Review of Alien: Covenant

aliencovenant

Set a decade after the events of Prometheus, Alien: Covenant continues the prequel storyline of Fox’s sci-fi horror series. Ridley Scott retains the directorial reigns for the franchise he brought to prominence back in the late seventies. Public opinion on Prometheus seems to be divided. I thought the movie had its flaws, but overall was okay. At the very least I liked how it tried to do something different, with a plot that explored humanity’s origins. The designs of Prometheus’ extra terrestrials were pretty cool too. People don’t want originality though. Most moviegoers lamented how HR Giger’s Xenomorphs were absent from the film. That’s something Fox has addressed in Covenant… even if you have to wait until the final act for the titular aliens to make an appearance.

OVERVIEW

Covenant is the designation of a colony ship that is on a multi-year voyage across the cosmos. When the movie begins the space faring craft is slammed by a solar burst. The impact causes extensive damage and claims the life of the ship’s captain, who was incinerated inside his cryogenic chamber. Ouch. The burns he suffered rival my own skin, that time I ventured to Ibiza with scant regard for sun cream. Anyways, unpopular first mate Christopher Oram assumes command before choosing to divert the Covenant to a nearby habitable planet. Perhaps the crew can abandon their original mission and settle on this world instead? Sounds like a reasonable plan, but first they will need to investigate a mysterious transmission that is broadcasting from the planetoid’s surface.

I am sorry to report that the Covenant’s colonists are no brainier than Prometheus’ scientists. Upon shuttling down to their destination they opt against using respirators, as the air appears to be breathable. Does no one in the future fear bacteria? Well, needless to say a couple of the expeditionary team get infected and end up giving birth to pale skinned Neomorphs. Forget the natal discomfort caused by human babies or Chestbursters erupting from a ribcage. These buggers own the market on painful births, thanks to a spawning process that sees them rip through their host’s spine! Stranded, the remaining crew are forced to survive against the unfriendly parasites. They must return to the safety of orbit or else it will be “game over man.”

VERDICT

My rating for Alien: Covenant is three stars. Thanks to Ridley Scott’s gorgeous cinematography I would rank the film above Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection. It doesn’t however match the quality of the earlier Alien movies. Aliens had a more memorable cast and better action. In terms of terror Alien is way scarier. Scott’s original movie was creepy thanks to the suspense, which is something that Covenant lacks. Despite the advances in technology I must say that a guy, in a rubber suit, sneaking through dimly lit corridors is more frightening than a CGI alien snarling in broad daylight. Ironically, the Xenomorphs everyone was clambering for are less scary than the new Neomorphs. Their juvenile form is similar to a Velociraptor and the way they stand when fully grown is unnerving.

As is the case in these types of movie, most of the characters are stupid, underwritten and only there so the beasts have something to dismember. Katherine Waterston plays Janet Daniels – the poor man’s Ellen Ripley. She kicks arse in the final thirty minutes, but does little else before that. Michael Fassbender steals the show by portraying not one but two synthetics. The first of these is a friendly bot named Walter, who reminds me of Star Trek’s Data. Fassbender also reprises the role of David, who has gone off the rails since we last saw him in Prometheus. By utilizing Engineer tech, David plots to replace humans with what he considers to be superior life forms. Traitor! You cannot trust an Android. That’s why, when it comes to mobiles, I prefer an iPhone.

31 thoughts on “Review of Alien: Covenant

  1. I’d agree with three stars. I actually enjoyed a lot of this movie as a follow up to Prometheus, a film that I also enjoyed. It felt too compromising though. Like it started as a Prometheus follow up and then they threw in a Xeno fight to appease the critics of Prometheus who wanted more Alien. I wish they focused more on the “Heart of Darkness with an Android” aspect of the story. I thought that was neat.

    • I have enjoyed all the Alien movies on some level, although most people only seem to care for the first two films. Makes me wonder how the series has managed to persevere along in movie, comic and video game form.

  2. Great review, and talk about coincidence as I just reviewed a making of book over on my own site. I think the characters in the film were defintely it’s weakest point. With the exception of Waterstone and Fassbender everyone else is pretty much forgettable (or expendable, which is certainly also an accurate work). The film shined for me in terms of it’s atmosphere and dark storyline. It’s a shame that Ridley probably won;t get a chance to finish this new trilogy, which is a shame as I for one would have loved to see how this story ended. But who knows, stranger things have happened, so maybe it will in the end. As always another killer review πŸ˜€

    • The book that you reviewed looks awesome. I agree that Scott nailed the visuals and atmosphere of Covenant, but the script could have been better with respect to characterization. Despite not meeting expectations I hope Fox elects to finance a third movie. Leaving the prequel’s story unfinished would suck, especially when they picked it over a potential Alien 5.

  3. I like how the fans whined so much about the lack of Aliens in Prometheus that Scott caved and threw out almost everything he’d built up in order to pander to them, and then half of them didn’t bother to go see it anyway. Thanks “fans”.

    • In most cases I would say that listening to fan feedback is important. When cinema goers don’t end up putting their money where their mouth is however you can understand why studios often ignore what the online community requests.

      • I don’t consider it particularly constructive feedback though. “Why aren’t there more Aliens in this non-Aliens movie set in the same universe?” It’s like going to see Spider-Man and complaining about there not being enough Iron Man in it.

  4. Oh Glob, I can never make it through one of these films. I alway get too grossed out. The alien reminds me of a giant slobbery praying mantis crossed with a cockroach.
    I just want to shoo it away with a newspaper hehe πŸ˜€
    But, if alien doesn’t appear until the final act. I might just have found an alien movie, I could watch throw to the end. hehe πŸ™‚

    • I’m not sure that a rolled up newspaper would be an effective weapon against these creatures haha. You probably should keep away from this movie. Even if the traditional aliens don’t show up until the end the creatures that appear early on are equally gross. Some of the human deaths are gruesome too.

  5. I get that the Alien franchise is built on the suspense, the scary thing being nothing or not there most of the time but OMG what if it is feeling that gets a lot of good horror going. Still, not having the titular aliens present until the last bit of the film seems a bit like false marketing to me.

    • I get the feeling that Ridley Scott wants to make a new sci-fi horror film that just happens to be set in the Alien universe, but has been pressured to shoehorn in the Xenomorphs by fans/the stuido. Although the traditional aliens don’t appear until the latter part of the movie the Neomorphs look similar and show up much earlier.

  6. The movie is somewhat confusing as the storyline is not completed, it has been announced that the series will complete itself in 5 installments. The “Promethues” was super confusing πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ as the first installment had really little information about what was going on. By the way, you should try “Alien isolation” game, It’s pretty cool. Awesome post:).

    • Prometheus ended with many unanswered questions and Covenant only addressed a few of them. I hope future films clear things up, although from what I hear this movie didn’t perform too well so we may not get anymore direct sequels.

      I hear that Alien isolation is a huge improvement over Alien: Colonial Marines. Haven’t played it yet though, as I am very bad at stealth games.

  7. I’ve lost count of how many alien films there are and I haven’t even seen any of them. I can’t lie, I read Ridley Scott and thought that I knew that name and it became clear that Ridley Scott was the only thing I understood 😦

    • There have been around eight Alien movies (if you count the Aliens vs Predator spin-offs.) Ridley Scott has been behind the camera of many good movies. Covenant isn’t one of his better efforts, but it does at least have his trademark gorgeous visuals.

    • I thought the movie was okay. Not something I would buy on DVD, but something you might check out on TV if you liked the past Alien movies. Then again I didn’t loathe Prometheus like some people did. I can understand why some people hated that movie, but I was less forgiving of its faults.

  8. I have heard a lot about this movie…. Seems a thrid part is not always a good option… I donΒ΄t know if it is a general rule, but IΒ΄d definitely say that in my opinion, sequels tend to be worse than first-original movies (parts/installments, etc)… The idea of the film seems to still hit though!… Love & best wishes and thank you for this review Judge. Have a good weekend πŸ˜€

    • Movie franchises do tend to get weaker with each passing sequel, so perhaps not having a third Alien prequel film may be a blessing in disguise. Occasionally however a follow-up movie can trump the original. I personally prefer Terminator 2 over its predecessor for example.

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