Monday, May 22, 2017

Movie Review: "Alien: Covenant" (2017)

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Director: Ridley Scott
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 2 minutes

After having trouble with their ship, the Covenant, which houses a group of planetary settlers, goes off course to scout a seemingly hospitable planet. What they find is not what they expected and may very well mean their doom.

"Alien: Covenant" is a sequel to the 2012 film "Prometheus" and is a prequel of sorts to the 1979 film "Alien." It is once again directed by Ridley Scott, who directed the two aforementioned entries into this franchise. It stars an ensemble cast, which includes Michael Fassbender as the androids David and Walter, as well as Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Carmen Ejogo, Danny McBride, Demi├ín Bichir, Callie Hernandez, Jussie Smollett, and Amy Seimetz, who make up some of the crew of the Covenant. The mission of this particular voyage is to set up a human settlement on the distant planet of Origae-6, which means the crew is made up of couples and they carry a cargo of over 2000 people in cryo-sleep, as well as numerous human embryos. After some unforeseen complications, the crew is awoken from sleep early to find many of the pods have malfunctioned and that some of the crew and passengers have passed away in the accident. Over seven years from their destination, the ship's sensors pick up a planet with an Earth-like atmosphere, one that was initially missed in their scans. Not too keen to get back into their pods, the crew decides to explore this unknown planet for their settlement instead, which we all know will be a terrible idea as they quickly find they are not alone on this strange place. 

There were a lot of questions as to what exactly "Alien: Covenant" would be in the grand scheme of the "Alien" universe. Now that we have seen it, we can say it is absolutely more of a sequel to "Prometheus" than anything else. It takes place 10 years after the events of that movie, which is referred to several times in "Covenant." We wondered if this film would start to bridge a gap between "Prometheus" (the prequel) and "Alien" (the franchise as we've known it for decades) and beginning to converge the two very distant story lines, but it really doesn't do that, apart from giving an introduction to the full-fledged xenomorph we've known as a hallmark of the series, the ones rabid internet fans clamored for post-"Prometheus." Unfortunately, it introduces them in an uninspired way.

If anything, this installment seems to be moving away from the opening of "Alien" toward some blob of pseudo-intellectual mumbo-jumbo about mortality, birth, death, and life that happens to have Aliens in it. As Ridley Scott gets older in age and is questioning his own lived self, he presents these questions and themes to us in an all or nothing manner. He sets the film up like it's going to eventually link up these new highbrow thoughts and ideas to where the crew of the Nostromo finds the face hugger-eggs on the ship of a chest burst Engineer but never does. As such, tonally, the film feels off as this installment clearly mirrors the horror elements of the "Alien" franchise, just with 99% more obsession with the ideas about creation and faith that hovered around "Prometheus." Also, a lot of its tone mirrors that of its predecessor, making it uneven.

There are many elements to like about "Alien: Covenant," like its striking visuals and its use of practically built sets, Michael Fassbender's brilliant performance, and the surprise discovery of Danny McBride being good in something where he's not a super obnoxious loudmouth. But for us, all of these likable parts don't come together to make a fully enjoyable experience because of a few glaring instances of sub-par CGI, so many unanswered questions, so many head-scratching moments, so many dumb decisions, and way too much pretension. We left the movie underwhelmed, disappointed, and not really looking forward to where this series goes in the future.

My Rating: 4.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~73%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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  1. I found this film pretty boring with no get up and go. There was no suspense, no drama. Don't be in any hurry to see it

    1. Hi Sarah! We definitely agree with you. The suspense just isn't there like it is in "Alien" and "Aliens," and we found the characters flat and dull. We're extremely disappointed in this one.