Movie Review | Alien: Covenant
Movie 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. (IMDb)
It’s beginning to look a lot like a definitive truth now that Sir Ridley Scott needs a great script to make a great film anymore. This follow-up to Prometheus most definitely does not have a great script and so the film itself is nowhere close to great – or even above-average.
Just going back to The Martian, you can see that Scott can still make incredible-looking, space-based science-fiction films filled with warm, funny and - most importantly – human characters that you enjoy watching on the big screen.
After an hour of Alien: Covenant, I had already rolled my eyes in disbelief at the stupidity of the film’s characters so often it felt like the film was trying parody the Alien series rather than supposedly providing backstory for the world that Scott first introduced in 1979.
It’s not all bad though: Scott can still make a beautiful-looking film and a number of shots and sequences throughout look absolutely breath-taking. It’s just a shame that the characters inhabiting this fictional world can’t live up to its looks.
Well, barring Michael Fassbender. He’s got two roles here: Walter, an American-accented synthetic – sorry, artificial person – and David, his predecessor and the sole surviving character from Prometheus.
Katherine Waterston and Danny McBride are good, if a little limited by the paper-thin characters they are given to work with. As for the rest of the cast, why make the crew of the Prometheus be fifteen-strong? The answer is, of course, to give the film’s title creatures cannon fodder to murder.
Not that they aliens need to try that hard with this bunch of idiots. I can understand why Scott would want to see the actor’s faces, but in-universe logic paints them as morons for not taking appropriate precautions when landing on an unexplored planet for the first time.
Then there’s the character of Faris, played by Amy Seimetz, for whom I feel a great deal of sympathy for having to play such a dreadful character. It honestly makes you wonder how the Weyland company (still no Yutani yet) actually choose their crew for such an important mission as colonising new worlds.
Seriously, Faris is responsible for her own death, the death of a colleague and the destruction of the ship the crew used to reach the surface of the newly-discovered world. All for no good reason, with her suddenly resorting to mass hysteria as soon as things start to go bad.
A number of the crew are genuinely there to just get killed off in showers of blood thanks to Neo- and Xenomorphs. That’s right, a form of the nasty buggers from the original films finally shows up. I say ‘a form’, because they do look a little more organic than the original bio-mechanical creatures.
This might be part of David’s plan, as it turns out he has been using the eleven years since the events of Prometheus to carry out a little genetic engineering of his own. A word of warning: while David is an excellent character, his actions may well have written Aliens out of continuity, which might piss off a lot of people who love that film.
It’s a shame that Fassbender’s excellent dual performance has come in such a weak film, as Walter and David are a fascinating contrast to each other and are the best part of any scene they are in, lifting the film up especially when they share the screen – bar one scene with a flute that has a line that may well draw unintended laughter.
That unfortunately seems to sum up Alien: Covenant – incredibly ambitious, but massively-flawed. The CGI for the Xenomorph also mirrors this by looking absolutely breath-taking when the creature is still or moving slowly, but appearing just like the weightless effect that it is when moving quickly. In summary, Michael Fassbender deserves some kind of award for his performances here, and there are some good moments with incredible cinematography, but the farcical behaviour of most of the characters will likely break any sense of immersion. What could have been…