Review: Alien: Covenant (2017)
Reviewed by: Justin Rumenapp
Unlikable characters are a tricky thing to accomplish in cinema. Regardless if the unlikable character is the hero or a villain of the story, audiences want to see him get his comeuppance. And oh boy, does Alien: Covenant have one of cinema's all time "great" unlikable characters.
I digress, Alien: Covenant is the 6th film in the main Alien franchise, and 8th overall if one includes the Alien vs. Predator films of the mid-00s. There have been dozens of comics, video games and even pinball machines made around the series. By now, one should know what to expect. Colonists find themselves on some remote world, and this remote world contains an alien with a crazy metabolism and a hunger for humans. Colonists make really dumb decisions. Androids have ambiguous motivations. A character's survival is directly related to how prominent her name appears in the promotional materials. Alien: Covenant mashes up the best elements of 2012's Prometheus, 1979's Alien and 1986's Aliens to create a tight film that doesn't quite stand on its own two legs.
Basically, audiences have seen this painting before, and viewers will need to have seen the previous entries for full enjoyment here. As a fan of Prometheus it's hard not to feel disappointment in dropped storylines, and at the same time, interested in what's next for the series. In many ways, the film seems torn between wanting to explore deep questions about the creation of sentient life and deliver on the haunted house in space thrills.
As film enters an era where episodic franchise films are the norm (and TV series are delivering high quality production values), filmmakers will like have to find ways to explore heady topics in the context of pre-existing film series. That's what is going on in Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, and it was seen in this year's X-Men spin off Logan. The downside to this is that Alien: Covenant feels like the middle of season 2 cliff hanger. And likewise, the filmmakers will have to find new ways to keep the franchise fresh. Much of the final action sequence in the film is borrowed wholesale from the original. The ending is probably the most pessimistic of the entire series.
It is an absolutely gorgeous looking film, and fans will be mostly satisfied. While not much can match the perfection that is the first film in the series, he's to the next chapter blending big ideas and horror movie thrills a package that has it's own identity. Tall order, but it could be a great one.
VERSION: Theatrical, 2D
DIRECTED BY: Ridley Scott
SCREENPLAY BY: John Logan, Dante Harper
STARRING: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston