Thursday, 25 May 2017

Alien Covenant

Do you remember M Night Shyamalan? He made a big splash with The Sixth Sense, the twist at the end shocking a lot of people. Not only that, but on subsequent watches, the twist continued to make sense - yes, there are some scenes where it's a bit of a stretch, but it mostly worked.
He then did another film with Bruce Willis - Unbreakable. It was not based on a comic book, but was very much of that genre. It was a great pseudo-comic book film at a time when comic book films were mostly awful. It, too, featured a twist. While the twist wasn't great, the film beforehand was, so it was overall a really good package.
Then he continued to make films, relying on the concept of having a surprising twist at the end. The stories became a method for delivering the twist, rather than being good stories. He even made a navel-gazing film, which was infinitely less meaningful than he thought it was or intended it to be.
He went from amazing, to awful. From intelligent to stupid. It was hugely disappointing.


This is now how I feel about Ridley Scott.


Alien Covenant is the latest film in the Alien/Prometheus "totally not an Aliens prequel... ok, it is" franchise.
It is terrible, but to describe why I'm going to have to go into spoilers.
Before I get to those, I will say that there are a lot of phenomenally good practical effects. Some of the visual effects are absolutely amazing.
However, there are a lot which are also unbelievably bad. Especially when it comes to the titular Alien(s). The issue is that, even if the good effects outweigh the bad, the bad are far more noticeable and memorable.

Is it scary? Not even slightly.
Is it tense? A little bit.
Is the acting good? Yes.
Is the script good? Hell no.
Is it worth it? Absolutely not.

The first half hour or so is fantastic, and then the film takes an absolute nose-dive. The strength of Alien was that it was a horror effecting the characters despite them (mostly) being sensible. This film involves horror effecting the characters because they have all been lobotomised, presumably. I definitely do not recommend this film.



SPOILERS:

The film starts off with a scene of David (played by Michael, the Bender of Fass) first being activated and interacting with Peter Weyland (Guy Pierce), with heavy-handed metaphors a plenty.

We are then introduced to David's next iteration, Walter, working on the colony ship Covenant (with a crew of 15)
The ship is hit by a disaster, and after repairs they receive a signal from another planet. Their mission is to head to one 8 years away (which has never been visited, but was found via scans) and this new one is a week away (missed by the scans). Considering their predicament, they decide to head to the new planet.

They land on the planet and go exploring without any form of hazmat suits!
I honestly cannot describe how utterly, ridiculously, unbelievably moronic and unrealistic this is. Unfortunately, the film just gets worse from here.

Before I pointed out the crew number of the ship. I would say this is important, but apparently the film doesn't think so. Once the characters start dying off, the main actress mentions how many deaths there have been so far (which would put the crew count at 14)
Not only that, but later on there is a picture of the whole crew, and there are only 14 people in the picture! Maybe I miscounted, maybe the 15th is the camera man, or maybe one of the crew got killed so hard that they were retroactively wiped from history. I guess we'll never know.

After getting infected by tiny organisms that eventually hatch into Aliens (yes, really) - which is something that would have possibly been avoided had the crew taken even the tiniest of precautions - the surviving crew meet David/Blatant Satan metaphor who takes them to a massive space jockey temple. The temple is littered with corpses, would have been easily spotted from the air (but wasn't), and no one asks any questions about it!

David arrived ages ago, killed all of the jockeys using the virus-vase things and then settled down in the temple. He murdered Shaw from Prometheus in order to experiment with the virus. He even goes so far as to "cross-breed" the pathogen... with itself, which doesn't make much sense at all.

He's finally managed to develop them to the point where we have the eggs like in Alien, despite not having a queen to lay the eggs.

Despite admitting all of this to one character, said character still trusts him when he says the eggs are safe to put his face directly into.

Later, it's left mysterious as to who survived a particular fight - David or Walter. Except it's not mysterious, it's incredibly predictable and cliched.

[edit]
The final annoyance is related to that "reveal" - David now has to somehow get tons of the eggs onto a space jockey ship, have it piloted by a space jockey, have it crash on LV-246 and have it stay long enough for the jockey to mummify, for the other films to make sense. Unless this is a reboot. A really bad reboot.

Seriously, it's difficult to describe exactly how unbelievably awful this film is.