Part 1: What the Hell is it?
Talking about Alien Covenant is difficult. This is because to properly understood why this movie didn’t work, you must know the lengthy backstory behind its production. Nonetheless, I will attempt to explain it. Alien Covenant is an attempt to kickstart a dying brand by becoming the sequel no one wanted to a prequel that no one actually realized was a prequel. More simply put, Alien Covenant is a sequel to the 2012 film Prometheus in an attempt to revive the Alien franchise, but due to poor marketing, few people realized Prometheus had anything to do with the Alien series. So when its sequel arrived in theaters, the connection wasn’t apparent, thus weakening the impact of the film’s release and making a massive amount of information in Alien Covenant muddled and confusing.
Part 2: Technical Issues
Even if you ignore the fiasco that was the marketing for this film, there are still many elements of the film that fail on a technical level. This mostly involves the poor use of CGI on the Alien. In the first Alien film, the Xenomorph had a tangible presence which instilled fear. Many elements went into the masterwork that was the design of the creature, but one element which was by far the most impactful was its realism.
Ridley Scott (Director) and Brian Johnson (Special Effect Lead) went above and beyond creating a real-life alien suit with an animatronic head, just to sell the creature’s realism. This combined with expert directing and special effects touch ups made original Alien feel real. This even followed in its two sequels, Aliens, and Alien: Resurrection. But, in Alien Covenant, the monsters are poorly rendered CGI with little to no practical effects. There are two main issues:
- 1: Since we have become so accustomed to a hyper-realistic Alien, when we are shown something so far removed from a well know set of standards, it feels cheap.
- 2: The CGI wasn’t good. It was noticeably poor and felt like something from two or three years ago; not terrible, but we have all seen other films do far better.
Part 3: Missing the Point
My final issue with Alien Covenant is that it fails on the most basic levels of the horror genre. It wasn’t scary. At all. All the “intense” scenes were depressingly predictable. There was no creativity. And most of all, they reduced one of the most terrifying and imposing monsters in all of cinema history to nothing more than a freak of the week slasher villain. The Xenomorph had no presence or buildup. It had no intensity. It just was there, killed a lot of people, then boom. Movie over.
Part 4: Conclusion
If it wasn’t already clear, I didn’t enjoy this film. It was a mess all around. Poorly written, poorly advertised, poor directed, and most of all, it was uninspired. I would not recommend paying theater price to see this; there is just no value in it. It’s not scary, intense or interesting. It was boring. The only decent scene in the whole film was when a robot is teaching another robot to play the flute, which leads to one of the most hilariously homoerotic moments in horror movie history. But that one funny scene aside, don’t. Just don’t.