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Evan Conway Movies, News, Reviews

alien covenant 1The Alien franchise is a mixed bag, no doubt. While the first two are universally agreed upon as masterworks in horror, sci-fi, and action genres, two of the films are also considered disposable garbage by many sources and a supposed prequel, Prometheus, seems to be divisive and a flawed work of art. To say being an Alien fan is scary business, because unlike in space, everyone can hear you scream in frustration with this franchise. Alien: Covenant was a long time coming, and while there has been some hype for it, knowing that only two of the five canon films are undeniable classics is enough to know that this could go both ways.

As a near life-long fan of the franchise, it was refreshing to reach the film’s conclusion and accept that it was, in fact, a good movie. While I enjoyed Prometheus, despite its flaws, Alien: Covenant is the better of these prequel films, learning from the mistakes of its predecessors while taking cues from the more successful of the two films to guide it. While there are undoubtedly flaws and it’s not a perfect foray into the Alien universe, it’s definitely enjoyable and ends up being creative and thought provoking at times, while still retaining elements of horror and action throughout.

Ten years after Prometheus, the Covenant, a ship carrying an entire colony of people discovers a signal from an uncharted planet. The idea of a planet that’s more hospitable and closer than their initial destination is enticing, and the team of people choose to venture to the mysterious planet in hopes of a proper colony. That’s when things start to go wrong, as you can understand.

alien covenant 3What Alien: Covenant does best is adhere to what works for the franchise. The first act is slow and almost plodding at times, but does so in which events lead to one another that gets them to the explosive conclusion to it’s first third of the film. That same method is applied to the second act as well, which is more Prometheus than Alien, per se, but gives fans the answers they possibly had at the end of the previous film. The third act, however, is where the film begins to have an identity crisis. With the first act wanting to be Alien and the second act trying to be Prometheus, the third act attempts to channel Aliens, but retain the claustrophobia and elements of the first Alien movie. These action set pieces are cool looking and whatnot, but ultimately it becomes a matter of being conflicted in which aspect of the saga it wants to appeal to. It’s a valiant and mostly successful endeavor that is at least tried, but doesn’t take off in the best of ways.

alien covenant 4.bjsxNTM1OTU1O2o7MTczNDI7MTIwMDs1NzYwOzM4NDAWhile pacing and tone may be where the film stutters, it’s safe to say that Alien: Covenant succeeds in nearly every other aspect. The writing and philosophical aspects are still intact and every metaphor and reference made, in particular with Michael Fassbender’s characters, who Prometheus fans should know right away. Fassbender, essentially, is given the most development and in a way carries the film, seeing as every other actor doesn’t do much to bring their characters to life. Nor are they required, however, as they are just placeholders for a bigger plot that’s at play. I dismissed Katherine Waterson in his previous role in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but here she works and nowhere near as insufferable as she was back in November. It just goes to show that a good director and better writing can go a long way for an actor.

Alien: Covenant is at its best, however, when it’s dealing with the Xenomorphs and other threats on this newly discovered planet. Finding out the planet’s history and the events that transpired are fascinating, and the way things twist and turn along the way blend both the sense of horrific discovery that was prominent in Prometheus with the disgusting body horror on display from Alien, coupled with a sense of atmosphere make for some truly intense moments. In particular, the events that close out the film’s first act are pure horror, with some frames etched into my head because of how wild and intense it ended up getting on screen. Covenant is unflinching, and instead of cutting away just as it’s about to get violent, it proceeds to show you the violence and gore at hand.

alien covenant 2From a technical standpoint, Alien: Covenant is stunningly gorgeous. The scenery and design of the planet is nothing short of spectacular, and the sequence in which their drop ship comes in through the mountains, over lakes and through clouds, is awe-inspiring. For the most part, the special effects are great, as well, with the creature designs being on point and truly something horrific at times.

Alien: Covenant could have very well ditched the “Alien” in the title and excluded the Xenomorphs and went on after Prometheus to be something entirely new and I would have still be as impressed with the initial product. It’s not only a good Alien film, it’s a good movie in general. It doesn’t reach the heights of the first two entries, but Covenant is an improvement over Prometheus whether you liked it or not. If the films Scott has planned after this for the franchise are nearly as good as Covenant was, I am more than okay with additional films coming our way. Perhaps it won’t be cemented in history like it’s past films, but being known for being better than Alien 3 and Resurrection should be enough.

Alien: Covenant is playing everywhere now.

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