Alien: Covenant Review
That lip snarling, saliva drooling alien is back
Ridley Scott is back with Alien: Covenant and this time he promises more aliens and more blood.Set ten years after the Prometheus, this new film picks up aboard a colony space ship on route to Origae-6, a distant planet capable of sustaining life. With 2000 colonists in hyper sleep and a thousand embryos on board the Covenant is all set to build a fresh new world. But after some technical difficulties the ship’s crew are prematurely jolted out of their slumber by the ship’s synthetic Walter (Michael Fassbender) – an updated version of Prometheus’s David who’s a little bit more by the book and this time sporting an American accent. As the crew discover the extent of the ship’s damage Captain Christopher Oram (Billy Crudup), who’s only recently acquired the role, is keen to get things up and running as quickly as possible and en route to utopia.Oram doesn’t have that authoritative captain quality about him but is eager to do a good job as he leads his crew on this life changing adventure. When the crew discover a not too distant planet that seems to offer the means to support human life, which also happens to be much closer than the 7 plus years it will take to get to Origae-6, Oram takes a leap of faith and with the support of his crew they make their way to this unknown planet. As an exploration crew explores the planet with it’s beautiful mountain landscapes and richly dense forests everyone is starting to think that this might be their new home. But if you are familiar with the Alien films you’ll know that it won’t be long before things start to take a turn for the worse.
Apparently Ridley Scott listened to the criticisms that fans expressed with regard to Prometheus and supposedly made a conscious decision to make Covenant with fans of the franchise in mind. And he has definitely captured the spirit and essence of Alien in abundance in this film. Despite the leaps and bounds that technology has made in the last forty years, Scott chose to only use computer generated imagery as a last resort, the results of which work wonderfully. The Covenant spaceship was built from scratch on a sound stage in Australia featuring thousands of electrical circuits - and the effect is genuinely impressive.
We were promised aliens and we have them: neomorph, an opaque forerunner, but no less monstrous, to the terrifying xenomorph which has also been resurrected once more. And with aliens you get bloodshed. There are some awesomely gory scenes where we get to see the aliens do what they do best, but whereas Alien dealt in steady camera work, less is more and perfectly timed cutaways, Covenant uses a lot of fast cuts and editing when it comes to the action and while this does add a definite frenzied quality to the scene — it’s almost ‘blink and you’ll miss it’.
Covenant promises to be an equal contender within the Alien franchise giving fans what they sorely missed in Prometheus
The first half of the film is wonderfully paced and adequately sets up the story following on from Prometheus. The opening sequence sets the tone for the film and sees Guy Pierce reprise his role as Weyland as he welcomes David into the world and unknowingly sets about initiating David’s fascination with creation. For me though, the second half is where the film is almost let down, trying to add in enough detail and backstory in an attempt to possibly make up for what Prometheus lacked. The two main action sequences are swift and condensed into what felt like minutes and whilst perhaps trying not to directly replicate scenes from the first two films, they end up feeling like an afterthought.
The questions that Prometheus left us scratching our heads about are, in a round about way, dealt with in Covenant - heavy stress on the ‘round about way’. We are reunited with David who we last saw decapitated as Elizabeth Shaw (Noomie Rapace) hauled his body into one of the Engineers spaceships. The interactions between Walter and David are both entertaining and interesting to watch as it gives further insight into David’s mindset especially set against the relatively strait-laced Walter and makes for one of the best moments in the film.
In my opinion Alien is one of the best films ever made (and one of my favourites) - it’s beautifully paced, it’s tense and it scared the hell out of me when I was little and would watch it late at night on my own. And maybe this is why I had such high expectations for Covenant. It has a lot of what made Alien so fantastic and even elements of Aliens to a certain extent. But ultimately it leaves you with yet more questions and the more you think about it the more it doesn’t quite make sense. But all that aside, it’s still makes for great watching and I for one will never get tired of seeing my old friend the Xenomorph.
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