Alien: Covenant: A sad lesson for storytellers
I love the original Alien, it’s one of my favourite films ever, in my top three. It’s a great movie on so many levels, from the practical effects, to the sound design, to the acting, but most of all, the story. It’s such a simple idea, and one thing I’ve noticed with every great film is that they all have nice, clean, simple ideas. Alien can be described with so few words: An alien gets onto a spaceship. Alien: Covenant on the other hand…
Predator, maybe my favourite film ever, is a great film for lots of reasons, but again, I believe it’s great because it’s a nice, simple concept: a crew of the deadliest mercenaries are hunted by an alien hunter.
When these movies came out, the ideas were fresh. Now, there have been a thousand alien slips onto spaceship movies. Just a few weeks before Alien: Covenant came out, a film with the same exact plot as the original Alien was released.
Aliens did something different with the idea. I’m not the biggest Aliens fanboy, but I have a lot of respect for the film. Again, it was different and the idea was fresh. It was what a sequel should be. Likewise with Terminator 2, the film was taken in a different direction and it felt like its own movie, not stuck in the shadow of its predecessor.
Alien: Covenant is a film that is stuck in the shadow of the shadow of the shadow of Alien. There’s nothing fresh in the film. The same old plot lines were revisited, with nothing new added to the mix — plot lines from Alien, from Aliens, and from Prometheus. Even the main character was really just a re-hash of the lead girl in Prometheus, who was a re-hash of Ripley from Alien.
The big problem with the film, and I’m starting to think that it’s the problem with modern-day Ridley Scott, is that the film is reaching too far. There seems to be this idea that bigger is better, that the film will be better if the world is bigger, the themes are bigger, the effects are bigger, the everything is bigger. I’m trying to think of how to describe the film’s plot in a single sentence, but I can’t even think of how to describe the film in a single paragraph. There’s so much happening in the worst way possible.
I love aliens, I love spaceships, and I love horror, so this film really didn’t have to do a lot to impress me. I just wanted a good story, but it wasn’t there. The plot was terribly convoluted and it got more and more unbelievable as the film dragged on. But this post isn’t supposed to be a review, so I’ll leave it at that.
Originality and simplicity
There’s a lesson to learn from the Alien franchise, which has been crashing harder and harder since 1992. As the plots get more outlandish, the films get worse. The same lesson can be learned from other franchises, like Predator or Jaws. As the plots take longer to describe, the movies get shittier. There are six Alien films, and each one is worse than the last. If you’re setting out to make a film, make sure your idea is nice and simple. A single sentence should be more than enough. And in my opinion, the film should be just as interesting on a $50,000 budget as a $5 million budget.
Originality and simplicity: the best part about them is that they’re free.