Why is it so hard to make another great Alien movie? So this is about spaceship on course to a new planet. It is a colonization mission with thousands of travelers in a state of hypersleep. When the crew of about a dozen wakes up early, they decide to do some recon on a habitable planet that they just happened to stumble upon. But they will soon find out what mostly comes at night… mostly. Now I will say that it was hard not to get your hopes up for this; it is Ridley Scott returning, and it’s not billed as a prequel origin story that isn’t really about Alien, he is doing an actual Alien movie, it is right there in the title. In trying to recapture lightening in a bottle, it seems like he has forgotten what made the first movie so terrifying.
And believe it or not, it was actually the aliens that I had a big problem with.
Now like any critic worth his weight in salt, I love Alien and Aliens, but that should go without saying as they are that fantastic. I know Alien³ and Resurrection get a lot of hate, but honestly, I only watched them once and I don’t remember a whole lot about them, so I nothing them. I never took the time with the AvP series, and for what it’s worth, I did like Prometheus as a film, despite it being so polarizing. It’s not an Alien movie despite the stinger in the credits, and I walked in knowing not to expect one, so I was able to enjoy it. Now let me get to why Covenant is a disappointment to me. The first Alien is all about horror, and the second is all about action. If you go back and watch the first, it still holds up as being a riveting claustrophobic masterpiece, and this was 1979. CGI was being developed, but for the most part, it’s just a guy in a giant rubber suit that makes it so frightening, and it is executed to perfection. Covenant prominently features a ton of CGI effects used for horror intentions, and it just isn’t as scary. There is a noticeable difference when it is happening in front of the actor or if they are pantomiming something in the moment, and that is where I felt this is lacking the most, and it is the main reason why I deduct points.
Search your feelings, you know it to be true.
Now it may seem like I am coming down pretty hard on this, so let me touch upon a few positives. This is Ridley Scott, so you know the cinematography is going to be there. It always looks cool, so at the very least you can appreciate the artistry in that regard. The two androids both played by Michael Fassbender make for an interesting dynamic, and for me, it ended up being the most engaging story element; it wouldn’t surprise me if that was what Ridley really wants to make movies about, but the studios insisted on furthering the Alien brand. Still, Katherine Waterston is no Ripley, and she just gets scared instead of being the strong female protagonist that this series is renowned for. This underwhelmed me, and with diminishing box office returns, I doubt it will be long before the word “reboot” starts getting whispered around in Hollywood.
Alien: Covenant (2017) ***
– Critic for Hire