Movie Review: Alien: Covenant (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Leo Epema 30.05.2017 13

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Alien: Covenant (UK Rating: 15)

From famed director Ridley Scott comes a new instalment in the Alien movie franchise, titled Alien: Covenant. The movie is a sequel to the 2012 movie Prometheus, which starred Michael Fassbender, among others. Fassbender returns alongside Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Billy Crudup (Almost Famous, Watchmen), and Danny McBride (Tropic Thunder, Eastbound & Down). Scott is known for his suspenseful horror, and according to some people, his lack of skill in telling stories. Since some previous Alien movies were panned, one might wonder: how does this instalment fare?

Alien: Covenant starts off with the crew of colonisation vessel, Covenant, travelling on a seven-year journey through space to find a specific habitable planet. Somehow, a neutrino burst came completely unexpectedly and damaged some power-collecting sails. Once everything's been fixed, and after getting no time to mourn their lost captain, new commander Oram (Billy Crudup) decides this is the perfect time to shirk their duty to humanity and go to a different planet that's closer by. Why? Well, because nobody wants to go back into the dangerous cryostasis pods, that's why! Logic. Making decisions in a time of emotional distress and possible residual feelings of being dazed from cryosleep is not a ridiculous plot point at all! The 2000 colonists they are bringing along apparently don't get a say in their future - the future of humanity. They are just faces without names, almost literally lifeless.


 
It seems there are no scientists on-board, as it is quickly decided to go to the unknown world and evaluate its colonisability… by going on an unnecessary fieldtrip. It's noted there is no wildlife, but this bothers no-one. After risking death and failure of the mission by going through the dangerously unstable atmosphere, the crew neglects to put on protective suits, because only pansies are affected by viruses, spores, rugged terrain or what have you. Remember, they didn't know the planet was mostly devoid of life. They do have small, wiry band-plasters to combat that pesky alien acid, though. That makes up for risking the lives of 2000 colonists in the attempt to rescue the ground team without even being sure they were in severe danger…

The movie eventually goes off on an odd tangent about David, an android survivor of a previous mission living (or is it functioning?) on the planet. He thinks humanity does not deserve to live, providing very meagre reasoning for that conclusion, not to mention seeming completely out of character for an android that no doubt comes to conclusions based on reasoning and pre-existing programming. Having the capacity to feel is fine, but why must that lead to an evil mind? Isn't there basic framework in place that allows David to think logically and critically, and serve mankind?

This shallow concept is suddenly broken by an awkward sexual encounter between David and his 'brother.' It's probably a reference to David's love of himself, his egocentrism, but it falls flat because no reference is made to him loving himself. It's made clear he sees himself as more than just a servant (possibly a god), but what does that have to do with anything? David's loving encounter with his android successor is out of place because they had only just met and have no history. They had barely spoken. Philosophical depth is nowhere to be found, and the android subject does not relate to the plot.

Moving from the characters to the acting, nobody's performance stands out, except Fassbender's, who is mesmerising as David. The introductory scene showing him as a fairly blank slate really does sell him as a logical-seeming and eerily dead-eyed android oddly content with his lack of flaws. The main character (Daniels, played believably by Katherine Waterston) dresses and comes across as a bootleg Ripley, without any character development to become tough as nails. She is established as fairly logical and honest, but at the end she suddenly acts fearless and almost aggressive. It's strange, as the situations she's in don't usually call for such a demeanour. This is more a problem with the writing than the acting. Where was her fire back when the captain decided to break off the mission?


 
Speaking of the situations or set pieces, as the movie goes on, it becomes clear the suspense didn't come along for the ride. It's not surprising when things go awry in the unknown environment. The dread of previous instalments is gone. Heck, even the Xenomorph doesn't live up to expectations when eventually arriving late in the day, lacking menace, merely being easily lured by the clanging of a steel pipe and deceived by the most simplest of avoidance tactics.

It's not just that there's no suspense, it's that there's little action, as well, but the action is mostly just bland and blurrily captured. Seeing crew members get killed brutally by small and vigorous versions of Xenomorphs is nice, but when each crew member is a face without a soul, it's hard to care. Lastly, it becomes even harder to care when the plot holes break immersion. Seriously, what is up with the badly built ships? Why does the planetary rover/spaceship's windshield break after two or three bashes, when it could withstand a destructive atmosphere and tumultuous weather before? It's made for travel in space and on foreign planets, but they couldn't afford some more protection?

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Alien: Covenant is filled with plot holes, characters devoid of… character, and it's completely absent of suspense. It favours action and is all the worse for it, with much of it lacking impact. It misses that up-close and personal disturbing feeling that past Alien films are known for. A confusing interlude with androids, one of which looks on dully at the discombobulated ravings of his brother, does not elevate the story. The focus on set pieces, like alien eggs, face-huggers, and chest-bursters, feels like a way to cash in on gore-lovers' enthusiasm. What a bore.

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Comments

As soon as I saw the Alien on the front of the ship, I was worried.  This is a bummer, all the early previews had a lot of potential.

Yeah, it looked promising, and I was excited to see it. Now, it just sounds bloody awful. All I've wanted was a retcon to erase Alien 3 and 4, and Scott keeps making confusing and pointless prequels.

put the series to rest.

if you wana see a good alien monster movie- see LIFE 2017

Azuardo said:
Yeah, it looked promising, and I was excited to see it. Now, it just sounds bloody awful. All I've wanted was a retcon to erase Alien 3 and 4,

this sounds like a worse idea than Ridley's prequels.

Insanoflex said:

Azuardo said:
Yeah, it looked promising, and I was excited to see it. Now, it just sounds bloody awful. All I've wanted was a retcon to erase Alien 3 and 4,

this sounds like a worse idea than Ridley's prequels.

Nothing can be worse than Alien Resurrection bruh.

Scott's got more prequels planned, apparently, all planning to lead into the original movie. Two more, last I heard. Guessing it depends on how well this does at the box office (not so hot, methinks).

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
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If you like action movies, the movie might be decent in your opinion... though I even doubt that. There's quite a few scenes in which barely anything happens.

It's strange, because the movie feels like it tries to do multiple things at once. It tries to be a Prometheus sequel, it tries to be Alien, and it tries to be something more like the spin-offs, and it results in shallowness all around.

It's sad, because the first few scenes were actually pretty decent. The guy you see spasming around in one of the movie's trailers actually died in a pretty gruesome way that fit what we're used to from an Alien movie. After that, however, the movie takes a nosedive. When an entire ship explodes simply because somebody shot some kind of explosive thing trying to hit an Alien, you just know there's no logic here. And of course, everybody touches everything, puts their head right above alien eggs, and so on.

The movie even messes up the Alien lore. I strongly recommend watching Angry Joe's review (and spoiler discussion if you don't mind knowing about key plot points).

( Edited 30.05.2017 11:02 by Leo Epema )

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Insanoflex said:

Azuardo said:
Yeah, it looked promising, and I was excited to see it. Now, it just sounds bloody awful. All I've wanted was a retcon to erase Alien 3 and 4,

this sounds like a worse idea than Ridley's prequels.

Yet that's exactly what Neil Blomkamp has been working on. Weaver and Biehn were both rumoured to be part of the project last i heard. the project was forced by Ridley Scott to be put on hold for after Alien Covenant, then still codenamed Prometheus 2. I was always more interested in Blomkamp's project than this one anyway.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Azuardo said:

Insanoflex said:

Azuardo said:
Yeah, it looked promising, and I was excited to see it. Now, it just sounds bloody awful. All I've wanted was a retcon to erase Alien 3 and 4,

this sounds like a worse idea than Ridley's prequels.

Nothing can be worse than Alien Resurrection bruh.

heres the thing.
resurrection is retarded, but it is so far removed from the first 3 it doesnt really matter.

its an alien movie in name only and outside of casting of sigourney weaver it has no bearing on the first films since she is playing a different character.

resurrection does not tamper with the alien legacy the way prequels do because prequels took away all sense of mystery.

retonning 3 isnt a good idea because in spite of that film's flaws, it is a good way to end the series and to close the story of ripley. killing her off the way they did was brilliant tragic irony that fit the series perfectly.

RudyC3 said:

Insanoflex said:

Azuardo said:
Yeah, it looked promising, and I was excited to see it. Now, it just sounds bloody awful. All I've wanted was a retcon to erase Alien 3 and 4,

this sounds like a worse idea than Ridley's prequels.

Yet that's exactly what Neil Blomkamp has been working on. Weaver and Biehn were both rumoured to be part of the project last i heard. the project was forced by Ridley Scott to be put on hold for after Alien Covenant, then still codenamed Prometheus 2. I was always more interested in Blomkamp's project than this one anyway.

neil is such a bad director... the guy got lucky with one good movie.

his idea for alien 5 is terrible idea for dragging sigourney and beihn out of their crypts to act in another alien movie will be exactly like dragging arnold back to be the terminator like in terminator genysis.

maybe we should just let it go?
the movies had their time and their time has passed. 

i know the hardest part is letting go of something you love, but we gotta or else studios will keep on ruining these things.

There are recent comments by Scott on Alien 5 that it won't happen, although he also contradicts by saying there was never a script, whilst Weaver says there was and thinks it will happen.

I, too, had read more prequels were in the works, which I don't know is a great idea considering even the first Prometheus had a glaring plot hole I've spoken of on this site before, and I still never found anything that let it co-exist with the first Alien movie. Unless Scott is actually retconning events in Alien 1...

I would still rather a retcon of 3 and 4 than anything else, just because if the current proposed Alien 5 does continue after Resurrection, then it is using the shit clone version of Ripley. And I can never forgive them for needlessly killing Newt, who was such a great character. I would probably only be interested in 5 if it was a retcon, not a continuation of 4.

maybe we should just let it go?

I've been at this stage a few times, and considering the movies begin and end with Alien 1 and 2 in my eyes, if I do let it go, I will still carry on pretending 3 and 4 don't exist. I can see how it may have been a fitting end in 3, but it was still mostly poor, and they still killed off Newt. So I'm just gonna continue closing my eyes and putting my hands over my ears.

la la la Alien 3 and 4 don't exist la la la Smilie

All this fighting over which Alien was better or worse or which one was should be ignored? Everyone, it doesn't matter. Can't we all just come together under the common knowledge that any movie with Alien vs Predator is garbage?

I tend to agree though that resurrection was kind of ridiculous.  3 was really.....odd, honestly. It felt like the art film of the bunch.

( Edited 30.05.2017 16:49 by devidise )

devidise said:
All this fighting over which Alien was better or worse or which one was should be ignored? Everyone, it doesn't matter. Can't we all just come together under the common knowledge that any movie with Alien vs Predator is garbage?

I tend to agree though that resurrection was kind of ridiculous.  3 was really.....odd, honestly. It felt like the art film of the bunch.


its easy to shit on 3.
but i will defend it because it did the right thing by ending the story in the classiest way possible.

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