Sunday, May 28, 2017

Alien Covenant Review

I have a soft spot in my cold and bitter heart for the original Alien. It came out just when I was falling for my first girl friend, Tara. She was the kind of girl who commanded attention in a room because she was loud and smart and sassy. If you couldn't see her you could mistake her for a sassy black woman and you knows I LOVES me a sassy black woman. I tried to be cool holding her hand but I ended up grabbing her arm out of sheer terror more than she grabbed mine. It was unmanly but I couldn't control my fear.

I remember taking the bus for the two hour ride to Winnipeg. This was in the days before smart phones or tablets with WiFi access. I was a pretty boring ride. No Walkman's either so no music. Unless you had a shoe box sized cassette player that ran on 'BATTERIES' of all things and had a tiny plug in for a crappy set of headphones. My master mixed tapes that I made from the original vinyl to cassette, the newest thing at the time, kept me alive on that bus. No eight-track player for me. I was too hip for that 70s garbage. I mean, what kind of music system plays HALF THE SONG and then makes a huge clicking sound before giving you the rest of the song if you were lucky. Anyways, where was I? Oh yes, Alien.

Alien was revolutionary because of the design crew which included Giger, the famous conceptual artist who created the look of the zenomorph creature which was key to the film's story. His design was so brilliant and so 'alien' that it scared the crap out of you. How do you fight this freakin thing? It has acid for blood that can eat through most everything it touches. It has that razor sharp tail and talons and those teeth that jut out at you right before they kill you or worse take you to be used as a host body for the next little bastard to bust out of someone's chest. I think I would like to be killed quickly.

The poster had the best tag line ever - 'In space, no one can hear you scream.'. You know if was thought up by some corporate punk but it was right for this classy and classic science fiction movies. You forget at the time it was revolutionary and told a great story with a production design that took you right into the Nostromo and you live those last 48 hours with that crew after everything that happened to them. You are with them as they, one by one, get picked off. ONE creature decimated a whole crew of smart people in the confines of the ship. And of all the cast, did you ever think that Ripley would be the one to live? (oh shut up about spoiling the ending, the cat lives too. If you haven't already seen the movie a dozen times then why am I bothering talking to you.) It was the birth of the female action star. Ripley is the prototype for the brave and smart and skilled girl who saves herself because there is no one left to save her. The more amped up version of Ripley shows up in the big budget sequel which was also a great science fiction horror story wrapped up in a kick ass last stand of a unit of the Colonial Marines picture. It was James Cameron's take on the man vs alien monster theme and it was a monster hit and deserves all the praise it gets. It was straight up and you knew the good guys from the bad guys. Both Prometheus and Covenant kinda abandon that storytelling technique to the detriment I think. I hate the realization that I was so wrong about a character who I thought would be the salvation. Silly Calvin.

"They mostly come at night. Mostly."

Ridley Scott decided to return to telling the alien story after two lesser chapters in the tale of Ripley and her relationship with these creatures over decades if not centuries. I have a special love for Aliens 3 and 4. They are goofy but well intentioned. Scott promised the return of the more cerebral psychological view of man's contact with the aliens who for some reason come for the planet of alien 'Engineers'. They are the ones who seeded our planet with the necessary genetic material for intelligent life to begin. Apparently they did this to a lot of worlds. But for all the biological diversity they inspired, they all look the same. No women or if there are they, they look just like the men. Pale and grey and perfect human specimens. Another thing the movie never explains. Get ready for more of those questions. The kind of questions that drive you to the You Tubes to watch what OTHER people think about these same questions. I wish for a master director's cut that includes all the missing footage that hopefully was filmed.

Prometheus was the mission sent to investigate this theory and they, of course, can't avoid the xenomorphs. Add to that another evil A.I. unit named David and it should be a winner but it was more frustrating than entertaining. Why does the A.I. always have to be such a psycho?? I have no idea what was going on and forgot most of the film on the car ride home. It was as if the screenwriter wrote some good stuff and the director (who are the same person) hadn't taken half those pages and ripped them up then we might have had something that did honor to the Alien. If anything it damaged the brand. I know I was infuriate and I refused to learn anymore about why Prometheus is genius because it isn't. It's crappy and I hated everyone in it but no one more than Michael Fassbender. Who knew he could bore me. I know you are an android but you can at least try to act human. Too many unanswered questions that I hoped would be answered in Aliens - Covenant. I was wrong. I only have MORE questions now than I started with.

I even prepared to watch this newest film by watching about a dozen little mini-movies on topics including the Engineers and the fate of Shaw and the last night before the command crew of the Covenant put themselves into hypersleep for the long space journey to their new home. I watched many videos of cut scenes that show what happened to David and Elizabeth Shaw after the survived the destruction of the Prometheus. He talks about her kindness to him as she put him back together after his head was ripped from his body by an Engineer. Then David repays her by using her to create the very aliens that plagued the Nostromo. I know, WTF is THAT all about. Why do the A.I.'s always get buggy? Seems the concept is flawed, no? ARGH!! I want to scream.

Unfortunately I felt that same Prometheus memory wipe minutes after watching Covenant. The characters weren't memorable and anytime you have to use the old 'switeroo' to create something of interest then you know there are problems. The movie is cookie cutter and frankly boring. I have seen this monster kill humans many times before and so there is nothing new there. The few survivors run around maze like hallways of the ship while the alien chases them with a lot of sound and fury but it signifies nothing. This is all meant to be the second part in one larger prequel to the original Alien film.
Though I have to admit that the way the female hero, Daniels, defeats the alien is pretty creative. But it's not enough to save something so boring that I was rewriting the story in my head as I was watching. It's watchable but for the legacy it hopes to honor it's pretty standard stuff. Would lazy be a fair description? Yes. This film seems lazy.

It's a frustrating watch that I am sure will only inspire anger online. Already I am obsessed with videos of people explaining what is going on so I am more into what is supposed to be going on but for the person who goes in blind it must be infuriating to get to the end of this one. It's definitely the sequel to Prometheus and that is a shame.
 Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created, with ALIEN: COVENANT, a new chapter in his groundbreaking ALIEN franchise. The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape.


Simona Moon said...

It was so fun to read your review.
I actually supported Prometheus with the hope of an emotional investment from the producers and screenwriters. For me it's just a copycat of parts of the original Alien, this Covenant. just like you said, the characters weren't memorable at all and I am actually upset how they always put a female as main role. why? its just so easy to read what is going to happen. we used to wait half of the movie just to get a glimpse of the alien, thats what made it scary, not seeing the alien and not knowing what is going to happen.
people just think of money these days, not the art of film making. i am disappointed in Alien Covenant, deeply disappointed.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Me too. I hated it when I should have loved it. And I saw everything people put on line helping me explain what the hell was going one because I wanted to know. So disappointing. But great that you read my blog.

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