ALIEN: COVENANT (2017) – Balladeer’s Blog’s sources in the industry – and by the industry I mean the business – have assured me that when the very first public showing of Alien: Covenant was over Ridley Scott stood up, faced the preview audience and defiantly said “Now you tell me that’s not funny!”
Turns out there’s a little Mel Brooks lurking inside Ridley Scott, who decided to do to his own Alien and Prometheus films what Brooks did to Star Wars with his Space Balls movie. Looked at in that light Alien: Covenant is pure comedy gold!
Remember how in Alien an interstellar crew gets detoured to a deadly site by a coded distress signal that’s really a warning? Well, in Alien: Covenant an interstellar crew gets detoured to a deadly site by a broadcast of THE JOHN DENVER SONG COUNTRY ROADS, TAKE ME HOME! Hilarious, right? Sure, it’s a little derivative of the aliens in Mars Attacks getting killed by Slim Whitman songs but c’mon, cut Ridley some slack!
Director Scott even takes a not-so-subtle poke at the whole “Newt and Hicks die right off the bat in Alien 3″ debacle. He has reasonably famous actor James Franco play the ship’s captain and – get this – Franco’s character dies after about a minute and a half when his cryo-sleep coffin catches fire! Too funny! (But I feel the merchandising tie-in with James Franco Briquettes is a little tasteless!)
And remember how we all laughed during Prometheus when the crew all took their helmets off on an alien body as if it was perfectly okay? Well this time around Ridley Scott has the crew NOT EVEN BOTHER TO WEAR HELMETS IN THE FIRST PLACE! They just traipse blithely about as if they’d never even HEARD of Security Protocols.
(We know that they have heard of them because sly ol’ funny man Ridley has these dweebs refer to them at one point in the ultimate example of irony. I mean it, dude, not even Leslie Nielsen could have delivered the reference to Security Protocols any more straight-faced than these folks! )
Next, our comic genius hilariously parodies the Alien franchise’s infamous “throat rape” and chest-bursting scenes by having this planet’s creatures penetrate every orifice except the anus. Oh, wait, they penetrate that, too, in the shower scene. And look for even more chuckles when Scott turns audience expectations on their ear by having the xenomorphs burst out of people’s backs, throats, you name it!
It’s not all dark parodies, though. Alien: Covenant serves up some old-fashioned slapstick belly-laughs when not one but TWO characters slip around and fall on a blood-soaked floor like latter-day Buster Keatons or something! This movie’s got everything but a pie fight!
Oh, and Scott slips in another poke in the ribs about his original Alien movie by having James “Flammable” Franco’s successor as captain or pilot or whatever bear the name Tennessee. Get it? Alien had Dallas, this flick’s got Tennessee! It’s the most gut-busting geography joke since the Alabama-Mobile in Alabama’s Ghost! (qv)
The androids are just as much a staple of these movies as the monsters are at this point. Ridley Scott keeps the laughs coming with Michael Fassbender as David. This ‘droid’s comic turn as “The Xenomorph Whisperer” is utterly hilarious! And it’s Komedy Squared because David’s twin ‘droid, Walter, is along for the fun.
Everyone is talking about the scene where the two Fassbenders kiss each other but for my money that’s nowhere near as funny as David’s line while teaching Walter how to play the flute: “You blow, I’ll do the fingering.” Epic!
Especially laugh-worthy is the odd look on Fassbender’s face the whole movie and his weird, persnickety line delivery. I guess the direction he got from Ridley Scott went like this – “Listen to me, Michael … You’re Peter O’Toole and you have a metal clamp attached to your testicles … ACTION!!”
David’s obsessive tendency to think of his creations as perfect organisms will have you rolling in the aisles! Yep. These things are like big, not-too-bright insects … we saw in Aliens that machine-guns can mow them down by the carload AND they seem incapable of any written language, let alone creating masterpieces of art or technology or architecture but they’re “perfect”. Uh, yeah, they put humans to shame.
It’s one of Ridley’s funniest recurring jokes. Hell, if evolutionary “perfection” culminates in dumb beasts whose only accomplishment is mere survival then we should just end it all now. You can tell Scott had his tongue firmly in cheek with David’s rapturous regard for the xenomorphs.
As funny as Alien: Covenant is, there are misfires here and there. Ridley Scott WAY overdoes the stupidity factor with these characters and the way they keep going off by themselves or sticking their heads into gooshy alien eggs. In this post-Scream world those jokes just aren’t as funny anymore and this flick keeps throwing them at us over and over again.
The final 25 minutes of the movie are a rapid-fire sendup of the original Alien plus a rehash of every episode in the franchise’s clichéd false ending followed by the realization that one of the monsters is ON BOARD with the surviving cast members. But hey, the silly parody of the Psycho shower scene made it all worth it!
The only way Ridley Scott could outdo himself after this comedy masterpiece would be to open up the next movie with the audience finding out the android David died in between films while on the journey to the planet to be colonized.
Or maybe give us a surprise reveal that Weyland-Yutani Corporation is involved in a large-scale Darwinian project where they send all of Earth’s dumbest, least-fit people off on dangerous missions in space.
At any rate this movie is the feel-good comedy of the year. Just don’t take very young children to see it. They’ll spend the whole time pointing out what stupid mistakes the characters are making and neither of you will have a good time. +++
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