“Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.”
Alien (1979) is in my top ten favorite movies of all time, and its sequel Aliens (1986) is not too far off, so when I heard that the new movie would be a mix of a sequel to Prometheus, but a true prequel to alien, I was unfathomably excited. Ridley Scott has the most movies in my top ten with two, so I trusted him fully in his execution of this film, and he slightly delivered, but DEFINITELY not to the extent to which I wish he had.
Alien Covenant is just another exploration film like Prometheus, but it does blend the style of Prometheus, with the action of Aliens, and the uncomfortable horror of Alien. What this movie learns from Prometheus, is that 1. We can’t wait too long to get into the action and into the bang for our buck, and 2. We need to get invested in the characters and their relationships. The latter was attempted, but not to great effect. The characters in this movie are sub-par but, definitely the best crew we’ve gotten since Aliens. Their arcs are moderately satisfying; however, their individual character moments are either endearing, shocking or just bad-ass. The villain in the film is just, malevolent, and cunningly astute. You will leave the film feeling uncomfortable, and scarred, just by the sheer thought of Michael Fassbender’s performance
Speaking of performances, one that really stood out to me was Danny McBride. Danny is well known for his work in comedy movies with renowned producer/director Judd Apatow; however, in this film he rather opts for a good blend of comedic relief and seriously believable grief and sadness. Katherine Waterston was a standout, as she continues to build-up her repertoire of heroines that may be kickass, but slightly forgettable. Michael Fassbender however, did give a memorable performance, and his portrayal of the psychotic android is terrifyingly awesome. Although they weren’t amazing, Billy Crudup and Amy Seimetz must be commended for their extremely relatable character performances, and the realism they brought to the film.
The action in the film is quite commendable. The primeval xenomorphs may be less creepy than the ones from the original because of the obivious CG and the brighter colours, but those factors also allowed for more thrilling and elaborate action sequences. The set design and visual effects of this film are really quite fantastic, seriously on par with the rest of the franchise, and even introducing some new aesthetics that set it apart from its predecessors.
The film was predictable, with the penultimate scene being strikingly similar to previous installments, and several of the “shocking” moments were ones that I knew were coming, but were still exciting to see on screen. As aforementioned, most of the character arcs work, but some fall flat, and almost seem useless as the movie casts certain aspects of an arc aside to focus on the main story-line, which is ultimately more of a disadvantage. The story of the film is elaborate and neatly manufactured, but if you’re not a thinker, you may get confused, or just have an emptiness about you by the second half of this film. The second half of the film is where it really picks up, after a sporadic start that either builds up the tension and relationships, or ends up dragging. In addition; the end of the first act is kind of reminiscent of Prometheus, and can get a little dull.
The film is original ENOUGH to engage the audience in its story, and with serviceable characters, Ridley Scott helps Alien: Covenant to soar a bit closer to the heights of the originals, but still fail to reach them all the same. Despite one particular story-line pacing issues, bland characters, and lack of true horror Alien covenant is an entertaining enough origin story for the xenomorph, even if that genesis might take away some of the unbridled fear that we’re used to.
Story telling: 7
Character Development: 6
Thrills and Scares: 6