Alien: Covenant (54)
20th Century Fox,
Scott Free Productions,
May 4th, 2017
United States and
So this one is a newer feature. I know it’s surprising but I watch new ones too. This review will contain spoilers.
Alien: Covenant is a sci-fi horror movie from 2017. It’s directed by Ridley Scott, the director of the original Alien and prequel, Prometheus. I was excited to see Prometheus. The chance to see Ridley Scott direct an Alien movie was exciting to me. However, the same cannot be said for the sequel, Alien: Covenant. I was looking forward to what became of David and Elizabeth Shaw. Unfortunately, the actual answer left me unfulfilled.
This movie is a sequel to Prometheus (2014) and a prequel to Alien (1979), It follows the colonization-ship Covenant on their mission to populate the earth-like planet, Origae-6. However, part way through the mission there is an issue. The ship is hit with a rogue neutrino burst causing damage. The crew is awakened to repair the wreckage. They receive a message from a nearby planet. The language in the message appears to be human, so the crew decides to take a side rescue mission.
The planet that they visit is apparently dead. No animal life but vegetation is everywhere. That is until the away team stupidly stomps around arousing spores. These spores enter the body through any opening and gestate a neomorph inside of the host. This Neomorph nearly resembles our standard Xenomorph but is still a bit off. The survivors of the Neomorph attack are saved by the Synthetic from Prometheus, David.
The casting for the movie is interesting. Our original captain (James Franco) burns to death in his cryo-chamber and isn’t even in the film. In fact, we only get to see Franco in a web-exclusive short film that introduces the crew. The best actor in the film is Michael Fassbender. Hell, it's basically his feature. And Danny McBride is close behind. I enjoyed the Tennessee character truly. It appeared that McBride wanted to prove that he was much more than just Kenny Powers. Katherine Waterston plays Daniels, our stereotypical franchise heroine and like Ripley and Dr. Shaw, she faced off one on one with an alien. Billy Crudup is boring. Flat and boring. I loved him in Almost Famous and as Doctor Manhattan in Zack Snyder’s Watchmen. But as Oram he is just boring.
This Alien submission is utterly disappointing and uninspired. Covenant has the same cadence as other entries in this franchise but it’s executed poorly. In the beginning, our cast wakes up from cryo-sleep aboard their ship. Again, the crew of the ship investigate the surface of a planet and encounter an Alien. This leads to a face-off between the Alien and our strong female lead in an airlock.
This movie had been in production since before Prometheus, but it seemed thrown together. The movie was rushed, sloppy and shallow. It is surprising to know that a veteran like Ridley Scott was at the helm. This man directed Gladiator and Alien for fuck's sake. Covenant appeared to be piloted by some rookie fresh from film school. The production had issues. At one point Prometheus Co-Writer Damon Lindelof was excited to be included in the production. Then he left over differences with director Ridley Scott. But things looked up when the script was worked over by Scott’s Gladiator Co-Writer, John Logan. I thought.
I was disappointed. The effects are okay. Some sets are great. I love spaceship interiors and this movie has some passable sets. Although, there wasn't much improvement from Prometheus. Nothing was jaw dropping. The CGI is not good and some scenes are downright Syfy channel quality. I hated the editing as it seems lackluster and poor. The characters are frustrating. They make terrible decisions and this makes it so hard to watch.
The idea of Alien: Covenant seems interesting enough. But watching it play out on screen kind of blows. Parts of the movie crawl. David seems to move at a slower pace than the rest of the movie. Scenes with him seducing himself move at a snail's pace. The ending was obvious. While I watched our heroes trying to survive, I prayed that David wasn’t gallivanting as Walter. Why?
Some things about this movie are positive. Tennessee is great. I love the scenes in space. We get more back story to the Alien universe. David gets a deeper story. But fans wanted ALIENS! The standard Xenomorph is absent in this movie. Neo-morphs, Proto-morphs and Face huggers terrorize the crew for fifteen minutes out of the two hours and two-minute feature. Instead, our antagonist is David. I hate that these films are becoming more about David and less about the aliens. Sorry Mr. Scott, maybe it’s time to give the franchise to Neill Blomkamp.
Alien: Covenant is not good. I didn’t enjoy viewing it and I didn’t like the story. Prometheus is streets ahead, and it wasn’t even that great. It’s so weird that the man who created Alien is likewise the man that will kill it. The best movies out of this franchise are still only the original Alien (1979) and sequel Aliens (1986). Both are classics. Go see or re-watch those. Both are successful films that manipulate tension and create an intriguing environment. They present the Xenomorph as this great, unstoppable alien being. But these prequels neuter that greatness.