Alien: Covenant – Review

Say what you like about unoriginal subtitling, but this particular instance has been getting on my proverbial tits for a while now. I know there’s a joke to do with the Halo franchise in here somewhere, especially seeing as it takes so much inspiration from Aliens right down to the moustached, cigar-chomping sergeant who just can’t shut up about how much he loves the Corps. I can’t really make that reference though, because Alien: Covenant is set long before Sgt Apone shows up and follows on from Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s own personal On The Origin Of Species.

Of course, being the sequel to Prometheus is by no means a selling point, because it means that the film has to be burdened with the responsibility of resolving all those unanswered questions left over from the last film. Does it answer them? Not really, no. Instead it does what I thought it would do; leave most of them unanswered and raise some new ones instead. And when I say raise I of course mean spawn, because this is an Alien film, and that means biological horrors from beyond the stars. The poor sods getting the old xenomorphin’ this time around are the crew of the Covenant, a human colony ship that gets side tracked en route to it’s future home by the sounds of John Denver (no seriously). Among the colonists are Danny McBride’s Tennessee (presumably because of his choice of headwear), that rather useless lady from Fantastic Beasts and of course Michael Fassbender as both the loveable Walter and god-playing David. The crew of the Covenant get slowly picked off like so many canapes while simultaneously trying to get back to the ship and also find out what the hell’s going on.

Now there’s potential for some rather nasty spoilers here, so I’m going to avoid revealing too much of the plot, but needless to say that there’s a few jump scares, some screaming and tense music, some flashlights in darkened rooms and heck of a lot of blood. This last one invokes particular comment, because my God is there a lot of blood. Having grown acclimated to the notorious ‘chest-burster’ moments from previous films, we are now subjected to the ‘neomorph’, a new and nastier alien capable of bursting from any part of the body. There’s a good five minutes of this thing clawing its way out of some poor bastards back, and it’s not often that I have to cover my mouth in shock, but this was one such occasion.

Visually, Alien: Covenant is certainly a very striking film. The cinematography and landscapes are truly epic in presentation, and the set design of both the Covenant and the lost Engineer city (oh by the way there’s a lost Engineer city) are very well imagined and brought to life. The supporting character’s are quite likeable too, with all of them showing bright eyed enthusiasm for their new life before they go and get themselves killed. And here we come to the problem that I have with this film, because it seems to me that every single person that ever encounters the xenomorphs deserves to die by way of natural selection for being such morons. I know this is par for the course in this franchise and that if everyone was as smart as Ripley then there wouldn’t be any challenge, but it’s always the same problems. Violation of quarantine procedures, messing about with alien plantlife, never listening to gut feeling and just getting the hell out when you’ve got the chance, and above all suicidal levels of curiosity! If you enter a pitch black room to investigate some growling and screams of agony only to find your best mate on the floor with a big hole where his face used to be, don’t just leave the lights off and walk in!!

I love these films, I really do, but it seems as though Alien: Covenant is taking refuge in that. Sadly like Prometheus it has this whole theological thing going on where Peter Weyland (remember him?) is trying to discover mankind’s origins and their place in the universe, and David the android speaks vaguely about creation and all this other high-minded concepts, but the film tosses the whole concept whenever somebody hasn’t been murdered enough. And the introduction of yet more alien life just adds to the confusion of the whole universe, so look forward to my article on Xenomorphology 101.

Allow me to close by saying that Alien: Covenant is by no means a bad film. It’s tense, exciting, violent and visually stunning in places, and if you enjoy this franchise as much as I do then by all means go and see it. Even if you don’t like the others, it’s still good and entertaining fun. Just don’t expect it to be on par with the originals, because I certainly didn’t, and save any queries for Xenomorphology 101, which will be published some time in the future.

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