It’s apparently really damn hard to make a great Alien movie. An oddly engrossing but aimless sequel to Prometheus, Alien: Covenant answers most of the mysteries of that much-derided film in a series of anti-climactic reveals, sandwiched between B-grade sci-fi visuals and decent sequences of outright gore.
A workmanlike horror blockbuster like Covenant requires a lot of positive imagination to keep the film’s science-light universe from collapsing into silliness, so I picked the sweltering Purple Jack to blunt my consumption of this Ridley Scott B-Side.
A ship carrying thousands of frozen passengers to a distant planet, Covenant receives a signal from a nearby solar system showing signs of human life. Ignoring the reasonable pleas from second officer Daniels (Katherine Waterston) to keep on course, captain Oram (Billy Crudup) reroutes Covenant to explore the source of the message. This is more or less the plot engine to the last seven Alien films, and soon the helpless crew finds themselves pounced upon by slimy creatures shoving spiny appendages into their bursting human orifices.
I was really fucking high when I saw this movie. Zigzagging my way to the cinema through stalled cars in traffic on the hottest day so far in the city, I burned down a joint of Purple Jack, sending my head swirling with a tropical feeling. I loudly burst through the doors of the hipster moviehouse like the Kool-Aid man, the dank velvety weed muting my spatial awareness.
I don’t think I was fully conscious of the film until a pulse-quickening scene where two Michael Fassbender cyborgs make out with each other. The hypnotically crappy movie readily accommodates the baked viewer – outer space effects that looked better in the 70s original, half-formed characters stranded mid-arc, a mustache-twirling villain preposterously quipping about the irrelevancy of humanity. The fragrantly regal sativa hybrid also allowed me to better indulge in the grim satisfaction of watching the bloody creature effects by Adam Johansen and Damian Martin, easily the best part of this incessantly watchable but never-scary space fantasy.
Back in the street after the screening, I started to register the negative open-air aspects of Purple Jack. I felt and looked very sleepy. Rocking home on a thundering subway, I reflected on the sticky visuals and sleek phoniness of Alien: Covenant. Like Purple Jack, the movie is not perfect – but it’ll do.