My media blackout on Alien: Covenant was so effective that its release and reception almost completely passed me by. I only remembered it was there when it showed up on iTunes and was available for rental.
I’m a little aggrieved that the rental price was hiked up for £5.49 — for this of all films, as if the franchise still carried some kind of ‘brand premium’ after the crushing (but not if you run the other way) disappointment of Prometheus.
So, anyway, I rented it last weekend and sat down to watch with low expectations.
And, because my expectations were so low, I wasn’t disappointed.
I’ve got no issues with details like the production design, the cast, the cinematography, or the performances.
I just have an issue with the whole thing.
What, really, is the point of this franchise?
- People waking from frozen sleep.
- A space ship.
- A signal.
- A planet (or planetoid, or planet-like moon).
- A robot, who may be good, or may be evil.
- An alien or aliens.
- People who act in an irresponsible or bizarre way.
- A main female character who survives.
- Returning to frozen sleep.
This is the mix-and-match plot line for most of the Alien films. And it was brilliant in the first film. The second ramped up the budget and the numbers along with the action. The third made it all a bit claustrophobic and intense in a different way. The fourth tried our patience and stretched our credulity.
There may be eight plots in literature, but there’s only one plot in Alien films. These prequels are adding nothing, telling us nothing new, but are simply repeating the same old plot beats (see above) and annihilating logic. If aliens can grow from spores, why are the face huggers deemed necessary? And how can there be baby face huggers outside of the eggs, which until now have been deemed necessary for their production? And why does nobody, ever, say, “Don’t come near me, I’m contaminated”?
Director Ridley Scott is said to be leading up to the origin of the Space Jockey of the first film, but he’s taking his time. And the only reason for taking that time, or that these films seem to exist is not because they have a compelling or new story to tell, but because people keep buying tickets/downloads. Its as cynical a marketing exercise as splitting popular novels into two or more films. Like the fucking Hobbit needed to be as many films as Lord of the Rings. If they were making Lord of the Rings today, it would be nine films, wouldn’t it? And still shit.
So Alien: Covenant passed the time, and if I hadn’t seen all the other films, it would have been all right, though frustrating in not having a proper ending. But I have seen all the other films, and there wasn’t a single unpredictable element. It followed the well-worn path and left me longing for another plot.
Blade Runner beckons.