Alien: Covenant

Regurgitation

         
 

03 June 2017| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

No movie has taken more time to suck in as a major disappoint than this. Alien: Covenant was coming off the heels of “Prometheus,” and seethed potential, and yet despite all its visual flair it is nothing but a shaggy dog story. There are only a few moments that teem of would-be inspiration, and yet director Ridley Scott does nothing with them. Consider the first bare bones scene set inside a white room with a window and piano with Guy Pearce as the industrial-techno tycoon Weyland sharing a dialogue with Michael Fassbender as his A.I. creation. As written, it is cerebral and enigmatic, and so we’re glad it’s there because we figure it will bring context for later scenes. Yet there is nothing later, NOTHING, that links to this opening scene. We reflect back onto it without purpose.

With “Covenant,” set ten years after the previous installment, we have Fassbender as artificial intelligence who has evolved into a mad doctor type. He’s been busy for years mixing alien DNA with human hosts to help evolve this nasty species. Yet the movie never answers this: After you try experimenting on a few humans, how many different combinations are there going to be at the end anyway? The facehugger goes into the esophagus of a human, it comes out later, it rapidly develops into a full-size predatory creature. If there are any other tangential variables, the movie tells us none about them. Oh yes, an introduction of spores, traveling in osmosis through the ear canal, can gestate into a lethal parasite. But how is this, or why is this, introduced to us six “Alien” movies in only to give us no explanation to the chain of this alien evolution? The crossbreeding stuff, of mixing different types of alien and human DNA, can only take you so far before you wonder: How much more genetic engineering can you possibly concoct with an alien to make him more supremely deadly than they already are?

When Scott finally gives us something of science fiction value, a continuation on what the alien race the Engineers were all about, as introduced in “Prometheus,” he gives us a scene of genocide catastrophe that visually comes off as if the section of the film was delegated to a second assistant director who had to come up with a scene entirely made hastily on a computer.

Scott is such a visually strong director the rest of the time that I suppose you can build up expectations. But like I said, this is a shaggy dog story. A traumatic disaster takes place on the spaceship Covenant, which leads them to land on an unchartered planet (they didn’t have to), and they find a refuge in a cave (gee, what a promising story idea) that’s overseen by a marooned robot that’s played by Michael Fassbender. His acting is very good, yet superficial ultimately: There has been a lot of internet commentary on how Fassbender’s A.I. characterization connects to Scott’s seminal classic “Blade Runner,” but most connections to me are spurious. Let’s not forget, “Blade Runner” had fascinating things to say. Scott has nothing to say this time.

The cast of marooned characters (Billy Crudup, Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride) is a weak one – you can’t believe they were ever assigned to travel into deep space let alone pass their college entrance exams. The rest of the crew might as well inspire a description: Ciphers In Space.

For two wanking hours, we get a tease that some of the developments in Scott’s latest are going to deepen the lore of the Alien series, yet it only confuses it or jettisons all promises away. Scott doesn’t even show you enough of the alien planet or give us an idea if it’s habitable, say, hundred miles away from the landing point where the action takes place.

Nothing could be more watershed in one’s movie watching experience than seeing the original 1979 “Alien” for the first time and letting it scare the bejesus out of you. But “Covenant” is good for only mild jolt nostalgia since the thing as a whole is a complete regurgitation of the entire series – Scott even rehashes his “Prometheus” with another scene of an alien hanging on to a flying spacecraft.

I wish now though that “Prometheus” had been met with more collective praise, because once it divided audiences Scott abandoned his ideas for concentrating exclusively on the creation of human beings and the backstory of the Engineers race. What we are left with is “Covenant,” an empty vessel, and a shame.

Note: Speaking of shame, my original review was for three stars while steep in a long list that reflected my disappointments with it. I suppose I so badly wanted to like the movie, that I compromised my review as a result and gave it benefit of the doubt. Days after, I decided I couldn’t live with my first review. I decided I resented what a fall-off “Covenant” was to the entire series.

124 Minutes. Rated R.

SCI-FI & FANTASY / MYTHOLOGY / WEEKEND THRILLS 

Film Cousins: “Alien” (1979); “Aliens” (1986); “Alien: Resurrection” (1997); “Prometheus” (2012).

Alien-Covenant_ Art-Post_2017

Summary
Reviewer
Sean Chavel
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Alien: Covenant
Author Rating
3
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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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