Alien: Covenant trailer – reaction

aliencovenantteasersmDirected by Blade Runner‘s Sir Ridley Scott and written by Star Trek: Nemesis‘ John Logan, who also co-wrote Scott’s Gladiator, from a story by Transcendence‘s Jack Paglen and Green Lantern‘s Michael Green and currently described as the first in three movies which will bridge the time between Prometheus and Scott’s 1979 original, Alien, the first trailer for Alien: Covenant has hatched.

With a cast including Macbeth‘s Michael Fassbender, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them‘s Katherine Waterston, This Is the End‘s Danny McBride, The Hateful Eight‘s Demián Bichir, Big Fish‘s Billy Crudup, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘s Noomi Rapace, Iron Man 3‘s Guy Pearce, Upstream Colour‘s Amy Seimetz, The Purge: Anarchy‘s Carmen Ejogo and Rise of the Planet of the Apes‘ James Franco, the nature of the film makes it apparent that many will be expendable.

aliencovenantteaser1With the release date moved from August 2017 to May 19th, the studio are confident, but expressing their views on the trailer the team are treading warily, having been burned before.

Michael Flett – I’m conflicted over this. It’s only a teaser, more of a tone piece than a full trailer which would give a broader idea of the plot, and while it’s utterly inappropriate content to be released on Christmas morning it was very much a gift to the fans but it seems very much to be more fan service than selling an original film.

aliencovenantteaser2I had a lot of problems with Prometheus, but the lack of xenomorphs wasn’t one of them even though that’s what the vocal Internet fanboys were weeping over. What I wanted and expected was a coherent story which would fit the universe of Alien, establish and broaden the background of Earth, Weyland Yutani, the xenomorphs and the Space Jockey and the derelict, eventually leading into a place where it would only be a few steps to Sir Ridley’s original film.

What I got was a film with the stunning production design and visuals which we have come to expect from Sir Ridley, but with a script riddled with utter preposterous nonsense, most of which should have been picked up and scored out on the first cast read through and sent back with notes. The worst part of it was not only that the mistakes in the script were so obvious but that the fixes were also blindingly simple.

aliencovenantteaser3You want to separate a couple of the crew to have nasty things happen to them? Don’t have them as incapable stoners who get lost in a place they just mapped, have them as competent scientists who genuinely went to investigate something then got caught short when the storm front came in. Don’t have Vickers boasting that her quarters are a separate lifeboat so everyone will head there in utterly unlikely yet strangely inevitable event of an emergency, have Shaw and Holloway figure it out for themselves, demonstrating Shaw to be duplicitous rather than an idiot and showing Shaw and Holloway to be insightful. Don’t have an advanced medical facility which has never seen a woman before. Don’t have an android performing dangerous and unpredictable experiments with alien gloop when the man it’s supposed to be protecting is there on the planet. Don’t run in a straight line from a crashing spacecraft. Don’t, don’t, don’t.

aliencovenantteaser5It’s one thing to analyse a film after the fact and pick up the problems; to be sat there at the midnight IMAX preview and be glaring at the screen as it unfolds and thinking “I could have fixed this script in less time than it’s taken me to watch it” says “your film has major problems.”

So here we are, almost five years later, and we can only hope that someone had the gumption to address all the problems with Covenant before it started filming rather than trying to patch it together in the editing suite. Unfortunately, what I’m seeing here seems to have abandoned the epic scope and visuals which were the best thing about Prometheus and it just looks like, ye gawds, the next Alien vs Predator. It’s all about the gore and killing and I really don’t think I could care less.

aliencovenantteaser4Seriously, this is what we have come to? We have moved from, for all its flaws, the most ambitious film in the sequence and gone to the lowest common denominator of the ticket buying audience? The next trailer has a lot of work to do to convince me that this is going to be anything other than a big budget exercise in barrel-scraping.

I don’t have a problem with the hatchling having a new egress point; they adapt to whatever biology is on offer, so why not? I’m not thrilled by the design of what we can presume to be the Covenant; it’s too elegant, whereas the previous ships we’ve known, the Nostromo, the Sulaco, the Betty, the Prometheus, have always been chunky. Having said that, the shot of it gliding over the planet and the passage of the landing module over what looks like Scotland but is likely actually New Zealand are probably the two best moments of this trailer, the only two moments where it seems to emulate Prometheus.

aliencovenantteaser6The shot with the piano and the landscape I presume is a flashback or somesuch, presumably of David and Peter Weyland before the Prometheus expedition, because it’s certainly not them after. Michael Fassbender will be brilliant as both David and Walter, because he is always brilliant, and it will be interesting to see how they differ; I suspect the cloaked figure seen later in the trailer is David, reattached to a body – possibly Walter’s…

Apparently I have seen Katherine Waterston in a few things but the only thing I can call her to mind in is Fantastic Beasts, which I didn’t like, and looking at Danny McBride extensive resume I can honestly say I have actively avoided almost every film he has been featured in. I do like Billy Crudup and Amy Seimetz; I’m guessing from this Billy isn’t going to have a big part, and look, there in the background as the egg opens is either David or Walter, watching and waiting and doing nothing. Perhaps, despite David’s ostensible programming to protect Weyland the man, his higher purpose is answerable to Weyland Yutani the organisation, and this is the next step in the experiment.

aliencovenantteaser7I’m curious as to how long that derelict has been crashed there. Presumably this is the ship that Shaw commandeered at the end of Prometheus; those are hefty trees which it knocked down when it crashed, and there is no sign of the splintered trunks having been worn down by the elements, so we can deduce it was relatively recent, though how long after departure from LV-223 I cannot guess, and it must have been a relatively controlled landing as there’s no vast crater.

And of course, the protomolecule is back. I don’t think we have an official name for it, and since Purity is the black goo in The X-Files I need to call this something else, and in origin and its effect it is most similar to the protomolecule of The Expanse, so that’s what I’m calling it. Please let it have a purpose in the plot this time rather than just being a catalyst to get people to blow things up or use flamethrowers.

aliencovenantteaser10I really want to like this, much as I really wanted to like Prometheus, but I think I am going to have to prepare myself to be disappointed, though at this point the bar has been set fairly low for improvement. I want this to be bold, original and above all competent, but so far I’m nowhere near convinced.

Les Anderson – I very much like the look of this but then again Sir Ridley has always been a very visual director. I see homages to 2001 in there in the main ship design and in the “room” in which Fassbender sits. It seems very promising and I am hoping for something better than we had in Prometheus.

Matthew Rutland – Looks garbage.

aliencovenantteaser11Adam Dworak – So with maniacal persistence Ridley Scott continues his crusade to dismantle and destroy one of the biggest franchises he was fortunate enough to be a part of. This pathetic old man is ready to do anything to win back the love of Alien fans after the cold turkey he served us with Prometheus.

“You liked David so here you have two Davids! You loved the space trucker style of the Nostromo crew so here it is again! Do you love me now? You loved the xenomorph – here it is again and I’m even throwing a facehugger in, too! You loved Cameron’s Ripley so here’s my version, isn’t she magnificent. Love me …LOVE MY MOVIE… AAARGH!”

aliencovenantteaser9Scott is reusing all the good elements of the Alien series without any attempt to be original or surprise me. He’s so lazy he’s even using this same shots he did in Alien – the scene in the shower when the xenomorph’s tail slowly moves from beneath, isn’t that exactly how Lambert died on board the Nostromo? And haven’t we been told long before the release of Prometheus that the new movies he’s going to make won’t be about xenomorphs? Of course back then people still thought he was something other than a talentless zero.

Most terrifying is the fact that people are actually buying that crap with all those YouTube videos and Internet comments praising Scott – “OMG IT’S FANTASTIC. HORROR IS BACK…” But should any of us be surprised by that in a world which voted for Brexit and president elect Donald Trump? At least he has nothing to do with Blade Runner 2049 – they’ve got someone else in to spoil that…

Alien: Covenant is scheduled for release on 19th May 2017