Review: Alien: Covenant Finds Creative Ways To Kill People We Don’t Care About
Title: Alien: Covenant
Director: Ridley Scott
Summary: The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.
The Alien franchise is legendary with two of its entries being genre defiers in their own right. The Xenomorph has been scaring people for decades and now we’re here in the modern era where director Ridley Scott has decided that we need a prequel explaining where they came from. We probably didn’t need that because the explanation of “the aliens just exists” is believable enough but here we are. Prometheus was the first movie out the gate and it wasn’t very good. It was marred with weird production issues and changes in tone that didn’t make much sense. Now we have Alien: Covenant here to see if they can bring the series back to its horror roots.
Alien: Covenant might have a few creative kills, but due to a bunch of painfully stupid characters we have no investment in those kills so they don’t matter.
There is nothing wrong with a large body count in a movie. There is even nothing wrong with a slasher movie in general. However, much like an action movie, the type of tension that comes from a horror movie comes from the fear of the unknown. The unknown can be a location, the monster or the knowledge of whether anyone in this movie is going to make it out alive. Alien: Covenant misses both the unknown and the fact that you need to care about these people to make that tension work. The unknown is off the table right away because this is a prequel to a series that has been around for years. There isn’t a person alive that doesn’t know what a xenomorph looks like. The monsters here are still evolving but, in general, we know what they look like so that is off the table. There is the fear of the unknown as far as location goes but the world they are stuck on isn’t that far off from our own. Then there is the fear, for the audience, of whether or not anyone is going to survive.
There is not a single person that makes more than a fleeting impact on you in this entire cast. While Daniels (Katherine Waterston) is the new Ripley and Tennessee (Danny McBride) are the two that make the most impression you still don’t really care about them one way or another. There is nothing but a bunch of disposable people that start getting picked off one by one. To get invested in these people you have to ignore how incredibly stupid all of them are. The entire mission could have been saved if someone decided to wear suits; or not go explore a random planet that seemed to pop up out of nowhere when you’re responsible for thousands of people. It gets frustrating to the point where you’re not rooting for anyone to live because they almost deserve to die for being so incompetent. You find yourself angrier about the thousands of people they jeopardized instead of being sad that they died.
The movie isn’t all bad, though. As said the kills are pretty creative and the gore is plentiful. If you’re here to watch people you don’t care about die in pretty spectacular ways then you’re in for a treat. The idea where the xenomorph comes from and how they are made is interesting enough, even if it seems very convoluted in its way to get there. Scott knows how to shoot a movie, though, and the tension does work more or less. Michael Fassbender is on hand in multiple roles and it’s funny to see him play two versions of an android. The overall design is good and feels true to the source material even if there is some weird looking CGI. The chest burster from the original looked more real than the version we get here which is a shame.
Alien: Covenant isn’t a bad movie but there is something missing in this new set of Alien movies. Scott seems to be lost within his own mythology which would be fine if there were some interesting things happening within that mythology. As it is the movie might have plenty of blood but it lacks the heart of the originals. Whatever Scott is trying to achieve with these movies is unclear but we have two more (allegedly) to find out.