Saturday, July 27, 2019

Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant (2017)

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Either the sixth or eighth film in the Alien franchise, depending on whether or not AVP and AVP2 still count, has the crew of a colonist ship on their way to settle a new planet responding to a distress call in deep space. They go down to the planet and encounter a bunch of monsters and the android from Prometheus (Michael Fassbender).

Just as a sort of disclaimer, I really, really disliked Prometheus, so I was set up to hate this movie from the get-go. I felt bad about that so I went out of my way trying to find things I liked about it. This review is going to be a battle between my lingering ill will towards Prometheus and my guilt. Let's go.


  • I can't remember if I've already outed myself as a person with a weird, creepy robot fetish, but that's definitely a thing about me. Regular Michael Fassbender can get it, but robot Michael Fassbender can get it even more. What's better than one robot Michael Fassbender? Two robot Michael Fassbenders, which there are in this movie (+2)
  • A small mercy is that the characters in this movie are not scientists so I don't have to die inside every time they walk out onto an alien planet with their helmets off, or go around touching alien vegetation like idiots (+1)
  • There's a whole bunch of really gross stuff that I will list now:
    • Shot of the inside of a dude's ear. This might just be me, but ever since I watched that video of a cricket being removed from a guy's ear canal, I've been disgusted by ears (+1)
    • The aliens in this one are in the process of figuring out the chestbursting thing, so one busts out a guy's back dragging his lungs along with it, and another one comes out through a dude's mouth (+2)
    • There's a scene with so much blood on the floor a person slips in it (+1)
  • I'm pretty sure there was a gay couple in the crew and that's nice (+1)
  • The two robot Michael Fassbenders are also totally gay for each other and I am so here for that. There's a scene where the bad Michael Fassbender teaches the good Michael Fassbender to play the recorder which is as close to a graphic onscreen blow job as a mainstream movie is allowed to get (+2)
  • A neat part where the bad Michael Fassbender shows off all of the different stages in the evolution of the alien. I like monster design (+1)
  • There's a very strong Frankenstein theme going on from the bad Michael Fassbender's role as a twisted creator, to the quoting of Percy Shelley (discussed at length below), to a visual homage to the 1931 film when the first true chestburster is born. (I also suppose that's why Prometheus was called that) I like Frankenstein a lot so I'm into it (+1)
  • The bad Michael Fassbender's sketch book looks like a bunch of HR Giger drawings because of course it does (+1)
  • There's an action scene where the heroine (Katherine Waterston) smacks the shit out of an alien with a remote operated crane that's pretty cool (+1)
Total: +14


  • There's this overarching theme of creationism and Christianity in the movie which really sucks. In the opening scene, Weyland (Guy Pearce) states that he can't accept that humans evolved on Earth through random chance. Later, the captain of the Covenant (Billy Crudup) complaining his crew doesn't trust him because of his faith. It seems very out of place in this new, jaded, atheist millennium (-2)
  • Speaking of Weyland, I'm still salty that Lance Henriksen isn't in these movies anymore (-1)
  • James Franco is in the movie for ten seconds for some reason (-1)
  • Michael Fassbender is a wonderful actor, but his American accent is... not good. He sounds like Christian Bale trying to pull off an American accent. I get why he's doing it is so we can tell the good Michael Fassbender (American) from the bad Michael Fassbender (British), which is another problem (-2)
  • The shipful of colonists (just for emphasis, that's 2000 people in cryosleep plus a whole bunch of embryos) are heading to a planet that they are not 100% sure is habitable for people. I wonder who exactly these people are? Are they part of some government incentivized colonization program? Are they one of Weyland-Yutani's "shake and bake" colonies? Are they a religious group? I wanna know what the fuck these people think they're doing (-1)
    • Furthermore, the captain of the ship risks the 2000 sleeping people to respond to a possible distress call that has nothing to do with them, which is stupid and also incredibly contrived. I'm guessing the reason his crew doesn't respect him is not because he is a Christian, but because he's a fucking dumbass (-1)
  • People in horror movies always go really far away to pee, which people in real life absolutely do not do. Granted, the guy who utters the deadly phrase "I gotta take a leak" in this movie was actually going off to blaze it, but still, it's the year 2104, smoke it if you got it bro (-1)
  • Aliens infect people through microbes or spores or dust or something now? Was that a thing in Prometheus? I thought in Prometheus it was a liquid? I got bored when the bad Michael Fassbender was explaining how alien infection works (-1)
    • I had to read the plot synopsis of Prometheus on wikipedia to try to understand what was going on and it explained nothing (-1)
  • The problem with prequels in general is that you already know how they're going to end. This is especially true of horror prequels - you know that the crew of the Covenant is going to get wrecked, so there's no real sense of danger, and no sense in getting attached to the characters. The fun in watching these movies is seeing how the crew gets wrecked by aliens, and it took a really long time to get there (-1)
  • Why, and more importantly how, does bad Michael Fassbender's hair grow? Okay, the why is probably to make him seem more human or whatever, but the how is more perplexing. Does he eat? How can he grow new hair without ingesting new material? What does he eat? Does he just go around eating random shit so he can grow his hair out for aesthetic reasons? What kind of monster? (-1)
  • The reason the good Michael Fassbender finds out that the bad Michael Fassbender is bad is because he misattributes "Ozymandias" to Byron because this movie is about ten miles up its own ass (-1)
    • I mean, it's called "Alien: Covenant" for fuck sake. What the fuck is that? Alien: Contract was a little too on the nose, I guess. Fuck it, I want to see Alien: Convent. Hire me to write that screenplay you assholes (-1)
  • Anyway, it turns out in this movie that the xenomorph was bioengineered by the bad Michael Fassbender from an alien virus. I don't know about you, but for me the alien is more interesting and scary when it's just some naturally occurring deep space monster. Why? Because our own planet is chock full of shit that can kill you in really horrible ways, so why shouldn't space be full of shit that can kill you in even more horrible ways? There's something very narcissistic and disappointing about the alien being effectively created by humans (-1)
  • Also, why do all of the androids in these movies have such a chub on for the alien? (-1)
  • Alien had a bad android, Aliens, Alien 3, and Alien: Resurrection had a good android, Alien: Covenant has both a good android and a bad android. As much as I like watching robots hitting each other, the androids in this movie are identical and more or less evenly matched which is boring and futile (-1)
  • The revelation at the end of the movie that the good Michael Fassbender was actually replaced by the bad Michael Fassbender is the least surprised I've ever been in a movie (-1)
  • Ultimately, this movie is halfway between a straight up gross-out monster movie, and a slow burn meditation on the human condition. If it had committed wholly to either of these it probably would have been pretty interesting, but where it half-asses both of them, it feels, well, half-assed (-1)
Total: -20

Final Score: -6
This movie wasn't as terrible as I was hoping it would be. It was a technically fine film marred by some really stupid creative decisions and thematic compromises. As much as I hate to say it, I would be fine with the whole Alien franchise getting rebooted at this point.

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