“Alien: Covenant” is Smart, Sleek, and Mostly a Success

Alien Covenant

“Alien: Covenant” is directed by Ridley Scott and stars Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, Billy Crudup, and Danny McBride.  The film is a sequel to 2012’s “Prometheus” and a prequel to the classic “Alien” trilogy, all of which were also directed by Scott, and this movie is about a colony ship that discovers a planet that appears to be very capable of sustaining human life, but when they land, they find that there are major threats on the planet that they need to escape from.

I actually quite enjoyed “Prometheus” (quick review on Twitter here), as Ridley Scott has a lot of thought-provoking concepts, as well as some great performances and stunning visuals.  So, I was very excited coming into this movie, as Scott usually doesn’t disappoint in the Sci-fi area, and this film appeared to be more centered on horror, which is something I was dying to see.

The Good

Something that continues to be strong as the years go by is the direction by Ridley Scott, as he manages to always move the sci-fi genre in a new, bold direction, and that is certainly the case in this film.  Scott brings a flare to this movie that no one else could have, and, per usual, he is able to successfully bring together genres and create a movie with loads of strong storylines going on.

“Alien: Covenant” surprised me in its execution, as this is not the horror-based movie that I expected, instead, being more of a sci-fi thriller with some smart dramatic themes, and I think that this mostly worked in favor of the movie.  The “Prometheus” feel allows for some strong characters and a very solid storyline to base the thrills around, and these choices by Scott allowed me to be much more interested in the plot than a traditional horror movie would.

There are a lot of strong performances, Danny McBride was a nice surprise and Billy Crudup is as solid as usual, but no one compares to the brilliance that is Michael Fassbender in this film.  Fassbender plays a unique role, and it works incredibly well for the movie, as he is able to own multiple layers to his character, while also easily having the most interesting storyline in the movie.

This is another visually gorgeous movie from Ridley Scott, as well as from cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, and it makes for some truly breathtaking moments.  As with “Prometheus” and “The Martian”, Scott knows how much the vastness of a landscape can create an impact, and he does that excellently in this film.  Also, a highlight of the movie has to be the Xenomorphs, as they look absolutely incredible, and create some of the tensest, most horror-filled scenes of the film.

The Bad

This was not the movie that I was expecting coming in, and while that ended up being a good thing in a lot of ways, “Covenant” is just not as scary as I wanted it to be.  There were some tense parts and a couple real scares, but, for the most part, I was just not that surprised by many of the bits of horror, even with the R-rating being a nice booster.

The reason for the lack of scares has to do with two things: tone and anticipation.  With the tone, this movie is often all over the place with it, never slowing down enough to be entirely dramatic, but certainly never going with the fast-paced horror style either.  As I said, there are great moments of both of these things, but I think the movie could have benefitted from doing one of those stronger and more effectively.

The anticipation was pretty much lacking with every successive scare because it became incredibly clear who was going to die a few minutes before the characters bit the dust.  Whether it be to go for a pee break or to go explore, the clichés were too obvious for me to be surprised at all when characters got the ax.  That, paired with a few scenes that I found a bit ridiculous, made for a movie that was slightly less enjoyable than I was hoping for.

Conclusion

“Alien: Covenant” offers some stunning visuals, a solid ensemble cast boasted by a tremendous Michael Fassbender performance, and a couple great moments of both drama and thrills.  There are some shortcomings, most of which come from the movie feeling a little too “Prometheus”-y or when Ridley Scott takes the easy route with clichés, but overall, “Alien: Covenant” is an entertaining, smart, and mostly satisfying sci-fi film.

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(Trailer NSFW)

Get tickets and showtimes for “Alien: Covenant” here (in theaters 5/19)

Are you excited for “Alien: Covenant”?  Comment below with your thoughts.

 


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