Not Quite a Missed Masterpiece - An 'Alien Covenan' Review
For a property that is so beloved, the Alien franchise has had it's fair share of ups and downs. At its peak it gave us all time classics such as Ridley Scott's Alien and James Cameron's Aliens. At it's lowest it has been a franchise that not even legendary director: David Fincher could breathe life into, and one that has relied on another franchise: Predator to keep it a float.
In the summer of 2012, creator/director of Alien: Ridley Scott returned to his world that has captivated us for over three decades with Prometheus. Beyond that Scott returned the franchise to its science fiction roots, and took the transcendent risk of rewriting creationism on the big screen, resulting in one the most polarizing films of the 21st century. So where does Alien Covenant fall within the pantheon of the franchise? Does it reach the heights of Cameron? Or sink to the depths of Fincher? Find out after the break...
Mild Spoilers for Alien Covenant Follow!
From the get go Covenant draws you in with its breathtaking visuals that rival and maybe even surpass Prometheus. The Sprawling shots of space, forestry, and eventually xenomorph induced blood shed draw an immediate comparison to the film's predecessor. The problem is the link between this film and Prometheus is what keeps it from t being a truly great entry into the Alien franchise.
Going into this film, the big questions for most cinephiles was: Is this going to be more of a Prometheus Sequel or Alien Prequel? With most desiring the latter! Too often this film get's bogged down in its connections to Prometheus, but not in the way even fans of the first film would want. Rather than further explore the engineer's home world, and purpose for creation, we get caught in connecting the story of Michael Fassbender's David to this film. Leading to another evil Android being the films main antagonist, rather that focusing on the terror of new Alien species.
Covenant attempts to be more of a Prometheus to Alien transition film rather than aspiring to continue or preview one of those two stories resulting in incompleteness. The moments that go full Alien are exhilarating and terrifying, adding some of the best action scenes, as well as a shot/kill that could arguably be one of the most iconic in the series. The problem is at least 2 of the 3 major Alien scenes feel like that have been cut in from another film, truly preventing the film from achieving n organic flow.
One of the major problems that plagues Covenant is it's lack of memorable characters, one of the things that makes the first two Alien films so memorable are it's cast of characters. Whether it is Ripley and her group of money hungry space pirates in the first film, or Bill Paxton's overly macho marines from the Aliens, those films actually make you tense when those characters are in peril, and sad if and when they meet their slimy demise. While many critics and colleagues feel that Prometheus lacked memorable characters, Noomi Rapace's Dr. Elizabeth Shaw is better than any of the new characters in this film.
It probably would not be fair to classify this film as a missed opportunity at an Alien or Aliens level masterpiece, but somewhere here there is a great Alien prequel that we sadly did not get to see. Rather Ridley Scott settles for an average at best Prometheus Sequel that would be hard to argue as a top 3 to 4 entry into this epic franchise.