It’s been five years since director Ridley Scott returned to the “Alien” franchise with “Prometheus,” a prequel to his 1979 classic film “Alien.”
To say audiences didn’t exactly warm up to that film would be putting it nicely as it was highly criticized for being too different from what the original franchise was and it lacked a real connection to the series itself. This time around, it seems Scott has listened to what the fans want because with “Alien: Covenant,” not only do we get to see much more of the Xenomorph monster audiences love so much, but we also get to see a true return to form for Scott as he brings us the best “Alien” to be released since James Cameron’s 1986 “Aliens.”
10 years after the events seen in “Prometheus,” members of a colonization ship known as the Covenant stumble upon a planet they believe has the capability of hosting human life. Thinking this is the opportunity they need to begin their new civilization, they land on it, only to discover that something else already inhabits the planet and they are soon thrown into a terrifying nightmare which will force them to push beyond what they thought capable if they hope to survive.
I’d like to point out that I enjoyed “Prometheus” quite a bit. It was interesting and thought-provoking in a way that was different from the other “Alien” films — but I didn’t see that as a bad thing. That being said though, “Covenant” is in fact a far superior film and outshines its predecessor in every way possible. It’s a better film and really is a return to what the original franchise was all about. As fun as it is though, it still has some flaws that I really felt hurt the movie.
One of the things that bothered me most were the characters in the film. For starters, there are far too many of them and most of them — if not all of them save for two — are given almost next to nothing to do. You could have removed five characters from the film and it still would have been just the same, if not better. What made the first “Alien” work so well was that it was a small cast so we really got to know each of them before they started to die, making us feel sad when they went. With this film though, we’re not given any time to get to know them that well so it doesn’t really matter to us who lives or dies Most of the characters felt like they existed just to give the Xenomorph some really cool death scenes to execute.
The characters also make extremely frustrating and dumb decisions that it makes a lot of the experience in watching the movie rather difficult. I understand that in movies like this, the characters need to make poor decisions in order for the horror to begin but these characters really pushed the limit on that rule and I found myself shaking my head numerous times. It’s frustrating because these people are supposed to be really intelligent and yet they have zero common sense.
Another thing that hurt the film I felt was that the ending was rather weak. Technically you can say this movie has two final battles and the first one is rather exciting and thrilling to watch but the second one — the one which ends the movie — is anti-climactic and doesn’t really offer anything new. It’s basically the same ending that the first two movies had only not nearly as exciting or tense. I think that Scott did this so that every character has a chance to interact with the Xenomorph, because not every character leaves the ship to explore the planet. In that case he should have 1) had all the characters leave or 2) not have so many characters in one movie. I’d vote option two but I’m only a college student so what do I really know?
Putting all that aside though, this movie is still a lot of fun to watch and really satisfied my inner “Alien” fan. For starters, the cinematography is absolutely beautiful. There are so many wonderful landscape shots that just take your breath away and it does such a good job at making the planet look highly appealing. There are some really nice angles shown and some excellent camera work all around that make it just a treat for your eyes to look at.
Another thing is this film is actually pretty intense, which is something the last film was missing. I wouldn’t say this movie is particularly scary, but it does have a number of jump scares that don’t feel cheap and there are moments in the film that really draw out the tension in a highly effective manner. The Xenomorphs are faster and more violent than ever, which really amps up the tension in this film. To be honest, this is probably the bloodiest entry in the entire series to date.
The last thing I’d like to mention is the standout performance given by Michael Fassbender. He plays a dual role here in this as David, the android from “Prometheus” and as Walter, the android assigned to the covenant. Fassbender is easily one the most talented actors currently working in Hollywood today and he really showcases his talents in this movie. Some of the most exciting and engaging moments in this movie are when the two androids interact with each other, particularly one scene in which David teaches Walter to play the flute. It’s a testament to Fassbender’s talent in how both his characters can be onscreen at the same time and you find yourself hating/rooting for him at the same time. Both androids look exactly the same yet he plays them so differently and gives each their own personality it’s quite incredible to watch. The other actors do just fine, but it’s Fassbender who really steals the show here.
“Covenant” has its problems but it’s also a huge step forward for the franchise. It brings new life to what was starting to feel like a dead series of movies and gets us excited again for these movies to continue. Scott has said he plans to do three more movies that will eventually lead directly into his 1979 film and I for one can’t wait to see them.
The bottom line: “Alien: Covenant” is a fun, thrilling and suspenseful film that is guaranteed to revive your faith in this almost 40-year-old franchise.