Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Alien: Covenant

Alien Covenant is set 10 years after the events in Prometheus and is about the ship named The Covenant which is on a colonization mission to the planet Origae-6. However, the crew are woken by a solar flare, which kills their captain, leaving Bully Crudup’s Christopher Oram in charge. By chance, the ship intercepts a message from a nearby planet which offers the crew everything they need to survive. Following the deadly accident in their sleeping pods, the crew decide not to go back to hyper-sleep and decide instead to investigate the nearby planet where everything imaginable goes wrong.

With the release of Alien: Covenant it is still the case that the best thing to come out of the Alien franchise is a video game. No, not Alien: Colonel Marines but Alien: Isolation, a game that captured the essence of what made Alien so good. In the game, the tension and intrigue for a first glimpse of alien aboard the crashed vessel still felt very genuine (despite the monster being part of popular culture for over 40 years) and the terror came from the fact you never knew where the xenomorph was. In Alien: Covenant you know where the xenomorph is at all times so there is no tension. You could argue that there is no need to keep it hidden because the reveal would not work (we already know what it looks like) but avoiding a long look at the xenomorph is different to not knowing where it is.

Alien: Covenant is a blend of Alien and Prometheus with the mixing of many iconic moments from the four Alien films and the theoretical discussions about the origins of humanity from the Prometheus movie. This shows that lessons were learnt regarding the criticism levelled at Prometheus that centered around the fact that it wasn’t a 'proper' Alien movie. This, however, creates another issue where the movie is a little bit of a mess. In the Alien part of the film, the entire Alien franchise is thrown together (like in Alien 3 there is an VOP shot from the alien) and the Prometheus aspect has the film discuss the origins of humanity. The mismatching of these contrasting films makes for a messy movie.

Some lessons weren’t learnt, however, and it makes it all the more frustrating. The biggest flaw of Prometheus was the characterisations as these supposed intelligent scientists where nothing more than a group of professional idiots doing inexplicably dumb things and once again the disposable crew in Alien: Covenant are lacking in common sense. To move the plot forward the film needed the dumb characters to do dumb things (like touching a dangerous looking plant or peering into a mysterious egg) so that their dumb actions kicked the plot into gear.

This is a big problem because what made the first Alien film work so well was that the characters felt like real people, discussing things like overtime and money. In Alien: Covenant, the characters discuss god and origins of humanity, and even though there is an attempt to humanise the characters by having them ‘banter’ with one another, the type of banter they share would only work among close friends and there’s nothing to suggest that these people are even close at all.

The fault of the film lies at the feet of screenwriters John Logan and Dante Harper as everything outside the script is perfectly decent. Scott has an eye for visuals and once again the film is great to look at with its impressive set design and the performances particularly by Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterson (in Ripley like role), and (surprisingly) Danny McBride who are all pretty good. It’s just the poorly written script, bad characterisation, and clumsy pace let the film down badly. Even the film’s major moment is badly executed. A major disappointment on Alien 3 level.



  1. My hype for this movie has dramatically dropped in recent months.

    1. Still see it. I think i am in the minority somewhat