Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Alien: Covenant

Year: 2017
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, Billy Crudup, Demian Bichir, Carmen Ejogo

Plot: After their ship is badly hit by a space anomaly, the crew of a colony ship head for a nearby planet to see if it can sustain life, only to fall into a deadly trap.

Review: Well, color me disappointed. With Ridley Scott continuing his Alien prequel story after the entertaining Prometheus, one would hope Alien: Covenant would be just as good, if not better. To be honest, Covenant is far from a bad film, but it certainly falls short of my expectations.

First, the story. The colony ship Covenant is heading to a distant planet, scheduled to arrive in 7 years. A space anomaly hits them and some casualties occur, including the captain (James Franco in a cameo). First officer Oram, shown clearly to not be ready for leadership, takes charge and orders them to head for a nearby planet that seems to have all it requires to start their new colony. Once they get down there though, shit happens and they realize too late that they've been lured into a trap by a familiar face if you've seen Prometheus.

Here's what's good about Covenant. As usual, from a visual standpoint, Scott scores full marks. Unlike the dark ruins and desert in Prometheus, Scott opts for desolate and quiet forests this time. The location is still scary as heck, which works in his favor. There's also more gore and blood this time around, and yes Alien fans, you will get to see the xenomorphs here. On top of that you will also see new versions of the aliens, which lead to some really gruesome kills.

But compared to Prometheus, Covenant's story is much weaker. While Prometheus is about the search for our creators and discovering weapons of mass destruction, Covenant is about betrayal and a certain character's quest to override his own creator, which is facilitated by the Covenant crew's own carelessness and stupidity. Yeah, I know the Prometheus crew made some dumb decisions in their time, but the Covenant crew were clearly unprepared for traumatic situations and succumb to their own panic really quick.

Secondly, Scott chooses to focus more on this particular character's development than the aliens or the Covenant crew themselves. When you get to the second half of the film, the crew suddenly become fodder for the aliens and their creator, right up to the predictable ending. The ending was what I hated most about this film, because even more so than Prometheus, it was obviously done to set up the next film in the franchise. Thirdly, Scott even tries to execute a space vacuum sequence in the climax, just like the first two Alien films, but the whole process was rather unexciting.

Michael Fassbender does double duty here, playing Walter the android for the Covenant and David from the previous film. Personally I felt he was better as the former. Katherine Waterston is alright as Daniels, who is modeled after Ripley obviously, but doesn't hold a candle to her thanks to the poor writing. Danny McBride does well in a serious role this time as ship pilot Tennessee, and Billy Crudup is solid as Oram. The rest of the crew, including poor Demian Bichir are much too disposable to make an impact.

All I can say is, I expected more than this. I really hope Scott improves on the story for the next one, because Covenant had a lot to live up to and dropped the ball here. For the record, it's still entertaining to a degree. I just wished there was more. (6.5/10)

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