Alien: Covenant see’s director Ridley Scott return to a franchise that set the bar and influenced Horror and Sci-fi cinema since the first Alien in 1979. Does Alien’s newest entry return to this? It’s marketing certainly seems to present it as such and some aspects of the film do act as a callback to the directors good ol’ days with H.R. Geiger’s horrific Xenomorph design.
It seems fitting to address first what Alien: Covenant does right. It is terrifying, it lives up to the original as such. The heavy use of world building, creature design and tension the franchise is known for are ever present. After the first act’s build up and the first alien appears there is actually a frightening amount of gore for a 15 rated movie. Acting as a testament to the use of special effects used. Much like when you viewed the Alien movies of old you feel a sense of sympathy for each character’s demise simply because of the realism of their deaths.
However this movie does a lot wrong, it aims to blend Alien and Prometheus with the exploration of what it means to be human and what it means to be ripped to pieces by a space monster. Now the philosophy of the movie isn’t inherently bad but it doesn’t feel at home, a lot of scenes feel out of place and irrelevant. There is a very interesting link between the engineers, humans, synthetics and aliens but apart from that it just feels strange.
Also, everyone in this movie is a complete and utter idiot! As scientists and colonists they should see problems with alien eggs, walking on an uncharted planet with little protection, and a alien spaceship but it feels like just to get the iconic scares and action the characters are contrived into the relevant situations. This bad writing has one moment where it is so blatantly obvious that it hurts, anyone with sense wouldn’t do what the person does… ugh.
At this point I haven’t even mentioned how Prometheus’ questions barely get answered in this movie, it sort of answers one… just one. Don’t worry though Ridley Scott says there are at least two more prequels to go, yaaaay. Why make us wait so long for these answers that most people don’t even care about? Most people including myself want some great horror spectacle, and this film delivers that but wraps it up in so much idiocy.
It is worth noting the great casting and performances, Danny McBride stands out the most. The female lead Katherine Waterston is good enough, but again does feel quite contrived to make the audience sympathise with her, and for her to be the Ripley action hero from Aliens too.
Alien: Covenant does take the series in a direction that brings it back to it’s roots whilst attempting to expand the rich universe. However this isn’t enough to cover the bad writing and strange plot points. If you love the Alien movies it’s worth checking out the Rotten Tomatoes page for the movie before you see it. But it does provide the fix that Prometheus could not, whilst still just missing the mark.
Rotten Tomatoes page: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/alien_covenant/