HOLLYWOOD – Alien: Covenant is out and I tried to like it but in space no one can hear your eyes roll.
With Alien: Covenant, Ridley Scott has made a film that’s a bit better than the last bad film he made. Warning: there are SPOILERS.
Here are the five problems that burst out of my chest while watching it:
1 James Franco. You might just leave it at that, but there’s a reason that James Franco is a problem right away that goes beyond the fact that he’s James Franco. And this is how distracting having a recognisable star turn up at the beginning. In the original Alien, the people were just there in the space ships. No recognisable stars, just people. But here we have Danny McBride, Michael Fassbender, Billy Cudrup, Guy Pearce, the woman who looks like Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender again.
2 People keep making dumb decisions. As with Prometheus, why do these people keep deciding to be unnecessarily incautious? Sure, you can breath the air but what about contaminants? If you have a quarantine protocol for someone infected by an alien virus or something, why don’t you have preventative measures? The minute you land you blunder off into the unknown like giddy kids. And you split up like Cabin in the Woods stupid gas hit you!? Why does it have to be in some way their fault? Again in the original everyone made smart decisions based on their jobs and intelligence. The one dumb move – letting Kane into the ship – was understandable and is later to revealed to have been genuinely motivated. That also makes the Alien more scary. No matter how smart you are, this little critter is going to get you.
3 Why does Earth look like the planet from Prometheus and Covenant? Ridley Scott seems so intent on maintaining his slate grey to obsidian black palate that every planet we see including Earth looks the same. The first sighting of the new planet gives us a tantalising taste of the Xenomorph in a different landscape – trees and corn fields. I’d hazard a guess this goes back to an early idea Vincent Ward had for Alien 3 but we’re soon back to the same landscape of corridors and space docks.
4 David/Walter. Everyone agreed that Michael Fassbender was the best thing about Prometheus so they decided to double him. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of twaddle we have to listen to and very little in convincing motivation. However, the worst aspect is the fact that no one sees the substitution coming. No one except the audience that is. That has to be one of the most ‘no shit, Sherlock’ twists ever. I wasn’t even sure we were supposed to understand it was a twist.
5 The Alien. Or Aliens. For a monster to be any good, it has to have above all else a personality. But here we have an alien. Killed. And then another one introduced, as if this was some kind of production line franchise… oh wait. The life-cycle of the xenomorph depends purely on plot convenience and the alien itself feels disposable. Of course, Aliens had lots of aliens as well, but that was a war film in a horror setting and it made the point in the goddamned title. Either have one or have thousands, but don’t just have three.