The Alien Prequels

So Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. Both of them are part of the same prequel story for the older Alien films. Prometheus came out five years ago and is the butt of many jokes about bad films these days. It deserves every bit of bile directed at it. It is that bad. Everybody thought that that branch of the Alien universe was dead, but then came out Alien: Covenant.

The main events of Alien: Covenant happen after the events of Prometheus, but there’s a short opening sequence that happens before the events of Prometheus. That is, you need to see Prometheus in order to understand the events of Alien: Covenant, but then again, the opening sequence of Alien: Covenant makes Prometheus more understandable. The exchange is not equal though. Alien: Covenant is a film set in a universe and you have to be aware of other works in the same universe to understand it fully. Once you do, Alien: Covenant is a decent film. Prometheus is kind of the same, except for two things – a film that came out 5 years after Prometheus, is necessary watching to understand even a bit of Prometheus; and even if you watch every other film in the Alien franchise, Prometheus is still an utterly crappy film.

I went to see Alien: Covenant, because it was the only film I had not seen that was still playing in Kino Sheryl, when I heard Kino Sheryl was closing down. At that point my memory of Prometheus was fragmentary at best, but sufficient to place Alien: Covenant in its correct place. Nevertheless, I had to re-watch Prometheus in order to figure out the whole plot so far.

Anyway, now for the reviews…

Alien: Covenant [2017]

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This is traditional Alien film in that there’s a space ship flying through space, when it suddenly encounters an extraordinary situation and then the actual film is about resolving said situation. It is not traditional in that it doesn’t hold much suspense, and the iconic monster doesn’t really make an appearance – well, some proto-version does, so I guess it counts.

Here, the space ship is a colony ship built by a religious order to (I presume) escape persecution and find more peaceful life somewhere else. The extraordinary situation is a storm in space that damages their ship, and a distress signal from a nearby planet that doesn’t appear on any star maps, but seems to be perfectly habitable. The plot is simple, let’s investigate and then try to survive whatever alienesque horror is unleashed.

That’s the plot of the individual film. As a part of the Alien franchise, this tells of David, the first android, and of birth of the alien menace. I assume there’ll still be more films in this vein, since although this answers more questions than it asks (it covers a bit for Prometheus), it still leaves a bunch things open. But we finally get answers about David. He was the first android and he revealed flaws that caused design changes to later androids. He has more freedom of thought, although creation is still denied to him. His freedom of thought brings him to despise humanity, and the denial of creation brings him to hate humanity. David spends his time trying to circumvent the prohibition to create, and attempts to create the perfect predator to kill all of humanity – that is, it seems he created the eponymous aliens of the film franchise.

In Prometheus we had a David that was seemingly played like a traditional badly design bad guy – he does evil things, because he is inherently evil. Now we finally have background for David – why is he like he is. Too bad the reason came 5 years after Prometheus, as David in Prometheus is an entirely different beast as in Alien: Covenant. I bet Fassbender needed to know the origins of his character to play it believably. In Alien: Covenant Fassbender is chillingly excellent. Besides David, he plays Walter, that is a later model that has more restrictions. Usually CGI trickery to get two character played by one actor on screen at one time is an excellent way to ruin scenes and even whole films, but here the opposite is achieved – Fassbender is absolutely on fire playing against himself.

Anyways, after 5 years of waiting, we get a few answers to the questions posed by Prometheus, and we get an altogether decent film with a major performance by Michael Fassbender. More than enough reasons right there to go see this.

  • Director: Ridley Scott
  • Watched on: 9th Jun 2017
  • Watched at: Kino Sheryl
  • 3/5

Prometheus [2012]

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One of the more inscrutable bits of Prometheus for me originally was David – why was he played like that, why did he act like that, did someone actually program malice into him, or what’s going on? The problem with that version of David was that Fassbender clearly had no idea about any of the reasons either. The malice of David in Prometheus is flat and boring. It still is, although we finally have an explanation to where it comes from.

Unfortunately, that does little to save the rest of the film. This is still 2 hours of compressed stupidity. I usually try to avoid taking note of consistency errors in films, as that’s boring – it usually does not make or break a film, but here there’s errors that are so blatantly stupid, that they alone would be enough to break the film. Luckily, they are buried under a bunch of other impeccably awful stuff. Performances, the precursor aliens, dialogue, plot… It was difficult to even pick a screenshot from the film, as it does not contain a single memorable sequence.

Before Alien: Covenant, there was no reason whatsoever for anyone to see this film. Now, almost unfortunately, we have a decent film in the Alien prequel film sequence. This is necessary viewing, in order to get everything out of Alien: Covenant, and that’s the only reason for anyone to watch this ever. If you are not a fan of the franchise, avoid this at all cost.

  • Director: Ridley Scott
  • Watched on: 28th Jun 2017
  • Watched at: Riviera Kallio
  • 1/5