Sunday, 4 June 2017

"There is So Much Here that Doesn't Make Sense." Alien: Covenant

I did not have high hopes for Alien: Covenant. It's a sequel to the Alien prequel Prometheus, and Prometheus is a film which, to put it mildly, I hold in low esteem. 

Some of my best friends thought Prometheus was a great movie. Personally, I thought it was Plan 9 from Outer Space with a large budget. And some Erich von Däniken gibberish thrown in.

But Prometheus's really fatal error was including a clip from Lawrence of Arabia, thereby reminding us of what a real film, indeed a masterpiece, looked like. In a way, Alien: Covenant makes an even more devastating mistake. 

In a sequence where the spunky heroine (Katherine Waterston as Daniels) jams a nail into the evil android's face, as he attacks her, the evil android jovially comments, "That's the spirit!"

This is of course a quote from Blade Runner. In which Roy Batty, the evil android played by Rutger Hauer says exactly the same thing to Harrison Ford's cop during a similar battle. 

Whatever possessed Ridley Scott to allow this? Because, again, we're are reminded of how much better that earlier film was than the one at hand. 
And, in this case, they're both Ridley Scott films.

The evil android in Alien: Covenant is played by Michael Fassbender, and my heart sank when he appeared. Because, although Fassbender is a tremendous actor, that damned android was pretty much the worst thing in Prometheus. And here he is again.

But Fassbender's android is far from the worst thing in Alien: Covenant. The worst thing in Alien: Covenant is the behaviour of the space crew. They land on an alien planet and, just because there's an Earth-like atmosphere, they dispense with space suits and biohazard gear.

Why would they use such stuff? Because there is the danger of being infected, for example, by some lethal spores that are going to put vicious alien parasites in your body. Which is indeed exactly what promptly happens to two of the landing party. 

When one of these chumps begins to develop symptoms of a dramatic infection, the pilot of the landing craft very sensibly locks him in isolation in the medical bay. But when the symptoms intensify to full chest-burster status, what does she do? She unlocks the door and charges in with a shotgun...

The results are not happy.

In their utter disregard for contamination protocols, and indeed just plain lack of common sense, the protagonists of Alien: Covenant are eerily similar to the characters in the recent SF/horror movie Life

But scientists and technicians simply don't behave like this. And when you make the heroes of your movie do so, you lose all sense of reality and any sympathy the audience might have for those characters.

There are many things wrong with Alien: Covenant, but this is the worst. Its protagonists are so utterly stupid that, to be blunt, they deserve to die.

Alien Covenant is vastly better than Prometheus. But it is still really, really bad.

(Image credits: The posters are all from Imp Awards. The one which simply says "Run" actually offers useful advice to the prospective viewer.)


  1. Care to share a thumbnail review of the first 2 Alien movies, for comparison? (I wouldn't subject you or your readers to Alien 3 or AvP.)

  2. Hi, that's a great idea, though my thumbnail reviews would probably be "great" and "greater"!