I’d say there’s a lot riding on this new installment of the Alien franchise. After the muddled plot and some seemingly silly events of Prometheus, well, it was going to take a lot to get people back on board. Thankfully, director Ridley Scott and writers (wow, there are four of them) Jack Paglen, Michael Green (story) and John Logan and Dante Harper (screenplay), pull it together for Alien: Covenant in time to make me believe again.
Ok, so normally four writers would be a red flag to me, but hey, it worked out here.
The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet, discover a closer, uncharted one that seems like a paradise. There they find a threat they couldn’t imagine and must fight for their lives to escape.
The Alien franchise is one of those that’s been mishandled ever since Alien 3. No one ever tried to expand on the existing mythology enough to keep it interesting. The films kept feeling like to much rehashing of the same thing. Prometheus tried to broaden that scope by showing us some origin stuff, but it was perhaps a bit over-ambitious.
Alien: Covenant spends much of its’ second act answering the questions raised in Prometheus, and brings the narrative into simpler, more appetizing terms. Then is bookends that with all of the wonderful tension and action we were introduced to with the first two Alien films.
The cast is excellent, and the film keeps you guessing as to who may make it to the end.
There is plenty of classic Ridley Scott mood, atmosphere, and visuals. Like Prometheus, Alien: Covenant is beautiful and clearly a product of a film master. There is no shortage of grisly horror and and scares. Along with all that we get sinister elements and an expansion of the xenomorph’s mythology and physicality.
The xenomorphs are a-plenty, and some still appear like they may be practical, but the majority of the creatures are surely CGI, which is mostly well done. There’s still some aspects of it that still take me out of the film for a moment, but it’s not egregious.
It also seems inevitable that they resort to elements of all the Alien films. The confined space thing is pretty trite for this franchise, however, there’s enough variation here that it doesn’t hinder the film.
All in all, Alien: Covenant is a franchise-saving film. I feel like this puts us back on track and it makes me want to see the next film that Ridley Scott has in mind for Alien. He has stated that there will be two more films before it connects to the events of the original 1979 Alien. I’m giving Convenant about three and a half or so kittenhands. Yes, I recommend seeing it in the theater.
~ Neil T Weakley, your average movie-goer, thinking that revisiting Prometheus before watching this might be useful just from a recap point of view.