Alien is Dead, Long Live Alien
So, unlike Prometheus where I walked out thinking I had seen a good movie with some problems, coming away from Covenant it was my Dad who was convinced he'd seen an interesting movie, until I pointed out the glaring, fly in your face with all the malice of a facehugger problem that undermines what makes at least the first two Alien movies good. I'm not going to break this one down like I did Prometheus, there's not a growing, seething despisal here. Rather, a profound disappointment.
Again I was tricked by advertisements that were better than the movie itself. Again the viral marketing was more engaging than the film. Seeing Shaw and David working together to find the Engineer homeworld and seeing the inferred threat of David unleashing their plague right back onto them...it was enticing. Could they actually capitalize on the few goods bits of Prometheus and right this floundering franchise?
The answer, of course, is no. It's hell nah! It's fuck no with a side of shee-it! You see, Covenant starts off okay, here's a crew of colonists who get sidetracked from their destination by a solar event, because reasons, and proceed to investigate a perfect planet, as if it was designed for them. All the red flags should be flying, and to their credit, some of the crew is completely reasonable and wants nothing to do with it, but because we need a movie to happen, ignorance wins the day. Then somehow a couple of people get sick on some black spores and then their bodies are torn apart from the inside by something that's not quite a xenomorph and then they're all saved by a mysterious figure on a planet that shouldn't be there and he speaks English and oh, he's part of the Prometheus crew; that's cool, we accept you. God.fucking.dammit.
Blah blah blah, things happen, I don't even remember what. That's really the most damning thing about this film, for all its gore and attempted narrative beats, it's ultimately boring. But let's get to the thing that makes me send up the call that the franchise is dead: who created the xenomorph?
You see, in Alien, the derelict ship with the dead Engineer, then known only as the Space Jockey, is thought to have crashed millennia ago. The Space Jockey's ribs are exploded from the inside, so as we later learn, he was impregnated by a facehugger, of which his ship had a full compliment in the cargo. So, that stands to reason that at least a thousand years ago, a facehugger attacked an Engineer and the resulting xenomorph, whatever it looked like, crashed the ship. Later still, in Aliens, there are way too many xenomorphs to account for the ratio of mining colony residents as potential hosts. So, a thousand years ago, in the caverns of LV-426, the xenomorphs proliferated like a hive of ants. That has always been my understanding of the events of Alien and Aliens: that these perfect parasitic monsters could not be contained and only nuking them from orbit was an option. Even in Prometheus, we're lead to believe that the temple they come across is some two thousand years old and there is a statue of a xenomorph queen in the "tomb." This would make one think, up to this point, the Engineers revered these predators and maybe even weaponized them, but o contrare mon fraire! No, we are treated to a lesson in selective breeding and genetic manipulation in Covenant, all at the hands of David, in his quest for revenge for being created...I guess. David is given the honor of creating the facehugger and ultimately the xenomorph, this despite all previous evidence posited by two superior movies and one abysmal excuse of a film.
Covenant is more scientists behaving badly and writers completely ignoring their own history and broad strokes. David killing Shaw, off screen, despite her helping him despite his fucking her over, in an attempt to create the perfect killing machine (because of course the alien threat is somehow cyclically due to man's hubris), fucks everyone. From the Engineers in their own front yard, to unwitting guests he could in no way account for or predict, to us, the audience. The xenomorph didn't need an origin. Maybe how the Engineers weaponized them, lost control, and these giant murder-ants grew into their own would be a tale worth exploring. But making David the creator, because he's mad at his creator, who wanted a favor from his creator, who wanted to kill us all because we went and created, just makes this a circle jerk of humans are responsible for everything.
So, I'll stick to the two good movies, the one good standalone movie (3 is good, not great and a waste of time, but good), the couple of cool scenes in Resurrection, and yes, even the first Alien vs Predator because it's just dumb fun. Ridley Scott's return to the franchise has been as a harbinger of death, a herald of the bad news we all suspected anyway, Alien is dead.