Is Ridley Scott having trouble paying for the groceries? Should we start a Kickstarter campaign to help the once-illustrious filmmaker? His latest production, Alien Covenant, is another sad example of studio executives trying to cash in on a franchise that died many, many years ago.
Set up 10 years after the uselessy convulated and farcical Prometheus, the « not a prequel », and 20 years before the original movie, Covenant follows a group of colonists, under the leadership of James Franco, that are supposed to construct a human settlement on a planet far away. However, things go awry quite fast. A radiation storm leads to an emergency on the ship, Franco is killed in his hypersleep pod and his second in command, Oram (Billy Crudup) assumes his duties.
Soon enough, he’ll need to make a decision: a signal is received from a strange planet that does not appear on the charts. And since said signal is a song singed in English, while there’s not supposed to be any humans around, Oram decides to check it out, against the suggestion of Daniels (Katherine Waterston), the other main protagonist of the story.
While it was already easy to predict what would happen, now the moviegoer is either settling in for an hour of tension and alien carnage, or already wishing that the movie would end and that everybody could go home. After all, Alien Covenant is nothing else than a bastardization of Alien, Aliens, and Prometheus. You’ve got your strange signal coming from an unknown planet, your gun-totting soldiers (or in this case, colonists), and your bizarre subplot about some god-like behavior coming from the android model played by Michael Fassbender.
There’s nothing original in Covenant. There’s no Ripley character, no Bill Paxton to shout « Game over, man! » when everything goes terribly wrong, not even some ridiculous moment where Noomi Rapace’s character, pursued by an alien vessel rolling on its side, decides to run in the same direction of said ship, instead of stepping out of the way. However, you do have your idiots space-faring humans who explore an alien world without sufficient protection, who refuse to activate the quarantine protocol when someone get infected, and who basically are your typical meat for the space-meat grinder.
The worst thing is that Covenant could have worked. A movie where some human explorers discover a planet where a sentient robot with dellusions of grandeur created a race of monsters? That’s some prime sci-fi material, right there. But because the Alien franchise’s attached to it, Ridley Scott seems to be incapable of escaping his own creation.
Could it be that after filming Alien, in 1979, and after Blade Runner, three years later, Mr. Scott ran out of creative juices? Did he burned himself by producing movies that were « too good »? Who knows… But one thing is sure: Alien Covenant is a flop, a cinematographic disaster that need to be left alone like the proverbial egg and the facehugger inside it.