Review: Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant
6 10

Read Paul Shirey's review HERE

PLOT: After a disastrous deep space accident, the crew of a ship carrying thousands of colonists, lands on a mysterious, habitable planet. Soon they discover this hidden paradise contains a deadly secret related to the disappearance of the Prometheus a decade earlier.

REVIEW: The ALIEN saga has truly run the gamut of quality. There have been amazing installments (ALIEN, ALIENS), absolutely horrible ones (ALIEN: RESURRECTION, the AvP series) and then the ones that come somewhere in the middle, including ALIEN 3, and PROMETHEUS on the high end. Add to that middle segment ALIEN: COVENANT, the long awaited sequel to PROMETHEUS, that director Ridley Scott promised would start to tie-in to the first ALIEN, meaning we’d finally learn how the xenomorphs came to exist.

Given that it’s been thirty-one years since the last truly amazing ALIEN movie, hopes were high for COVENANT, but this is far more in-line with PROMETHEUS than anything else, with the presence of the xenomorphs really only tacked-on to the last act. Otherwise, it’s similar to its predecessor, in both good ways and bad.

Like PROMETHEUS, ALIEN: COVENANT is very concerned with the theme of faith versus science, and similar to the last film, there’s a character (played by Billy Crudup) trying to reconcile their faith with the mysteries of the universe, like Noomi Rapace’s Shaw was. However, this has been back-burnered a bit this time around, with our heroine, Katherine Waterston's Daniels, more of a pragmatic, Ripley-sort. Of everyone, it’s Michael Fassbender, in a dual role, who gets the most screen time, with his David returning from the last film in a major way, while he also plays the un-accented, less ambiguous Walter, a more traditional robot in the Bishop-model who serves on Waterston's crew.

It’s really this lack of a traditional protagonist that hurts COVENANT, with the potentially interesting Walter getting too little screen-time to really make an impression, and it’s David who’s clearly captured Scott’s imagination. The much-hyped Ripley-esque heroine proves to be a let-down. Waterston is good, but the part is thinly written and not formidable enough. You really need a good, engaging hero to get behind, a lesson many monster movies haven’t learned. Ripley (and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch in PREDATOR) are the gold standard, but Waterston's not given enough to do and lacks the presense of someone like Sigourney Weaver – although that’s a tall order to fill.

The rest of the crew, despite being peppered with notable character actors like Demián Bichir, Carmen Ejogo and Crudup, are mostly anonymous cannon fodder – with only Danny McBride really making an impression is a mostly straight-laced part. No one is done much help by the script by John Logan and Dante Harper, which is full of lame-brained decisions by the crew and easy to predict twists. Scott’s also thrown in some goofy scenes that would have been better left on the cutting room floor, like a climatic, all out BOURNE IDENTITY-style martial arts fight between two characters (I won’t spoil who – but at least it’s not between someone and the xenomorph – it’s silly but not that silly).

What’s especially strange about ALIEN: COVENANT is how the xenomorphs themselves seem like an afterthought – like they’re something Scott had to throw in for commercial reasons but didn’t have much actual use for. You never really even get a great look at them, making one nostalgic for the first three films were they were played by people in suits. At least then they felt like living, breathing creatures – and more of a threat. Here, they’re just another CGI critter.

While underwhelming, ALIEN: COVENANT does have some redeeming elements. For one, Scott’s given it a jaunty pace, running a lean two hours and having very little fat on it. It’s also an exceedingly pretty film to look at with Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography making this a must for the biggest screen you can find. Jed Kurzel’s score is also really good in how it re-uses some cues from Jerry Goldsmith’s classic ALIEN score. As let-down as I was by the film (and it was my most anticipated of the year after BLADE RUNNER 2049), it’s never dull and it still entertaining. It’s not a great ALIEN movie or even a really good one, but it’s not a disaster either. For me, this is a cut below ALIEN 3 and PROMETHEUS, but above the really bad ones. If Scott really does go through with the sequels, there are enough threads left hanging that could lead to a really good installment.

Source: JoBlo.com



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