“Alien: Covenant” is directed by the great Ridley Scott and stars; Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride and Demián Bichir. This film continues the story years after the events of “Prometheus” and is set before the story in 1979’s “Alien”. It follows the crew of the Covenant, a colony ship that is destined for a remote planet to begin the stages of building a human civilization.
They receive a remote signal and investigate to discover what appears to be another planet suitable for human inhabitance. But it isn’t long before they realize they are not the first human visitors to the planet and that there is something dangerous there that will threaten their lives.
So, first I will say I love this franchise. Not all the films have been great but the first two Alien films are classics and despite some of the issues I had with “Prometheus” it certainly did have its moments. With this film we have Ridley Scott back in the director’s chair. The Xenomorph is back, so this was enough to build my excitement for this movie. I was hoping for a nice blend of the horror element from the first film as well as the science-fiction story-telling of “Prometheus” and that was for the most part what this film delivered. Yet it was still honestly a mild letdown.
This film was not bad by any means. It certainly has its moment. The direction of the story was highly intriguing. It wove itself together with the events in “Prometheus” very well. It also delivered some of the familiar sci-fi horror that I loved so much in the first “Alien”. But despite all that, this film just had something missing to me. The first-act does deliver some good substance to the overall story-line these films are weaving together but it started out very slow and dampers some of the excitement you have going in.
This forces the second-act to re-build most of the intrigue back up and with some pacing issues it failed to do a good job with that. That isn’t to say this was not a good film. It was. I liked the plot direction and found it very interested but it felt like it took an overly mundane direction for telling itself.
The performances were all solid. But none were great and shockingly none of the characters were very well developed at all. The result was a collection of performances that were more than serviceable for a genre film like this. But none were lasting or memorable in any way. You do not connect with them so when the crap hits the fan you can enjoy the moments but not nearly as much as you could if you were actually invested in the characters. This was something that surprised me. With the writing team behind this script I was hoping for some much more fleshed out personalities and not disposable characters.
The story was certainly the focus and for that aspect it built some ambitious layers to the overall framework of things. But like I mentioned this one had some pacing issues and it felt like it tried to fit too many elements in that results in a choppy flow overall. The story would develop itself and the more intense moments didn’t necessarily feel out of place but they could have been stitched into the story a little better during the first half. Once it gets going it certainly entertains though and there is a collection of great scenes to pull you up in your seat.
Ridley Scott’s direction was well done. He frames up some fantastic shots and showcase the surroundings very well. But while I did enjoy some of the set-design it was still missing the greasy, dirty feel of the first couple films, elements that I think made things feel so much more realistic. The backdrops and set-design were all visually appealing but it was overly clean as well, like pretty much all films these days. There were some great scenes though that did deliver that grimy, gritty feel here and there and it did help add at times to the fan-service this film was clearly trying to land.
We get to see some great moments from the famous Xenomorph which certainly was created some cool moments. The other familiar creatures are back as well and we get a new creature called a Neomorph I believe that was also a very cool addition. Their appearance and movements were extremely well designed and the creature fits the world perfectly.
Overall I had some fun in this movie but not as much as I would have hoped and without going into spoilers I will leave it at that. There is enough meat here to create a cool story but it felt like it was hindered from some pacing issues, thin characters and a somewhat routine approach to telling a very ambitious story. But the special-effects are solid and when this one it up and going, it’s a good time, but the minutes in between were sort of a drag.