I am not someone you would call overly emotional, when it comes to anticipating things. For example I rarely get worked up over presents I am given at Christmas by my friends or family (even though I am extremely grateful, but from my reaction it would be hard to tell). This also is true about movies; even though I live and die cinema, you would be hard pressed to tell as I rarely show any excitement. Something very strange happened to me in May of 2017, as I found myself more and more anticipating the release of Ridley Scott's “Alien: Covenant”. As the day built, (I saw it after work), I couldn't stop talking about the film and how I was going to see it and when the time came and I was actually sitting in my seat in the cinema, I realised I was genuinely excited to see the next chapter in the xenomorph saga. Two hours later, that excitement was totally crushed, as the film did not even come close to my anticipation of it.
Like most people, I am a big fan of Ridley Scott's original “Alien” and the claustrophobic terror he created within that film. The alien of the film was genuinely terrifying and I was hoping that the new film would be a return to something like that. Instead I got a big, loud and bombastic film that is stripped bare of any and all subtlety. There was just no build up to anything and everything that happened, happened big. There is a reason that there is a saying that “less is more”. My biggest problem with the film though was the characters, and how we did not get to care about any of them. All of them are interchangeable because none of them are given time to create their own identity. In the original film, we got to spend time with the crew, watch them interact and even share a meal or two. There is none of that in “Alien: Covenant” (although the trailer does show that scenes like this were indeed shot). Also, character motivations in the film defied belief. A lot of people criticised the characters actions in Ridley Scott's “Prometheus” as dumb, but compared to the ones in “Alien: Covenant”, they are bloody geniuses. The reasoning on why they decide to check out this other planet when they are heading to a perfectly good planet already, it just does not make any sense at all. And it was this early in the film, that it had lost me.
A big problem with “Alien: Covenant” is that it does not know what it wants to be or who it wants to please, as you can see that it wants to tell its own, new original story but feels obliged to give some sort of fan service in regards to the xenomorphs. However, it goes the totally wrong way about it by essentially redoing scenes that have been done a hundred times before, but in a worse way. This is never more apparent than in the “chest burster” scene. The same scene is in the original “Alien” and it is absolutely terrifying and has become the iconic moment of that film. The scene in “Alien: Covenant”, first of all, lacks any suspense because we know what is happening to the guy, and second, the actual bursting from the chest this time is done via substandard CGI and it looks terrible. In fact it is worse than that, it looks lazy. That isn't the only instance where CGI has ruined something that was once done practically as the xenomorphs themselves are mostly captured via CGI, and they just do not have the weight they once had.
Man I find talking about this film frustrating. Now I was talking about how you can tell the film wanted to go out on an original path, but that path is just not interesting at all. It is obvious that Scott is more interested in Michael Fassbender's A.I character, David, rather than the aliens but he is such a boring character. And as the film goes along it becomes more and more about him. This is fine if that is the story Ridley Scott wanted to tell, but to then title the film “Alien: Covenant” as opposed to “Prometheus 2”, it comes across as a little bit of a cheat to get in the audience. And speaking of “Prometheus”, a lot of the good that was done in that film, is totally undone by this film, especially in regards to Noomi Rapace's character.
There is more I could say about this film, (like what the hell was up with Katherine Waterston's hair???) but I am getting frustrated sitting here thinking about it again. I will say that it is not the worst film I have ever seen; Ridley Scott knows how to craft a good looking film, but it is certainly underwhelming and yes, I would have to say that it is the worst “Alien” film so far (not counting the ones versus the Predators). I still love the xenomorphs themselves, their design is forever iconic, but the magic and terror of them is forever gone, sadly.
“Alien: Covenant” was a crushing disappointment.