Movie Review: Alien – Covenant

Alien: Covenant is the franchise’s return to its creature feature horror roots with captivating cinematography and stellar performances but suffers from sequelitis – the same old story that recycles old scares and offers no new insights to a much more interesting piece of the puzzle laid out by its predecessor.

Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, the crew of the colony ship Covenant discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world — whose sole inhabitant is the “synthetic” David (Michael Fassbender), survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.

Alien is one of the few movies that actually warrants a franchise because of its timeline, premise, and underlying themes. Unfortunately though, this is no guarantee that the franchise will give us something spectacular with every reiteration.

In fairness to Alien: Covenant, the Prometheus sequel offers the same winning elements that have made its predecessor an iconic film – a bad ass lead heroine, nightmare inducing births, ferocious extraterrestrial crustaceans, a doomed crew, and captivating visuals.

Cinematography, lighting, production design, and musical score all work together in creating a foreboding atmosphere and detailed worldbuilding. In space, the Covenant glides as a score of horns with a low thrum of bass notes play in the background. On the ground, you have gorgeous character lit scenes with detailed set pieces. The movie does not solely rely on digital visual effects as animatronics was used in its action sequences. As a result, you know where the story is going but it still looks interesting enough to know what’s going to happen.

Performances from its cast are not far behind, as Micheal Fassbender returns as two similar but different synthetic. He didn’t just rely on the accent to differentiate the two robots. The movie makes the same conclusions as any other sci-fi movie when robots emulate their creators, but Fassbender delivers a nuanced performance that he’s actually more scarier than the aliens. The rest of the crew did well, even though they had little to work with.

All of this will surely satisfy new audiences who know little about the franchise. But for fans who want to explore something new or finally get some clues as to what what the hell Prometheus was really about will be disappointed.

Prometheus, even though it’s a frustrating movie, posited an intriguing idea in the form of The Engineers. While our extraterrestrial origins is not a new concept it could have taken the franchise into a new direction. Unfortunately Alien: Covenant has no intention of breaking new ground.

The new cast is underused. It’s easy to see that Oram’s religious beliefs is in conflict with David’s view of creation. Its interesting to know what both think about the gay couple among the colonizers. But the movie has no time for that. They don’t make stupid mistakes but still die through horror tropes, such as falling for something that’s too good to be true and leaving the group even though there’s a scary alien lurking about.

There are a variety aliens here, but the movie throws whatever form is convenient for the plot rather than try to be consistent. The script lifts the greatest hits from previous installments and drop it all here for a no-science barred creature fest.

In the end, well you know how it goes. More installments are to be made as the important questions are left floating in the air.

Alien: Covenant offers the same old scares of claustrophobic horror and close quarters alien terror. If you hated the questions Prometheus dangled in front of your face and the pointless thinking it made you do, the sequel is a reprieve.

Ridley Scott’s recycles old scares and for the most part it still works. It’s low brow horror in an expensive package. If you just wanna see some aliens bust through bodies, Alien: Covenant is still enjoyable enough. At the least it shows us how our own technology is our undoing.

Otherwise, it’s still the same old story. If you’re thinking that Prometheus’ ambitions is headed for something new, be prepared for a trip back to memory lane.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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