FOR TWO TYPES OF PEOPLE:
Film Review by Fiore
There are two types of people in the cinema world; those who think PROMETHEUS was a good film, and those who realize it was nothing but excrement on celluloid. The former will probably find some value in ALIEN: COVENANT. Luckily, those people are a minority and a contagion and should be prevented from any social activity for the safety of others. The latter will see ALIEN: COVENANT as Ridley Scott’s celluloid apology for PROMETHEUS and his lame attempt to return the ALIEN franchise to its iconic origins.
ALIEN: COVENANT is an arrogant humanist display. If we follow the story line, the only element in the entire universe that can be responsible for creating a creature like Alien, is man. What hubris! A large part of the horror element in Scott’s first ALIEN was the mystery surrounding the creature. How did this creature come to be? Why is it so destructive? What world could possibly spawn it? The original Alien was similar to the Borg on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION.
There was no need to seek their origins and discover why they were so nasty. They were the antagonists, and needed destroyed. Once Paramount attempted to find the cause for the Borg’s assimilation mission, they were no longer an intergalactic threat. The same scenario now exists with ALIEN. There is no cinematic reason to discover the origins of the creature. Yet, Scott and 20th Century Fox opted to pursue this story line. Guess what? In all the universe, the only living creature capable of creating something as fearsome as Alien is (wait for it…) man! With this, the entire mystique of an evil, predatory space creature loses all its impact.
Scott must realize the deviation was lame, because he spends most of ALIEN: COVENANT attempting to restore the Alien to its original glory. Unfortunately, the damage may already be too devastating.
There are two types of people following the Alien franchise; those who recognize from the first film that Alien is indestructible, “the perfect organism which instantly adapts to any environment.” And then there are those who buy the Stan Winston nonsense of Alien being a type of insect on steroids, with hives, queens and the ability to be squashed like bugs. Those folks are wrong. Scott profusely reiterates the original premise in ALIEN: COVENANT, calling the Alien once again, “the perfect organism” and attesting to its indestructability. Yeah, too little, too late.
Speaking of reverting, ALIEN: COVENANT features a female heroine (can you say surrogate Sigourney Weaver?), an attempt to blow the Alien off the ship into space (can you say similar ending?), a fight between the heroine and the Alien involving a mechanical loading device (can you say been-there, saw-that?).
Charlie Henley is the Special Effects Supervisor. He creates alien worlds from Australian backlands and utilizes the H. R. Geiger designs with aplomb. Unfortunately, some of the backscapes have lackluster matting, resembling a 1980’s poor blue screen look. The aliens must go through a quick evolution, which is a method of connecting PROMETHEUS with ALIEN: COVENANT. There is nothing quite as good as Alien, but we are subjected to a litany of incarnations that seem to be a deprived mating between the Pillsbury DoughBoy and the Michelin TireMan.
Pietro Scalia, as Editor, keeps the movie to two hours. He is dealing with a large sympathy letter, however, and no amount of cutting can fix a weak script. The first two-thirds of ALIEN: COVENANT are tedious. The ship’s crew contains an interracial and a homosexual couple; not because they are germane to the story, but because the tenants of multiculturalism must be shoved down the throats of the viewing public. There is a trite subplot of artificial intelligence vs. humans and the overplayed psychotic robot ploy. With sporadic action scenes tossed in periodically, it isn’t until the final twenty minutes that viewers see action with the Alien we all know and love. A little help from writer John Logan may have made Scalia’s job less yeoman.
Let’s take a look at the report card for ALIEN: COVENANT:
1.1 ACTING = C
1.2 CINEMATOGRAPHY = B
1.3 SOUND/MUSIC = B
1.4 EDITING = C
1.5 LIGHTING = C
1.6 SCRIPT = D
1.7 SFX = C
1.8 ACTION = B
The spaceship Covenant is on a colony expedition with over 2,000 colonists and embryos traveling to Origae-6, a journey of eight years. An energy burst and a ghost message awakens the crew early and presents them with a much closer, Eden like planet as a possible substitute. When they explore the planet, they discover the remnants of the Prometheus project and the psychotic AI obsessed with creating the perfect lifeform. Their colonization mission now becomes one of survival.
Starring in a dual role is Michael Fassbender, who should have taken a few lessons from Brent Spiner for the parts. Katherine Waterston plays Daniels, and is never convincing as a woman warrior. Danny McBride is Tennessee. Normally a comedic actor, McBride is the only member of the cast who provides a credible performance. ALIEN: COVENANT also stars Billy Crudup; Demia Bichir; Carmen Ejogo; and in an uncredited cameo, Guy Pierce.
1.9 KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. THE TALL GRASSY ATTACK
2. THE BATTLE ON THE SHIP
The Alien franchise is becoming almost as muddled as the X-Men franchise, and that is not a good thing. I commend Scott for attempting to return to his original sci-fi horror classic, but truly everything from ALIENS to ALIEN: COVENANT, is easily nothing more than a box office money grab. Sci-fi fans should watch the last thirty minutes of ALIEN: COVENANT. It will provide reboots of key scenes from the first two films. The rest of ALIEN: COVENANT is only for geeks with short and selective memories.