Alien Covenant Review

“Alien Covenant” is the sequel to Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” taking place 10 years later.  The crew of a ship called “The Covenant” is heading towards an uncharted planet with the hope to colonize it.  However, they are awakened from deep space slumber and receive a mysterious transmition to which they explore.  But what the crew soon realizes is that the path to paradise, begins in hell.  The film stars Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup and Danny McBride.

I am one of those people who absolutely loved “Prometheus.”  It wasn’t quite the “Alien” prequel that a lot of people were hoping for, but I found it to be a fascinating and original take on the “Alien” mythology by exploring the “Engineers,” their home world and how they created life.  It was a gorgeous film to watch and I liked a lot of the bigger ideas that the film imposed on the audience.  However, the film wasn’t received well and the producers scrapped a lot of the ideas for the sequel and instead came up with “Alien Covenant.”  Like “Prometheus,” “Alien Covenant” has a lot to offer in regards to the visual identity of this franchise.  This is a beautifully shot and aesthetic looking film in true Ridley Scott fashion.

For the positives, all I can really say is that this movie imposes some really unique and ambitious ideas for this universe.  There is an entire middle section of the movie that reveals a lot in terms of story context and it was really fascinating.  I thought the acting for the most part was good, not as good as some of the other films in the franchise but it was pretty serviceable.  Katherine Waterston was not the best female lead in the series but she was ok.  The two big standouts here were Danny McBride and Michael Fassbender who owned this movie.  The action was for the most part good, but it felt like the same shtick that we’ve seen over and over again with the franchise.  There were some gruesome and gory moments that were fun, but again there wasn’t anything really new here.  Ridley Scott is the true rock star of this series as he loves diving deeper into the universe that he created starting with the original “Alien” back in 1979.

Moving to the negatives, unfortunately there were a lot of them.  What I didn’t like about this movie was the story.  It felt too bloated, convoluted and didn’t answer most of the questions from “Prometheus.”  Instead, the film leads us with more questions and no answers.  I could tell pretty quickly what was scrapped from “Paradise,” which was supposed to be the sequel to “Prometheus,” and what was recycled into what we now have in “Alien Covenant.”  There are some continuity issues regarding the alien creatures themselves and I’m questioning how they are going to explain things down the road.  Now I mentioned the look of this movie.  Everything looked great except for the alien himself.  Honestly they gave him a new look that I didn’t care for.  Also, the entire alien creature was completely CGI and it looked fake.  They have him jumping up and down and moving so fast, it actually reminded me of “Alien 3.”  I went back and re-watched “Alien,” and “Aliens” and the creature effects were stunt men in body suits and creature puppets which looked so much more real than what we got here.  And going off on that point, what makes the alien scary is when he hardly moves, how he lurks in the shadows and how his dome, eyeless face stares at people.  There was none of that in this movie.

I think the biggest thing that disappointed me with “Alien Covenant” was the limited amount of connective tissue between this and “Prometheus.”  I felt like there was another movie missing between this film and “Prometheus.”  I would have liked to have seen how these two films really connect.  This movie felt like two completely different stories molded into one.  The pacing of the film is incredibly slow, and there were scenes that should have been taken completely out for that reason.  You know exactly when each character is going to die because it’s the same trope we have seen over and over again.  Guy goes out for a smoke break alone in the woods, he’s going to be devoured by a creature.  I can’t tell you how many times I have seen this in monster movies and it’s too obvious.  Nothing in this movie shocked me the way “Alien,” “Aliens,” or even “Prometheus,” did for that matter and it was truly disappointing.  I will say I think when the other sequels come out, it will be kind of cool to see how all these prequels tie into the original film, but as a standalone movie, “Alien Covenant,” is a sheer letdown.

“Alien Covenant” was everything I didn’t want it to be.  Sure it had its moments, it’s cool big ideas and some amazing cinematography by one of the greatest sci-fi directors of all-time but the tone, and the messy and convoluted story made this film confusing and a nightmare in terms of continuity.  I still enjoyed parts of “Alien Covenant” but for the most part I thought this movie could, and should have been a lot better.  It just doesn’t offer a whole lot to the “Alien” universe that we haven’t already seen and I felt that the creature itself ruins the film.  If I had to describe in one word how I felt after watching “Alien Covenant” I would say underwhelmed.

Grade:  C-

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