Alien: Covenant Movie Review: An Entertaining Frustration
Ever since I first saw Aliens as a kid, the Alien franchise has had a soft spot in my heart. In fact, it was that and its predecessor, Ridley Scott’s Alien, that helped stoke the love and appreciation for movies that I have today! Over the years, Sir Ridley has found himself on the short list of my favorite directors, thanks to some truly great films. Despite his last science fiction epic (The Martian) being a huge success, his last entry into the Alien franchise was met with mixed reviews, at best. Does he have a better showing here, in Alien: Covenant? Well, let’s take a look.
If there’s one thing that’s a given on a Ridley Scott film, is that it’s going to look beautiful, and in this regard, he certainly doesn’t disappoint. Re-teaming with previous cinematographer of Prometheus Dariusz Wolski, Scott again creates epically beautiful shots of the alien planet, as well as a dark and forboding atmosphere. Despite some tense action set at night, or in dank caves, there’s never an issue where you can’t the action. Scott also keeps the film nicely paced, at a shade just over 2 hours – though, there are moments in the film where you feel like something has been cut. It doesn’t feel jarring, or anything, but it’s definitely noticeable in the flow of the narrative. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Director’s Cut release at some point.
John Logan (Penny Dreadful creator and Oscar nominated writer for Gladiator) teams up with Dante Harper to tell the story of the Covenant‘s colonization mission gone bad. While, for the most part, they do a great job in creating believable characters and an intense story, they frustratingly double down on a few plot progressions that pissed everyone off about Prometheus. There are more than a few moments in which characters do some truly stupid things, all in the name of moving the plot forward. And despite some pretense at philosophical chin rubbing about our origins and the nature of our creator, the film tends to use those ideas as minor character crutches that ultimately play no part in the overall narrative. Though, Logan and Harper do answer some of the questions posed in Prometheus, they also pose a few of their own, leading into the two other sequels that Ridley Scott has stated he plans to make.
The cast of Alien: Covenant are great, here as well. There aren’t any bad stand out performances, as everyone holds their own. Danny McBride, as Tennessee, has a great turn as serious actor, here, which is nice to see, since I’ve always enjoyed his comedies and would love to see him branch out more. Michael Fassbender is great, as usual, especially since he plays both androids David and Walter. Billy Crudup plays Captain Oram, an ambitious man who is feeling slighted by the company and those around him because he fears he is looked down on for his faith. And Katherine Waterston is both strong and vulnerable as Daniels; she more than holds her own as the lead of this film and does so with a commanding presence.
Overall, if you found yourself absolutely hating Prometheus, fair warning, you may pick up the same mistakes it made and hate this one too. Still, I would recommend a watch for this one, because this is far closer to the return to the Alien franchise that we’ve been wanting for years, even though it’s far from perfect. It’s got the intensity that Prometheus missed, as the body count rises quickly and the blood flows copiously. It’s definitely one I want to watch again, warts and all, and I’ll have a good time doing it!