final Thoughts and MAJOR SPOILERS:
• David hates the idea that he was created by humans and his lack of morals makes him into a killer android, while Ash was a killer robot because it was his job. Ridley Scott swaps out practical for metaphysical.
• Tennessee wants to take the Covenant closer to the ionic storm but crewmembers Ricks and Upworth state that that is crazy dangerous. Later they agree to do this even though it is still crazy dangerous and could result in the death of the two thousand sleeping colonists.
• David leads the landing crew through a dead city of the Engineers, passed a countless number of horrifyingly dead figures, but when he tells them “You are safe here” they start wandering off alone to explore. I’ve seen teenagers in a Friday the 13th movie with more common sense.
• David cuts his long hair so that he more closely resembles the Walter android. If at that point the entire audience didn’t know how the film was going to end I’d be very surprised.
• Billy Crudup sees David communicating with a xenomorph, in a room where the creature had just torn apart one of his friends, but does he freak out and run for help? No, David simply tells him “I have something to show you” and leads the poor sap down into the basement so the idiot can peak into an egg and get a face full of hugger.
• We learn David murdered and experimented on Elizabeth Shaw between movies, which is on par with the stupid decision to kill off Newt in Alien3.
• Ricks and Upworth are killed while naked in the shower because this film didn’t already resemble a slasher film enough.
• We get a flashback tease of what the Engineers are all about, but then David kills them all before we actually learn anything new.
Final Note: Do you think they will rename the first two movies in the franchise Alien: Nostromo and Alien: Sulaco?
Alien: Covenant (2017)
No one can deny that Ridley Scott is a helluva filmmaker, and this is a gorgeous film to look at, but as we’ve now had eight Alien movies, and only two of them have been any good, I kind of hope he gives it a rest.