“Alien: Covenant” bogs down in sloppy storytelling


I often wonder about the “critics” opinions versus my opinion. I am after all a professional film critic myself, but when I look at critic ratings of films and I find that often I sit on the polar opposite side of popular opinion. I can’t help but think... “whaaaaaaaaaaat?”

“Alien: Covenant,” a film that screened at SXSW 2017, bored me to death. I found the story idiotic and the telling of it listless and lazy.

Unlike innovative director Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking film “Alien,” Covenant’s tale takes place, for the most part on a single planet, where freakish creatures attack and kill humans — beings, by the way, that are not one tenth as frightening or cool as the original, horrifying alien.

A god-like manbot resides on the planet and his plan is sinister — to destroy mankind. While this may seem like a spoiler — given that the film’s plot is as transparent a pane of newly cleaned glass — it is NOT. 

“Covenant” harbors few surprises and in truth few shocks either. Gore does not foster fright anywhere in the universe.

Michael Fassbender takes on two roles and neither is memorable. It is not his fault. Granted, he is meant to be a machine (two actually) but the characters are so poorly fleshed out — all the film’s characters are if the truth be known.

We are expected to care for these people, when we never really get to know them, and even though the cast is strong, the dialogue and character development is not. Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride and Billy Crudup join Fassbender, but Scott makes little use of their talents.

As is anticipated, the bodies pile up quickly, tension builds — but only a little — and the expected happens. There, it’s done. Two hours of spectacular sci-fi imagery wasted on a lackluster storyline.

The creature, the special effects and the suspense and thrill are all monumentally better in the original 1979 film that they are in “Alien: Covenant,” even after nearly four decades of movie technology advancement.

I expected more. Oddly two hours seems far too long and yet, somehow far too brief to warrant attention. It is slow, sloppy, soulless and even with two bookend Fassbenders, it’s barely tolerable.

I missed “Alien: Covenant” at SXSW and am glad I did. The R-rating is deserved, I suppose for the bloodletting in nothing else, but I would have rather seen a lesser rated film, done better. Sloppy storytelling, steeped in some inane thematic nonsense does not make for an entertaining time.

“Alien: Covenant” deserves no more than a D in my grade book and I don’t care what other (obviously unseasoned) film critics say. We are all entitled to an opinion.