Sunday Sesh: I Hope You Didn’t get Bursted this Weekend

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In space, no one can hear you sequel your prequel.

This past weekend saw the release of Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated Prometheus sequel Alien: Covenant, and in many ways it feels like a course correct for the franchise. The aforementioned Prometheus, while stunningly gorgeous and containing a few scenes of white knuckle terror, felt incredibly shallow for a movie that’s foundation was creation and the reason for being. Then, of course, were the (silly) complaints that it didn’t feature any xenomorphs.

As you’ve probably guessed by the title, ads, posters, interviews and every other bit of marketing, Covenant goes above and beyond to assure you that it has fixed the latter complaint: This isn’t an Alien-adjacent film, this is an ALIEN film. Delivering on the promise of Hollywood’s most famous space creature slaying hapless crew members is the easiest fix though. The harder part is adding depth to the shallows of Prometheus, an area where Covenant mostly succeeds.

The story is one as old as time, one that sees a spaceship crew composed of eight couples trying to reach a habitable planet to start a new colony with some 2,000 odd other humans they have in their cargo bay. After a solar storm wreaks havoc on their ship and causes the death of their captain (a short lived cameo by James Franco that merely sees him burned alive) the crew intercepts a strange signal from a nearby planet. According to their systems the planet sits square in the Goldilocks zone and may be better suited to colonization than the planet they were headed to. The setup is the strongest stretch of Covenant, immediately grabbing your attention with chaos aboard the ship and dropping you into a world that feels at once familiar and foreign. The same can be said for the alien (not Alien) world that the crew lands on. It reminds you enough of Earth that you feel relatively comfortable, but it looks so grey, weary and empty that you can’t help but allow a sense of dread to creep in.

Not long after landing, things start to go seriously wrong for our crew, and unfortunately for the movie too. Unlike the original, this Alien movie seemingly can’t wait to get to the titular beast and practically sprints to the brand new neomorph’s appearance. The scene itself is a masterclass in escalating tension and gag-worthy brutality; it’s just a shame that the film feels so eager to get to it instead of wrenching every last drop of terror it could out of the setup.

This is a problem that shows up all too frequently in Covenant. The film is so enamored with its own musings on creation that once it comes time for action or plot advancement it requires idiotic action from a character or the extremely sudden appearance of a xenomorph. That’s not to say the questions raised by the film aren’t worthwhile or interesting. They most assuredly are and lead to some truly great scenes, almost all of which star Michael Fassbender talking to himself, but they come at the expense of the rest of the film, causing some scenes to feel hurried and the movie as a whole uneven. In fairness to the film’s more philosophical leanings, some of the less ponderous and more horror-oriented scenes feel laughably out of place (the debut of the classic xeno in this movie brought to mind Spaceballs).

It isn’t all the lamentations of the creation at his creator’s inadequacy, though. Covenant also features some truly stellar action set pieces that left me in awe, among them a brutal display of the murderous efficiency of the neomorph set in a wheat field and a nutso ship sequence. The grand finale doesn’t quite carry the same raw energy as those scenes and instead feels more like CGI masturbation than a fulfilling resolution. Add in a rather predictable ending, and Covenant winds up limping out of the theater instead of sprinting like it hinted it would a bit earlier.

Alien: Covenant is a film that wants to be a mixture of Alien and Aliens filtered through the lens of Prometheus and in doing so vaults over the latter while falling well short of the former two. It delivers a weird, uneven, sometimes rushed experience that, while flawed, is still an enjoyable watch thanks to its interesting world, tense moments, spectacular action and fun characters (again, Fassbender to Fassbender is cinematic gold every time it happens). If you go in with tempered expectations and a lust of burstin’, then you will surely leave satisfied.

If you saw Alien: Covenant this weekend, hop into the comments and let’s be sad that Fassbender didn’t get naked with himself.

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  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    DEER HOLLYWOODS: PLEEZ WRITE SOME NEW MATERIULS.

    • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

      NO!

      -HOLLYWOOD

    • But if they don’t do that, we’ll never get to see Fast &The Furious 20.

    • BobLoblaw

      At this rate in five years the remake will be made before the original.

    • JWG

      They will remake the remake of the remake of The Mummy in 10 years, more or less. I’d put money on it.

  • tigeraid

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if you hated Prometheus with a fury of a thousand suns as I did, you probably won’t like this.

    Neil Blompkamp’s movie sounded so much cooler.

    • imo they should have just titled it “PROMETHEUS 2”. I enjoyed it but I also liked Prometheus so ymmv.

      • Edward

        I never got all of the Prometheus hate. It wasn’t the best movie I’ve seen but it was certainly an okay thing to see in the theaters!

        • Óðinn

          Yeah, it had problems, but wasn’t quite as bad as some people say. Alien 3 is the the true turd of this series.

          • Axxon N.

            No, that would be Alien: Resurrection.

          • Óðinn

            Forgot that film even existed. But you’re right, that was truly terrible.

          • BobLoblaw

            Never saw Resurrection?

          • Leif Bearikson

            I actually really like the director’s cut of Alien 3. It’s too slow and too long, but I found the setting, characters, and religious themes fascinating. It probably also helps that I didn’t mind Newt and Hicks dying off screen at the start

          • Lord of Bork

            Have you read William Gibson’s screenplay? It’s entirely on Newt and Hicks and takes things off in a totally different and weird direction.

          • Leif Bearikson

            I’ve actually had the tab for it pinned on Chrome page for a few days and haven’t gotten around to it just yet. There was a version discussed in the Alien 3 making of that I don’t remember the details of (was watched many moons ago) but I remember thinking it sounded incredibly strange and cool.

          • Lord of Bork

            It’s been a while since I looked at it, but basically it would’ve been another military sci-fi romp like Aliens. Can’t say it would be a great movie, but it’s definitely an interesting and entertaining read.

          • sweetooth0

            The wooden planet thing with the monks maybe? I think the religious aspect of the prisoners is really all that carried over from that draft. Perhaps them all being bald too maybe (giving them a “monk like” appearance perhaps?). Personally, the assembly cut on the current blu-ray set is THE way to see Alien 3. I personally love it. The theatrical cut is butchered.

          • Lord of Bork

            Considering how much studio dickery went on during production (3 directors and countless rewrites), Alien 3 is remarkably good. Killing off Newt and Hicks was still fucking stupid, though.

          • Axxon N.

            The only 2 things that really bother me about 3 were the off-screen deaths and Ripley’s “death”. Can you say “Terminator II”?

        • I saw it in Imax and that certainly made it enjoyable.

          • Edward

            I think it was a rare movie that wasn’t awful in 3D. That’s a trend I hate.

          • Edward

            See also: theaters adding Dolby sound and charging upwards of $15 for a movie ticket. Wtf.

          • Axxon N.

            I saw the original at Sack Charles. It had a 60′ screen and 70 mm 6-track Dolby sound, beautiful theater. It cost $2 for kids, $4 for adults.

          • Yup, it’s costing $30+ for 2 people to see a movie now.

    • Shakes 999

      Neil Blompkamp has done nothing but shit the bed since District 9 which pains me because I loved that movie. I’m starting to think he just got lucky with it. While I don’t think he could have screwed up things as bad as Scott, I doubt he could do them without shoving some hamfisted political allegory in there.

  • This was James Franco’s finest role.

  • Señor Jefe El Rossover

    I was actually prepared to ask Leif his thoughts before going to see it because while he is a fan boy, I find him to be equally and fairly critical tothe things he enjoys. Lo and behold, an article appeared to answer all of my questions. Thanks man!

    • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

      Hey Boss I have something shocking to confess.

      • Sir Ukkometso The Based

        I’VE GOT ANOTHER CONFESSION TO MAKE

        • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

          I’M YOUR FOOOOOLLLL

          • Riboflavin dreams

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          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY
      • Señor Jefe El Rossover

        I’m here for you, my son.

        • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

          I’ve heard a Manowar album I found to be “100% genuinely good”.

          • Señor Jefe El Rossover

            Hail To England?

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Nope, this will be a reasonably surprising pick.

          • Señor Jefe El Rossover

            WHAAAAT?!

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Yep, definitely a reasonable surprise. Care for another guess?

          • Señor Jefe El Rossover

            If you say anything Post-Ross the Boss I will be very upset.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            No, it’s very much firmly rooted in the Ross the Boss era.

          • Señor Jefe El Rossover

            Sign of the Hammer?

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Nope.

          • Señor Jefe El Rossover

            What is it then?!?!?

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY
          • Señor Jefe El Rossover

            YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            VALHAAAALLAAAA THE GODS AAAWAAAIT MEEEE!!!!

          • Sir Ukkometso The Based

            Liking Manowar is a serious topic and it should not be joked about. There are many people who live with the terrible disease of thinking Manowar is good.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Most diseases have an antidote; even the “Thinkingmanowarisgoodarcinoma”.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xILLKS7XbeU

          • Sir Ukkometso The Based

            Classic Blunt Ass Nerd

  • Riboflavin dreams
    • Leif Bearikson

      This is good content

  • Scrimm

    No

    • Edward

      Nope!

      • Señor Jefe El Rossover

        So mad he couldn’t even finish it!

        • Scrimm

          All I could be arsed with. Twas weak

  • anesthesiac

    Literally the best part of this movie was in the beginning where we get to watch Franco’s burnt corpse get torpedoed into the void of space… This movie was a fucking turd. Plz flush.

  • Axxon N.

    The original Alien means far too much to me. I was offended by how bad Prometheus was. This is torrent material at best.

  • Howard Dean
    • Max

      I wish there were some out-takes from this album. I bet they’d be just as good as what made the final cut.

  • I don’t get the hate for Prometheus. Watched it again last night and it’s an enjoyable flick if you don’t tether it to the Aleins movies.

  • Axxon N.

    Prometheus = stupid people doing stupid things, and Covenant looks like more of the same.

    • Leif Bearikson

      It definitely retains some of the “We’re scientists! but also really dumb” stuff that plagued Prometheus, but most of the stupidity isn’t as outright as it was there.

      • Dark Spirit of Cold Ural Mount

        I don’t know, certain scenes, like the one involving captain and David, are even more offensively retarded than those of Prometheus.
        However, the Medbay scene is the funniest thing I saw in years.

        • Leif Bearikson

          Yes the *SPOILERY* scene where David tells the captain to look at the eggs and he does it sticks out as incredibly groan worthy, but I’d say it’s about on par with the mohawked scientist deciding that petting the weird horse penis alien is a good idea

          • Bert Banana

            That exchange didn’t really bother me as much as them landing on the planet without any protection. Or that pilot quarantining that doctor with the guy who’s back is exploding…only to go back to fail at doing anything useful. Or even the entire fucking setup of why they even decided to go there in the first place because that was the most convenient turn of events I’ve seen in a long time.

  • Axxon N.

    This should have been expanded to a whole film.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeMVrnYNwus

  • it stunk. i wouldn’t even call it a “mediocre” movie, because there were so many dumb parts (granted there were a few really good parts too).
    to the screenwriters: the “bad guy” was too villainous/cartoony. twists and double-crosses aren’t necessary (Predators has a similar problem too). there wasn’t a soul in the audience who exclaimed “whoa!” or gave any sort of reaction to the “surprises” this movie had in store. we just want to be entertained, we don’t need a film to try and be super clever.

  • xengineofdeathx

    I also thought this was a flawed movie, but it was still a lot of fun and a huge step up from Prometheus. I loved the darker tone, but for sure there could have been some fat trimmed. Looking forward to the sequel.

    • Dark Spirit of Cold Ural Mount

      I’ve heard that the sequel will actually be a prequel to this sequel of a prequel.

  • Axxon N.

    I was lucky enough to see Alien in limited release(Sack Charles in Boston) before it went worldwide a month later. The audience was freaking out bigtime, especially during the chestburster scene.
    Poor Mom. She took me to see it for my 12th birthday. ^_^

    • i can’t imagine how cool the chestburster scene was, at a time when not everybody knew it was coming. at some point it’s been in enough of pop culture, even a person new to the original Alien film has an idea of what happens.

  • Mike M.

    Pretty much spot on review. (I kinda wished they explored the “Dr. Shaw going to the engineer planet to see why they sent the bio-weapon”. Ridley Scott did the “Russian in the woods” scenario from Sopranos.)

  • ChuggaChuggaDeedleyDoo

    I liked it until the last 45 minutes. Terribly predictable twist.

  • Bert Banana

    This is probably the worst Alien movie since 3. As bad as Resurrection was, at least it didn’t take itself serious. This is the worst case of being overly pretentious while being incredibly shallow. I loved how in some interviews I’ve seen Ridley Scott do, he’s criticized George Lucas on the prequels and yet, Ridley Scott is doing exactly that with these prequels.

    The worst thing about this whole debacle is that I’m going to end up watching the new Alien whenever it comes out.

  • Max

    Never really got into the Alien films to begin with, to be honest. I’ve only watched the first one all the way through – it was okay; didn’t really leave an impression on me. It’s a horror movie in space.

    No personal investment in the continuing franchise.

  • Axxon N.

    Forget this pale shadow imitation of a classic film. Twin Peaks is BACK, baybay!!!

  • Xinen

    I was going to go see this with my girl, but we backed out after I just felt it wouldn’t satisfy my urge for something along the lines of the originals. Now Alien: Isolation, that game kept the gritty old-school design I love, with great sound design. I miss the weird and cool styles of older sci-fi and fantasy.