No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve Prometheus and Aliens. Therefore I say unto you, “take no thought for your critics, what loop holes ye shall close, or what loop holes ye shall open; nor yet for your action sequences, what ye shall explode on the screen. Is not Prometheus more than Alien: Covenant, and Aliens than Alien: Covenant?”
Pardon my plagiarizing of the good book, but I found Matthew 2:24-25 a fitting set of verses to describe Alien: Covenant. Besides, if Ridley Scott gets to rattle on and on with biblical allegories, why should I use the bible to describe his work?
It’s brutally clear that Alien: Covenant is desperate to appease the Aliens fans who disliked Prometheus’s more philosophical take on the historically action-oriented Alien Universe. And yet, Alien: Covenant is also trying to expand upon the deeper meanings embedded in Prometheus. The result is, as you can probably guess, uneven.
It is quite possible that I missed the deeper meaning of the movie when I was being tossed around in my 4DX seat, but I’m pretty confident there isn’t any additional meaning. I mean, I was a little distracted by the water spraying in my face, and the compressed air blowing in my ear, and the ultraviolet lights flashing in my eyes, and the smoke machine bombarding my taste buds.
At least the actions scenes were cool with all the jostling about. Very Aliens (if by very I mean almost literally the same scenes but far, far fewer of them). That’s not to say there aren’t some very Prometheus moments.
Alien Covenant features not one, but two scenes of two Michael Fassbenders playing a homemade recorder. What deeper meaning can we glean from these scenes? Perhaps the small woodwind instruments symbolize creation. A tube is nothing but a hollow tube with punched holes in the side. But with applied pressure, life is created, albeit a monotone life devoid of meaning and expression.
Fassbender and Fassbender reach a higher level of creation by manipulating the punched holes. A simple manipulation, if done by a master, may result in untold beauty. And now we arrive at the deeper meaning behind two extraordinarily long flute scenes.
Following the mouth down through to the anus, men are nothing but hollow tubes awaiting breathy manipulation from Michael Fassbender.
–I seem to have lost track of the metaphor. Where was I…
Oh yeah. Creation is cool. Animating lifeless objects is cool too. Creating art from nothing is great. And now you know exactly why Fassbender’s David does all the things he does. The recorder scenes tell all, which is why the movie totally needed two of them. And both scenes needed to be really long. Otherwise the audience might have learned more about the Engineers.
We do get to learn about the new crew, as if it matters. They’re all dead by the end of the movie (one way or another). Don’t bother getting invested. Nothing they do matters. Besides, they’re all idiots.
The Covenant crew just might be the dumbest humans to ever visit space. How does Weyland-Yutani Corp expect to colonize other planets if they keep hiring every stupid Earth has to offer? Is the future of our planet so doomed that these bumbling buffoons are actually the best humanity has to offer?
Let’s run down some of the Covenant’s best decisions:
1. You just landed on an alien planet. You don’t know anything about the flora, fauna or microorganisms. Obviously the best course of action is to not wear any sort of respirator. Also, split up into three small groups as quickly as possible.
2. You just saw an alien monster burst out of a guys back. You have the monster quarantined. Obviously the best course of action is to alert the alien to your presence by breaking the quarantine and make a hilariously poor attempt to kill it with a gun.
3. You just saw the villain get your friend killed. The villain invites you to see something in his basement. The villain tells you to put your face next to a pulsating alien egg. Obviously the best course of action is to ignore the obvious villain is obviously a villain and get your face right up next to the thing that’s about to kill you.
Worse of all, Alien: Covenant treats the audience as if we are a member of the brainless Covenant crew. Alien: Covenant telegraphs the “twist” from a light year away. The fact that it commits so heartily to the “gotcha!” moment is insulting.
Ultimately, I can’t decide if Alien: Covenant is genius or middling. Boy, that’s a hell of a discrepancy. On one hand, Alien: Covenant offers a stepping stone from Prometheus to Alien. On the other hand, who the hell remembers the stepping-stones in the middle? And if you’ve got spaceships, why are you even stepping on stones?
While pushing overarching Prometheus-Alien Saga along, Alien: Covenant doesn’t seem to leave any lasting impression, or worse, say anything meaningful we haven’t already heard. What did we really learn? What questions were answered? What was the Engineerdamn point?
However, I find it completely plausible that when the bridge is complete, Alien: Covenant will be a very enjoyable movie to watch. It will finally have an ending. It will finally have a purpose. It’s hard to judge a movie that has no immediate purpose.
Maybe it’s all just a metaphor for human existence.