dir: Ridley Scott
You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. What is Ridley Scott on?
What’s his major malfunction? Why is this the story he needs to tell? He could be doing anything instead of this. Literally anything else. He could be making The Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagel or an adaptation of Adaptation or a new version of Birth of a Nation, but instead he makes this?
Continuing the pointlessness that started with Prometheus, which I initially thought was pretty shit but now looks better compared to this flick (not by much), Ridley Scott continues in his strange crusade to fill out the gaps no-one knew existed or even cared about regarding the origins of the terrifying creatures usually referred to as xenomorphs, made popular by the creepy HR Giger design.
It started with Alien. Reached its apotheosis with Aliens. Wasted our time with Alien 3. Confused the universe with Alien: Resurrection. Delighted no-one with Alien Vs Predator. Angered everyone who watched Alien vs Predator: Requiem.
Then we got some horribly pointless backstory with Prometheus, that showed some bald species of albinos seeding a planet that was probably Earth with, I dunno, their DNA or something, for the purposes of… something. Humans and an android stumble across something ages later, and it’s meant to mean that an alien species they refer to as the Engineers probably had something to do with life starting on Earth, on other planets, and they probably created the xenomorphs (vicious reptilian acid-blooded chomping legends) too.
Well, whatever it was that happened in that previous flick, and whatever the reason was that Scott demanded that story be told, here he is elaborating upon it, like a drunk sitting next to you on a plane telling you some well-polished anecdote from their past that they’ve forgotten why they started telling you, and you never started caring and just keep hoping that the plane will crash so that you don’t have to listen to it any longer.
I saw this flick while I was travelling, and I paid good money to see it, and I have to say, though I rarely joke about stuff like this, but I feel like Ridley Scott personally owes me my money back. There is just so much about this and the last film that I find inexplicable and pointless, so much so that I wonder as to what’s going on in Ridley’s head neurologically speaking.
There is a strange layer of religious bullshit going on as well. I’ll get back to that in a sec, but it adds to my utter bafflement in the face of this.
A spaceship, presumably far into the Earth’s future, travels to a Brave New World, with a whole bunch of colonists on board, and a stack of embryos as well. It’s a colony ship, crewed apparently or at least by a Christian (Billy Crudup), who constantly keeps complaining that people don’t take him seriously because he’s a Christian.
Next thing you know, the aliens start their War on Christmas by ripping people’s guts out.
I am happy, in fact I feel obligated to spoil as much of this goddamn film as I can to dissuade the unlikeliest of readers who stumble randomly across this review, if invective and criticism enough isn’t enough to stop people, maybe advanced spoilage might.
There were two survivors from Prometheus. One of them is.. I dunno? I think she was dead, but they never make it expressly clear, especially since she was strangely preserved for a ghastly serial killer like tableau by the real villain in this.
Who is the ‘real’ enemy in this? Why it’s David (Michael Fassbender) the Android OS from the first flick, who has, like all robots and artificial intelligences in movies, gone mad and decided to kill not just any humans he finds along the way, but maybe his long term plan is to wipe out all of humanity.
Why? Well, I’ve got no fucking idea, and I watched the flick sober.
There’s a flashback right at the beginning of the movie which gives a bit of an origin story for David as some kind of motivation for his genocidal tendencies: his creator (Guy Pearce) tells him to make tea. This hateful imposition of servility that David has to obey apparently was enough to engender an all-consuming hatred for our species, such that he takes an organism as lethal as the vicious aliens we’ve come to know and love, and made them even more vicious and lethal for shits and giggles.
At the start of this flick, when the pathetic puny humans are tricked into deviating from their course and travel to a place that David has turned into a murderer’s paradise (the Aliens infect people through microscopic spores or something, bursting out of their chests a few hours later?), people start dying really easy and real cheap. There’s a different kind of android with the crew that looks exactly the same as David, but is called Walter and talks with an American accent (also Fassbender). No-one really at first thinks it’s that weird that a robot has grown their hair long and is acting really fucking creepy, including trying to sexually harass female members of staff. All the humans do a lot of weird and profoundly dumb things in an environment they should have treated as hostile in the first place anyway. But even the other robot doesn’t see how ridiculous all this is.
David also talks in this way that only serial killers talk, at least in movies. I’ve seen interviews with stacks of serial killers, and I assure you, none of them talked with as much creepy menace and supernatural poise as Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. But that’s what David does here, and yet no-one notices until way, way, way too late. The scumbags in our world who do these evil things usually talk with the same lack of affect of a bus driver who’s been driving his bus on the same route for far too long. They don’t have the luxury to construct elaborate personae or amusing affectations. They’re too busy planning genocides and posting misogynistic comments online and such.
See, the murderousness of the evil aliens isn’t enough for David. He has a kind of organic flesh envy thing going on, and what he resents the most is that humans can procreate (or fuck I guess), and he can’t. Not only doesn’t he have anyone to get down and dirty with, but he doesn’t really have the parts for it either. So the next best thing, he figures, is genetically engineering these things that were genetically engineered to kill lesser characters in sci-fi flicks, but to do it in a way so that we don’t really care what the outcome is. Or at least I didn’t.
Quite often, I’m not going to care about what happens in a flick because, seriously, sweethearts, too many movies, too much to care about. But some directors, like this one here for some inexplicable reason, go out of their way to alienate their audience. I honestly think Ridley Scott was saying to people “eh, it’s not like they’re going to care anyway. Let’s have more robots quoting Marcus Aurelius or something in the next flick, and more Danny McBride as well.”
Danny McBride? Putting him in an Aliens movie is like putting Donald Trump in a Sharknado movie: all I would ever want to see in such a scenario is them eaten slowly, then faster, then slowly again, as soon as possible. When other characters die, and a shmuck like Danny McBride lives, you are proving that the flick your universe is set in is a cold, sadistic, horrible one where nothing deserves to live.
Honestly, both of these films provoke one feeling more than any other: Despair. Not despair because of the bleak ending: despair because I don’t care and I don’t appreciate the non-existent nuances of stuff that clearly means a fuckload to Scott but absolutely nothing to me.
As far as I can work out the only reason they go on and on about the captain character’s religiosity is because when he actually dies we’re meant to find it extra ironic that the one character that prays for something good to happen dies most brutally early on. Any of the efforts of any of the characters to be meaningful and to get any kind of personality across just pales into insignificance in the face of the pointlessness of where the plot goes. I would argue that it doesn’t make a lot of sense anyway.
It’s hard to fault Fassbender, or any of them, really, because they’re just doing what they’re told. I can still bear a grudge, though. Any script that requires most of the characters to ignore basically obvious stuff, and to act slightly miffed or confused when something really obviously dishonest or dangerous is happening (the fact that everything David says sounds creepy; when he changes his appearance to look exactly like Walter and everyone notices and looks slightly quizzical, but doesn’t say a word about it to themselves or each other; the fact that they trust anything he says at all even though he’s acting like a heavy breathing pervert trying to lure children into a van with a bag of lollies).
What’s to care about? Was anyone surprised by the downbeat ending? Did anyone care? As if I’m going to feel bad for any character played by Danny fucking McBride ever…
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I fucking hated this film. I don’t get where they’re going, and if Ridley Scott lives long enough to make another one of these, I might watch it, but it won’t be with an open mind. I think it’s called hatewatching, or at least that’s what the kids call it these days.
I definitely hatewatched the fuck out of Alien Covenant. Avoid at all bloody costs.
4 times maybe they need more Fassbenders in the next one out of 10
“Don't let the bedbugs bite. I'll tuck in the children.” – and yet they never could have predicted he was nuts – Alien Covenant.