Alien: Covenant (2017)

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(Alien: Covenant, 2017)

Ridley Scott’s latest film is promising, but ends up re-treading the poor moments of Prometheus.

By Harry Faint

 

On April 26th this year, ‘Alien Day’ was celebrated by fans worldwide – the second celebration in the franchises 38-year lifespan. Where the first celebratory day managed to feel very cooperation orientated in its execution, this year felt a lot more warmly received by fans. This was helped exponentially by the release of a short film detailing the events that occurred shortly after Prometheus (2012), something truly exciting to grasp at before the release of Alien: Covenant, the latest episode in humanity versus the unknown, or in this case a more familiar villain – the iconic Xenomorph.

From the promotional material for Alien: Covenant, it seemed promising that 79-year-old director Ridley Scott was purposely distancing himself from the sorely received Prometheus. This, partnered with the 5.47 million dollars of TV advertising spent by Twentieth Century Fox, reaffirmed our faith in Scott’s latest directorial endeavour. Yet, the film sadly comes across as more of a mixed bag, a blend of logical stupid that gets lost in the overt themes of creation and the sanctity of life.

Its ten years since the ill-fated Prometheus expedition, we now follow the colonisation crew of the Covenant as they make way to a distant planet to start a new life. However, they decide to change course to respond to a message from a human on a distant planet hoping they can rescue them. As ever, this is not the case. New ways of impregnation occur to unleash the small “Neomorphs” as they tackle the crew in a manner reminiscent of the velociraptors in The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), hidden by the long grass. These moments are great, simplistic but fleeting, as the reintroduction of David (Michael Fassbender) swiftly marks the return to problems that made Prometheus so poorly received.

The films cast is overall quite exceptional, Katherine Waterston manages to demonstrate the pain of loss and the kick-ass attitude we love to see from the women of the Alien franchise. While doing so she manages to avoid too many comparisons to Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley, creating something of her own. Michael Fassbender plays two androids with apparent ease, and these scenes make for some of the most intriguing moments in the series’ history, although some moments such as the now infamous flute scene miss the mark completely and come off as laughable. It is clear that a lot of scenes avoided the cutting room floor, and this is not a good thing to notice. Previous films in the series criticised cooperation’s morals through the mention of the company, which for some reason was missing from this endeavour. The introduction of MU-TH-UR as having a voice (the ships Artificial Intelligence system) is pointless as it reduces the ambiguity it held in previous films as it operated like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

Like Star Wars, the original films are enthralling due to their iconography, characters and locations, but more importantly due to their simplicity. It seems that Ridley Scott is walking the same path marked out by George Lucas years ago, and if that franchise holds a single piece of advice for Scott, it would be to let somebody else have a go. Alien: Covenant is too ambitious and confused in its position. It has all the right elements for something great but fails to bring them together, creating a messy, unclear chapter of the once great Alien Franchise.

 

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