Alien: Covenant Movie Review

The Alien franchise has had an interesting run since its initial launch in 1979. While the first film was more of a straight-up horror movie, its sequel took things to a new level by giving us a full-blown action thriller. Alien 3 tried to get back to the horror roots and….well….it tried. The rest of the sequels are what they are: mindless lackluster entertainment with wasted potential. So you can imagine the enormous pressure facing Alien: Covenant. Would it continue the thread of disappointment, or would it help steer the franchise back in the right direction?

Ten years have passed since the events of Prometheus. The crew of the colony ship, Covenant, are en route to a settlement planet in the far reaches of space. After suffering a major malfunction, they receive a mysterious transmission. Believing it to be a cry for help (coupled with the fact that they’d rather explore a dangerous environment than go into hyper-sleep for a few years) the crew sets out on a journey to find its source. And from then on, the film follows a traditional narrative, with a clunky mishmash of suspense, horror, blood, guts, and action.

And I had a blast.

While it isn’t anything spectacular, the film is a solid thrill from beginning to end. It embraces both what made the original Alien so horrifying and what made Prometheus at least interesting. It fuses a dark, tense atmosphere with a mythology that, while not entirely matching up with the ideas introduced in Prometheus, manages to be profound and disturbing.

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However, the blend isn’t always smooth. A few tonal shifts here and there tampers with the overall pacing. The first act gets to the action pretty quick. The real meat of the story is in the second act, which, although white-knuckled, goes on for so long that by the time it gets to the third act, it goes by in the blink of an eye. Beyond that, the filmmaking is very crisp. For one, it looks gorgeous. Director Ridley Scott makes sure squeeze plenty of detail into every frame, thus giving the cinematography a beautifully haunting quality.

The acting is also really good. The characters themselves are not too well-developed, but the actors do an excellent job at portraying them. Danny McBride is surprisingly great as the ship’s pilot, and Michael Fassbender gives an especially creepy performance as the androids David and Walter.  Katherine Waterston plays the main female protagonist. It’s clear that she’s supposed to be a Ellen-Ripley-type character, and while she doesn’t reach that level of awesomeness, she still does fine with the material she’s given.

I had a lot of fun with Alien: Covenant. Does it match the greatness of its earliest predecessors? No. Is it absolute garbage? No. it definitely has its issues. The story gets predictable as it moves along, it’s hard to build a connection with the characters because you know little about them, and the climax goes by too quickly for my taste. But the film always kept my interest. The good stuff, such as the sheer scale of the film, the suspense, the visuals, is just too good. I definitely recommend it.

Cosmic Grade: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

 

 

 

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