first_img I don’t give a damn where The Alien comes from, and neither should you.Look. I understand that we’re now living in a cyclical entertainment world where the average ordinary filmgoer has become conditioned to care about things like canon and mythos that previously were the exclusive domain of sad, socially-inept obsessive dweebs who used the methodical cataloging of pop-culture minutiae as an all-purpose psychological slurry to fill up the ever-widening emotional void of a life spent absent the warmth of human conta… er, or so I’m told. Since, obviously, anyone who does this for a living has piles of friends and is always invited to all the best parties. In any case, the point is, I’ve made peace with the fact that the price I pay for enjoying movies like The Avengers is having to also endure things like Transformers: The Bumblebee Solo Movie and The Hasbro Cinematic Universe.And hey! Sometimes doing the franchise canon thing with normal movies works out and you get Creed or… well, okay, just Creed – but Creed was pretty good, right?Here’s the thing, though: Not everything is built to have a mythology and a lot of stuff is designed intentionally around working better without it – and Alien was absolutely one of those things. A huge part of why Alien worked was that it was sparse and bare and minimal: Everything had proper names, but they were largely presented in terms of “the crew” on “the ship” for “the company” versus “the alien.” It’s kind of there in the title: Alien. Not “Xenomorph” – ALIEN. Because narratively, that’s all it is – an alien. The alien. Something alien.Aesthetically and subtextually, sure, it’s also a metaphor for sexual violence, unwanted impregnation, physical violation, etc. ; but functionally it was the amalgamated embodiment of decades worth of science-fiction inspired nightmares about the unnameable horrors that could well be awaiting mankind in the endless uncharted blackness of outer space. Not only does it not need a backstory, a backstory can only serve to make it less compelling because explaining it unavoidably takes it away from being a horrifying abstract embodiment of cosmic phobia and makes it just another movie monster.I’d compare the attempts to do otherwise to deciding to explain the motivations of the shark in Jaws, but it’s actually worse than that. Prometheus and now Alien: Covenant are more like if someone made a humanizing biopic about the specific change in atmospheric pressure that led to the tropical depression that eventually caused “The Storm” in The Perfect Storm. The only time the idea of an “Alien mythos” kind of worked was in the first Alien Vs Predator because “versus movies” are typically stupid just-for-fun disposable nonsense and that’s where such ideas belong. But Covenant, like Prometheus before it, wants to be taken very, very seriously as Ridley Scott re-explores meditations on the nature of humanity, free will and the responsibilities or lack thereof of creation that he already covered much better way back in Blade Runner. And Michael Fassbender is no Rutger Hauer when it comes to playing unhinged robots.For what it’s worth, the premise here is that the crew and passengers of The Covenant colony ship get woken from hypersleep way too early by a space accident and decide to explore a mysterious, seemingly human broadcast coming from an uncharted nearby planet where they find a suspiciously wiped out civilization. They a somehow rebuilt David – the malfunctioning android who went robo-crazy and got everyone killed in Prometheus…Yup. That’s the big, explosive origin story somebody felt this franchise was desperately missing: The Xenomorphs exist because a busted robot had a bunch of extra time on his hands.The point of all this is that David was programmed to be inquisitive but because he doesn’t also have a human moral compass he’s a representation of the idea of a capricious unfeeling creator-god, which is meant to be existentially terrifying… and is right, right up until you realize they don’t intend to actually explore any of what that means in any significant way the whole thing just ends up being a rote mad scientist movie with an Alien shoved in at the kickoff of Act 3 to justify the use of the marketable franchise-branding. Make no mistake; the Alien is a sideshow while David is meant to be the “real” monster. I’m sure was intentional and meant to be extremely profound but just comes off as a fawning excuse to center another overly mannered performance by the increasingly overrated Fassbender who (like the film) comes off empty despite being oh so very handsome.And it is a very handsome looking movie! Ridley Scott makes handsome movies – in fact, he’s one of our most accomplished visual storytellers. It’s just that this time the story wasn’t really worth telling. Apart from Fassbender’s hammy “Oh, you thought you were sick of me after Assassin’s Creed!” turn as David and the identical “good” android Walter the cast all seem to be completely adrift. All those “character-developing” video logs from the marketing aren’t actually in the movie, and the only person who makes a real impression is Danny McBride – mostly because you’re noticing that yes, he basically “works” as a straight dramatic actor. Good on him! But his role, like the film, adds up to nothing.Honestly, I think I preferred Prometheus. It was just as stupid and a lot more scattershot, but at least it kept moving and did a lot of different stupid things. It was like watching a bunch of high-end actors remake one of the sleazy Alien knock-offs like Galaxy of Terror or Inseminoid. This? This is just dull. Stay on target MovieBob Reviews: ‘Shadow’MovieBob Reviews: ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ last_img read more

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