While Prometheus was a frustrating film, I don’t outright hate it like I do Alien: Covenant. That’s because while the former was stupid, it tried to be good. It tried to be original and thought provoking. I can think about Prometheus and more or less shrug at it. Covenant just keeps getting worse the more you think about it. As I said before, half the film’s plot could be avoided if the crew just wore their damned space suits. The rest is a boring slog through tired horror cliches with just glimmers of an inspired story. While the film’s explanation for the origins of the xenomorph is interesting, it just doesn’t hold the weight it should. I know a lot of people will think it’s a terrible origin story for the iconic creature, and I understand why. And it ultimately results in the appeal of the Alien to be lessened. Watching the original films now with the knowledge that David created them leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
How this film just abandons everything that made Prometheus intriguing is also a big slap in the face. Killing off Noomi Rapace’s character and wiping out the Engineers feels cheap, not unlike the deaths of other major characters in the series. It’s as if Ridley Scott and company took the criticisms for Prometheus and freaked out, scrapping everything they had planned. Many didn’t like Prometheus because it wasn’t an Alien prequel, I certainly was frustrated with this fact. However, I was interested in seeing what the Space Jockey was, who the Engineers were, and why they wanted to destroy us. And I was interested in how this would play into the conflict between David and his creators. There are the makings of an epic cosmic horror story here, with themes of godhood, man versus his creations, the unknown, and knowledge man was never meant to know. It’s just a pity Ridley Scott can’t get a handle on them.
But the worst thing Alien: Covenant is guilty of is denying us an epic Alien film. Not just by being a shit film, but by preventing another film from being made. Everyone was excited when Neil Blomkamp’s Alien 5 surfaced with those amazing pieces of concept art. It looked like everything Alien fans had been wanting since Alien 3’s downer end to Ellen Ripley and so many other iconic characters. It had support from Sigourney Weaver herself, and in the wake of the disappointing Prometheus it looked like the better option. But then Ridley Scott put the brakes on the film and it eventually fizzled out. And now we’re stuck with Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel films, of which he says he plans on making more sequels.
And now suddenly I want to stick my head in the first clearly dangerous thing I find.