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Review: Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant
05.06.2017
8 10

**Mild Spoilers below**

It’s been five years since we’ve last revisited the ALIEN franchise with Ridley Scott’s ambiguous origin tale in PROMETHEUS, a film that ended up being a more divisive look at the series than simply a well-made monster movie. Many were disappointed that there wasn’t more (or any, technically speaking) of the famed xenomorph creatures in the film, replaced instead with a peek at another race of strange beings, The Engineers, and their mysterious “black goo” that makes monsters of everything it touches. Now, comes ALIEN: COVENANT, a follow-up to PROMETHEUS and second part of a prequel of films leading to the original ALIEN, which ditches the ambiguity of the title, letting us know that this is, in fact, a return to the acid-blood extraterrestrials that have terrified us (mostly) since the original. The question hinging on everyone’s minds now is whether or not this truly is a return to that type of film or a retread of PROMETHEUS. Unfortunately, the answer to that question isn’t an easy one.

We pick up ten years after PROMETHEUS, aboard a colony spaceship, The Covenant (the first of many Biblical references in the film), which is on a mission to settle on a preordained habitable planet (with all 2,000 passengers being couples). However, they are derailed from their course after receiving a mysterious transmission that leads to what appears to be another habitable planet. Figuring they may as well check it out as it’s a much closer destination, they send out a crew to investigate and that’s where trouble brews in paradise, setting up a chain of events that rapidly accelerates into tragedy, horror and a chance encounter that ultimately answers many of the burning questions left over from PROMETHEUS and the ALIEN franchise as a whole.

Now, whether those answers satisfy is up to you and I think there will be much debate and discussion afterwards, which leaves ALIEN: COVENANT in the same divisive category as PROMETHEUS. For me, I loved PROMETHEUS, but with some genuine gripes, notably the moronic actions of the “scientists” and the lack of explanation in many areas. The ideas presented, however, are what intrigued me and thankfully they are explored even more in ALIEN: COVENANT, but in a much more straightforward manner. This leads to some rather horrific revelations that give us a picture into what’s transpired since we last saw the android David (played by Michael Fassbender) and Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), who set out to find the Engineers after the events of PROMETHEUS to ask them why they sought to destroy humanity.

When we are confronted with the end result of David and Shaw’s journey we find that David has been very busy at his final destination, the home world of The Engineers. David, as it turns out, has continued to develop, grow and become more than he was designed for (or has he?), which leads to a picture of madness and horror that’s more unexpected than anything. David has become something else entirely and when he runs into the explorers from The Covenant it becomes a nightmarish journey that escalates quickly.

COVENANT moves at a brisk pace and there’s hardly a dull moment (although a few overstay their welcome), but plenty of odd ones that lend more to the character of David than anything else. Strange and more than a little freaky, Fassbender quickly becomes the whole show here, oozing with the same spooky charm that he exhibited in PROMETHEUS, but elevated to new levels since the gap. David, in all his mysterious ways, becomes more terrifying than the xenomorphs themselves. I wish I could elaborate on that, but the biggest problem with even discussing ALIEN: COVENANT is that it’s near impossible to get into any real discourse about it without diving deep into heavy spoilers. I think that’s a great thing, actually, as whether you love or hate the events that transpire here, you’ll find that there’s much to chew on afterwards as they reverberate throughout the franchise mythos.

Now, many of you are concerned with how much, how many, and how scary the xenomorphs are in COVENANT, having been absent from the big screen since that horrid AVP: REQUIEM sequel. We are most certainly reunited with the famed drooling, black-domed creature and not just in the form we’re used to, but a few others that I found to be just as frightening. It’s an evolutionary presentation and one that I felt paid off quite nicely, although I think many will debate whether or not it was enough. Still, it’s great to see those freaky bastards back in all their original glory. As for the gore factor; this is undoubtedly an R-rated flick and there are more than a few bloody scenes that will make you grit your teeth, wince and potentially smile with glee depending on your level of desensitization. Its not game-changing gore, but it’s at least prominent.

The cast is solid, but they all suffer at being outshined by Fassbender’s dual portrayal of David, as well as Walter, the Covenant’s android that’s been “improved” upon since David was created. Speaking with a kind of Southern drawl, Walter bonds with Katherine Waterston’s Daniels, a tough-yet-vulnerable crewmember who exhibits more than a few traits of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, but is still hindered by a lack of fully formed development. That goes for most of the cast, who carry a lot of the film on their personas than anything else, as we don’t quite get into their heads or lives enough to get too close. Walter, on the other hand, presents an interesting duality to David and their scenes together are magnificently strange, not only because they’re both Fassbender, but because of their competing nature. It’s simply fascinating and odd to watch.

As for Ridley Scott, I think he’s taken the criticism of PROMETHEUS and tried to deliver a film that pleases on both fronts and it has varying degrees of success and failure. His style and aesthetic are a given at this point; he’s a refined filmmaker and one of the best in the business. That hasn’t changed. However, the story is often imbalanced with the focus shifting in the middle of the film, almost jarringly so, which is a bit of a bittersweet shift as it takes us down a road we definitely want to explore. Another issue is that some of the promotional stuff that’s come out ahead of the film, which detailed both the crew of The Covenant as well as a bit on David and Shaw’s journey to the Engineer’s planet, is excised in the finished film. Not everyone going to see the film has caught those bits and I felt they would’ve added that extra bit of insight to the overall flow.

So, is ALIEN: COVENANT a great ALIEN film or redemption for those who hated PROMETHEUS? That’s a tough call and one that I think will ultimately fall to the audience, as it’s every bit a film that begs to be discussed in great detail as the ideas presented and history-changing nature of it are a fascinating look into the ALIEN franchise as a whole. As a standalone watch, it’s an intense and fun ride, but as a piece of the overall series it’s very much a piece of a puzzle. I’m sure some people will walk away disappointed, while others will be excited and buzzing about where this series goes next, given the events that transpire and where that leaves it. Love it or hate it, I think it’s a film that will be discussed at length and many folks will head straight home and pop in PROMETHEUS to connect the dots. For me, I love the doors it opens, the questions it answers, the villain it creates and the direction it’s headed, even if it misses some beats along the way.

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Source: Joblo.com

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8:33AM on 05/22/2017

Hmmm

...setting up a chain of events that rapidly accelerates...
Is an understatement.
I am on board with anything Alien related, and anything that I would get on the big screen is going to be a treat, that being said, I'm not just going to be crazy excited and accept everything. I understand and assume Ridley Scott wanted to give the fan boys and girls what they felt the "missed" from Prometheus, but come on. I'm not going to go into every detail, but each and every 'incubation" moment lasted,
...setting up a chain of events that rapidly accelerates...
Is an understatement.
I am on board with anything Alien related, and anything that I would get on the big screen is going to be a treat, that being said, I'm not just going to be crazy excited and accept everything. I understand and assume Ridley Scott wanted to give the fan boys and girls what they felt the "missed" from Prometheus, but come on. I'm not going to go into every detail, but each and every 'incubation" moment lasted, what 5 minutes, in their real time? It, as a whole, made no sense (the movie) in relation to what happens later (i.e.. Alien and Aliens). And finally, CGI completely took me out of the movie in the second half. Sigh.
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1:28PM on 05/19/2017
It was noticeable that the trailer and promotional stuff had scenes that were not in the film, and probably needed to be, but if they were there would have slowed down the film. Editing them out didn't kill the film and had benefit, but they could have kept it in there. It is impossible to discuss this film without spoilers. Seriously.
It was noticeable that the trailer and promotional stuff had scenes that were not in the film, and probably needed to be, but if they were there would have slowed down the film. Editing them out didn't kill the film and had benefit, but they could have kept it in there. It is impossible to discuss this film without spoilers. Seriously.
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9:26AM on 05/12/2017

Well, I didn't like it.

To me, this was to Alien and Aliens what The Phantom Menace was to Star Wars and TESB.
Now that I think about it, I would have hated this movie if it wasn't for Fassbender and his incredible roles.
To me, this was to Alien and Aliens what The Phantom Menace was to Star Wars and TESB.
Now that I think about it, I would have hated this movie if it wasn't for Fassbender and his incredible roles.
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2:11AM on 05/10/2017

Mild Spoilers?

Fuck man. Way to many details in this review. Maybe it was my fault for reading. There's two David's in the film? I guess so.
Fuck man. Way to many details in this review. Maybe it was my fault for reading. There's two David's in the film? I guess so.
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8:27AM on 05/22/2017
1. Your fault for reading
2. It was talked about for years now that there were going to be "multiple davids".
1. Your fault for reading
2. It was talked about for years now that there were going to be "multiple davids".
7:23PM on 05/08/2017

"I admire its purity, a survivor..."

When I look back at Prometheus, as I recently revisited it, I see a movie that was stalling. The whole thing just feels like one big tease of a prologue that fails to cover much ground content wise. It actually seemed unwilling to answer a single damn question it raised while including unnecessary plot points or twists,(why was it necessary to hide Weyland again?) Now, after 5 years of frustration over a film that didn't give us much of anything besides pretty visuals and a great Fassbender
When I look back at Prometheus, as I recently revisited it, I see a movie that was stalling. The whole thing just feels like one big tease of a prologue that fails to cover much ground content wise. It actually seemed unwilling to answer a single damn question it raised while including unnecessary plot points or twists,(why was it necessary to hide Weyland again?) Now, after 5 years of frustration over a film that didn't give us much of anything besides pretty visuals and a great Fassbender performance, we have the movie they should have made in the first damn place! I've actually heard that you could go into this without seeing Prometheus and not skip a beat! It apparently fills everything in for you without the burden of too much exposition, further calling into question the point of Prometheus in the first place. I have no problems with meditations on creation or philosophy, but you can't just burden a film with questions and only promise answers in the sequel. That's especially true when you make a movie with the goal of answering a question, (who was the space jockey?) and you barely scratch the surface in a 2 hour runtime. So that's what gets me excited about this film, that we will finally get some answers! Sure, stuff will be left open, but something is better than nothing. Plus, this time we won't have to wait 5 more years for another sequel.
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10:01AM on 05/08/2017
Solid review. I for one loved Prometheus, and this review only solidifies this film as my most anticipated summer release. And Davids progression towards evil feels natural here. Man creating what should be a perfect sentient being is instead undone by their creation, fitting since the designs of men are often more evil than some xenomorph who just wishes to continue its species.
Solid review. I for one loved Prometheus, and this review only solidifies this film as my most anticipated summer release. And Davids progression towards evil feels natural here. Man creating what should be a perfect sentient being is instead undone by their creation, fitting since the designs of men are often more evil than some xenomorph who just wishes to continue its species.
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7:26PM on 05/08/2017
"You know Burke, I don't know which species is worse. You don't see them fucking each other over for a god damn percentage."
"You know Burke, I don't know which species is worse. You don't see them fucking each other over for a god damn percentage."
9:01PM on 05/08/2017
Nice. Ripley was right.
Nice. Ripley was right.
10:31PM on 05/07/2017
Glad to read the positive review. Can't wait to finally have answers to most of the questions that Prometheus initially asked and set up in the first film. Should be great to see another Alien film that's back to basics with the first two films.
Glad to read the positive review. Can't wait to finally have answers to most of the questions that Prometheus initially asked and set up in the first film. Should be great to see another Alien film that's back to basics with the first two films.
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4:45PM on 05/07/2017
Well damn, now I'm intrigued. The trailers seemed very been-there, done-that, so it's good to hear that it takes things in a different direction. Also glad that they're doubling down on Fassbender (no pun intended). He was by far the best part of Prometheus.
Well damn, now I'm intrigued. The trailers seemed very been-there, done-that, so it's good to hear that it takes things in a different direction. Also glad that they're doubling down on Fassbender (no pun intended). He was by far the best part of Prometheus.
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3:46PM on 05/07/2017

unanswered concern

This all sounds good and seems to be building upon the aspects of Prometheus I liked. But my main concern with the last one was how out of character stupid some of the supporting roles acted to put them in danger and move the plot along. Is Covenant doing better in this regard or do I again have to stomach space scientists go all touchy-toddler on alien biology?
This all sounds good and seems to be building upon the aspects of Prometheus I liked. But my main concern with the last one was how out of character stupid some of the supporting roles acted to put them in danger and move the plot along. Is Covenant doing better in this regard or do I again have to stomach space scientists go all touchy-toddler on alien biology?
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4:46PM on 05/07/2017
Yeah, the whole thing with the the map guy getting lost felt very out of character.
Yeah, the whole thing with the the map guy getting lost felt very out of character.
7:43PM on 05/07/2017
Yes, Covenant is doing far better in this regard
Yes, Covenant is doing far better in this regard
1:21PM on 05/07/2017
More or less what I thought of the film !
More or less what I thought of the film !
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1:10PM on 05/07/2017
Good to see an 8/10 review. I was honestly expecting a 6 or 7 but this makes me happy.
Good to see an 8/10 review. I was honestly expecting a 6 or 7 but this makes me happy.
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1:17PM on 05/07/2017
Yes, positively surprised.
Yes, positively surprised.
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