Review Alien: Covenant film review by Working Joe
Written By Working Joe on 2017-05-13 07:29:44
Alien: Covenant MovieLearn More
Where shall i begin...
Well first of all let me just say i am a huge fan of the original Alien (its my favourite film) and the Alien universe in general. Despite the dissapointment that was prometheus as a film, i did thourougly enjoy what it added to the mythos of the Alien universe. I also really liked the characters of the mysterious and slightly disturbing android David, and the naive and kindhearted Elizabeth Shaw and her quest to meet our makers.
So i was very much anticipating this movie and the hype only got bigger after i watched the trailers and viral videos. I also got a sneak peak of it on a screening of the original Alien (on Alien day), which REALLY sparked my interest as they showed off one of (as i came to a conclusion after watching the film) the best scenes in the movie. It really gave me the vibe that this was the movie we were waiting for when we got prometheus. It seemed like it was finally heading back to the horror roots of the first Alien. Unfortunately the rest of the movie didnt build on this fantastic scene, and had alot of issues which brings me to my review.
First off all ill start off with the negatives:
I hate to say this but this movie could have been so much better if just a few scenes and their pacing had been tweaked and the score had been mostly changed or removed.
Below i have summarized in chunks what i found most troubling in this Alien: Covenant.
THE SCORE AND THE TONE:
Aside from the few nods to the first Alien and Prometheus score, i thought the score in this one was, dare i say awful, and it didnt fit the tone of the movie at all. Imo it ruined several good scenes which could have been great with a better or absent score.
There were several scenes where the music didnt fit at all and actually ruined the tone and intensity the movie was trying to portray. The best part of the "score" (Idk if you can even call it that, maybe more of a sound effect) is the sound of a beating heart during the intense scenes.
EDITING AND PACING:
The movie suffers greatly under bad pacing and a messy weird put together ansamble of scenes in the second and third act, much akin to what prometheus struggled with. I think this mostly comes down to editing, which is extremely frustrating as i think it would have been a far better movie had these issues been resolved.
It goes back and forth in tone in a matter of minutes after the second act starts, which really ruins any buildup and tension (and the score really doesnt help here) the scenes could have had.
The third act is so messy and rushed that you really cant keep up with the characters and what they are going thru. Things just unravel in a somewhat uninspiring way.
I wish we would have gotten more reactions and talks between the crewmembers about what they saw and what was happening to them as shit went haywire, especially in the third act. Things just happens so fast and it just feels really messy and rushed. This was one of the most annoying dealbreakers of prometheus, altho it wasnt as bad in this one.
The final xenomorph was somewhat underwhelming as it didnt do much interesting, i think the neomorphs stole the show in this regard. I missed the more stalking, slow, intelligent and creepy xenomorph from the original movie, rather than the fast moving, aggressive and dumber ones from Aliens which we got in this one.
I also felt there lacked something in the xeno sound effects department where one of the iconic sqeeling sounds (when it gets hurt) were missing.
LACK OF TENSION, SUSPENSE AND HORROR:
I was also dissapointed in how little Ridley hid the xenomorph (ikr!), as that was always one of the best aspects of the original movie. Less is more in this regard, as it makes the creature more scary and terrifying.
There was so much potential to make it scarier and more suspenseful, as opposed to fast and action packed.
I was expecting more practical effects, altho i do have to say; the cgi in this movie looks pretty damn good (but i didnt fancy some of the movements the xeno/protomorph made. There was such a good buildup in the first act and a really horrifying first encounter with the neomorphs, but it goes downhill after this. It lacks momentum moving forward and goes way too much back and forth between action and calm, slow dialouge and; as i pointed out earlier, it just feels really rushed and messy.
UNCREATIVE AND LAZY WRITING:
Alot of the character deaths felt cheap and cliche. The execution was for the most part good, so it felt mostly like a script problem rather than a directorial or visual problem.
Its the typical "im gonna go alone to take a rest" which sets up the typical lazy slasher horror formula.
There are so many other directions they could have gone in this regard that would have made this movie better and more belieavable.
TOO MUCH INFORMATION, NOT ENOUGH TIME:
As funny as it sounds i think some of the characters had a little too much going on for them as there wasnt enough time to let it all sink in and to build on it. Too much happened in a too short timespan which made the characters unable to properly react and digest what was happening. There was so much trauma dealt to all of these characters that because of the plot having to move forward i think they didnt get the chance to properly react to these situations and it just generally felt rushed.
I wish we could have gotten more information about the lost city and its extinct species (which i got the impression were not the engineers from prometheus but rather a subspecies which perhaps the engineers had created). There was so much we didnt get to know about, and the crew generally showed a weird lack of curiosity regarding this aspect. I reckon we will get more information on this in the rumored "Awakening" prequel to covenant.
Now, lets get over to the good parts;
First of all let me just get this out of the way; The visuals are georgeous (i mean come on its a Ridley Scott movie, of course it is!).
The movie looks outstanding in every aspect.
The special effects are amazing and the cgi blends perfectly with the practical effects. The art design is incredible and i really liked Davids "lab" and all his horrible creations.
There are some really stellar acting performances in this movie, especially from Katherine Waterson and ofcourse the brilliant Michael Fassbender. Michael does such a fantastic job at portraying both of the androids in this movie (David and Walter) and there are some really fascinating scenes between the two. I was also very pleased with Amy seimetz and Carmen Ejogos performances.
Billy Crudup and Danny Macbride both did good performances.
All in all i think the cast did a good job with what they had to work with.
David. I absolutely love this character. He is more human in this one than i expected, but this only made him more intruiging imo.
This actually makes him come off as a proper psychopath. I love the creepy vibe he gives off and all the hidden agendas he seems to have. It really adds to the disturbing feel and tone of the movie (which Unfortunately, the god Damn score ruins time and time again!). His scenes are probably the best in this movie, and really carries it forward.
THE FIRST ACT AND MOST OF THE SECOND ACT:
There was a real slow and proper buildup in the first act, much like in the original Alien, which i really liked. It took about 15 mins until they started approaching the actual planet. I also liked the prolouge with David and Weyland.
SEVERAL VERY GOOD SCENES:
I cant say much here without spoiling too much but i can mention this movie has several awesome scenes, especially one regarding a neomorph and two poor female crew members.
This first encounter with the backbursting neomorph (as seen in the trailers) was absolutely fantastic, both in the sense of acting, visuals, sound design, pacing and tone. This is probably my favourite scene from the movie. There are also some very cool scenes with David and his own little "paradise" lab. I will write more about this later when i have the time.
These guys were an interesting new take on a monster, really refreshing and creepy. I loved the aggressiveness they showed and the sounds they made. Also their occational curiosity where they would just stand still and observere, was really facinating and creepy. There is a really good scene with David and a neomorph in the temple which is a good example of this.
Although it was predictable, the ending is really satisfying and creepy and makes you instantly want to know what happens next.
I dont want to spoil anything too much but i have to say i love what was shown of Elizabeth Shaw and what this told us about the character of David and his intentions.
All in all i liked this movie and it is an improvement on Prometheus, despite having many of the same flaws that Prometheus had. It is frustrating tho how a tweak in editing and pacing, and a different score could have made this movie so much better. I really cant comprehend how awful and unfitting the score was in regards to tone, aside from the throwbacks to Jerry Goldsmiths Alien and the nods to Mark Streitenfields Prometheus score.
Maybe Ridley needs to hire both a different composer and editor for the next innstallment, since tis was such a major problem in big parts of the movie.
All in all tho im happy with the story and characters and im looking forward to the next innstallment.
I have to give this a second viewing before i can settle on a final score, but as of now im standing on a 7.5/10.
If they decide to fix some of the editing issues and maybe some of the score for the Blu-ray release, this could easily bump up to an 8-8.5/10 rating.