The View from the Trailer Park: ‘Alien: Covenant’ – Keep Repeating it’s “Only” a Movie
Written by: Daniel McDonald
Well folks, it’s finally happened. The Cinema, the Movies, hey, let’s call it what it is – my House of Worship seems as if it’s begun to outgrow me. As I often times reference, I come to the TRAILER PARK from an actual trailer park, where 52-ish years ago I became obsessed by all things horror, especially movies (they didn’t become “cinemas” showing “films” until my first film class in college in 1976).
I loved and researched every aspect of filmmaking since that time. Reading every piece of cinematic processes, and oddly, finding myself drawn to entire books of collections of critical assessments from every type and style of film critic. Some, I felt had nothing new to offer me (Rex Reed, whose reviews seemed much more like Gossip Columns) and others whose technical expertise as well as style, wit and always well-written observations (the fearless, highly unpopular Pauline Kael) always offered me a fresh, incredibly opinionated, superiority-ridden commentary.
I paid strict attention to everything, agreeing with it or not was irrelevant, it was more about learning the appropriate film vocabulary, observational skills that I would use to back up opinions if I cared to mention them (ohhh if I’d have only known, right?). The reason for these admissions of limited actual filmMAKING is when I share my (hopefully) entertaining and (perhaps) enlightening comments, the readers will realize – as I do, how subjective these columns have, are and will be.
The editor of this site is not only cool enough to let my reviews of films currently running in theatres fly under the banner THE VIEW FROM THE TRAILER PARK. Selections from recent “millennial films” will be covered in T.V.F.T. T. 20/20 and beginning soon, my new coverage of titles from the 60s, 70s 80s and 90s, T. V. F. T. T. P. – VINTAGE. That’s all, I promise… I’d like to thank management for this terrific opportunity.
Now onto Mr. Scott’s latest foray into the world of kick-ass final girls and Xenomorphs. His last foray PROMETHEUS, while ambitiously expositional and visually stunning (at times the 3D was breathtaking) suffered from audiences expectations regarding Scott’s return to the franchise (as unfortunately did this latest installment).
COVENANT has all the bench marks of Ridley Scott’s brand, stunning in production design and every other aspect of the entire crew on either side of the camera. This time however the screenwriters (with, I’m sure, pressure from the vast line- up of producers and Mr. Scott himself) seemed to rush the exposition. Using all the scientific jargon to necessarily fill in the gaps/connections in the (in my humble opinion far too stylistically diverse) ALIEN saga.
In addition to very strong acting from Micheal Fassbender in two difficult roles created through seamless special effects. Kathryn Waterston, Billy Crudup and an against type Danny McBride lead a very capable cast of appetizers… uh… company members. Which brings me to yet another Anti-COVENANT caveat. While the franchise has had its creative and financial ups and downs (I personally think 3 and 4 took it way too hard on the chin, you try topping James Cameron in high gear) PROMETHEUS seemed to disappoint as much from “RIDLEY SCOTT FAILURE” as anything else.
So, the hyper-info expositional “let’s get to it” feel of the current production isn’t a mistake, well…. it’s not an error.
I remember opening day of the original, picking up a copy of NEWSDAY at 7/11 to read a quick synopsis of the review for it. The headline was JAWS IN SPACE, and I feel that would be just as appropriate for COVENANT. While it did give us some more pieces of the storyline puzzle, it also feels (after a while) like a huge budget stalker film, and believe me I love some well-done practical and in this film’s case marvelous CGI FX. It just seemed a bit “just in case-ish.”
I won’t give anything more away as not to spoil your viewing pleasure…just keep those expectations a bit lower than you’d hope to…I. J. S.
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