Still suffering from the confusion that Prometheus caused? In 2012, Ridley Scott introduced a new take to the legendary sci-fi horror franchise that was either a flawed masterpiece or fantastic failure. I suppose Ridley Scott is no stranger to this though seeing as Blade Runner got the same reception back in 1982. The filmmakers decided to take the safer route by tying the story lines of both Prometheus and Alien together for Alien: Covenant and what they have managed to pull off is a film that snuggles in comfortably with both the simplicity of Alien and the complexity of Prometheus.
Let’s start by talking about the man behind it all Ridley Scott, this is a man who has mastered the science fiction genre, with every film he makes he set the bar for all other directors to follow in terms on content that fits within an intergalactic world. His success with The Martian in 2015 has put him back in the centre of the spotlight where he belongs and with Alien: Covenant, he has managed to cement his position. He understands that lighting, sound design and all other elements of film-making must be so precise and should amount to the right kind of emotional feedback that the audience projects upon themselves, he’s proved it with the original Alien which is not only tremendously intense but also very thought-provoking. Those who see this film as a sequel to Prometheus will have a lot to talk about afterwards.
Alien: Covenant presents an interesting introduction to the stability of the characters, without spoiling too much, from the moments the human characters are introduced, they lose a crew member. Having the characters start on a such a negative page reveals their fragility as crew of the Covenant. Michael Fassbender is another highlight of the film. His dynamic acting ability is shown in his performance as the androids Walter and David (who is back from Prometheus). When these two characters are together, Michael Fassbender’s abilities as an actor come pouring out of the silver screen. In addition to Fassbender we are introduced to a surprise performance from Katherine Waterson and Danny McBride of all people. Their respective character Daniels and Tennessee are the most outspoken of the crew and while it does lead the other actors in the dark, you don’t stop to think about that because of
The film has a very sombre tone about it, even in bright white lighting, which is questionable to how this is achieved. Well, it’s all to do with the eeriness of knowledge. To clarify, the film relies on the audience and characters not knowing anything to provide the tense atmosphere. In the film, the crew redirect there colonising mission to another planet with only a faint signal that provides some glimmer of knowledge about where they’re going. It highlights why venturing into deep space would spell danger for us in the future, should we ever achieve such a feat.
Moving on to the horror, thriller elements, the film is certainly thrilling and intense when it desires to be. The build up towards the release of the scare packages itself with gory, uncomfortable imagery that one would expect for an Alien film, the imagery is not on the level of typical horror gore but just enough to get you by.
Despite the craftsmanship of Ridley Scott, this film does suffer from a lot of problems that when thought about can become just as difficult to understand as Prometheus. First, and possibly the most shocking is that when CGI is used to bring the terror that the Xenomorphs have to bring, it clashes violently with bright lighting which disturbs the audience’s attention, thankfully, the detailing improves overtime, but to introduce one of the most iconic horror characters this way is very unforgivable.
There comes a time when a franchise has run out of new story material and begins to recycle story lines, I thought this was the case in Prometheus, but after Alien: Covenant, my speculations have been made all but real. It can dress itself in new characters and new locations, but boil the film down and it follows the same narrative structure as Alien. Therefore, the uniqueness of Alien: Covenant is lost, but not completely. This lack of uniqueness is also highlighted when audiences begin to pick at the film and start to see that the film has a bit of everything thrown into it. The first Act starts off as if it were Alien, followed by a second act that has the tone of Prometheus and the finale that is very action packed like Aliens. The pacing just adds insult to injury.
Overall, Alien: Covenant is certainly a thrilling and entertaining time, it just depends of how you the viewer perceive this film. Fans of Alien and Prometheus will still think that there are a lot of gaps within the expansion of this franchise but despite this, they’ll still have a good time watching Ridley Scott’s visions. As for filmmakers, there’s plenty of time to talk about the amount of work that goes into making a film like Alien: Covenant because in this day and age, it’s a rare spectacle.