Movie Review

The ALIEN franchise has a warm place in the hearts of Show Me The Movies! and so much so that we can see through the flaws of Ridley Scott’s latest entry; ALIEN: COVENANT, especially in comparison to the earlier ALIEN movies. Both ALIEN and ALIENS are bonafide classics in their own right and whilst ALIEN 3 suffered from the struggles between a rookie Director (David Fincher) and studio interference, it still managed to create memorable sequences that honour the earlier movies’ tension and body horror. Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s ALIEN: RESURRECTION brought decent gore but seemed to ignore what made the earlier films work; the creeping tension and suspense of ALIEN and the thrillingly staged action of James Cameron’s ALIENS. So, where does COVENANT leave the franchise after the mixed response to 2012’s PROMETHEUS?

The Answer is, well, much in the same place really. The plot sees the crew of the USCSS Covenant on a mission to terraform an Earth-like planet but when the crew is prematurely awoken by a systems failure its captain (Billy Crudup) makes the fateful decision to divert to what looks like a perfect planet to support human life. Of course, this doesn’t go entirely to plan.

While PROMETHEUS suffered from an average script, dubious character choices (the alien meet-cute, running in a straight line whilst an enormous spaceship falls on top of you…!) it did offer a tantalising view of a pre-Alien world and was beautifully designed and lensed. What COVENANT manages to achieve (for the first hour at least) is to set up an interesting continuation of the events of PROMETHEUS while introducing the audience to a suitably violent and malevolent creation, the Neomorph.

It is in these sequences where the movie is most effective, delivering some gruesome and blood splattered kills, especially when the Neomorphs make their brutal entrance into the world. However, the problems Prometheus faced are present here as well. The crew are, aside from Danny Mcbride’s Tennessee, largely forgettable and Katherine Waterstone’s Ripley-esque Daniels is neither tough enough or developed enough to be truly memorable. Also, while the space vistas are beautifully rendered there is too much CGI used for key sequences with the Aliens and this somewhat dilutes the Xenomorph’s entrance when it finally happens.

Overall though ALIEN: COVENANT just about manages to be an often thrilling ride with an awesome new addition to the Alien ranks in the creepy Neomorphs. Special mention must also go to Michael Fassbender who is superb as PROMETHEUS’ returning android David and the newly introduced Walter.

Extras

  • Deleted and extended scenes
  • USCSS Covenant – meet Walter, Phobos, The Last Supper
  • Sector 87 – Planet 4 (featurettes)
  • Master class: Ridley Scott – Story, Characters, Setting, Creatures
  • Director commentary by Ridley Scott
  • Production Gallery

Best of the bunch here is the master class with Ridley Scott that offers a fascinating look into the film’s production over its 55 minute runtime. The director’s commentary sees Scott talk knowledgably about the ALIEN franchise as a whole and also about COVENANT’S place within it while the deleted scenes offer 18 minutes worth of what was rightly excised from the theatrical cut of the film.

Verdict

Despite sharing some of PROMETHEUS faults and not entirely answering all of the questions it posed, COVENANT offers just enough thrills to warrant it’s place in the continuing ALIEN franchise.