Sequel of the Alien franchise prequel, Prometheus, (got it?) Alien: Covenant is Ridley Scott’s way of letting us know that he’s far from done with the terrifying space saga he started back in 1979.
At 79, the director offers a new chapter of what led to the events of the previous series of films led by Sigourney Weaver. And one thing is for sure: It won’t be the last!
“If you really want a franchise, I can keep cranking it for another six. I’m not going to close it down again. No way,” said Scott.
But we’ve all learned that in cinema, ‘more’ often turns out to be just, well, ‘more’. So should we be excited about a new Alien movie, or should we simply start getting tired? Answering this question is what The Big Picture is here for! So just dive with us into the conclusions that most critics made after watching Alien: Covenant, below.
Same old, same old
Give us a spaceship in distress, a crew forced to pull up with an unknown environment that wants to eat them, and monsters from another planet who master the element of surprise and we know for sure that we ended up in an Alien movie (or else, Pocahontas on acid… Wait. Then what was Avatar?)!
But what makes the franchise’s trademark could also become its downfall, as by following members of a colony ship crew (Passengers?) led by a deranged captain (Billy Crudup), who’s going to blew it for everyone, stranded God knows where with not one but 2 androids (Michael Fassbender and Michael Fassbender), a tomboy as a badass hero (Katherine “Sigourney” Waterston), all running for their lives, Alien: Covenant doesn’t offer audiences anything new in term of plot. In fact, the Alien universe seems to have “hit a plateau,” as “Scott’s latest effort in the genre is a decent, extremely well made but not startlingly different version of all that has come before.”
But eventually, even though we feel like we’ve seen it all before, “it’s exactly what you would expect from an Alien film, with scares, suspense and solid acting throughout.”
Closer to the Alien franchise than its predecessor
If Alien: Covenant does something better than Prometheus, it’s that, well, it has actual aliens in it… Expect Xenomorphs, Facehuggers and Chestbursters aplenty for a return to the original in terms of gore, imagery and excitement. Eventually, where the first prequel movie was too mysterious, the latest leaves little room for enigma and much more for action (maybe too much?).
Not very deep, but… bah!
If you’re looking for the full-on existentialism theme that raised many questions in Prometheus (Who created us? What’s our purpose? Or why did I give birth to a giant octopus?), expect the script of this new chapter to be more scary than brainy as “the dialogue of Alien: Covenant is often clunky and its plot repetitious” with “the sense of narrative urgency sadly missing” and “not much invention or innovation present.”
Fassbender² has the best part(s)
“What sets Covenant apart is a sensational leading turn from Michael Fassbender playing a dual role” (the now familiar David and his advanced version, Walter). Even though the movie is “laboriously talky, filled with expository dialogue as stale as the recycled air on a spaceship”, the actor’s “performance is an elegant pas de deux that effortlessly delineates between the two identical androids.”
Next, the honor goes to Katherine Waterston and Danny McBride, “with Waterston easily making a case for why she should lead this franchise going forward.”
As for the rest of the crew, they unfortunately are “poorly written supporting roles that will make you shout at the screen” as all they seem to be here for is to make one dumb decision after the other…
Best quotes from the reviews:
“For now, Alien: Covenant is a solid watch, but one that could (and should) have tried much harder to innovate rather than just rehash.” – Jason Palmer, Entertainment Focus
“Long gone is the naturalistic banter that made Alien so potent and, with it, the ability to explore its ideas through image alone rather than pages of over-written words.” – Wendy Ide, The Guardian
“An origin story we might not have wanted” – David Edelstein, Vulture
“When it is intense, Covenant is really intense.” – Ian Freer, Empire