MOVIE REVIEW: Alien: Covenant

In Movies, Reviews by Bub SmithLeave a Comment

Ridley Scott’s best movie is Alien. That is a scientific fact and I will throat punch someone over it. This statement is not made to diminish the man’s other work. Blade Runner and Legend are also classics, but nowhere the level he reached with Alien. The perfect blend of horror and Sci-Fi, that film makers have tried to duplicate ever since and no one has ever come close! I know, I know James Cameron nailed it with Aliens, but we are talking two entirely different beasts. Cameron went more of an action flick route (not complaining, Aliens is so badass!), where Ridley played with horror elements that to this day are effective. He also gave us one of the greatest characters in the history of the genre, Ripley! As you can tell  my love for Alien is deep. I have never know a world without Xenomorphs (Alien came out 5 years before I was born) and no matter what form they come in (video game, comic book, crappy “Versus” movies…) I will be there to consume it. Even when Ridley makes a movie that doesn’t have much to do with Xenomorphs, but vaguely references the movie and is super confusing and has weird tall blue people and spits in the face of people who believe in God, I will be there! Now you understand how excited I was for Alien: Covenant. The man who gave us the first Xenomorph was back and promising us all the chest bursting goodness we have waited for long for! The excitement was oozing out of me like acid blood! I should have remembered my Grandma’s sage like advice: If you shake it more than twice, you’re playing with it… Wait, no! It was: If the director of a beloved Sci-Fi/horror movie returns to make a sequel 40 plus years later, it’s probably not going to live up to your expectations. Grandma Smith was a very precise woman…

CGI Aliens. COMPUTER GENERATED IMAGES OF XENOMORPHS. Have we learned nothing from Alien: Resurrection and Alien 3 (both of which I enjoy)?? I’m not going to turn this into a bitchfest against the evils of using CGI in the genre (we all know that’s worse kind of evil), but the second I realized that the creature effects were going to be 100% CGI the movie my enthusiasm was drained. I understand we live 2017 and CGI is now a staple for movies. I get it. It’s cheaper, faster and at times, can accomplish more than a man in a rubber suit would ever be able to. BUT I can’t help it! CGI effect completely take me out of the movie going experience and in this case, diminish the effectiveness of the horror scenes. When I know that the actors on-screen are reacting to a man in a neon green leotard or  tennis ball on a stick, it lessens the impact. The stakes feel lower and I completely disconnect.  I had expected some degree of CGI (again this 2017) but for the man who brought the practical effect amazingness of Alien, to go completely CGI, I was a fat kid who dropped his cake… No, seriously. The moment I realized it was all CGI I dropped the entire chocolate cake I brought to the theater…

Besides the CGI aliens, my other biggest grip would be the first hour of the movie. The name of this one should have been Alien: Ridley Scott Justifies Prometheus. I belong to the small group of people who dug Prometheus. Sure it has it faults, but I thought it was an interesting movie filled with great performances. The rest of the world did not feel this way and Mr. Scott was not just going to let that rest. The man does tie Prometheus to the Alien world wonderfully. His use of the David character (Michael Fassbender) and how it all works together is why Ridley is one of the best. Doesn’t hurt that Fassbender is one of the best actors alive. Him playing duel roles could have gone down that “Eddie Murphy” path real easy, but the man is too damn good. And the rest of the cast is right up there with him. Including Danny McBride! So awesome seeing him playing it straight and the dudes got chops!

At this point you’re saying this doesn’t sound like a bad thing. A great director directing a great actor in an amazing perfromance, what’s the problem? My problem is I didn’t lay down 10$ to watch a Prometheus sequel! I want goddamned Xenomorphs! They don’t show up for almost 70 minutes!  70 minutes filled with every damn Sci-Fi cliche you can think of. Crew waking up prematurely, Unsure captain, mysterious signal from an uncharted planet, the cautious second in command, etc. Strong performances and expert directing keep this from becoming unbearable. But come on!  Ridley Scott is a man who creates genre troupes, not a slave to them!

I am being a nitpicking fanboy. I am aware of this, but I cannot help myself. When I look at the wondrous nerd I have become in the mirror every morning, Alien  played a big part in creating that fanboy staring back at me. Alien: Covenant is not a terrible movie. Actually, when all is said and done it’s a great movie. Excellent director, fantastic cast and decent SFX (ya’ know, for CGI…). My complaints are only their because I hold Ridley and the Alien movies in such high regard. I have forgiven lesser movies for worse, but when it comes to a film maker like this return to a legendary series he created fanboy hyperbole is the only way I can approach it.