Tosses some SPOILERS into this smoothie.
They wanted to do Alien, er, Awakening – Neill Blomkamp… I said fine. I was going to be the producer. If I could have, I would have. Except I do question, why have both out there? It seems like shooting your big toe off, it doesn’t make sense. But they didn’t go forward with it, Fox, so I just kind of kept out of it.
So, this is where we’ve ended up on this long journey of ours, where the destination is between nowhere in particular, and nowhere at all. A twisted DNA mess, of someone who was phasing in time, in and out of his own film, and another famous director’s.
Ridley Scott has now officially been inducted into the parade of hanger’s on. Joining other esteemed Luminaries like Bryan Singer, and his Jolly X-Men, and Paul W. S. Anderson of President Evil fame. Yes, that one is about Trump…and zombies. Director’s who have crazy glue and a freehand on their respective franchises, and no one to stop them. We’ve gone down this route before, and there is no way out.
On the way to Origae-6 the ship Covenant, sustains a massive fire, slow-roasting about 47 people in their grilled cornhusk pods, and setting alarms off where everyone’s asking “What’s for breakfast!?”. There are still about 1953 left, out of the 2000 that came. Ok, it didn’t quite happen like that, but yeah, they’re all dead. Including James Franco’s character (Branson) who is good friend’s with Danny McBride (Tennessee), so they gave him a spot…but yeah, he’s still dead. Unfortunately the brief recorded message of Franco on the mountain viewed by Daniels (Katherine Waterston), is probably the only interesting character you’ll get out of this film, and yeah, it’s because he’s dead!
Forced outside their pods for the remainder of the trip, they intercept a transmission coming from another world, one which offers better prospects for the group, and that’s closer. You hear Goldsmith’s score from the original Alien wafting about at this point, it’s like 1979 all over again, except the characters here are lost in the fray. It’s not that pedantic dialogue can’t be used to complement visuals, and leave the characters unsuspecting for what’s about to arrive. It’s that people are barely on screen. You see them for a period, and then a huge valley opens up between the time you see them again. But do you care? No. This is David’s story after all. And he just isn’t interesting enough, even with his alter ego Walter. David’s been quite the mad scientist since, and even more funny in the head.
Scott seems to think that he has a second attempt here. And that re-skinning his original film for 2017 is what’s called for. On top of that, he has seemingly re-engineered the Alien universe, for one where he directed Cameron’s sequel. We see him dip into Aliens a good number of times, and just when you think he’s making an atmospheric film that opens like a pupa, he decides abruptly he wants to imitate Cameron. It’s if he regrets that he didn’t pursue the series after Alien, and he wants to remedy that in some small way. And in a way, that’s alright, as Cameron did pick up a few pieces that were floating around the first film that didn’t make it into the initial run, and went with them. But that’s not what’s happening here. Honest to god this film looks like he spliced both Alien and Aliens together and shaved around the edges, then added ice cream toppings on a burrito. It just has that feel, like it always wants to be something else. This is some of the craziest shit you’ve seen…but you’ve seen it before.
When Elizabeth Shaw’s horseshoe ship left for the Engineer’s home-world at the end of Prometheus, I expected to see something mind-blowing in regards to their work around the galaxy for Covenant. However, all we get is their disintegration. The scene had me wondering how they were going to proceed in a film that was only about two hours long. Not to worry, as it’s only a flashback, and we see nothing more. Scott might actually be stretching this out now over promised sequels.
This alien is called a Neomorph. We were told there would be a new alien, rebuilt from the bottom up, different from what we’ve seen before, and we got it. It comes out ghostly and not exactly undeveloped. It has the basic alien form. Except it’s a baby. Almost as if they saw Baby Groot and decided, ‘Hell, we need something like that!’. So they adapted one respectful to the particulars of the genre. It’s a serial killer in a box. And it comes out of people’s backs. Yep, they changed a few things around, and instead of the front, they genre-bended it and went with the back. All that’s left is the head, and the rear for the sequels. Boy oh boy, it’s a good time to be alive with that kind of thinking.
These aliens aren’t hive-minded. They’re just exterminators. Making this just a typical slasher film. I know what you’re going to say, ‘but that’s what we’ve been treated to for a while now’. Well yeah, here and there. But this one establishes it as its primary mode, in the setting of a film that is completely flatline. You could say that beyond the first Alien film, with its singular alien, and Cameron’s follow up, with its colony, that was it. The dam would burst if they tried to go any further. Beyond that all they could do is pump out films that would see repeats of the first two, and maybe put up an innovation that at least would make it worthy of rental. One thing that Alien: Covenant firmly establishes, is that there really only are two Alien films in the series. And that at this point, Ridley Scott is someone who is just trying to stave off the boredom of retirement, or death. I guess I can understand that. But it won’t be during ruminations on a second viewing.
In the words of George Lucas who was trying for a link between his new and old franchise “It’s poetry”…