Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on May 19, 2017
Directed by Ridley Scott
Written by John Logan and Dante Harper
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bechir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Amy Seimetz, Nathanial Dean, Guy Pearce, James Franco, Lorelei King (voice)
In deep space, the crew of a giant cargo ship is awakened from stasis sleep by the ship’s computer; a mysterious transmission is intercepted, and the crew decides to investigate. They take a shuttle to the planet’s surface, and during their exploration, a crew member is infected, and he’s confined to sick bay. Soon, a hostile alien creature bursts from its human host and begins terrorizing the remaining crew. The dominate female crew member takes charge, and after a deranged android is discovered and dealt with, the woman finds the alien is aboard the escape vessel with her, and a battle of wills ensues.
And there you have the plot of Alien, which as it turns out is also the plot of Alien: Covenant, the sequel to Prometheus and one of apparently thousands of prequels to, you guessed it, Alien. Ridley Scott is back as director, and as he did with Prometheus, he throws a shipload of mythology and origin story at us from every angle, requiring the actual ‘alien’ portion of the title to take a back seat to the events happening on-screen. Which to me makes absolutely no sense, and makes me wonder where he’s headed with the story in the long run, if the alien creature aspect of the franchise has now become an afterthought.
Technically, the film was outstanding, with a look, style, and level of cinematic skill you’d expect from a Ridley Scott effort. But the story was a mess, with no characters you cared about, situations you had no patience for, and the aforementioned familiarity of the story itself. I guess I should say that one character piqued my interest, and kept me somewhat engaged, and that was the android David, played by Michael Fassbender, who had me nervous wondering what he was up to, and whether his intentions were good, or not so good. The rest of the crew, however, did nothing to garner my support, and I would’ve been quite happy if they’d stayed in stasis sleep for the entire film.
I think what riled me most, however, was just how stupid these characters were. Didn’t the filmmakers take a moment to look over the script beforehand and make sure common sense was involved in character actions and decisions? I gave up on these morons almost immediately, when they decided to answer a rogue transmission, landed on an unknown and potentially hostile planet, determined it had breathable air, and within minutes departed the ship and began exploring…without helmets, goggles, masks, suits, or any kind of bodily protection! The film was flooded with this kind of laziness, and I had to wonder: who put these idiots in charge, and at what point was I supposed to care about them?
I was expecting Covenant to not only be a direct follow-up to Prometheus, and a direct lead-in to the original Alien, but something that was worthy of a weekend night’s viewing; sadly, I was robbed on all three counts. And with a crew of what could be the most brain-damaged travelers to ever leave Earth’s atmosphere, watching and enjoying the film became a chore, and I can’t really recommend this to anyone except die-hards of the franchise. And even then, I hesitate to do so. My suggestion: watch the first two films in the series, and call it a night. (4/10)