JCB machines co-star in latest "Alien: Covenant" movie

Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott

Named for the colony ship that stumbles onto yet another deep-space distress signal, Alien: Covenant is too handsome to dismiss entirely, but too stupid to be any good.

Scott seemed determined to get back to the heart of what had made Alien a success more than 30 years earlier, but in the process seemed so determined to create a mythology, previously only hinted at, that numerous elements that had made the first two films so enjoyable were lost.

But director Ridley Scott is up to more than retrofitting the origin of the aliens. But since that essentially means detailing the history of the alien species, not the people who must combat them, the films need to deliver on the personal front in order to ensure that the horrors that inevitably await the humans have the desired impact. As intense as numerous violent confrontations are, there's nothing as viscerally unsettling as the self-administered alien abortion in Prometheus.

OK, then what happened in Prometheus? . The scenario of a Weyland industries ship landing on an unknown planet has truly ran its course, and the final battle between Daniels and the "Xenomorph" feels like a odd mash-up of the finales from both Alien and Aliens (1986). Its crew picks up a human-like signal (a faint, singing John Denver) and investigates, finding a lush, Earth-like planet with a rainforest landscape and no signs of life whatsoever. Music also builds suspense - including an unlikely instrument: the recorder, played by Michael Fassbender's character.

"If somebody said, "Do you want to go to space?' and the opportunity arose, I would take it", said Michael Fassbender, who reprised his role as the android David from 2012's "Alien" film "Prometheus" and added a second one as an upgraded version of the robot called Walter".

Even with aliens running around, the Weyland Corporation, and the Alien name attached, Covenant doesn't feel like much of an "Alien" movie - it feels like a space thriller with some Alien elements in it. Fassbender is excellent as David and Walter, but the whole cyborgs dealing with god like feelings and their nature with humans simply isn't very compelling. I remember standing outside and staring at the footprints.

"I'm hoping to scare the s**t out of you (with Covenant), if I don't, I'm in trouble", he quips. After discovering that mysterious microbe in an Engineer facility, the crew of the Prometheus was eventually killed off by the infection, leaving only David and Dr. Elizabeth Shaw alive. Anything? Nope. This is a prequel, so all of those movies follow Covenant, chronologically. They plan for the block to feature hour-long series, short-form programs, and other formats. Take me home? You betcha.

This just so happens to be the same planet on which chaos reigned in Prometheus, so we know horrors await the unsuspecting crew. Sigourney Weaver does not make a cameo.

It's a limitation but Scott, as the original Alien and his recent The Martian show, is a great storyteller.

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