In the cinema, everyone can hear you scream.
As movie monsters go, the Xenomorph from the Alien franchise is arguably the most iconic. The first film petrified audiences worldwide, the second film wowed with amped up action, but then, Alien lost its way. The prequel, Prometheus, despite a puzzling reputation, served the series well. Covenant serves as a prequel to the original but a sequel to the earlier prequel. Is this world becoming too big? Definitely. Is it still good? Certainly.
A colony mission, following critical damage to their ship, land on a planet hoping it’ll be their new home. However, what seemed like paradise soon turns into hell.
Alien focused heavily on horror, hitting us with a terrifying, claustrophobic experience. Aliens was a thrill ride, still packing scares but aiming for an all-guns-blazing approach. Where Covenant goes wrong is it tries to blend the two, perhaps in an attempt to avoid inevitable comparisons, resulting in a bit of tonal confusion.
Ridley Scott’s direction isn’t terrible by any means. Our initial steps on the planet are eerie, building up the dread constantly. We look around the serene, deathly silent world, beautifully shot throughout. The gruesome, cataclysmic events that follow will have your heart bursting out your chest like a Xeno. But the more we see the aliens (including the new Neomorphs) the less you’ll fear them – it’s the CGI. Back in the times of the Nostromo, the practical effects made you cower, but now, the lightning fast, more fluid movement of the creepy crawlies do more to lessen their impact than boost it. That being said, the main Xenomorph is the most ferocious incarnation yet, ripping its way through crew members one by one. Leaving you utterly breathless, you’ll be running for the nearest space ship out of there.
The plot is Prometheus-heavy, exploring the aftermath of Shaw and David’s journey and how it links to this mission. Whilst Scott’s vast expansion of the Alien lore is an interesting concept, it doesn’t always land. The first prequel was a tantalising prospect for fans of the franchise, but now the interest is fading. Do we really care about the Engineers that much? As this is the second film of an intended quadrilogy of prequels, one has to wonder how tiresome this distinguished series may become. Neill Blomkamp’s Alien 5 may be the most critical loss in sci-fi history if Scott treads too far downhill.
Not as badass as Ripley, but our lead Katherine Waterston makes for suitable terrestrial fighting hero. Similar to Ripley, she contests decisions made and is responsible for the fallout. By her side is a surprisingly terrific Danny McBride, climbing out of the comedy caves for a dramatic effort that should stand him in good stead for the future.
The biggest highlight here, without a doubt, is Michael Fassbender. Playing both David and Walter respectively, his engrossingly charming yet rigid charisma never drops. Without descending too far into spoiler territory, keep your eyes on both of them.
To sum it up…
Not as ominous as Alien, not as thrilling as Aliens, but Covenant still manages to be chest burstingly exciting nightmare. Well crafted and meaty with lore, but the real, more worrying question is, what comes next?
Rating: No Bad
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Author: Cameron Frew