Weekly Review: Alien – Covenant (2017)

As the colony ship Covenant makes the journey to its remote new home, the crew discovers an uncharted planet that could be a hidden paradise. Events soon turn hostile, forcing the crew to fight for both their survival and the success of their mission.

Alien: Covenant is the new, highly anticipated sequel-prequel to the Alien franchise. A sequel to Prometheus and a prequel to Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, and Alien: Resurrection, Covenant is directed by Ridley Scott and stars Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, Billy Crudup, Carmen Ejogo, as well as other familiar and not so familiar faces.

As a fan of the Alien franchise, I was definitely looking forward to this newest film, especially considering it was coming from the mind of Ridley Scott (the director of the original Alien). Even Prometheus, a film that divided Alien fans and was also directed by Scott, was a good experience for me. I went into Covenant with some expectations.

Unfortunately, many of those expectations were not met. In a broad sense, Alien: Covenant is an okay sequel-prequel to the Alien franchise. If you want brutal, bloody action, you most certainly get that. If you want the tense atmosphere of the original film, you occasionally get that. It’s not enough by any means. If you’re looking for a decent sequel to Prometheus, you don’t get that at all.

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 7.55.23 PM

Before I delve into many of my negatives about Alien: Covenant, it would be fitting to start with the positives. The film looks pretty great. The visuals are really engaging. There are some people who have complaints about the look of some of the creatures, but I didn’t really see a problem there.

Covenant has a handful of scenes that really encapsulate the atmosphere that Alien has come to be known for. The most engaging part is probably the first third of the film. Despite the fact that the characters make some very questionable decisions to lead them into the events that transpire, the introduction to Covenant is probably the best part, in my eyes at least.

This gives me the opportunity to start on the many negatives that I have for Covenant. First of all, those questionable decisions I mentioned above, they’re questionable because  they lack the common sense that these characters should have (being scientists, you know). They ignore data. They ignore safety protocols. It’s a mess.

On top of all of those questionable decisions, there is practically nothing in the film that shows who these characters are or why we should care about them. The dialogue states that the characters are all paired up in couples in some way, but there is very little to show which characters are actually together. They don’t have much characterization either, so when the action starts and people start dying, it’s kind of hard to care.

In many ways, it feels like the whole ensemble is just there to die. This doesn’t usually bode well for scary movies. There needs to be at least some form of connection for the audience.

There is a scene on YouTube with all of the characters sitting around a table at dinner. It’s called the last supper. You see the characters interacting with each other. You get some sort of idea of who’s in love with who. It’s a nice scene. I wish it was in the final film. It would have helped tremendously.

Other than the lack of time given to all of these characters in the final film, the story ends up being a hinderance to itself. Now, I really like Michael Fassbender. I really do. He was one of the best parts of Prometheus, and he’s the best part of Covenant. With that being said, this movie focuses far too much on Michael Fassbender.

A good portion of Covenant focuses on Fassbender. He plays an integral role. His role is equal parts interesting and bizarre. For many fans of the series, his role within this movie is incredibly infuriating because of the ramifications that it has on the rest of the series. I won’t get into the details of this here (because spoilers), but I have to agree. It is a bit frustrating.

This leads me to my biggest personal negative about Covenant. It is a horrible sequel to Prometheus. I’m mixed about how this movie feels as a sequel in the Alien series, but I am incredibly adamant that Covenant is a horrible follow up to Prometheus.

I know reactions to Prometheus were mixed. Many people didn’t get what they wanted from it as an Alien prequel. I personally enjoyed it for what it was. There was a sense of curiosity about it. Going into the end of Prometheus, there were definitely things that I was looking forward to seeing in its sequel. I didn’t get these things. These things were actually effectively removed from the realm of possibility, and I found that irritating. Again, I won’t go into any detail about this (because spoilers).

Overall, Alien: Covenant is a brutal piece of science fiction horror that may please fans of the genre and casual fans of the Alien series. If you’re an avid fan of the Alien series, I would not be surprised if you are disappointed.

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