Alien: Covenant is written by John Logan and Dante Harper, directed by Ridley Scott and stars Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Amy Seimetz and Guy Pearce. Set 10 years after the events of Prometheus, it follows the crew of the Covenant on a colonisation mission that comes to a halt when their captain is killed in his cryosleep chamber. Upset and in mourning, the crew decide to follow a beacon from a nearby planet that seems to be a habitable new world for human life. However, soon after they arrive they realise just how much danger they've gotten themselves into. Now, I was extremely anticipant of this. Alien has to be one of my favourite films of all time, with Aliens not being far off, and whilst I was disappointed by 2012's Prometheus, I saw great potential in it's story that I was hoping would manifest in this. Basically I went in skeptical, but really wanting to love it. But what did I think? Here's my take on Alien: Covenant.
Well, like I said, I really wanted to love it, and unfortunately I was monumentally disappointed. Like it's predecessor, Prometheus, Covenant struggles to get itself off the ground; ultimately failing to be anything more than just forgettable. However there are some positives. I did appreciate much of the visual style, with the grey, murky shots of the landscape adding to the sense of intrigue and enigma and the CG recreation of H.R Geiger's iconic creature feeling both authentic and appropriately menacing. The visuals that I did struggle with, however, were the ultra-frenetic action shots. It's a trend I disapprove of; the super-FPS 28 Days Later shaky thing. It's not quite shaky cam, but it is almost as exhausting and often terribly difficult to follow. The performances generally aren't bad, with Katherine Waterston standing out as a strong female lead. Though her character is never particularly interesting or multi-dimensional, she is an absolutely commanding screen presence and she was quite convincing in the role. Michael Fassbender, who I think gave the strongest performance in Prometheus, is efficient here as the character of Walther, but in the reprising of his role as David, he seems to disregard the sort of insightful and layered character work from the previous film in the way of generically kooky playfulness, which works nowhere near as well.
However, the real problem with the film is how absolutely obsessive it is with expanding the mythology of the franchise, removing the truly sinister element of mystery present in the early films and putting derivative world-building and dramatic over-explanation in it's place. This was essentially what Prometheus did, but where the two differ is in how Prometheus had a both sense of cinematic focus and some relatively interesting provocations that gave it some actual potential. I don't feel this potential in Alien: Covenant. In fact, it feels wholly uninspired and none of the themes or narrative explorations made are really anything to care much about. The allusions to the ideas of religion and creationism are misguided and end up feeling overblown and pretentious, and the plot feels as though it's treading along at an almost improvisational speed, with none of the story beats feeling fully realised or fleshed out, but rather made up on the spot. On top of this, it at times feels like watching a greatest hits compilation of the Alien franchise, as the filmmakers choose to basically re-make iconic moments from the original films, but without any of the cinematic flare or craftsmanship. Not only is there a chest-burster scene and an Aliens style landing on a forbidden planet, but a third act that feels extremely familiar and unoriginal to top it all off.
Overall, it's pretty bad. I don't know if I would say it's completely awful, as it's not completely without merit and there's not exactly anything that feels offensively bad, apart from a few really nonsensical moments, but what it is is a derivative, dull, underwhelming and worst of all, pointless prequel that seems to be setting out to ruin part of what makes the first two films, as well as aspects of the sequels, so special. By trying so hard to expand on a redundant mythology, it seems to become increasingly uninteresting and ultimately forgettable. At the end of the day, all I have to say is that these prequels are unnecessary and they're not doing anything but putting the quality of the franchise in a regression, so Ridley, just stop making them.
So what did you think of Alien: Covenant? Have you seen it? Did you enjoy it? Make sure to let me know down in the comments and if you liked this review and want to see more like it go to creators.co/@garwoodreviews for more.