Alien: Covenant Movie Review

It’s time for another movie review presented by our good friends over at FatCats Gilbert on the southwest corner of Greenfield and Baseline! FatCats Gilbert is the best place to see all of the latest box office hits such as the one I’m talking about today, Alien: Covenant! To see all showtimes and to purchase tickets, you can click right HERE!

Of the three reviews I’m going to be able to get out this week, this one is by far the one that I was looking most forward to. I’m a huge fan of the Alien franchise, and I couldn’t wait to see Ridley Scott back behind the camera of an official Alien movie. The first film from 1979 is one of my all-time favorites. It’s probably in my top ten. Ridley Scott is a director I’ve admired since I first started seriously watching movies, and Alien is a huge reason for that. I also love the sequel Aliens, and I actually like a lot about Prometheus. Could Ridley Scott bring this franchise full circle? Let’s find out!

Alien: Covenant is directed by Ridley Scott and stars Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, and Danny McBride. Colonists on the Covenant are on their way to a brand new planet that is said to be inhabitable for humans. When the crew is woken from their cryosleep and hear a transmission from a nearby planet that also seems to be remote, they decide to investigate, but this unexpected gift might be too good to be true.

Any time you go into a Ridley Scott movie, you have to expect it to look top notch. No matter what you think about his past few films, they all look magnificent. It’s really crazy to think that Ridley Scott is almost 80 years-old, and he’s still making movies like he’s 30. Through his career it’s so nice to see that nothing has clouded his creativity and nothing has stopped him from advancing technologically. Alien: Covenant is no different from his other movies in that it looks phenomenal. I personally think that it’s a step down from Prometheus and The Martian, but it still looks great, and Ridley Scott is one of the best visual storytellers we have today. He is the star and selling point of his films. Much like when you walk into a Tarantino or a Scorsese movie, it doesn’t really matter who is in front of the camera. Scott is the star of his work, and you can tend to expect similar qualities and tendencies from each of his movies that make him such a great filmmaker. Next, some of the performances are very good. Obviously Michael Fassbender is one of the most talented actors working today, but his synthetic being has such a pivotal role in both Prometheus and now Alien: Covenant that he takes center stage and far outshines any of the human characters. In fact, I find him far more emotionally compelling than any of the humans. I love tales of humanity when they’re executed effectively, and the way he goes about synthetically creating a simulation of actual life and life’s decisions is pretty interesting. That was one of my favorite parts about Prometheus, and it comes back to be one of my favorite parts about Alien: Covenant. I won’t get into spoiler territory, but the scenes that ended up stealing the movie, for me, were the scenes where Michael Fassbender essentially carries everything on his shoulders. That’s about all I’m going to say just in case you were trying to avoid any marketing or plot details. I also really liked Danny McBride. I haven’t seen him take on a dramatic role where he has to exhibit a huge range the way he does in Alien: Covenant, and he impressed the heck out of me. Finally, in an Alien movie, you must have the thrills to go with each component that would make a typical film great, and Alien: Covenant provides those thrills. Multiple scenes had me holding myself in my seat, and they felt like classic Alien horror scenes because of Ridley Scott’s direction and the score.

I have good things to say about this movie, but I’d probably consider it the most disappointing movie I’ve seen this year. First of all, the only two characters I was even moderately invested in were Danny McBride and Michael Fassbender. There is little to no character development in this film. That’s just one aspect that made the original film so special. I didn’t just care about Ripley. I cared about every single member on the Nostromo, so when the kills occurred, I was struck with a bit of grief and understanding that we just lost an important being. The crew of the Nostromo wasn’t just important to each other. They were important to me. I can tell that the crew of the Covenant cares for each other, but I don’t care one single bit about them. At first, I thought it was because there were too many characters, but when I saw a photo of the entire crew towards the end of the film I realized that it was because of terrible character development and how screen time is dispersed. Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, and Danny McBride are the only members with sufficient screen time that would allow me to care about them, but the only two who actually have focus on development seem to be Fassbender and McBride. I didn’t care a bit about Waterston’s character, and Crudup’s character made awful decisions as a leader that simply made him an annoyance to the story. Next, there is a very jarring tone shift in this movie. Headed into this film I can see an audience member looking for three things. First, one could just be looking for a good Alien movie. When you don’t account for Prometheus, we haven’t had a good Alien movie since 1986, so hoping to go back to that is an understandable hope. Second, someone buying a ticket to Alien: Covenant could be looking for a sequel to Prometheus. One of the biggest issues fans had with Prometheus was that it didn’t answer all of the questions it proposed. Maybe a sequel could answer those questions with lore that we already know. Third, there’s the audience member who just wants a popcorn flick and doesn’t care about the two other things because they missed the other seven movies. Alien: Covenant tries to please both people who want the first movie as well as the people who want the second movie, but it fails because it’s attempting to make two different movies. The tone and pacing shift from Prometheus to Alien feels so rushed and jarring that the entire narrative feels uneven, and I felt like I saw two wholly different movies. I wanted both a good Alien movie and a sequel to Prometheus, but it didn’t give me either. If I wanted my Alien movie, I didn’t get that until the final thirty minutes, but at the same time it sort of slaps the fans of Prometheus in the face by ignoring and glossing over a lot of mystifying ambiguity that I was hoping to see more of. It opens immense holes in the mythology and seems to forget about its predecessor while demystifying some of the terror of the Xenomorph. Lastly, the ending to Alien: Covenant might be the most predictable ending of the year. There is a moment in the story that instantly gives away the finale. You don’t even need to be thinking. Once you see the film, or if you have seen it, you will or already do know the exact moment I’m talking about. About a minute after that moment I was wondering if the entire theater had the exact same idea that I had given that it didn’t take much brain power to grasp onto. Right as I was thinking about it, my friend who saw the movie with me turned to me and literally told me exactly what I was thinking.

Overall, I enjoyed Alien: Covenant for what it was. I don’t think it’s necessarily a terrible movie, but it has so much wasted potential. It had a critical job to do by tying Prometheus to the Alien franchise, and in trying to appeal to different parties, it feels extremely uneven and completely fails to appeal to either side. Yes, in case I had to say it, it looks amazing. It’s a Ridley Scott movie, so I wasn’t expecting any less, but I also don’t want to sound spoiled because I will always love to look at movies that are as aesthetically appealing as Alien: Covenant. I can’t understate how great Michael Fassbender is in this film. He has a lot of weight on his shoulders, and to me, what he does and goes through in this film is far more interesting and compelling than anything the Xenomorph or the new Neomorph does. Other than Fassbender, and surprisingly Danny McBride, I felt no emotional weight or compelling reason to be invested in any of these characters. Even the arguable main character of the film, Daniels, played by Katherine Waterston, has no depth. She has one thing, but that’s about it. We never get a feel for her character the way we do about Ellen Ripley. It also doesn’t even try to disguise its ending. It has the most predictable ending of the year, and that took a bit of terror out of the finale. Like I said, I enjoyed it for what it was. It’s an uneven popcorn flick that entertained me, gave me great moments through Michael Fassbender, and had my palms sweating through Ridley Scott’s direction, but on almost all other fronts it’s going to go down as possibly the most disappointing movie of the year. I’m going to give Alien: Covenant a 5.8/10.

Will you be seeing Alien: Covenant? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

About Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm

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