Whenever I watch a movie or TV show that I plan on reviewing, I always wait at least a day before sitting down to write. I like to let whatever I watched marinate in my brain for a little bit, chew on it for a bit, remember the things that I liked and didn’t like, but mostly let myself formulate an opinion that is deeper than my first impressions. The story with Alien: Covenant is a little bit different. I saw this movie a full week ago almost to the hour as of this writing and I feel I truly needed that much time to figure out my feelings toward it and I’m still not sure if I can accurately convey my thoughts.
Nevertheless, let’s get into it and try to start unpacking the newest entry in the Alien franchise.
I was incredibly excited for Alien: Covenant from when it was first announce to the first trailer to having ticket and popcorn in hand. I love the Alien franchise – I did a book report on the first Alien movie way back in middle or high school (I can’t remember which). That’s right I did a book report on a movie. Our teacher said that we could write our reports on any book that met certain criteria and took us to the school’s library one class period so we could pick out books and for some insane reason, our library had a copy of the novelization of the movie and it met all the criteria it needed to. So yea, loop-holed my way into writing a book report on a movie out of my love of the Alien franchise. I tell that story so you’ll believe me when I say that Alien: Covenant is not an Alien movie. It is very much a Prometheus sequel that remembers it has Alien in it’s title a couple times over the course of the movie, a problem that similarly plagued Prometheus (you can read my review of that movie here).
The most disappointing thing about Alien: Covenant has to be that it simply was not the movie that I was expecting to see. All of the marketing lead me to believe that we were in for a return to the types of movies we fell in love with in Alien and Aliens and that just isn’t the case here. While this movie certainly has the horror we’ve come to expect from this franchise, that horror is largely contained to a couple select scenes, one being at the end of the first act and the second being the final climax of the film, with a few quick moments sprinkled in. Looking back, it feels like the writers made sure that they got the requisite horror elements (the Alien parts of this film) in place and then filled the rest of the movie with long drawn out, slow burn, cerebral sci-fi that, quite honestly, grinds the pacing to a screeching halt (the Prometheus parts of the film). Now that’s not to say that either of the two flavors of movie are necessarily bad, just that they are not at all what I was expecting.
Like Prometheus, Alien: Covenant explores the connection between creator and creation and in doing so, get’s really, really weird, like Alien: Resurrection weird. I think I whispered “What the fuck?” to myself at least two or three times during the middle section of this movie. Some of the writing and character choices are fascinating and incredibly compelling while others are firmly in “WTF” territory.
Where Prometheus seemed to almost be ashamed of it’s Alien heritage, Alien: Covenant turns that around and begins to re-embrace it’s roots. Covenant does a lot of heavy lifting to get the story rerouted in the right direction to line up with the rest of the franchise. With the announcement of a sequel to Alien: Covenant, or I guess more accurately a three-quel to Prometheus, it seems like we are getting a trilogy of movies leading up to the original Alien which is fine, I guess? It will be very interesting to see how Ridley Scott and Co drive the story from where it ends in Alien: Covenant to where it begins in Alien.
I watched a YouTube review of Alien: Covenant by Chris Stuckmann as I was writing this (again something I never do before writing but this film has given me fits) and he reminded me of something very critical – this movie is visually stunning. From the vast landscapes of the alien world, to the ship and set design, everything about this movie is visually amazing as we have come to expect from anything with Ridley Scott’s name on it.
The cast in this movie is also very solid. Michael Fassbender as a new model android named Walter is everything we’ve come to expect from him. Aside from Fassbender, the other stand out in the cast has to be Danny McBride, which is honestly a sentence I never thought I’d write. He doesn’t have a lot of work to do but when he is on screen his character is absolutely believable and you can separate the actor from the character, which with an actor like McBride, is a feat. As for the rest of the cast, they mostly feel like cannon fodder for the xenomorphs. They all do a serviceable job in their roles but most are forgettable minus Katherine Waterson and Billy Crudup who get more to do than the rest but nothing that blows you away.
In the end, Alien: Covenant is a film hampered by a misleading marketing campaign and a film that suffers from an “identity crisis hangover” from Prometheus. My hope is that after we get the final chapter in the “Prometheus trilogy”, the end result with be worth the wait and worthy of being a part of the Alien franchise.
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Until next time, Thank You for reading and…
SEE YOU AT THE CINEMA!