Although nowhere near as great as ALIEN, ALIENS, or PROMETHEUS, ALIEN COVENANT is another entertaining chapter of the franchise that will leave fans wanting more, and by more I mean SIGOURNEY F-ING WEAVER IN THE NEXT FILM k thnx bye.
Regardless of my snooty film critic observations in the “bad” section of this review, let’s be real – when push comes to shove ALIEN COVENANT is still a fun and thrilling chapter in the ALIEN franchise. At its heart, even the most :ahem: disappointing ALIEN films are still entertaining… whether that means screaming “Get away from her, you bitch” along with Ripley, cheering as an Alien bursts through the chest of a Predator, or stressing during Dr. Elizabeth Shaw’s Alien c-section.
In the days since seeing COVENANT, I have gotten over some initial feelings of disappointment to revel in the classic, exhilarating elements the film evoked, aka true signs of a successful ALIEN film:
-First and foremost, ya gotta have chest-bursting: Major Check
-White knuckling my armrests? Check.
-Jump Scares? Check.
-Fangirl screaming (internally of course) when a facehugger latched onto its first victim? Check.
-Feeling phantom chest pains during the film and trying not to panic that sh*t’s about to go down internally: Check. (Note: Strangely enough, Alien Chestbursters are not listed on WebMD)
-Convincing myself there is an Alien in the ceiling of my apartment when I get home: Sadly, Check.
Double the Fassy
I don’t think this really needs an explanation… not only is Michael Fassbender one of the greatest actors working today, but LOOK AT HIM!!! In COVENANT, you don’t get just one Fassy performance, you get TWO; he reprises the role of David and introduces a new synthetic, Walter… basically the less agro, 2.0 update of David. Anyway, his performance was the highlight of the film. So much so, his characters were the only ones I really rooted for throughout the entire movie (we will get to that issue later).
I don’t want to be super spoilery, but I think I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t warn you to emotionally prepare yourself for a Fassy on Fassy kiss… you heard it here first. BTW, now that he has shown his ability to act against himself, I am writing a treatment for a gender-swapped IT TAKES TWO that will make the Olsen Twins wish they were never born.
Whatever you may think about COVENANT, Ridley Scott and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski shot a beautiful film. From the opening shot, focusing on David’s first moments of “life”, to the landing on the alien planet, I knew we were in for a real treat.
Man oh man the script needs serious work. I was really annoyed by the way the script talked down to the audience, treating us like we are idiots who need the intricacies of the story spoon-fed to us in order to understand. From an overuse of expositional dialogue, which at its worst kept explaining relationships between the characters, to a few cheesy (almost laughable) scenes, I was taken out of the movie way too many times.
What PROMETHEUS did best was allow faith vs science to be a provocative, subtle theme of the film, existing in the cerebral realm if moviegoers wanted to go there intellectually. But COVENANT beats you over the head with this concept, leaving nothing really to ponder and, in my opinion, almost cheapening its predecessor’s accomplishments.
Finally, I won’t get too spoilery, but that “twist” at the end was sooooooooooooo telegraphed. I was hoping the actual twist would be that Daniels knew what was going on all along, but NOPE. It was all just that obvious. Yikes. I think LIFE, another FANTASTIC sci-fi horror film released this year, had a much more satisfying third act.
Listen, I knew going into COVENANT we weren’t going to get another Ripley. There is only one, and she is still a few years off (canon-wise) from traveling to LV-426. However, PROMETHEUS did a great job of developing interesting characters who made me invested in their survival. Shaw is original and badass in her own right, and I hoped for the same dynamic in COVENANT. However, I found the main crew to be extremely dull and one-dimensional, including Daniels (Katherine Waterston). Apart from one cool scene in which she battles the Alien on the outside of the ship… yawn. The only characters I actively rooted for were Walter and David, and as you may remember from PROMETHEUS, David isn’t necessarily a hero. Not a good sign.
Also, this gets back to a script issue too but at times I felt like I was watching a parody of a horror movie. The Covenant crew was SO STUPID! Almost every character died because they did something idiotic, for instance: deciding to go out alone in the woods on an alien planet for a bathroom break, going to check out a scary, dark room alone, or leaving the security of your group to freshen up, you guessed it, alone. Wait a second, I’m starting to sense a theme here…
This is definitely the bloodiest ALIEN movie to date. From chest/back eruptions galore, to varying types of xenomorphs f-ing humans up, COVENANT is definitely not for the weak of heart (or stomach). Director Ridley Scott knows how to get an audience’s heart rate up, perfectly timing the most gut-wrenching scene (pun intended) to usher in the start of the film’s high-octane second and third acts. I’ll put it this way, it doesn’t take too long for you to know you’re watching an ALIEN film. And then all of a sudden you realize this is next-level gory… and, let’s be real, freakin’ awesome.