Friday, May 19, 2017

Alien: Covenant review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
The Xenomorph is back in Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant

            Director, Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Gladiator, The Martian) returns to the franchise that made him, Sigourney Weaver, and the term “Alien” household names with Alien: Covenant, the sixth installment of the classic Alien franchise and a follow-up to his 2012 prequel, Prometheus. After the much-disliked Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection, not to mention the Alien VS Predator movies, Ridley Scott manages to bring the franchise back on track with Prometheus and Alien: Covenant.
            No, it’s not nearly as amazing or scary as the first two movies but in terms of summer popcorn entertainment Covenant was a solid addition to the series. The film dives deeper into the mythology and origins of the Alien creatures and covers events that followed Prometheus, the acting is solid, the characters are developed well for a horror film, and the Alien action and scares are very effective.
            After the events of Prometheus, the film follows a crew aboard the colony ship, Covenant bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy in search for a place to call paradise. The crew consists of terraforming expert, Daniels “Dany” Branson (Katherine Waterston-Being Flynn, Steve Jobs, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), first mate, Christopher Oram (Billy Crudup-Princess Mononoke, Big Fish, Watchmen), chief pilot, Tennessee (Danny McBride-Pineapple Express, Tropic Thunder, This is the End), head of security, Sergeant Lope (Demián Bichir-A Better Life, Savages, The Hateful Eight), biologist, Karine Oram (Carmen Ejogo-Away We Go, Selma, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Tennessee’s wife and lander pilot, Maggie Faris (Amy Seimetz-The Killing, You’re Next, Lucky Them), medic, Upworth (Callie Hernandez-Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Blair Witch, La La Land), her husband, Ricks (Jussie Smollett-On Our Own, Ask Me Anything, Empire), Lope’s husband and member of his second unit, Sergeant Hallett (Nathaniel Dean-Always Greener, Farscape: The Peacekeeper, Wild Boys), security unit member, Leonard (Benjamin Rigby-Neighbours, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Lion), and Walter (Michael Fassbender-X-Men franchise, 12 Years a Slave, Steve Jobs), an updated android build in the image of David 8 of Prometheus.
            However, what the crew think is a possible contender for paradise turns out to be a dark, dangerous world inhabited by the horrific Aliens. Crew members get infected by mysterious dust that transforms into new Alien species, attacked by Facehuggers, Alien babies bursting out of their chests (John Hurt style), and a confrontation with the Alien in their attempts to discover dark secrets behind the Alien species and most important of all, escape from the planet alive.
            Overall, Alien: Covenant is a chilling and entertaining addition to the Alien franchise, even if it isn’t as terrifying or well-made as the first two films. The movie ignores the sins of the past and brings the franchise back to its sci-fi/horror roots as well as make more connections to the first movie since Prometheus left so many questions unanswered.
            The film has much more of a connection to Alien than Prometheus for one reason, it actually has the Alien and is filled with more references to the other films. While I thought, Prometheus was a decent film a lot of the Alien details and references were put in the background and it felt like it was trying harder to be a standalone movie with traces of Alien movie DNA.
            The acting is surprisingly pretty strong for a horror movie, Michael Fassbender reprises his role from Prometheus as David 8 as well as the updated Walter and he really knocks it out of the park with portraying them both at the same time, the best way I can describe it is if both sides of his Magneto performance took human forms. Katherine Waterston’s no Sigourney Weaver or Noomi Rapace but she makes a decent female lead that can kick some intergalactic ass, and all throughout the movie I was rooting for her to survive, I really appreciate the acting and writing in this film for making me care about the humans, not everyone is there just to die and you get emotionally attached to plenty of them.
            If you’re a fan of the Alien franchise (or at least the first two) you’ll have a great time with Alien: Covenant. It answers more questions about the origins than Prometheus while still delivering plenty of space action and terror to make you scream, especially if you watch it on a Large Screen or Motion Seat format, I saw it in the Regal 4DX format and it blew me away, this is one of those movies that really exploits the format and makes you feel like you’re really there.
            Don’t expect an Alien or Aliens but a satisfying addition to the franchise that delivers the space scares. Just remember “In space, no one can hear you scream”.


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