Hey, I wrote this review right after I saw ALIEN: COVENANT opening day but I didnâ€™t post it because I thought it sounded a bit too much like an Annie Wilkes nerd-tantrum. Plus, the movie got some decent reviews and I didnâ€™t want to be a wet blanket or something. As it turns out though, itâ€™s really not all that negative especially now that Iâ€™ve edited out the part that made me sound like I belonged in a mental hospital. So here it is, hereâ€™s me being all disappointedâ€¦
RIDLEY SCOTT is one of my favorite directors. Heâ€™s got a keen visual style and his explorations into the horror and science fiction genre have resulted in two of my all time favorite films (ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER). Iâ€™m point-blank grateful that he has chosen to delve deeper into these mesmerizing worlds. No matter how many times he revisits these cinematic arenas you can bet Iâ€™ll be standing in line opening day, giddy as all get out. I couldnâ€™t resist if I tried and wild Xenomorphs couldnâ€™t drag me away. It will always be an honor and a privilege to be invited to witness what currently intrigues a great artist like RIDLEY SCOTT. That said, Iâ€™m not exactly over the moon with ALIEN: COVENANT. It may work a shade better than PROMETHEUS as a monster movie but itâ€™s got nothing on its predecessor in the compelling character department and it sorely lags behind its elder sibling in delivering a profound sense of awe. Honestly, it left me slightly peeved. Perturbed even! Downright hexed! But mostly I feel mournful- surprisingly mournful.
Am I being a baby? I know I have to go in the direction that SCOTT points me but darn it, I really want to stay with (possible spoiler) Elizabeth Shaw (NOOMI RAPACE). The weird thing is, I was aware that she might not be present in this new outing and I didnâ€™t give it a second thought. SCOTT decided to switch gears and drive the bus more into the original ALIEN zone and how could I argue with that? I guess I just assumed some new character would rise up (aâ€™ la Ginny Field) and be equally interesting and that didnâ€™t happen. Did they really think they could just shake a tall brunette with an unflattering haircut like a set of keys in front of my face and Iâ€™d coo, â€œRipley!â€? It doesnâ€™t work like that. Really, none of the new crew registers fully and although most (or all) of them are couples they strangely donâ€™t seem to click with each other properly either. Iâ€™m going to optimistically assume that future viewings (or an extended cut) will help them gel (BILLY CRUDUP is actually pretty great but heâ€™s trapped in a sad sack Schleprock role). Of course MICHAEL FASSBENDERâ€™s David continues to be an exquisite creation but I kind of resent him for taking over the whole show and for his being shoved down my throat like a rolled up magazine. (Hey, whoâ€™s the coldest, most sterile, least emotive character? Letâ€™s double him!) An image of Shaw appears in the film and itâ€™s like salt on a wound. I care about her. I donâ€™t care so much about persnickety androids and people who are torched before they even have a line of dialogue.
Thatâ€™s my beef. I donâ€™t mind the wonky science or the dumb decisions made by the crew but I do care about the absence of good characters (and specifically Ellen Shaw). The good news is that ALIEN: COVENANT does indeed bring the horror so if youâ€™re just craving monsters in space (nothing wrong with that) you might prefer this to PROMETHEUS. I have to say I dig the old-school shadowy stalking humanoid creature that lurks in the first two ALIEN films a lot more than the spazzy lizard-y beast that whips around in this newfangled flick. Maybe my eyes are too slow but the damn thing reminded me of HALLE BERRY in CATWOMAN and thatâ€™s never a good thing. Iâ€™m also not completely on board with a late in the game shower-kill that feels like itâ€™s lifted from the phony slasher film at the beginning of BLOW OUT. Itâ€™s so out of place and shoehorned and what kind of person wants to have sex in a shower right after all of their friends have been slaughtered? Just like skin-job Davidâ€™s claims that he loves Elizabeth Shaw while he attempts to exterminate all of humanity, it doesnâ€™t pass the believable behavior/motive smell test.
But who am I kidding? Iâ€™m going to buy ALIEN: COVENANT on DVD and watch the heck out of it for years. Iâ€™m just going to have to file in my head in close proximity to the underwhelming ALIEN 3 (which is also visually stunning, has a few indelible scenes and heartlessly betrays beloved characters) and ALIEN RESURRECTION (which is also thought provoking, squirm inducing and fatally miscast. Sorry, WINONA ). Donâ€™t go by me. I know a few folks whose opinions I trust who preferred ALIEN: COVENANT to PROMETHEUS, I myself did not. I know Iâ€™m supposed to be judging this flick on its own terms (as a hybrid mutation thinly connected to the animal that inspired it) but I just canâ€™t seem to. Maybe I have an exaggerated sense of loyalty to go along with my heightened sense of betrayal. I donâ€™t know, Iâ€™m really A-OK with judging a movie purely from an emotional non-technical level. Itâ€™s my prerogative as a red-blooded (as opposed to white) non-synthetic. Iâ€™ve already been a good soldier and suspended my disbelief; my common sense and my understanding of human behaviorâ€“ do I really have to suspend my need for an engaging protagonist too?