Alien: Covenant: In Space, No One Can Hear This Movie

Alien: Covenant Plot Summary:

After suffering tragedy on their way to colonize a new planet, the crew of the Covenant uncover a closer planet not found on any maps.  As they explore this new world, they come into contact with the ferocious xenomorphs, and a previous explorer from a space mission mounted years ago.

Is Alien: Covenant a bad movie? No. It’s not a bad movie. It’s a movie that picks up right where the summer of 2016 left off: Safe. Forgettable. Whatever. It’s a movie that’s slightly better than the Legend of Tarzans of the world. If the Alien franchise never existed, would this movie fare better? Probably. Here’s the problem though – the Alien franchise exists.  Can we please stop pretending? I’m going to be that guy, and I don’t care. This is an Alien movie. Therefore, I’m going to compare it to other Alien movies.  If that makes me unfair, or too nostalgic, then I guess I’m guilty. On face value, this movie is “eh.”  When compared to the first two Alien movies though, it’s a complete and utter joke.

Let’s start with the man in charge, Ridley Scott.  Look, if Ridley Scott retired tomorrow, I’d always remember him for the classics: AlienBlade RunnerThelma & LouiseGladiator. You know the list.  I don’t need to beat a dead horse, but the man hasn’t delivered a great movie in years.  I still contend The Martian was only good because of an Oscar worthy Matt Damon performance.

What makes Alien: Covenant so disappointing is how lazy Ridley Scott’s directing is.  What makes the first Alien so incredible is that tension and uneasiness throughout the whole film.  You could always feel when the alien was near, but you never knew for sure when it would pop up and kill. It’s a true “edge of your seat” motion picture because of that.  This movie flat out tells you when the Alien is coming.  There’s a scene where one of the characters walks off on his own in the forest, and it’s embarrassingly telegraphed. There’s no clever build up at all. He just steps on an egg. That’s it.

One of the weaker moments for Ridley is when one of the characters is sleeping on the ship.  The alarm goes off and literally announces to the audience that an alien is on board. Wow. Hey, remember in the previous films when they would jump out of nowhere and scare the hell out of you? Nope. Not here. Visually, the alien kills look fine, but again, it’s stuff we’ve seen 900 times. The chest. Check. The face. Check. Yup. Great.  Whatever. I never jumped once.

Let’s get to the characters. This won’t take long. Aside from a pretentious opening scene, the first half hour wasn’t bad. It looked like this movie would at least be entertaining. They even build up a decent conflict between the two main crew members, Oram, played by Billy Crudup, and Daniels, played by Katherine Waterston. These Alien movies have too many crew members though. Can we go back to a limit of six or seven? I’m sick of all these ancillary characters who all run together and are just there to die.

After the first alien attack is where the movie goes into total Prometheus land. It’s a forty-five to sixty-minute lull that rambles on and on and on and on and on and on. Michael Fassbender plays a dual role, and he drives the main story. Fassbender’s entire motivation is halfway interesting, but the problem is the screenwriters take FOREVER in getting to his point. We could have done this in ten minutes. Instead, we get banal dialogue, random edits and characters looking at pictures. I’m not kidding. There’s about five to ten minutes of screen time where characters read an Alien picture book. Are they looking at Ridley Scott’s production notebook? What is this?

Speaking of Fassbender, and I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but he was bad in the movie. There’s no one who likes Michael Fassbender more than me, but his performance just sucks the life out of the room, like Shang Tsung sucks souls. I’m obviously not going to blame him.  This is a writing/directing problem. You know your movie has problems when Fassbender is completely and totally wasted.

The movie cements its whatever-ness in the final act. This is supposed to be the big climax, but it ends with such a thud. You’ve already been checked out for an hour.  Nobody cares.  Let’s just wrap this up so I can go to the bathroom.

The bright spots were Billy Crudup, who had an actual personality, and Katherine Waterston, but she’s basically just a ninth rate Ripley. The best performance of the film was Danny McBride. He plays a legitimately likable guy you want to root for. There are absolutely no other characters worth mentioning. Apparently, Demian Bichir was in this movie. Sure. I’ll take their word for it.

I’ll give this movie credit for ending with a decent twist, but I care more about Major League Lacrosse than the next Alien movie.  This is a big bowl of nothing.  I’m sure everyone is saying “Well, it’s definitely the best Alien movie since Aliens.”  Disagree.  At least Alien 3 had moments.  And while this is better than Prometheus, which I detest, I respect Prometheus more for taking chances.  This is the epitome of going through the motions.

When this movie ended, the audience had absolutely no reaction.  Everyone just got up and left.  That pretty much says it all.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10 (Passable Entertainment)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.