WARNING: The following review contains spoilers, I’m telling you now so you don’t pretend to be outraged later.
When the trailer for Alien Covenant was released, most people were trying to figure out if it was a sequel to Prometheus, which is a prequel to the Aliens Franchise, or if was a sequel to both Prometheus and Aliens making it a reboot of the original based on the prequel. Turns out, Alien Covenant is a sequel to Prometheus and the second installment of three in the Alien prequel series, as well as the sixth film in the overall Alien film series, and third one directed by Ridley Scott…If your brains still function after all that, the series order is pretty complicated. The critical response to Prometheus was pretty split down the middle, but that wasn’t going to stop 20th Century Fox from seeing $$$ in a cinematic universe involving Aliens. Seeing how they don’t know how many years they have left out of Ridley Scott before he croaks, they only have a limited amount of time to squeeze these films out so let get straight into Alien Covenant.
Our film begins exactly 10 years after the events of Prometheus and ironically starts off almost identically like another recent sci-fi film Passengers. A colony ship in the middle of space is bound for a remote planet that is years away with a couple thousand colonists onboard. The ship gets hit with a massive sonic wave that causes pod malfunctions and kills nearly 50 people, including the ships Captain….James Franco. No, I’m not kidding, Franco is the Captain of this ship. Fortunately, he dies right away so he doesn’t even get an opportunity to speak. The crew finds a planet that is similar to Earth in the middle of nowhere and decides to test their luck and see if the planet is habitable. When they land, things go wrong almost instantly as the crew is infected with the black alien spore from the first film which kills them and spouts Neomorphs from their dead bodies (A problem that could have been prevented if they were wearing helmets). The crew must fight to survive the planet while the others look for a way to save them without jeopardizing the lives of the colonists.
If you are comparing this to the first film, you are likely to have the same compliments and the same complaints. The action and the set pieces are outstanding. The budget of this film is less than 100 million and the special effects here are 1000x better than I’ve seen from movies with more than double the budget. The exterior shots were filmed at Milford Sound in New Zealand. Add special effects to an already beautiful place and you create a gorgeous post life planet which would be a perfect place to live (without all the death that is). If you are gauging how scary this is, the monsters look amazing, whether they are scary or not depends on how big of a
pussy coward you are.
When it comes to the writing, you see a lot of similarities to the first film. It’s not good or bad, just in the middle. The only story that seems to progress this franchise is the story of David, played by Michael Fassbender, who is on a ‘kill all humans’ trip and is single handily responsible spreading the plague of this deadly alien virus from one planet to another. Fassbender carries this movie as he is playing the role of evil killbot David as well as a kinder upgrade version of himself named Walter. The scenes where he is having a conversation and interacting with himself are both brilliant and sometimes unintentionally funny.
Now the biggest problem I had with the film was the really the third act where I felt like they rushed the ending because they realize that not enough people have been killed by Aliens at this point. But something that was peculiarly confusing was the film’s twist ending, mainly because you weren’t sure if it was supposed to be a twist. So David the evil robot decides he will take the place of Walter to sabotage the colonists. He cuts his hair to look exactly like Walter to fool everyone, however, there was a very distinct look between the two. Walter has a very clean-cut hairstyle while David looks more rugged since he just cut it (not to mention, David’s hair was blonde first but I guess he just cut the blonde part off). Now I couldn’t tell if this was supposed to be obvious or not because the movie ends with a twist where the way they present it, we weren’t supposed to be able to see it coming when it was obvious from the start. For that reason, not being able to tell what the direction was for the film’s conclusion makes the ending pretty flat overall.
If the purpose of this film was to jump-start the Aliens franchise after a couple of missteps then Alien: Covenant does that. While it doesn’t excite Alien fans with a great movie, it does give enough intrigue to make you want to see how they wrap up this series and ties its loose ends to the original franchise. The effects are great, the gore is well done, and those goddamn face huggers are still suckering people in long after they should know better. Alien: Covenant is a well-shot thriller for a franchise that is waiting for Young CGI Ripley to conclude Riley Scott’s work.
OFFICIAL RATING: ***