Alien Covenant : Engineering a Mythos

Alien Covenant (2017)

Director – Ridley Scott

Writers – Dan O’Bannon

Starring – Micheal Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, Billy Crudup

Rating – R

Genre – Sci-fi, Horror

Metascore – 65/100

Rotten Tomatoes – 72%

Alien Covenant, sequel to 2012’s Prometheus marks the return of Ridley Scott to the camera. Prometheus excelled in its own realm as a fresh, mysterious spin on the series, but it suffered under the scrutiny of horror-loving Alien fans. It lacked the raw tenacity and auspicious carnage of the original films. In response to this criticism, it seems, Scott was brought back on deck to meld the forms of the ethereal Prometheus and the horror of Alien into Covenant.  

Unfortunately, Covenant suffers from the screenplay problems it inherited from Prometheus. Effectively, Covenant is painted into a corner by all the unanswered questions in Prometheus. While Prometheus was a unique enough departure into unfamiliar territory of the franchise, it was open-ended on all sides, leading Covenant to feel heavy handed while answering all the questions that most were not asking. The movie itself is executed well, due to the talent of Scott, but it often comes across more of a lecture in alien biology than an uncharted adventure. Covenant does bring some new elements to the table in the way of villainy, which is refreshing,  but ultimately results in a predictable third act.  

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Criticism aside, there are some quality performances by the leading cast. Michael Fassbender takes the form of two Synthetics (David and Walter) and plays both roles so well that it truly feels like there are two different performers on screen at the same time. There is a subtle swaying effect of the camera in his scenes – back and forth – as though it were David attempting to hypnotize Walter, or more accurately, Walters soft penetrating questions into the madness of the rouge synthetic David. Along with Fassbender, Danny McBride flourishes in this movie. McBride has been outspoken about his love for horror and, when he was given the platform, he delivered. While many actors performed well, the suite of cast members feels like a lazy replica of the cast of Prometheus.

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Regrettably, some of the CGI effects in this movie seem lazy and unpolished. Seen most clearly in the unrealistic movement of some of the xenomorphs, forcing themselves into space they could never fit and giving the scene a comical sight. There are times you can tell how much CGI is relied upon for violence; practical effects would have proved to be a boon.

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On the whole Covenant won’t stand well on its own. It builds entirely upon the mythos of Prometheus and not the tone or substance of the original trilogy. So, if you like Prometheus, you’ll love the strings that Covenant ties together. If you prefer the earlier installments you may even find some fun in the horror edge that Covenant carries over Prometheus. However, if you’re looking for the small-scale and masterful subtlety that Alien provides you’ll be sorely let down.

Authors : Blake Burrough and Jesse Ingram

499 rating : 7.0 / 10

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