Movie Review: Alien-Covenant

“Alien: Covenant” is just a killing zone with none of the big ideas from “Prometheus.”

Some day I may look back at “Alien: Covenant” as the “Alien3” of the prequel series. I honestly hope I can come to appreciate this underwhelming film like I became resolved to begrudgingly admire David Fincher’s sequel to “Aliens.” Fincher’s 1992 film becomes more and more interesting with repeat viewings. Maybe “Alien: Covenant” will be like that, too. Although, my confidence factor is low.

“Alien: Covenant” has so many problems it keeps me up at night. The great ideas being kicked around in “Prometheus” are nowhere to be found in Ridley Scott’s disappointing follow-up. Instead of discovering the origins of “our” universe, we get a routine slaughter fest. Instead of an exciting “bug hunt” like in Cameron’s film, we get a wimpy “we don’t even know what’s happening to us” kill-off. Only the Tennessee Faris character (Danny McBride) shows any spine and I originally thought McBride would be the weak link in the cast.

WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILER AHEAD!

Since I don’t really follow pre-release chatter, I had no idea that Noomi Repace wouldn’t be starring in this follow-up to the aforementioned “Prometheus.” Her character’s determination to survive and discover the origin of the human race was the reason I wanted to see “Alien: Covenant.” Sure, Fassbender’s performance as the synthetic, David, was a motivating factor. But to have Repace’s Dr. Elizabeth Shaw killed like Newt and Hicks from “Aliens” was disappointing to say the least. Couldn’t the writers see this? Don’t they remember that Newt and Hicks’ perfunctory terminations was the number 1 complaint about “Aliens3?”

ANOTHER SPOILER DEAD AHEAD!

Okay, so instead of Dr. Shaw, we get Fassbender in a dual role: He reprises David from “Prometheus” and a new synthetic with his head firmly attached to his shoulders, Walter. We know from “Prometheus” that David had some mental issues, but I felt the events of 2093 along with his interest in helping Dr. Shaw survive may have had a rehabilitative effect on his instincts. Instead, we get an extra-terrestial version of “The Island of Dr. Moreau.”

SOME PROBLEMS WITH THE COVENANT CREW (AND YET ANOTHER SPOILER)

Sigourney Weaver’s performance in “Alien” and “Aliens” will never be matched. But, it seems like Scott and his writers never even gave Daniels “Dany” Branson (Katherine Waterston) a chance. We keep waiting for her to take charge of the survivors and when she finally does, her instincts are laughably bad.

Instead we have an underdeveloped character played by Billy Crudup (First Mate Christopher Oram). It seemed the writers wanted to handicap Crudup’s character as a person of faith, but his beliefs were never really worked into the story all that well. Instead he was just another lamb being led to slaughter. His undoing was one of the film’s weakest moments.

THE ULTIMATE SPOILER: WHAT’S UP WITH THE LAST 30 MINUTES?

  1. I don’t normally discuss the last 30 minutes of a film in my reviews, but this is too much to pass over. You’ve got two synthetics fighting each other, and you don’t see who wins. What conclusion can you make when only one emerges? Yes, the bad guy prevailed. Otherwise, the film would be over at that point. So, even Captain Obvious understands that David survived the unseen battle and is posing as Walter.

2.  You don’t have to be a Lieutenant Ripley to have heightened survival instincts after realizing that dozens, maybe hundreds of neomorphs are creeping about an alien planet.        Branson, who is in charge now, starts to notice that Walter, the synthetic, doesn’t quite look right. Could he actually be the megalomaniac David in disguise? Oh, never mind. We’ve got to get back to the ship.

3.  Finally, why did Walter/David put a new burn patch on one of the crew members as they were evacuating? And, knowing how this film ends, why would Walter/David create a new neomorph to endanger his chances of making it back to the mother ship where all those juicy colonists are being held in stasis? To quote Ripley in “Aliens:” “Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?”

LEAVING YOU WITH SOME POSITIVES

I will use bullet points to list the positive aspects of “Alien: Covenant:”

  • Better-than-average special effects
  • Fassbender is better-than-average in his dual role
  • Genuinely scary at times, a bit boring at other times

FINAL POINT: LET FASSBENDER MOVE ON

We know this won’t be the last of the “Alien” prequels, but can we please let Michael Fassbender move on to other material? I really don’t want to see his maniacal robot turn human colonists into neomorphs on Origae-6. Fassbender’s David has transitioned from a flawed synthetic in “Prometheus” to a one-note antagonist. Please let it end.

Grade: C-

My name is Walter, a new-and-improved synthetic in “Alien: Covenant.”