Is Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant a true return to sci-fi horror form or just another philosophical tale about the creation of mankind?
(USA/UK 2017, director: Ridley Scott)
The colonization spaceship Covenant tracks down a rogue transmission from a planet off-course and finds the android Walter who somehow survived the disaster of the Prometheus mission, while an alien lifeform starts evolving and killing the crew members.
Ridley Scott doesn’t seem to know what he wants with his new interpretation of the Alien movies. While he tries something new with an android/humankind creation story and mixes it with the alien creatures, the whole setup of a crew landing on an unknown planet is obviously as old as his original version and what happened in Prometheus. However, unlike in Alien and especially Aliens where Lieutenant Ripley becomes an icon of the series and a personality one can easily relate to, the new heroine Daniels portrayed by Katherine Waterston is such an annoying crybaby that one actually wants her to be killed by the alien ASAP. It doesn’t happen very often that one finds a character who cries in almost every scene and then only in the final 20 minutes becomes the gun-wielding tough gal. The rest of the crew isn’t much to write home about, either, with even more stupid actions and dialogues that only serve as fillers rather than making them emotionally interesting or memorable.
Of course the biggest concern is that this is rather a story about androids and their relationship to man, with the alien only making very short and rather unspectacular appearances thanks to a new creature design that looks unintentionally cute and ridiculous in their first stages, except for the finale when one finally gets to see a much nastier evolution. If only the philosophical blabbering would be kept down to a minimum and didn’t have such an impact on the slow pacing of the plot development, then one could actually enjoy the dark atmosphere. But unfortunately the pretentious dialogue between two Michael Fassbenders as the identical-looking David/Walter models is enough to wish that they’d get their own Star Trek episode and let the alien do what it does best: chasing its prey and killing. Granted, there are some uncomfortable body horror scenes and the finale is quite explosive, but this isn’t anything one hasn’t seen before. These segments always feel as if Scott would have much rather done a philosophical sci-fi movie without bothering about the whole facehugger/xenomorph ideas, but then he realized people were expecting this, so the sequences were just thrown in to please fans, which they obviously fail to do, as one never cares about the characters and simply wishes that another director would finally take the Alien franchise and bring it back on track. Even taking it as a standalone sci-fi movie without the Alien title attached to it, it leaves the audience unsatisfied, as the whole android origin story has been done to death in sci-fi and isn’t resolved in any particularly interesting way.
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