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In space, no one can hear you scream. That’s probably because nobody will be screaming. Not this time at least. Alien Covenant is the sixth instalment in the Alien Franchise, and the eighth Alien film in total. It also happens to be the sequel to Prometheus and a prequel to Alien. Already things are sounding pretty confusing, but roll with me here. I was really looking forward to this one. Already it sounded pretty cool. Prometheus, but with the Alien. It promised to answer questions, deliver horror and thrills in equal amount and fix Prometheus’ problems. Ridley Scott returns after wowing everyone with The Martian, and we have an all-star, talented cast. Sounds great, right?
The story to Alien Covenant is about the crew of the ship, Covenant. Its purpose is to deliver the human race to a terraformed planet lightyears away from our own. The crew of this ship must care for a, well cargo I suppose, of 2000 people and 8000 embryos destined to live on said new world. But circumstance brings the crew to a planet half way along the journey. One that seems perfect for human colonisation. But investigation proves this world to be far from a paradise, as the crew come face-to-face with an alien threat, more deadly and vicious than any ever encountered before.
What I will say about Alien Covenant is it looks great. Yes, I know it’s Ridley Scott and the man has always wowed with amazing visuals. But still give the man credit. The sets of this film and the sheer scale are amazing. The attention to detail is even more so. It’s probably the nicest looking film of the year. So, far at least. Not to mention the film has a great soundtrack. Mixing the operatic theme of Prometheus and the unnerving symphony of Alien was an oddly great mix. And, true to form for a Scott film, the acting is really good too.
Michael Fassbender, in a duel role this time, works wonders with what he has. Being both dutiful and ego-maniacal, and constantly morally ambiguous. We also have Katherine Waterston (from Fantastic Beasts) as Ripley 0.2 – I mean Daniels! She does a pretty good job too, nothing outstanding but good. Billy Crudup plays the Covenant captain, and does an equally fine job. But the stand out to me was Danny McBride, of all people. Apparently, the usually comedic actor loves this series, and it shows. He tries, and succeeds to create a great character for us to root for. The rest of the cast, including cameos from Guy Pearce and James Franco oddly enough, are again fine. There’s not much for these actors to chew on, but they all do a good job.
Sadly though, while I will call Alien Covenant a good film, I am very disappointed by it. Once again, the script isn’t that good. But that’s not really my issue with it. My issue is how messy the film is. I don’t mean gory, although it is certainly that at points, I mean how unfocussed the story is. What Alien Covenant tries to do is be Prometheus 2, and also Alien 0, and also its own thing. And when you tried to be everything, you end up as nothing. I will say that it is a better film than Prometheus. But give Prometheus this, it had structure. There was a story to tell, and it was told in three acts. Covenant has three to tell, and is told in five. It’s just a mess. A good looking and well filmed mess, but a mess. And, if you have seen Alien and Prometheus, then you have seen this film. It does nothing new, not really. Nothing was gained from this. Except a few answers as to where the alien came from.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about the thing that everyone is coming for. The alien! There’s actually two different types in this film. For those who don’t know, the official name for the Alien series monster is xenomorph (it literally means alien lifeform). This film gives us the officially named neomorph, as well as the xenomorph. The neomorphs are a very strange and not particularly interesting creature. They do bring two of the films creepier moments (including the back-bursting bit from the trailer), but are mostly just kind of silly. There is a particular moment when they attack someone, and it was laughable. When the xenomorph finally does arrive, the film is nearly over. And, while it was great seeing alien do what alien does, it was also a let-down. It’s arrival actually messes with the pacing and the climax is underwhelming because of how quick it is. I actually think that the bit everyone was looking forward to, is the bit that hurts this film the most. Alien should have been saved for another film, in my opinion.
What else is there to say? Alien Covenant let me down. It’s still good, and worth a watch. It’s better than Prometheus, and is far better than Alien Resurrection and the AVP movies. But it doesn’t reach the height of the original two, or even Alien 3. For those who read my list, I’d put this in place number 6, between Prometheus and Predators. There is a sequel on the way, I know because this film sets one up and it’s already been announced. But, this film has sobered me up I suppose. Before I would have been looking forward to it with gleeful anticipation. Now, I know I’m going to see it because I want to give it a chance, but I’m feeling very indifferent about it. I guess I now feel that we have hit the heights and are probably not going to reach them again. Maybe The Predator next year can prove me wrong. But until then, I’ll watch the first one again and wait for the DVD with this one.
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