Alien Covenant Review: Look On His Works Ye Mighty And Despair
Director: Ridley Scott
Producer: Ridley Scott, Walter Hill, Michael Schaefer, David Giler
Screenplay: John Logan
Cast: Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Amy Seimetz, Jussie Smollet, Tess Haubrich, Uli Latukefu, Callie Hernandez, Benjamin Rigby, Nathaniel Dean, Guy Pearce
Production by: 20th Century Fox and Scott Free Produtions
Released By: 20th Century Fox
I now have no more hope for the Alien franchise. Alien is a favorite movie of mine and legitimately one of the greatest Sci-Fi films ever made (as well as one of the scariest), and Aliens is a great action movie. While Alien 3, Alien Resurrection, and Prometheus aren’t that good, at least they had some ambition to them. I respect the ideas Whedon and Scott wanted to explore in Resurrection and Prometheus respectively, it’s just that they failed in execution.
This movie was dead set on being boilerplate from the very beginning and as a prequel, leaves way more questions than it does answers. The questions this movie does answer are either highly disappointing or on the verge of making the entire franchise a joke. But I’ll get back to that in a minute, here is a minimal spoiler story synopsis.
The Covenant, a ship carrying 2000+ colonists and embryos to a planet (they are seven years away at the time of the opening), are awoken from hyper sleep by a tragedy. While dealing with this tragedy new Captain Christopher Oram and crew receive a human-like call from what seems to be a habitable planet much closer than their original destination. Against Second Mate Danny Branson’s strong opposition toward straying from there original course, a small landing party descends to figure out what the message means, if the planet truly is habitable and by doing so they end up completely ruining the mystique and fear the Xenomorphs had.
I’ll say this for Prometheus, it raised some interesting questions. How do we handle faith on an age of science and reason? What would happen if we were to meet our creator(s) if there are any? Would we be disappointed in them? Would they be disappointed in us? What does it mean to be human? If we were able to find the answers to these questions, would we like what we learned? The problem is it never answers any of these questions satisfactorily before turning into a frustratingly dumb sci-fi/horror movie with some of the dumbest scientists I’ve ever seen.
By the way, the few threads that connect this movie to Prometheus? If you are one of the people who liked that movie, and I can understand if you do, be ready to be pissed off at where that all leads. For fear of spoilers, I can’t even get into all problems this raises, both on a story level and a movie level.
I’ll tell you one thing, I never needed to know what the Xenomorphs are and where they came from. What was important about them was they were swift and silent and cunning enough that one could take down an entire ship. I have no idea why they decided to lay bare everything about what the Xenomorphs are and their origin, but what a slap in the face to the series as a whole and the fans that supported it.
Let’s talk about the writing. Remember how the crew of the Prometheus was full of scientists that didn’t share a brain cell between them and would get themselves into the worst situations because of it? Get ready for more of that because they doubled down here. Except instead of really dumb characters, we get really dumb outlines of characters in Covenant. For most of the movie I didn’t know anything about these characters besides some basic things and what they did on the ship and most of that is mentioned in passing halfway through the movie.
The head of security at one point sees a field of wheat and says “this is wheat and I know my wheat.” Then never explains or mentions it again. All the writer had to do was have this character say “This is wheat, I should know I grew up on a wheat farm” it takes three seconds and now I know something interesting about this character. I expect better from the guy who wrote Gladiator and Any Given Sunday. John Logan is a very intelligent man, one of the only good scenes in the entire movie involves someone using Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” in perfect context to the scene.
As for direction, Ridley Scott is a technical master, so of course it looks beautiful.
The acting is actually pretty good for a bunch of talented people trying to make the best of a bad script.
What a shame. What a dirty rotten shame.
It’s Ridley Scott, though he needed a different writer.
I’m being generous because of the Ozymandias scene.
Some clunky performances, but it’s talented people doing the best they can.