The Alien franchise is back once again. The follow up to 2012’s Prometheus, Alien: Covenant, is more or less a return to form for the Alien franchise. Ridley Scott, who directed the first film and Prometheus is back in the director’s chair. This film aims to combine the best elements from Alien, Aliens and Prometheus. Does it effectively do that? Not really. Does that mean it’s bad? No it does not.
The film follows the colonist ship, Covenant, as they are woken up from hibernation due to a freak accident. As they are drifting in space and not wishing to go back into cryo sleep, they discover a beacon from a planet that should show no signs of life. Who sent out the signal? None other than David 8, the android from Prometheus and the sole survivor of that crew. But not everything is what it appears to be and with this film being an Alien film, you know that something is just drifting in the background and ready to strike.
First thing, this movie is gorgeous. Who would have known that just a wheat field can look hauntingly beautiful? The cinematography is top notch and you can see every penny being spent on the screen. This does effectively set the mood for the film. That things are beautiful but also the underbelly of dread as things are not really what they should be. Without giving away too much, mummified bodies have never looked hauntingly beautiful.
The plot of the movie is bare bones as it is in the quick synopsis that I gave earlier. You can tell that the criticisms of Prometheus being too heady was probably taken to heart. But this is where the film runs into problems trying to have its cake and eat it too. It kind of wants to continue to delve into the philosophical stuff established in Prometheus but at the same time wants to have the horror from Alien and the action from Aliens. So the movie has key and great moments in those individual moments but it doesn’t really gel all that well. If there is a sequel to this (and thus another prequel to Alien) then they can probably figure out the right balance to everything. In fact, you should watch the prologue videos released online that are probably deleted scenes rejiggered to be prologue shorts to help flesh out the film.
When it comes to the actor’s, this is Michael Fassbender’s movie. He plays dual roles here as David from Prometheus and a new android Walter. As mentioned earlier, David is the only survivor from Prometheus but if you remember that movie, he was not. So what happened in between? The dichotomy between the two androids gives the movies some of the best scenes in the movie. The only problem is that the movie is supposed to have some mystery concerning these characters but it is obvious from the get go especially if you have seen Prometheus.
Katherine Waterston as Daniels Branson fulfills the Ripley-esque role. She is the voice of reason in the film and one who wisely tells the others to not go to the planet. Billy Crudup is always a solid actor and he is the Captain of this ship but also a man of faith. In this future, being a person of faith is looked down upon as hinted in the previous film. The true standout has to be Danny McBride. Known mostly for his comedic efforts, though he has done dramatic roles, this film gives a good mixture of both. The pilot of the ship who has some comic relief but gets serious when things get serious as well.
Now since this is an Alien film, how are the aliens? Well the classic Xenomorph and Facehuggers have returned. But in addition there is also something called the Neomorph. The Neomorph brings a new element of horror as we have never seen anything like this in the franchise before. If you played Resident Evil 7, it is reminiscent of the some of the creatures in that video game. But Ridley Scott is also utilizing a good mix of practical and computer graphics to get the best out of his creatures to establish a true horror in them.
This is ultimately a solid film and a solid entry into the franchise. Even in his bad films, there is always a level of polish and professionalism that goes into a Ridley Scott film. From the direction to cinematography to music and acting. There are all solid across the board. But there are still some rough patches that do not put it into the upper echelon of the franchise either. If you enjoyed Prometheus, I think you will enjoy this. If you did not enjoy Prometheus, I think you will definitely enjoy this. I do hope that this movie does well if only to get a conclusion to the story arc started in Prometheus.