Alien: Covenant Movie Review
Alien: Covenant, like its xenomorphic subjects, is a hybrid of many things. Both a prequel to Ridley Scott’s original Alien and sequel to the much-debated Prometheus, it presents a uniquely satisfying experience that is more fulfilling than its predecessor, but fails to replicate the terror inflicted by the original films.
As both a fan of Scott’s Prometheus and critic of the film’s shortcoming (dumb characters, too many unanswered questions, etc.), Alien: Covenant is a more evenly balanced tale that offers more answers—but still suffers from some truly stupid and underdeveloped characters.
Love her or hate her, at least Prometheus had Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace). In Alien: Covenant, Scott introduces a new cast of expendable individuals, this group even more underdeveloped and forgettable than before. Katherine Waterston plays Daniels, Scott’s latest attempt to replicate Ripley, but while the actress is fine enough, her character is as bland as they come. Michael Fassbender is back, this time as a friendlier cyborg, but the only other notable cast member is none other than Danny McBride, whose overly emotional mannerisms lead to many of the film’s “are you kidding me?” moments. As Scott dispenses with both flash-in-the-pan side characters as well as his leads, it’s hard not to shrug, especially after they make countless decisions that are horror no-no’s, most notably the golden rule that you should never, ever, ever split up to explore a scary, dark corridor.
There is no doubt that with stronger characters Alien: Covenant would have been a better film, but as is it is still a successful one, an experience that expands upon and dives deeper into the concepts presented by Prometheus while reintroducing the xenomorphs that were largely missing from it. Without giving much away, Alien: Covenant shifts the franchise into exciting new territory and establishes concepts that are more disturbing than anything the franchise has presented before.
It falls short on terror, however. The xenomorphs are back, but Scott seems not to care about them much; they are less terrifying than ever as Scott goes through the motions with them, recycling sequences from past films and introducing stereotypical horror tropes that amp up the gore factor but not much else. Scott is clearly more interested in other aspects of the story, and the xenomorph stuff falls victim.
Alien: Covenant isn’t perfect, and like Prometheus will no doubt face criticism, but it is a better, more complete—and more satisfying—film.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.