TV & FILM
brian-mcgee - January 28, 2018
Welcome back to Movie Therapy. Catch up with the concept in our first three columns on The Last Jedi, Rogue One, and Blade Runner 2049. This week, we're tackling another divisive piece of recent sci-fi cinema Alien: Covenant. When I left the theater after seeing this film last May, I felt like it was fine. I remember saying it was better than Prometheus, but not by much.
Having sat with this film for nearly a year now, I have come to this conclusion. Prometheus was an insanely stupid film, but it did have several memorable moments. Alien: Covenant was slightly less stupid, but was completely and totally and utterly forgettable. So for our therapy session this week, I ask you which is worse? Being dumb but memorable or being competent yet totally forgettable?
I feel like Prometheus was changed from something that marginally aped the Alien formula into a full-on Alien prequel once Ridley Scott came aboard. This film feels like it's directly addressing the many things wrong with that film by either doubling down on them or throwing them right in the garbage. But this is what a direct response to fan reaction nets you. If Episode IX goes beat by beat through everything “wrong” with Episode VIII, it’s gonna be a dull and unmemorable film.
That’s what Alien Covenant does. Kills off the engineers from Prometheus almost immediately and erases Noomi Rapace’s Shaw from the picture because she’s just gonna be a reminder of how much people dislike Prometheus. Also, Michael Fassbender was mentioned as one of the best things about Prometheus, so make sure we give him two characters to play in the next movie. It reeks of course correction and that’s why it’s completely and utterly forgettable.
The film itself even course corrects in the first act, introducing James Franco, giving the audience time to accept the fact that he’s gonna be in this movie, and then killing him off before you’ve even had time to make peace with it all. It’s like this movie is doing everything it can to get the audience to like it. Look, here’s where the aliens come from. Here’s a finale that’s identical to the finale in the original Alien. It’s South Park’s Member Berries The Movie.
Compound all of this with the fact that they got rid of the “faithful” character from Prometheus and replaced her with stupid Billy Crudup’s “I have faith in the Lord” good old white bread American male. The film series is no longer interested in questions of faith and where did we come from. We know where humanity came from in this universe—making Crudup’s character all the more annoying—so let’s have some fun with it, eh?
Can we also admit that the David/Walter twist was projected from a hundred miles away? There wasn’t even a doubt in my mind that it was David the entire time throughout the third act. Why play that reveal at the end like a cliffhanger. That's awfully presumptuous of you, seventh highest grossing entry in this franchise. It just kinda feels like three short Alien fan films sort of mashed together and reverse engineered to be a single film.
Bottom line, the movie’s a gigantic mess, but then again, so are most of the movies in this franchise. We got spoiled. The first two—Alien & Aliens—were as close to perfect as genre flicks get, but we need to admit that it’s been steadily downhill from there. Ridley Scott makes movies that you can cut one HELL of a great trailer from, but he’s mostly become a shell of the filmmaker he used to be.
I like taking one scene and making it emblematic of everything that's wrong with the film. Here, I'll point to the scene where David plays the theme from “Prometheus” on his flute. It's like the time Bart whistled “The Simpsons” theme. It makes no sense in a way that doesn't seem to be going for a laugh, it's more like a wink at the audience. Stop winking at us Ridley Scott, and use your open eye to make a movie worth watching in this franchise again. Please.
Alright fanatics, here's your chance to tell me what a moron I am. The comments section is open...
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