Alien: Covenant is the sixth (?) film in the Alien series, a sequel to Prometheus, but a second prequel to the original Alien, a film that never needed a prequel, let alone two of them. But here we are. Again.
I didn’t hate Prometheus. Though the execution was flawed, I quite liked the concept, and there are themes explored in Covenant that carry on from Prometheus, albeit in a less interesting way. But I do think both Prometheus and Covenant would have been better movies if they also weren’t trying to be Alien movies.
Alien Covenant is about a colony ship that makes an unnecessary detour to investigate a strange signal. We know it’s a bad idea. They know it’s a bad idea. But they do it anyway because plot.
Covenant has a needlessly slow start, in which we’re expected to sympathise with a character we’ve just met, over the death of a character we never met. Things do pick up when our hapless heroes land on a mysterious planet, but rapidly fall apart with the arrival of David (Michael Fassbender) from Prometheus.
But before we’re reintroduced to David, we’re treated to an unintentionally hilarious scene in which our crew become stranded. We’re also treated to a rather poor CGI alien. Seriously, it’s like they’re interacting with a cartoon.
The crew of the Covenant are incredibly stupid and remarkably incompetent, which makes it rather hard to sympathise with them. David may have rescued them, but when he leads them into his secret lair surrounded by thousands of dead bodies, you’d think they’d have a few reservations about trusting the guy.
It’s so dumb it becomes comical. One of the crew is killed, despite David telling them they’re perfectly safe. The Captain then observes David having a polite chat with the alien and instead of immediately shooting David in the face, instead decides to follow him (alone, and without warning the others) into the heart of his lair, where he confesses to making monsters.
If that doesn’t get the alarm bells ringing, he then invites the Captain down into his creepy basement full of strange looking eggs. He tells the Captain to stick his face into one of the eggs – it’s perfectly safe, trust him! – and the Capitan duly obliges. You’ll never guess what happens next!
What’s frustrating is that there are so many ways they could have set up this scene and not make the Captain seem like a complete moron. The original Alien and its sequel Aliens, got this shit right. Even if the characters weren’t always successful in their plans, or perhaps underestimated what they were dealing with, at least they behaved and reacted in a way that made sense.
The problem is, the characters in Covenant don’t feel like real people. They do stupid things because apparently the plot can’t progress unless they do. Except it can. Quite easily, in fact. The film just spirals off the rails from here into a poor amalgamation of Alien and Aliens that feels and looks like a straight to DVD Alien knock off.
I can’t recommend Covenant. At least Prometheus had an interesting concept, but Covenant has nothing. It’s forgettable. It’s dumb. It’s so dumb it’s insulting. It’s almost Into Darkness dumb, that’s how bad it is. It’s not worth your time, and I feel bad wasting my time writing this review. Avoid. Go watch the original Alien and pretend these ‘prequels’ never happened.