This article contains SPOILERS, so if you have yet to see Alien:Covenant and intend to see it, then stop reading now.
In space, no one can hear you scream, but they sure can in the cinema.
And screaming is exactly what I felt like doing after sitting through Alien: Covenant, Ridley Scott’s worst movie yet.
Ridley, how did it come to this? How did you direct two of the best sci-fi movies ever made — Alien (1979) and Bladerunner (1982) — and then give us this drivel?
What’s more, Ridley, Bladerunner and Alien are not just good movies; they are masterpieces: original, atmospheric and beautifully filmed, with a bunch of well-developed characters acting their pants off.
Sure, Bladerunner is based on a Philip K Dick story, but you shaped it into a cinematic legend.
Not a wasted line or limp scene in that movie.
And before that, you took Dan O’Bannon’s screenplay and made Alien into something sublimely creepy and unforgettable.
So what happened with Covenant?
What happened when everything good you can say about Bladerunner and Alien, you can say the exact opposite about Covenant? Where those two movies are atmospheric and disciplined, Covenant is heavy and scattered. Where Bladerunner and Alien are original and exciting, Covenant is predictable and boring.
And the characters, Ridley, the characters — if we can call them that — because not a single one of them has any character. Heck, do any of them even have names because I sure as hell can’t remember.
And why should we care about a mob of mostly dull, stupid people who do dumb things like explore alien planets without spacesuits and who do even dumber things like leave the group to take a leak and and have a smoke During which aforementioned leak-taker becomes infected with, yep, you guessed it, an alien virus.
Which, by the way, is why you wear a space suit when you explore an unexplored…oh, forget about it. The truth is, I wanted you all to die the moment you got off that ship without your helmets. Were you really astronauts or just pretending to be?
And the sad thing is, we know you can make us care about the characters in your movies, Ridley. We know this because you take the time to set up their personalities and relationships in Alien before they all start keeling over. And you spend quite a bit of Bladerunner showing us the more sensitive, vulnerable sides of Deckard and Rachel and the rest of the replicants before any of them keel over too.
I have to say, after Prometheus some of us began to wonder if you’d already lost the plot because the crew also do the “let’s-take-our-helmets-off-in-this-spooky-cave-on-an-unexplored-planet” routine.
And the characters are also devoid of character and the dialogue is mostly awful.
But because we all love the original Alien we were willing to forgive Prometheus. We were willing to forgive its lack of atmosphere (and how you can create atmosphere when you try, Ridley) and the unconvincing make-up Guy Pearce wears to make him look old.
We were even willing to forgive the captain who tells his terrified crew to go to sleep in a spooky cave and he’ll rescue them in the morning while he goes off and gets it on with another crew member.
But I for one will never forgive you for Covenant.
Unless maybe, just maybe, it was the six screenwriters’ fault. In which case, you aren’t fully to blame. But surely a director of your fame and talent would have had control over the final draft? And if not, why not?
Sorry, Ridley, I no longer trust your direction. I will only see your Bladerunner sequel if the critics give it a good rap. Every single one of them.