Review: Alien: Covenant – Why The Alien Franchise Has Lost It

Allow me to back-track to Prometheus firstly, and let me say that I think the vast majority of audiences were left very confused as to what the hell any of it was about. A few die-hard fans had their theories and justifications, but I feel if a film doesn’t give you the answers you need, it hasn’t fulfilled its job of paying off the set-up.

What the hell is that black liquid? Why do engineers want to destroy us when they created us? Why was it necessary to say Weyland is dead, then unveil he is alive, just to have him die anyway? Why did the black liquid turn Holloway into some zombie.. human… mutant..thing? How did David know how to speak an Alien language that has never been heard aloud? Why would you run in a straight line from a circular object rolling toward you?!

Ahh. So many questions, more so than to bother to ask. Prometheus certainly set a lot of questions up, only to not answer most of them. So when we saw Alien: Covenant was coming to theatres, people who share my opinion thought: “Hey, I would like Prometheus a lot more if they actually explained any of it. I’ll give it a watch, hopefully they will satisfy my curiosity.” Don’t get me wrong, Covenant has a few answers to Prometheus, but sets up entirely new questions in their place.

As David so calmly exclaims in Covenant, ‘What is that saying, about curiosity and the cat?’ Well, this time the cat was a metaphor for my hope that Alien: Covenant would redeem the franchise. Spoilers – it doesn’t.

But seriously, spoilers ahead.

The Crew

Source: IMDB

I liked the set-up. A ship of 2000 passengers and it’s crew on their way to colonise a new planet (‘Origie-6’ if memory serves). Stunning visuals, cool futuristic concepts. Life is good. They go through a convenient plasma cloud (or something), ship takes damage, captain dies. Mid-repairs, the ship gets a strange signal from a nearby planet, and they decide to go check it out. Mayhem ensues.

I’ll list the positives first. I loved, and I mean LOVED Michael Fassbender in this film. I mean he’s great in every film he is in, but this film would truly be nothing without him. Perhaps its because he plays two characters, David and Walter, but you can never get enough Fassbender. I loved the juxtaposition between the David & Walter, the same model of robot, but with vastly different outlooks, two different sides of quite literally the same coin. I enjoyed the tension of the team slowly discovering things aren’t right. And I liked hearing about what exactly happened after the events of Prometheus. That is about it.

Now, I won’t go into what I didn’t like the film per-se, but rather try and shed some light on why this film was so lacklustre, and trust me, it wouldn’t have been had we not seen this all before. There’s just too much we’ve seen already, and some other events that just makes you scratch your head. I’ll clarify…

– Transmission response – Recycled from the first Alien film, the crew of a ship decide to veer off-route to respond to a signal from a not-to-distant planet.

– Strong female protagonist with short hair is another strong female protagonist with short hair! – Ripley. Shaw. Now Daniels. We get it, Ridley Scott likes badass women, and there is nothing wrong with that. But literally copying and pasting is not good, especially when the latter pales in comparison to the former. Ripley was badass because she didn’t set out to be bad ass – she didn’t need military training or have to be a high-IQ scientist- it was just in her character to be intelligent, survive, and outsmart what the rest of her crew couldn’t. A female protagonist that could be somewhat relatable to women in the audience and a cinematic icon of female empowerment. Daniels just seems to cry. A LOT.

Ripley

Source: Quora

Alien somehow makes it on to the Covenant, after battling another off the shuttle? – After all is done and Daniels gets rid of the only Alien onboard the shuttle, another Alien is somehow present on the Covenant. I get that David is responsible for this, but how? There’s a very short time span in which he could have gotten a crew member implanted with an Alien, and in the same amount of time, the Alien is at full-size, even quicker then ever seen previously?! It almost felt like they copied this from Aliens, with the premise of ‘just when they think the threat is gone, and they’re safely back on the ship, more sh*t hits the fan.’

– Said Alien is dispensed by, you guessed it, venting it out into space – Again, I get it, Aliens are hard to kill. BUT. Alien – Ripley vents Alien into space. Aliens – Ripley vents Queen out to space. Alien: Resurrection – Ripley shoots window and Xenomorph-human hybrid is sucked into space. Am I seriously about to praise Alien 3 for at least killing the Alien in a different way? Recycle, recycle, recycle…

– Black Liquid has contradictory effects on humans – if, in Prometheus, Holloway turns into a weird mutant-thingy after coming into direct contact with the black liquid, why then does it make the two who come into contact with it in covenant…give birth, shall we say, to two xenomorph-like creatures, albeit one being a back-burster, and the other coming out of a mouth? Explain? And don’t say because they absorbed it in different ways. It’s still the same pathogen.

Eggs

Source: Slash Film

– David makes multiple Face-Hugger eggs – So, lets just forget all about the need for an Alien Queen to make eggs. You know, contradict the established life cycle of a xenomorph and confuse it more so than Prometheus did…

Mother is a D*ck – Covenant’s computer ‘Mother’ doesn’t alert anyone, make a note of, or at least ask authorisation of David when he is posing as Walter? At least Ripley had the smarts to keep a cautious mind, and ask Mother what is going on…

It seems conclusive to me that the Alien franchise has lost its mojo. There is ever growing inconsistency, and too much ‘paying homage.’ Not only that, but Alien never needed an origin story. What made Alien scary is the fear of the unknown, the ‘How the hell can it do that?’ feeling. But at the same time, the parts of Alien: Covenant that were compelling to me was the intricacies of David’s character and motivation. As I said, Fassbender made the film.

As a fan, I now no longer care about the Alien species’ origin, but rather what David’s next move is, and how he will eventually be stopped. The very thing the series is focused on is no longer the strong point. But the franchise cannot depend on that alone, and cannot continue to have Xenomorphs killing everyone but the short-haired heroine, then being vented out to space time and time again, as the premise is as stale as the bread in my cupboard. (Best Before: 21st May, ew..)

Mr Scott – please stop setting up a thousand questions and answering two. Give us closure, and give us something we haven’t seen in the Alien universe. (And please answer how the Engineer Space Jockey got to LV-426 if David literally just wiped out the entire Engineer home world…)

How did you feel about Alien: Covenant? Let me know what you think!

– Rollzie

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