Alien Covenant Movie Review
Five years on from the Alien prequel reboot Prometheus, veteran Director Ridley Scott returns again with the much anticipated follow up, which aims to further stitch the multiple timelines into a cohesive hole. But unlike its predecessor, Covenant eagerly embraces a bloodthirsty R-rating, giving patient fans plenty of hardcore Xenomorph action plenty to admire. But in doing so, has the film strayed too far from the series roots which capitulated the original to the annals of sci-fi classics?
En route to 'Paradise,' the Prometheus mission fails when the android David (Michael Fassbender) becomes the only survivor. A decade on, Covenant begins a new mission to terraform a promising but far-off Earth-like planet, but when a system failure wakes the crew from hypersleep years before planned, Captain Oram (Billy Crudup) makes a fateful decision against the advice of crewman Daniels (Katherine Waterston) to land on a nearby planet. Unbeknownst to the crew, the planet holds the seeds of a devastating new species.
Like the Star Wars series before it, the Alien franchise now has a slightly confusing timeline, but the point is that Covenant is now much more tied to the original Alien series than the loose threads provided by Prometheus - even if it continues a number of years from where that film left off. But while Covenant helps to retroactively makes its ill-regarded predecessor a better film, its tone, style and narrative, Covenant makes for a completely different viewing experience.
As much as the 1979 original Alien and 1986 James Cameron sequel Aliens are out-and-out classics, Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection are both highly flawed follow-ups (and the less said about the Alien VS Predator films, the better), so let's not kid ourselves that the Alien franchise is any kind of untouchable modern masterpiece. Still, there remains a lot of reverence and goodwill to the series which, as proven with Prometheus, is still able to command muchos dollars at the international box office after an absence in excess of 15 years and a name change seemingly working against it. With Covenant, Ridley Scott aims to reassemble all the jigsaw pieces into a cohesive narrative which explains how and why the classic Xenomorph life form came to be. But to be honest, when it's all said and done, some mysteries should probably just remain mysteries.
Although the Ripley-esque Daniels adorning the film's marketing campaign, the real star of the film is Michael Fassbender, who reprises his role as the android David, as well as the newer, more streamlined model Walter. As proved by the film's opening sequence alongside Guy Pierce, Fassbender is such an on-screen presence that I can't help but feel that an origin David/ Peter Weyland film might actually hold more exciting narrative possibilities.
Eschewing both the thrilling suspense that made the first Alien so horrifyingly impactful, as well as the pseudo-intellectualism of Prometheus, Covenant fully embraces its R-rating to display some of the most horrifying images from any of the Alien films. But in doing so, the film unfolds with precious little suspense, grinding to a halt for the big reveal of events that occurred between Prometheus, but which were actually telegraphed well in advance.
Despite approaching 80 years of age, Director Ridley Scott has lost none of his keen eye for visuals, but his notorious lack of subtlety often coalesce into less than satisfying film experiences. Unfortunately, Covenant falls into the latter camp.
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