Ridley Scott continues to dazzle fans of the Alien franchise with a return to classic
The charm of the Alien franchise is that it can be anything. It follows suit with its beloved multifaceted creature – the Xenomorph. Alien was a suspenseful horror-sci-fi hybrid that was unlike anything before. Aliens was a full on action-adventure movie that was loads of fun. Alien 3 was a shaky thriller that could have been better. Alien: Resurrection was a silly 80s-like action movie with too much on its sleeve. And Prometheus was a clear cerebral sci-fi with interesting questions. While shades of Prometheus are present, Alien: Covenant successfully merges Alien and Aliens to create an ambitious film that will please all sides of the equation.
A group of colonists is headed to a distant planet. When the ship gets damaged along the way, the colonists are forced to land on a nearby habitable planet. As they explore the unknown planet, Daniels (Katherine Waterston) and her crew find that the planet has already been colonized. As sickness is taking over members of their group, they soon find out that they aren’t the only beings on the planet.
Let’s address the obvious, Covenant is beautiful. Time and time again Ridley Scott proves that he is an extraordinary visionary director. Every shot in Covenant is eye candy with some being truly breath-taking. The stormy and gloomy planet’s various waterfalls and forest imageries are captured with such precision and care. The sci-fi elements are also shot beautifully creating some interesting visuals.
This is a staple of every Scott directed Alien movie and it isn’t his only staple. The plot of this latest prequel follows much of what every Alien movie have done before it. A group of smart people get a signal on an unknown planet only to get impregnated by phallic looking creatures. Covenant follows the same formula while trying to please everyone. Like I said, the Alien franchise is multifaceted and that creates different fan categories. Some like the cerebral nature of Prometheus while others prefer the action-packed Aliens. Covenant successfully manages to please everyone. The opening feels very much like Prometheus, while the middle brings back the nostalgic Alien and finally, an action-packed Aliens style finished.
Though, Covenant doesn’t forget fans of Prometheus. It continues the compelling themes of creation, faith and humanity that was introduced in the first prequel. Michael Fassbender’s chilling performance as both David and Walter serve as some of the most interesting dialogue throughout the film. Scott has no doubt loads of things to say about AI and human nature but he slowly plants seeds throughout the prequels. Thankfully, he answers some of the questions that were brought up in Prometheus while making sure not to reveal too much. His fascination with asking more questions than providing answers can be frustrating at times but the confirmation that more movies are on the way is reassuring. Again, he is confident in his formula.
However, with formulas comes anticipation and Covenant’s surprises suffer because of it. Scott’s formula is pretty well known by now and the few twists the movie provides are easily predictable. The progression of the movie gives too much away and at times, it’s almost like he’s spoon-feeding the audience. It’s not hard to imagine what Scott has up his sleeves when his sleeves are missing. When the surprises later come, they have a sense of an “a-ha” moment that just feels pretentious at this point.
Surprisingly, even with its predictive nature, Covenant is rather effective. As it inches closer to the original Alien, there is much more to explore and ponder. The franchise benefits greatly from being many different genres at once and Covenant experiment well with the fact. Even though the prequels don’t achieve at the level of the original, they offer fun rewards for fans of the original something the Star Wars prequels were never able to achieve.
Alien: Covenant will be in theaters on May 19.