I’m not sure what to say about ‘Alien: Covenant’, but as far as I can remember, it is one of the most disappointing science-fiction movies since ‘Morgan’. Here’s a little fact! If you remember my review of last year’s ‘Morgan’, I mentioned how the director of that little film was Luke Scott, a.k.a Ridley Scott’s father. Why do I bring up this fact? Well, if you know the movies ‘Alien’ and ‘Prometheus’, then you know the name ‘Ridley Scott’. He has made acclaimed movies (‘Gladiator’, ‘Blade Runner’, ‘The Martian’), and he has made critically divisive movies (‘The Counselor’, ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’). What Ridley Scott wanted to do was to capture the feeling audiences felt when watching ‘Alien’ for the first time, from its opening titles which fade in one by one to the ‘Alien’ theme by Jerry Goldsmith, to its plot which critics have felt was similar, while also serving as a sequel to the divisive ‘Prometheus’, which was a semi-prequel to ‘Alien’ that worked as a visually stunning stand-alone movie, but sadly feels like a video game more than a horror movie worthy of the ‘Alien’ name.
The ‘Alien’ series has an interesting history. It started off as a terrifying look at a crew in space playing a game of cat-and-mouse with an alien after one of their members (Played by the late John Hurt) unwittingly brings it on board. Through that almost 2 hours of claustrophobia, secrets are revealed and only one survives. You may know her as Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), the captain of the Nostromo. ‘Alien’ became a successful blend of science-fiction and horror that spawned a great action-packed sequel (‘Aliens’ by James Cameron), two mediocre sequels (‘Alien 3’ by David Fincher and ‘Alien: Resurrection’ by Jean-Pierre Jeunet; the ones I have yet to see.), two hated crossover movies (‘Alien vs. Predator’ by Paul W.S. Anderson and ‘Alien vs. Predator: Requiem’ by Colin and Greg Strause), a toy line, video games, and the semi-prequel I mentioned earlier. The series also gave us a bad-ass heroine in the form of Weaver’s Ripley and a terrifying monster you wouldn’t want to be alone with: The Xenomorph!
What ‘Alien: Covenant’ does is introduce us to a new crew lead by Katherine Waterston’s Captain Daniels, a new ship (which the movie was subtitled after, making it obvious that this is a ‘Prometheus’ sequel), and a dull mission that serves as a test of how long you can handle exposition. (Mostly from the scenes where Michael Fassbender – as David from ‘Prometheus’ – interacts with – Surprise! Michael Fassbender, but as another android named Walter, whose voice box sounds more like Fassbender’s Frank from the movie of the same name.) Ridley Scott tries to make ‘Alien: Covenant’ look and feel much like ‘Alien’ as much as possible, from the origin of the facehuggers to the two Xenomorphs near the end of the movie, but I still didn’t feel satisfied.
‘What made ‘Alien’ and ‘Aliens’ effective blends of science-fiction and horror were not just their atmospheres, but the suspense of being enclosed in a trapped space and the appearance of the Xenomorphs. While ‘Alien: Covenant’ has grim atmosphere and Oscar-worthy sound design, the visual effects of the aliens not only look ridiculous, yet the delivery of the package comes too little too late.
All I can say is a nice Sigourney Weaver cameo would have been nice!