I have to be blunt about this: Alien Covenant is a boring mess that lets the franchise down and I’m bitterly disappointed.
The first of the Alien movies I ever saw was Aliens in 1986. It was a genuinely scary, action-packed film that kept up its relentless excitement to the very end. Best of all, its leading character was a woman reluctantly forced into a heroic role and played superbly by Sigourney Weaver.
The dynamic played out between Ripley, Newt, Hicks and Bishop provided a strong human connection (even though Bishop was an Android) that meant we actually cared about what happened to them. We were invested when they were battling those incredibly frightening monsters and the film left an indelible impact.
The other films (I saw Alien on TV later) were pretty good, but for me, none of them matched Aliens in terms of visceral story telling. What they did have was Sigourney Weaver – she was the perfect lead; strong and courageous yet vulnerable, a person anyone could related to.
Then along came Prometheus. It got mixed reviews, but I actually loved it and think it is the second best movie in the franchise after Aliens. Sure there were some plot holes and dubious characterisations, but I loved that it posed some really interesting questions and left us dangling with an almost “who dunnit?” kind of ending. Best of all, though no match for Weaver, Noomi Rapace gave a gutsy performance as the resident heroine who must do battle with the nasties. The action sequences were great and the ending nicely done.
So with Prometheus dangling a really nice carrot in front of me, I eagerly anticipated Covenenant. Surely it would answer those questions posed in the earlier film, and given the pedigree of the franchise, it would provide some damn good action sequences.
Instead what we got was over an hour and a half of boring melodrama with a cast of tepid characters I cared nothing about.
Spoiler alert – Rapace appears as a virtually indistinct hologram and a photograph so all her hard work is just completely written off in this sequel. Covenant provided no great mystery or sense of moving to something larger – instead we got Dave the Android behaving like a serial killer and a lot of dumb humans not realising what was going on, and (as a result of not following even basic health and safety protocols) getting infected by the aliens.
Incidentally, the life cycle of the aliens in this movie has a new element to it that is kind of explained away, but seems implausible.
Overall, Alien Covenant is just too damn wordy and too damn boring. The real action didn’t get started until the last twenty minutes of the film, but by then I didn’t care whether the crew lived or died.
In this film, there is a leading lady of sorts: Daniels (Katherine Waterston), but she isn’t in the Shaw/Ripley school of heroine. She’s snivvely and weak and certainly doesn’t engender much sympathy or trust.
Perhaps the most annoying thing about this film is that it makes Prometheus completely irrelevant. Covenant basically pays lip service to its predecessor and then goes off on a mind numbing detour that seems implausible and dull. Because it ignores the questions posed by Prometheus we are left with a tawdry melodrama that betrays the heritage of all those previous Alien movies.
Starring Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterson, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir
Directed by Ridley Scott
In cinemas May 11th