So once again, after the debacle of Prometheus, Ridley Scott has proved himself simultaneously a master of visuals and yet utterly incompetent when it comes to creating a believable Alien story.
The single biggest problem I had with Prometheus was the collection of imbeciles and weirdos that made up the crew, and one might have hoped that Mr Scott would have realised that himself and made amends this time round. Errr.... no, sadly not. Once again we're treated to a crew of simpletons who make THE MOST pathetic and unbelievable decisions possible. Are we really supposed to believe that a crew would just ditch it's primary mission (that we're told had been over 10 years in the planning to ensure their destination was safe, etc) just because they happened to stumble on a new planet purely by chance? Just plain ludicrous. And that's just the start. A few more examples :
- Assuming we suspend our disbelief and accept the whole "let's risk all the colonists and everything we have planned for decades for to land on this new unknown planet instead" premise, why do these alleged scientists once again TOTALLY disregard the need for any protective clothing? So no breathing equipment, nothing at all to protect them from any alien pathogens. Good thinking!
- Faced with a choice of sending either an android, or pretty much the entire human crew with no protective gear, to investigate an alien world, who should go? Yeah that's right, send all the unprotected humans!
- Choice of landing right near the source of the unknown signal, or land several miles away and in a foot of water despite there being solid and flat ground a few feet away? Yep, it's wet feet and a huge hike all round folks!
- Little alien pods on this alien world puffing their alien spores into the air? Sure, just get your nose in there and have a good sniff. I'm sure it'll be fine!
- Crewmen get infected by said spores? Don't worry about any quarantine procedures, just carry them back to the ship while getting covered in their vomited-up blood.
- Alien organism just burst out of said infected crewman? Just open up the locked door and try to shoot it, but be careful you don't miss at point blank range and then slip up on the blood.... twice. (When that happened, people actually laughed in the cinema. I was half expecting a comedy sound effect the second time!)
- Tens of thousands of dead bodies, and an enormous dead city solely inhabited by David the android from the Prometheus mission, that the planetary scan managed to NOT pick up from orbit when determining the planet to be "safe"? No need to ask David what happened, just accept that it's all fine.
- Dark basements to go into all on your own? Do it! Nothing bad will happen.
- Huge alien eggs opening in front of you? Just have a good look inside. What could possibly go wrong?!
The list of stupid decisions just goes on and on AND ON!
While visually the film is generally excellent, the all-CGI-Alien was a huge let-down. Personally I found it considerably less convincing than the practical effects used in Alien and Aliens, which is unforgivable considering the creature is what these films are all about!
Additionally the crew, apart from being imbeciles (as is usual under Mr Scott's direction these days), are also completely forgettable. I saw this movie last night and I can't remember a single character's name today. The one exception is David/Walter, and once again Fassbender does a great job. (Perhaps that's why there's two of them - to make up for a lack of any other decent characters).
The other problem narrative-wise is that both Prometheus and Covenant have actually served to make the Alien universe much SMALLER in my opinion. In the original Alien and Aliens, the creature was just an unknown organism from the far reaches of the universe, and all the more scary because of it. (The same went for the Space Jockey for that matter). But these new movies have tried to tie it all back to humanity in some way - i.e. the Engineers (who are also the Space Jockeys) created both humanity and the black oil virus, and then the Xenomorph was apparently created by David (who was in turn created by man) somehow doing some genetic tinkering with the black oil and human DNA, while living in a cave and playing with his flute. Far from expanding the Alien universe, both these prequels have actually shrunk it by making man the centre of everything, while at the same time managing to sanitise and neuter one of the greatest movie creatures of all time. So what Ridley Scott is saying is that the entire Alien series and the iconic Xenomorph itself was just created by a deranged android with God/daddy issues. How very pathetic and disappointing. I personally hate it when movies try to explain everything to the millionth degree because it invariably ends up as a massive anticlimax. What was wrong with the Xenomorph just being some hideous unknown life-form from the far reaches of space???
I could go on and on, but there's a word limit here.
Lastly, the end is just pretty feeble and anticlimactic. The CG- Alien just kind of gets killed and that's it. And the *ahem* "twist" with David/Walter could be seen from a mile away, although David wouldn't have had anywhere near enough time to cut his own arm off and change his clothes and hairstyle.
Please PLEASE Mr Scott, stand aside and let Neill Blomkamp have his shot at an Aliens sequel.
A generous 2 Stars. One for the visuals that are once again gorgeous, and one for a great effort from Fassbender.