Alien Covenant Review
Ridley Scott’s third “Alien” film is upon us. The new Alien Covenant movie and its follow up serves as a bridge between Prometheus and Alien – and the tie-ins to this movie to the new pre/sequel will no doubt delight some fans with throwbacks and sights that are familiar to franchise fan.
In Alien Covenant, the crew of the Covenant – a colony ship is on a journey through space to deliver its precious cargo; colonists to their new home world when a space anomaly and tragedy triggers a series of events that takes the crew of the ship to the planet of the humanoids from movie 0, Prometheus. There is a female lead, Katherine Waterston (Daniels) who largely plays a B-side version of Ripley.
Once the crew makes landfall, the movie slowly ups the ante from infection to incubation and like Prometheus and Alien before it, the spores and hatchlings deliver up some of the most terrifying sequences in Covenant. Fast and lethal, these new baby monsters are ferocious and deliver up some delightfully gorey deaths. There is some great creature design work on the new aliens and a kinetic pace to the slaughter. Covenant shines when the kills are coming.
In the second act, Covenant delves into the notion of “creators” and “gods” introduced in Prometheus with David the android resurfacing. The creepy revelation discovered in scrolls and on the slabs in the home city is chilling, terrifying and shows an unhinged creator. Without delving too much into what we discover – it is macabre, twisted, disturbing and more than a little sad. There are also some fun discoveries pertaining to discovering how he’s been spending his time on the planet. The second act also contains the best acting sequence in the Alien Covenant; Fassbender on Fassbender as the two androids – David and Walter meet.
The disappointment then, comes when the third act arrives and with it; facehuggers and the dark slithery Alien that has come to define the franchise. The initial excitement of seeing the alien eggs is quickly sapped away by over the top action that is hard to follow and not really that exciting despite all the action transpiring on screen.
It quickly becomes rote and nonsensical with an all too janky escape sequence that lacks tangible tension and is shot and cut way too close giving no sense of danger and one too many yo-yo sequences. And of course, no Alien movie is complete with a return to the space vessel and a cat and mouse game – except here; the audience having spent the whole movie on the planet is unfamiliar with the layout of the Covenant and there is a sequence of somewhat incomprehensible opening and closing of doors; a linearity of motion which leads to an all too similar air-lock sequence. If you didn’t like it in David Fincher’s Aliens 3, you won’t like it here.
The returning Alien in its 2017 CGI iteration is more aggressive but somewhere in this; it is also not scary and sort of dumb. In many ways, after 6 movies, the creature that has come to define the franchise is all too familiar, too cgi-ey and has lost its bite.Covenant is a more interesting film before the plot takes us back to what is too similar, too predictable.
Alien Covenant is tight and tense til it fumbles in its final act. Watch for Fassbender’s mesmerising return as David/Walter. In a movie that tells a narrative about creators and creations – it is the android with its warped logicboard whose story we end up caring about the most. This is going to make watching the original Alien quite strange once the movies timelines connect with the revelations we discover in Alien Covenant.
Michael Fassbender (David/Walter)
Billy Crudup (Chris)
Katherine Waterston (Daniels)