Published by: Anthony Wallace
It was 38 years ago that movie watchers were introduced to ‘Alien‘ back in 1979. Director Ridley Scott would go on to terrify audiences with a gut wrenching, hair raising cat and mouse game when space truckers encounter a deadly beast in deep space. A first of its kind that would spawn rip-offs that pales in comparison to a horror masterpiece. Then 33 years later, Scott would return to the universe that solidified his career with 2012’s ‘Prometheus‘. His return was met with praise and frustration as the movie had high production value but lacked in answering it’s big questions.
This now leads us to the follow-up in ‘Alien: Covenant‘ where Ridley Scott promises to bring back the Xenomorphs and the carnage fans came to love. And he also provides answers to the many lingering pains that were left unanswered in ‘Prometheus‘. After months and months of anticipation the time has finally arrived where fans look forward to a much needed Alien sequel. What one has to wonder is if fans will be satisfied for what has been a tumultuous journey up to this point.
As a colony ship, the Covenant, advances towards its destination of a new home they are hit by a neutrino burst. The crew awakens from cryo-sleep to then intercept a signal from a nearby planet that closely resembles earth. While investigating this new world they discover what turns out to be a deadly game of survival when death and chaos awaits their arrival. The film stars Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, Billy Crudup, and Danny McBride.
I was in the minority of those who enjoyed ‘Prometheus‘ and praised the direction and production that was put into the project. The idea of the Engineers was clever as it brought about the idea of creators of mankind who then turn on their creation. Michael Fassbender’s David makes a strong presence as the newly created android by the Weyland Corporation as his ability to be curious takes on a life of its own. Going into ‘Alien: Covenant‘ I was looking forward to another strong performance by Michael Fassbender as this time around he plays not only David but the Covenant’s new android Walter.
The way to describe ‘Alien: Covenant‘ is a little frustrating because as much as it tries to be an Alien movie it also tries being a sequel to ‘Prometheus‘. And a lot of it has to do with Ridley Scott trying to appease the fan bases in both camps. Starting with the positives the movie is beautiful to look at. If there’s one thing everyone can agree on is that Ridley Scott knows how to produce and direct. From the external shots of the Covenant ship to the landscapes of the Engineer’s home world they are breathtaking to watch. Even the cast do a decent job while falling one by one to deadly pathogens.
Lead actress Katherine Waterston plays the distressed co-captain alongside Billy Crudup’s Oram. The director’s belief in casting strong females for the role has proven to be true as was the case of Sigourney Weaver. Except she isn’t meant to surpass Weaver’s performance in the franchise rather to demonstrate the tenacity as she fights for her life. Unfortunately, a large chunk of the runtime is dedicated to Michael Fassbender’s David/Walter as he continues to explore the idea of creation. But that’s what saves the film from floundering into familiar gasps and terror. David takes things to the next level and that’s when he truly becomes a terrifying menace.
Now we come to the difficult part because as much as we’re entertained by Michael Fassbender and the visual prowess of Ridley Scott, the film struggles to balance in tone. When we explore the terrain of an uncharted paradise it’s hard not to forget ‘Prometheus‘ and the scientific expedition that took place as they journey to find humanity’s origins. Then there comes a point when the monsters arrive, a.k.a the back-burster, and the many other creatures that show up in the film. The creatures almost seemed to take the backseat or were merely around to make an appearance. A good chunk of the film glides around the questions of the Engineers and how David survives a hostile environment. There never were smooth transitions between the terror and the grand ideas set by the script. It’s unfortunate because the lack of substance behind the Engineers is something I was hoping to see more of.
There’s going to be disappointment and that’s because the script tries to please everyone but not in a satisfying way that we’d hope. Great performances by the cast; more specifically Michael Fassbender and even the one and only Danny McBride. There are terrifying moments in the movie and I wouldn’t even say its the aliens themselves. If you were put off by the religious and scientific garble in ‘Prometheus‘ then don’t expect it to go away. In fact, it may be more blatant as the movie does explore the ideas of heaven and hell. If you’re a fan of the aliens then you will also be disappointed because their mysterious beginnings may spoil the lore that fans have enjoyed for many years.
It may take subsequent viewings to change my perspective on ‘Alien: Covenant‘ as time goes on. But in the way I was thoroughly in awe of ‘Prometheus‘ on its first viewing it may be a tough mountain to climb. This is not an easy review because although I tried not to go in with expectations I still ended up feeling somewhat let down. The last thing I will mention is the sound score by Jed Kurzel. He did a great job by mixing in the sound of Jerry Goldsmith’s ‘Alien‘ with this movie. There was a great use of buildup when things started going awry. It made me feel like we returned to Ridley Scott’s world and bringing back memories of how great the original ‘Alien‘ was. Though the latest entry in the franchise isn’t a deal breaker it certainly reminds us how special a filmmaker is able to explore the unknowns while terrifying its audience in the process.
What do you guys think of ‘Alien: Covenant‘? Do you plan on watching the movie? How would you rank the films in the franchise? And would you rather have gotten a Prometheus sequel or an Alien sequel? Comment below and share your thoughts.