With “Prometheus” Ridley Scott met the other side of his “Alien” mythology by visiting the very early dawn of his universe that saw the very evolution of his xenomorphs. After it hit with a thud resembling a wet diaper smashing in to a garbage can, Scott hits the other extreme by delivering a movie in the vein of “Prometheus” that’s just as flat and just as stupid. Director Ridley Scott has lost the grasp of his own film and has really failed to learn how to deliver a well measured and compelling horror tale teeming with themes about sexuality and human biology. Instead now he gets to literally have his cake and eat it too, by offering up a ham fisted goofy prequel that feels like a glorified fan film. All the while also continuing his descent in to pseudo-intellectualist allegories and on the nose metaphors about God, the Devil, Heaven, Paradise, evolution and birth.
It’s all about as clumsily delivered as it was in “Prometheus” with even more moronic characters we would root for if they weren’t such numbskulls lacking basic common sense. Rather than bring us through the evolution of the xenomorphs as some sort of grand unveiling of very crucial science fiction monsters, Scott this time pumps the gas in a crash course in how the Xenomorphs evolved. Rather than being some inexplicable anomaly of nature that popped up in space, the xenomorphs end up being very calculated creations of an android with a God complex. Ridley Scott almost seems to be riffing on the ideas presents in “Ex Machina” when he isn’t winking to classic scenes of “Alien” and “Aliens.” How do you define life? How does one choose what deserves life in this universe?
Can cognizance of ones own purpose negate the idea of life? And if a being or species is so utterly deadly and destructive does that mean it doesn’t deserve a chance to flourish and evolve? Alex Garland observed these themes with much more entertainment value and insight, while Scott stomps around with these ideas that are so painfully on the nose and clumsy. He just draws out moments intended to spark ideas about the dichotomy of androids David and Walter, and the notion of evolution, and the pacing shifts back and forth from breakneck to plodding. To its credit, “Alien: Covenant” does succeed in offering some grisly and truly memorable scenes with a lot of vicious gore that kept the film interesting, if only for a moment. It’s just the pay off of grue and gore that eventually looks familiar to “Alien” fans, can’t compensate for everything else.
The characters are so paper thin and interchangeable right down to heroine Daniels and impromptu captain Christopher. Katherine Waterston is okay in her role but is never allowed to flourish or grow, and eventually just feels like an uber-Ripley sans the personality and charisma. I never cared about any character here and hard as I tried I never built enough antipathy toward to David to consider him a menacing or disturbing villain. “Alien: Covenant” loses momentum mid-way shifting to auto pilot as Scott delivers nothing but scenes that hearken back to “Alien” and “Aliens” all the while he shifts his xenomorphs from genuine science fiction enemies in to secondary plot devices.
“Alien: Covenant” could very well have re-constructed the universe Scott established decades ago while also adding a new flair to the Xenomorphs. Instead, he once again wades in dull philosophy and cheap fan service that lends weight to the fact that there is nowhere left to go with this series.
It’s time these studios put the aliens, predators, and terminators in to hibernation, already.