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Alien Covenant poster

I really did not like Prometheus. The characters kept doing stupid things in order to create conflict and tension. The android antagonist seemed to act belligerently with no real reason to do so, and with the audience having no real idea what he was even trying to do. The tie-in to Alien also felt completely unnecessary and [more importantly] unwelcome. Apparently, the writers of Alien: Covenant saw those complaints and decided to double-down on all of them.

Covenant completely lost me as soon as the crew steps off the lander without any sort of environmental suits or helmets.

I could overlook the fact that the crew decides to land on the planet immediately instead of waiting for the storms to pass. Maybe they thought this was a rescue mission and time would be of the essence. Whatever.

I could excuse them for somehow completely missing the ruins of an alien city being within walking distance of the source of the transmission.

I could maybe even excuse the rapid pacing with which the alien gestates after being implanted by the facehugger, and how fast the alien grows. In the original movie, the facehugger was on the guy's face for like a whole day, then the chestburster doesn't pop out till the next day, and then it takes about another whole day for the xenomorph to grow to maturity. In Covenant, the whole process takes a matter of minutes or hours.

I could overlook all that stuff in a cleverer movie. But setting foot on an unknown alien world without even bothering to protect yourself from potential contaminants, and then setting the entire movie's conflict on infectious agents, is just unforgivable. Even Prometheus at least got that right ... until the crew decided to all take off their helmets because scans indicated that the "air is breathable".

Alien Covenant - no space suits
Why aren't you wearing environmental suits?!

You know what else is unforgivably stupid? Following a duplicitous android into his bio-weapon research lab and then sticking your face in an alien egg sac because he kindly asked you to. As soon as the captain found out that David had killed and/or experimented on Shaw, why didn't he just shot and killed him?

The movie is also a structural and pacing nightmare. The first 20 minutes of movie feels like pointless filler; while the last 30 minutes is a lazy, rushed rehash of the first Alien movie without any of the tension, suspense, or mystery -- right down to including tracks from the original Alien score. I could buy into the first thirty minutes being a "world-building" exercise, but not when you then go on to fail so miserably at world-building by not having your protagonists follow the most rudimentary of sci-fi safety procedures.

Aside from establishing the terraforming module, that first act really does absolutely nothing to set up anything later in the movie. Was the entire scene of the energy wave damaging the ship, and the crew repairing the ship, simply to set up David's throwaway line at the end claiming that the crew all died in the accident? That was literally all that the opening act accomplished. The movie literally could have just started with Walter receiving a strange transmission and waking up the crew in order to decide what to do about it. And if some malfunction prevents Captain Daniels from waking up, then that change would result in shortening the movie by about 20 minutes without changing a single other part of the script. It could have even allowed more time to slow down the final act in order to more faithfully recreate Alien, or to further develop David's grotesque experiments (which were the most interesting concept in the movie).

Alien Covenant - alien egg
Alien monsters murdered half your crew, you caught the android experimenting on said aliens,
and yet you still trust when he "assures" you that it's safe to stick your head in an alien egg?

Covenant ends up being a sloppy remake of and a terrible (and also unwelcome) prequel to Alien.

Doesn't follow-through on any of Prometheus' ideas

What's worse is that Covenant couldn't even be a decent sequel to Prometheus. I guess the studio didn't want to continue with the plot threads and ideas of Prometheus due to that film's poor reception. The result is that this sequel completely drops everything that Prometheus was about. At the end of Prometheus, Shaw takes the Engineer (space jockey) ship and flies off to their homeworld so that she can learn why they decided they needed to wipe out humanity. Covenant decides instead to just have David murder the entire Engineer population (or some alien population, anyway) -- in a flashback of an off-screen event from ten years prior to the events of Covenant.

All the stuff about the Engineers having seeded the galaxy and creating humans is ignored. All the stuff about the Engineers potentially having created the alien as a weapon is brushed off. All the stuff about wanting to meet our creator(s) to find purpose to our existence is gone, and it's replaced with a single running theme about David wanting to create things. There's still flimsy references to faith and mythology included in this movie, but now it feels completely out-of-place and jarring because it goes nowhere and does nothing. The black goo from Prometheus is now an airborne spore for some reason.

Alien Covenant - engineers
Covenant doesn't bother to follow-through on any of Prometheus' concepts or plot threads.

Prometheus was bad, but at least it had something going on. That movie was fueled by some high concepts and ideas. There was a genuine creative vision behind it. I didn't like those concepts and ideas, but had the movie actually been cleverly-written, those ideas could have been very interesting, and it would have been satisfying to see them paid-off in the sequel.

Heck, even Alien 3 (which I think is an underrated movie) at least has a "John Carpenter's The Thing" vibe to it, in which the other human characters are at least as dangerous and threatening to each other (and to Ripley) as the actual alien is. As scary as the xenomorph is, it's still not any more scary than what human beings can do to each other. That was at least an interesting concept to base an Alien movie around. The video game Alien: Isolation also stumbled upon the interesting concept of framing the defunct space station and the economic conditions that lead to its collapse as being as worthy of fear as the xenomorph itself. So there's a lot of potential in the Alien universe that could be explored beyond just mindless violence and body horror.

Alien 3
Alien Isolation
Other Alien movies and games have used the xenomorph as a way of contextualizing other conceptual horrors.

Instead, Covenant is a shallow and vapid cop-out. The characters are paper-thin. The script is sloppy. There's no mystery or intrigue or tension -- and therefore no horror. The pacing is all wonky. It lacks the tight, unifying themes of Prometheus and the other Alien movies (even the bad ones). Worst of all, it completely misfires on re-creating the tension and dread of Alien. Alien: Covenant makes Prometheus look much better by comparison. I waited to see Alien: Covenant at the dollar theater, and I'm glad I did.

And now David has facehugger eggs and a whole colony ship to experiment on. It looks like we're heading towards yet another sequel that will try to (and miserably fail to) recreate Aliens.

Comments (2) -

Poul Winther
Poul Winther
10/06/2017 11:58:46 #

Thank you for saving me the time! Prometheus was so incredibly idiotic that I wasted way more time being deeply offended than just the couple of hours wasted watching. If this is not to be considered at least ten times better I will not even consider.
I honestly cannot continue to believe that Scott had much to do with the original movies. He simply must have been taking credit for someone else's work as he wouldn't possibly keep releasing this nonsense if he had a clue about why the originals worked.
Prometheus didn't just 'not work', it was so in every possible way except visuals that it was impossible to take a single moment seriously. Every character was so awful that I could hardly wait for each of them to die, and you're telling me these are even worse? No thanks, and please stop raping your legacy Ridley!

04/06/2019 20:21:25 #

Covenant was absolutely agonizing to watch. ALL WE WANTED WAS MORE INFO ON THE ENGINEERS and instead we’re shown 30 seconds of how this godlike race was wiped out by their own weapon deployed by an android who came from earth? I wanted to kick my dog that was so stupid. NOBODY in the world asked for another ooh creepy gross facehugger aliens movie. We wanted ANSWERS we wanted HISTORY. The entire plot of this was about as important as a 2 minute video log you might pick up as an afterthought in that dark lab playing Doom 3.

What an absolute crock.

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