Friday, 12 May 2017

Alien: Covenant (2017) - Film Review


*Originally written May 11th, 2017*

Well, Alien: Covenant is a noticeable improvement on Prometheus at the very least, but it still has a few of the same problems and I can't just help but feel a bit disappointed seeing as this was one of my most anticipated films of 2017.

Ridley Scott returns to the Alien universe once again with the direct sequel to the Alien prequel 'Prometheus' and it answers a few of the lingering questions Prometheus left behind and creates some new questions to be answered with the inevitable and planned sequels.

Alien: Covenant opens with a new crew and a new ship of future Xenomorph victims who decide to respond to a distress beacon on a previously unseen planet that is capable of holding alien life. Things soon go awry and get gory when they discover eveything is far from safe on this new planet.

Where Covenant improves on Prometheus is with its cast and sense of momentum. The crew of the Covenant are far more likeable and well rounded than anyone in the previous film, there's even a surprisingly good role for Danny McBride, who actually doesn't play Kenny Powers for once. There's an added sense of dread when it's revealed that the crew members are all actually married couples. Bringing a bit more weight once they start getting picked off one by one.

An ugly CGI Xenomorph
I was surprised at just how much it seems to follow the original Alien beat for beat. The lead character played by Katherine Waterson doesn't really have much focus until the final act, much like Ripley in the original. That said, Waterson cannot hold a candle to Sigourney Weaver, as her character is fine, but not massively worth investing in.
Michael Fassbender returns once again, delivering a wonderful dual role as two seperate androids (Playing both David from Prometheus and the new Walter). As sinister and terrifying as Fassbender's performance is, which does get more and more horrifying as more is revealed.

The problem with Covenant, is once again within the writing. It's all fairly straight forward, but once it hits the second act, it succumbs to that annoying self-important and pretentious philosophy that annoyed me more than anything. While it does also answer some questions from Prometheus, it does some frustrating and very disappointing things with it. Two well known actors who were confirmed to be in this film are wasted and pointlessly. There is an horrific visual with one of them, but it doesn't make up for the fact it wastes the actor completely.

Speaking of horrific visuals. Alien: Covenant really does earn its 15/R rating. It is so much more gory and horrific than Prometheus. With the new alien creatures involved, there's a variety of different ways these version of Xenomorphs burst out of people, some of these are sadly spoiled by the trailer, but it was none the less, horrific.

Sadly, once the fully grown Xenomorph enters the picture, the blood and gore sort of loses most of its impact. The Xenomorph itself is annoyingly all CGI, really noticeable CGI and seeing it tear through people lacks any sort of impact and has nowhere near the same effect of seeing that perfectly designed suit burst through someones head in 1979.

Lovely Fassbender
The aliens itself might be disappointing to look at, but everything else is gorgeous. The wide shots of the environments are beautiful to look at, brimming with detail. The ships also feel and look practical with no noticeable green screen in site. I have to give Ridley Scott credit, he's 79 and still making these huge blockbuster films and risky ones at that. Alien: Covenant is a weird film, it's really uneven and tonally messy, but it's also a massive budget R-rated sci-fi film, which is a rarity these days, so while I didn't massively love it, I hope people support it and it is succesful.

I did really like the end at least. It was predictable, but it was at least a fun nihlistic ending that puts the series in an interesting place for the next entry. I would have liked the third act as a whole more if they'd gone a bit more practical with it. They seem to have gone back to its roots with its finale, but it loses most of its tension and fear thanks to that terrible CGI Xenomorph.

Alien: Covenant isn't a great film and I am a bit disappointed, but it is a marginal improvement on Prometheus and a step in the right direction for the franchise, it also might be the best in the series since Aliens.

6/10 Dans

Alien: Covenant is out now in cinemas in the UK
Watch the trailer below: 

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