When you’re a film lover, one of the best things is to love something you watch. You get to end credits and you feel like you’ve just had a big glass of some refreshing fruit juice that leaves an exquisite taste in your mouth. That said, it can also be really fun to hate things too. But then, there are other times, when hating on a film is fun wasteland, and that’s when you get to the end credits and feel bitterly disappointed. And that, I’m sad to say, is where I place my thoughts on Alien: Covenant.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad film by any measure. It has some great performances, dialogue, action sequences, effects – even a few good ideas here and there. But, when the end credits ran and the lights came up, I remember looking around as I stood up from my seat, my friends and the people closest were all smiling. And I just remember feeling guilty, like I had missed out on something really great. And when you’re ashamed to share your pet peeves with a film, because you know you’re going to get some flak, that’s when you know it’s let you down. Basically, it farts in your mouth and then leaves you to either taste it alone, or to open your mouth and share that stench with others.
Sounds a bit mad I’m blaming the film itself, but that’s because I can understand why every other film go-er would like it. Ya see, it’s only snobby horror nerds like me that would really have a gripe with a film like Alien:Covenant, and admit with all seriousness that they prefer an Italian rip-off sequel over one made by the original film’s director.
The thing I loved about the first Alien film, and Aliens too actually, is that they took their time to give us a unique take on something that had been done before. It gave the world what should have been a beatable enemy, and made it harder to beat. It gave us an idea on the horror show that could exist in outer-space; that a creature that was beyond our comprehension could exist out there somewhere, challenging our perception of our place in the universe. It’s an old Lovecraftian gimmick, but it’s a good one.
That’s the idea behind the mystery, and it works because while we learn only little of the aliens over the course of the first two films, it never leaves us feeling like we needed more. And that’s a great thing for a film to do as it shows a passion for creating the perfect story. Yet here come some prequels to start patronizing the originals with semi-theological messages, and really obvious analogies to morality and humanity. To be honest, my real gripe is that I don’t think these films need to be made, I mean it’s great Ridley Scott wanted to re-visit the film that made his name, but he’s now adding way too much seasoning. And it’s a bit much that a random alien encounter was spawned from a quest to find the aliens that created humans; in fact, the Xenomorph being an evolved weapon to hunt us is quite a stretch.
And weirdly, I’m finding it hard to get past this. I have a few other gripes with Covenant as a film, but I do honestly think that if these prequels had nothing to do with Alien, I would like them a lot more. They have some really strong moments, and Michael Fassbender’s David, with Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw, who sadly only got a cameo in Covenant, were by far the highlights of both films. So yeah, basically if they changed that small detail of being in the Alien series, I wouldn’t have much a problem.
I mean fine, it is what it is, but personally, I just preferred the idea that these aliens were just one of an infinite amount of horrors we could end up finding in the deep black sky; and the ominous questions they pose against our own humanity. But those ominous questions don’t need answering for me. Sure I could just not watch it, but the first two films are very important to me, so through faith, I will always follow the Alien franchise. Whatever misery that may end up causing.
To end things on a it more a cheery note, here’s one of my favourite moments from the originals: