Alien: Covenant (2017)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Alien: Covenant</strong> (2017)

(On Cable TV, March 2018) The Alien series has now managed the difficult feat of not making me care about any new film in the series. To be fair, it’s been trending in that direction since Alien3 ignored Aliens and set out to humanize the Alien. But the series usually remained interesting even in ludicrousness: even Alien: Resurrection was too weird not to like a little. No, it took Ridley Scott and a whole lot of unconvincing “actually it’s not really part of the Alien series” nonsense in Prometheus to truly stimulate exasperation in the series. With Covenant, he seems determined to repeat all of the past mistakes of the series, from jettisoning main characters in-between instalments to mortally dumb characters to explaining how it’s the humans, you see, that have created these monsters, and all sorts of other dumb plotting moves. Plus a pitch-dark ending that leaves little hope. The impact is not one of wonder, or satisfaction, or even entertainment: It’s one of caring less and less about a franchise that is being treated incoherently. If they’ll make it up as they go along, then why should we care? As a result, I would rather not see any further instalment of the series and let it die unceremoniously than have another follow up that will make me care less and less. All the mystery of the original Alien has been replaced by pretentious musings on the nature of whatever the screenwriter was smoking at the time, and the schematic approach to the series is now so familiar that there’s little here to be interesting. To be fair, Covenant is almost tolerable in small five-minute segments. Some of the action beats are well done, some of the images are interesting, and Katherine Waterston gradually grew on me throughout the film as her character followed the series’ usual zero-to-hero dramatic arc. Still, people who nitpicked Prometheus’s dumber-than-dirt characters won’t have anything better to say here about the various decisions taken by the characters and the Benny-Hill-like catastrophe of consequences that ensues. Let them all die, if they’re going to be so incredibly stupid. (Not that the stupidity is confined to the character—it often spreads to the screenwriters, as an entirely unmotivated late-movie twist suggests.)  Covenant barely has that visual grandeur of Prometheus—at this point, why even bother seeing the film at all? But that’s movie-watching in the early twenty-first century, with franchises being beaten into the ground until no one is interested—then artificially revived as reboots that usually don’t have anything to say beyond imitating the original. The surest way to ensure that we’ll get better movies is simply not to care about the bad ones. And this review is already long enough to suggest that I haven’t done a very good job of not caring.

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