ALIEN: COVENANT (NECA)
“Ridley Scott returns to the universe created, with Alien: Covenant, a new chapter in his groundbreaking Alien franchise. The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape.”
…Okay, I’ve been putting this off for about as long as I could. Let’s do this. For my eighth post-Christmas review, I’ll be asking an important question: is it possible to enjoy an action figure based on something you utterly despise? I’ve pondered this question before, amusingly enough, in the same franchise as this review, and from the same toy maker even. I mean, I was able to enjoy four whole Alien 3 figures, right? Surely Alien: Covenant isn’t that different, is it? Well, yes and no. The thing about Alien 3 is that it existed before I even got into the Alien franchise. I knew it was coming before I even started Aliens. I had fair warning. It’s just sort of done. And, the way Aliens ends, Alien 3 is very easy to ignore. Moreover, as much as I dislike the movie, I’ll be the first to admit that not *everything* about it sucks. Things like the quadrupedal Xeno I can certainly get behind. Alien: Covenant? Well, I had to experience it new, which definitely sucked. It’s a sequel to Prometheus, a movie that I enjoyed more than I expected, but an incredibly flawed one nonetheless. At the end of Prometheus, I actually had this little twinge of hope, that maybe Scott would be taking his characters in a different direction than the earlier films and trying something new. Silly me. Covenant takes what I liked in Prometheus and gives it a fiery, explosive death, and takes everything I didn’t like about it and sticks it front and center. And then it sort of tries to reinvent the wheel by reintroducing audiences to one of the most distinctive monsters of all time in a way that assures you beyond the shadow of a doubt that everything clever Scott did in the original Alien was an accident.
…I’m getting very sidetracked. I should probably talk about the figure.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
The Xenomorph is part of NECA’s Alien: Covenant line, released to coincide with the movie’s theatrical run. The figure stands 8 1/2 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation, plus a bendable tail. This Xeno sports an all-new sculpt, modeled after the Xeno seen on screen in Covenant. To NECA’s credit, they’ve crafted a very good recreation of the creature seen in the film. Every detail looks spot on, and everything is very sharp and well defined. The figure’s articulation is pretty decently worked in, and he’s just as posable as his brethren from the other movies. The paint’s pretty solid too. The fine details on the head are all well outlined and clearly applied, and there’s decent accent work that shows off the sculpt pretty well. Viewed just on its merits as a plastic recreation of the thing we see in the movie, this figure is nothing short of exceptional. And there lies the rub. I could go on for a very long time about what I didn’t like about Covenant (I’ve already gone on too long, frankly), but nothing frustrated me more than the design of the Xenomorph. It’s like someone looked at the original design and said “how can remove everything unique, interesting, and genuinely terrifying about this design?” Simply put, this alien looks like a skinned human with a Xeno head stuck on top. Is that pleasant? No. Is it gross? A bit. Would I want to run into this thing? No. Is it scary? Not really. There’s too much going on, and it’s all far too familiar to me. Remove the head, and you’re left with a monster that would look at home in any slasher film of the week. It’s really generic. And I get that they designed it this way on purpose, so that it would still look alright when brightly lit (which is most definitely not true of the Xenos seen in Alien or Aliens; they look downright goofy when seen in regular lighting). So bravo, you created Aliens you can look at in daylight. But why, though? Why?
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
This figure came from Super Awesome Girlfriend. I had mentioned to her that the Books A Million in the mall where she works had a decent selection of NECA Aliens figures, and when she went back, the Covenant figures were all they had left. She knew I didn’t like the movie, but she really wanted to get me something Alien-related, so she got me this one. It’s a thoughtful gift, no doubt. It’s not her fault that the movie sucked. Nor is it NECA’s, or even this figure’s. Like I said, just as a figure of the design in the movie, this figure is solid. And I’ll put it on the shelf with my other NECA Xenos, and be content. But I really wish the movie had been better. And I really wish the design were better. And I really wish Ridley Scott would learn to quit while he’s ahead.