‘Alien: Covenant’ a thrill ride of carnage, schlock    


This is our fault; we went to the wrong movie. Sure, we saw the 1979 original, which we kind of liked. Then, one or two in between were more of the same, but not in a good way. We keep hoping for something more intelligent, but then again, we still have the porch light on for Jimmy Hoffa. There is more of the same monster gag, but we pity any woman in the audience considering a C-section, yikes!

Horror fans might enjoy the shock and awe of seemingly harmless spores innocently being ingested into a human’s system. Especially when fanged slimy xenomorphs burst out of our heroes’ abdomens. But over time, that same old gag loses its impact. “Alien: Covenant” left us disappointed in our lack of judgment to anticipate such schlock.

If keeping score, this is the sixth installment of the “Alien” series, but only the second of the prequels and third directed by Ridley Scott. In each, there is so much potential. A mad scientist creates an android to help the team in their mission. Here, Michael Fassbender, apparently the only cast member who took acting lessons, plays Walter.

In the opening scenes, Walter is in an existential discussion with his maker about gods, creators and evolution, asking, “Father, if you made me, who made you?” Next, Walter is on board the space ship “Covenant”. The 15 crew, 2000 colonists and 1000 embryo are traveling in a hibernated state for the decades long voyage to the far side of the galaxy.

Suddenly, a rogue storm awakens several of the crewmembers, which must identify the problem, assess the damage and return to their route. All good so far, but then, the clunky screenplay by John Logan and Dante Harper, who are about 13 years old, or intentionally (?) writing to that level, gets difficult to follow without shrieking at the screen. BTW, it didn’t help the story, but vented some frustration.

As the captain was killed during the incident (the storm, not our shrieking), Oram (Billy Crudup) takes over command. He can’t believe he was not originally assigned that position, but in less than two minutes, we learn why. Without discussing with his crew, and against objections, he commands them to alter course and directs the ship to an alternative destination, so what could go wrong there? Yikes!

One of the stronger personalities in the crew calls himself Tennessee. Veteran actor Danny McBride, yee haw, overacts his role of the down-home good-timing redneck. He thinks the alien signals sound like John Denver’s “Country Roads.” When asked if he’s kidding, he responds in a heavy drawl, “I never kid about John Denver!” Thud.

The most levelheaded is the late captain’s wife, Daniels. For some reason Katherine Waterston plays this leading role in a Moe Howard fright wig. For a big budget movie, she’s about as attractive as Flo, the Progressive Insurance lady. The only seemingly rational one is Ricks (Jussie Smollett, “Empire”), but has about four lines total, oh well.

The new planet is beautifully forested (filmed in New Zealand), but no matter how many times we warned the crew, they couldn’t help sniffing the curious looking spores, mm mm good! As we understand it, astronauts are selected from the best of the best. They know how to follow procedure and have demonstrated how to react in unexpected circumstances. If the film featured those astronauts, we would have no story.

“Alien: Covenent” is 122 minutes and rated R for sci-fi violence, bloody images, language and brief nudity. If we don’t care a lick about the characters and their self-inflicted predicaments, a slimy monster gouging through torsos is just another slimy monster gouging through torsos. At some point, we just root for the monsters.

In the final scenes, they attempt to close the loop on the philosophical issues. Fanboys might murmur, “How true, how true,” but others might ask, “Seriously?” These morons make a series of grossly ill informed decisions and then scamper like scalded apes at the first sign of trouble. So do the “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but at least they know they’re idiots.

Ron’s Rating: F      Leigh’s Rating: F


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