Directed by Ridley Scott
Based on Characters Created by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett
Story by Jack Paglen and Michael Green
Screenplay by Jack Logan and Dante Harper
Music by Jed Kurzel
Cinematography by Dariusz Wolski
Film Editing by Pietro Scalia
Casting by Carmen Cuba
Alien: Covenant is dedicated to Executive Producer for The Gathering Storm… Julie Payne died 15.06.2016
Filmed on location in Fiordland National Park; Milford Sound; Southland, New Zealand; and Potts Hill; Fox Studios; Moore Park; Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection, Prometheus, Alien: Covenant. Hardcore fans will tell you I’ve got them in the wrong order. According to Ridley Scott’s world, Prometheus and Covenant are prequels to 1,2,3, and Resurrection. An unscientific poll would tell you most movie goers had no idea what was going on in Prometheus, possibly because the movie was running too long so the first fifteen minutes were unceremoniously lopped off. Unfortunately, that segment happened to be where the whole film was explained by a wise, mystical character, so don’t feel bad for not understanding what the hell was going on there.
In terms of scariness, well, Alien, Aliens… That about cuts it for me. H.R.Geiger’s uncircumcised alien’s ability to drool and lube himself into the most narrow crevice in the Space Jockey’s apparently awaiting, lifeless ship. Endless tubes, wires, ducts, grates — everything in grey scale, including the toothy Xeno-morph, so he could slide out of a hole any minute. Okay, it helped that the crews never kept up a 450º lookout (I’m adding the fact they should have watched overhead, too.) Scenes like those are what put the fear in audiences. When seen in theatres, these were the type of films where the people around me were screaming and levitating in their seats. (Females only. Everyone knows men don’t get scared.)
One. Two. And thennnn… it went downhill from there. Fortunately, Aliens 3‘s cast included a pair of Charles: Dutton and Dance; two actors able to outperform a mediocre cast and lift the level of a meh movie. The cast on this Alien though, contained Names and the acting was good. It was the script and the entire Alien mythos that was getting tired at the time. Ripley’s behaviour was predictable, as was the Aliens’ which made them somewhat less frightening. Also, the attrition of the original crew with each film began to water down the films.
On to Covenant. In the new tradition of Hollywood, when films reach the conclusion of the plot or the series, either because the creator has more of the story whirling around in their head or — let’s be honest — there might be more money left in the till, the announcement comes of a prequel. Of the four upcoming Avatar sequels at least one is rumoured to be a prequel. (If they ever get made.)
Fans of the Alien series were panting after Prometheus, awaiting an explanation of why the Space Jockey’s ship landed on the barren LV-426. Then, they had to wait for Covenant to be released to explain Prometheus. Best see it in a group so each person can explain a different plot point. And don’t whisper during the movie, because the people you’re going to ruin it for is you.
If you are the one of those people who want to yell at the screen telling the actors not to do something stupid this movie is going to exhaust you. Why would anyone with a double-digit IQ stick their face over a big, pulsating egg? Is that a distress signal? Get in your landing vehicle and do a couple low passes. See anything? Get a signal? An answer to your signal? Nope, nobody there and we weren’t supposed to land here, anyway. Back to the ship and back on course!
Covenant differs from the original Alien films in that the audience knows from the start of the film the there will be an android in the crew. Michael Fassbender is back as the beautiful, but emotionally innocent being. In a refreshing move, Carmen Cuba and the producers opted for some relative unknowns for the bulk of the cast. I am starting to find Names in all the lead roles to be disappointing; some actors are always themselves. Billy Crudup is reaching that point and seems an odd choice for the role of the captain. Truly surprising is the appearance of Danny McBride, who plays to type. Credit goes to the invisible Lorelei King, the voice of “Mother.”
The audience is supposed to be surprised or titillated because this mission is the first of its kind: the crew is comprised of couples. *gasp* Rather odd considering civilisation has reached the point of building ships to reach deep space and gorgeous androids. The Covenant is bound for the far side of the galaxy, but changes course after intercepting a scrambled transmission. They land on a seemingly lush planet that hosts an horrifying, lethal secret. It will be a spoiler to no one if I “reveal” it is Alien and friends. (It is right there in the title.) High-power futuristic weapons are fired in every direction. Bodily fluids and parts fly as the crew struggles to escape from the planet. Alone. No Aliens in stowage. Sounds a spot familiar.
As usual, I quizzed other audience members as to their impressions as they left two different showings. Their reactions? I liked it. I thought it was pretty good. Uh oh. Damned by faint praise. There are signs that this segment of the epic story is not going to pull in the monster box office Alien and Aliens did. That has been the story for the last three instalments; two of which didn’t break even. *crikey*
There’s no way around it. Alien: Covenant simply is not original or spine-chilling enough to keep audiences riveted, sinking their fingernails into the armrests. Hardcore fans will no doubt see it despite lacklustre reviews and indifferent word-of-mouth (one even told me so) because it is an Alien film. Others going for a good scare, would do better to invest in a viewing of Get Out. Check that one out, anyway. Or see Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol.2 again for a much more entertaining experience.