Adequate Movement: Our Review of ‘Alien: Covenant’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - May 19, 2017
Adequate Movement: Our Review of ‘Alien: Covenant’

When the right movie comes along, it’s kind of fun to watch the nerd community get themselves in a lather with debate and hyperbole.

While Alien: Covenant isn’t without some problems it does effectively put a bow on a lot of the events of Prometheus and it plays just fine as a solid sci-fi action yarn that is a hell of a lot of fun if you see it as big and as loud as humanly possible.

Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, the crew of the colony ship Covenant discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous and oddly quiet world whose sole inhabitant is the “synthetic” David (Michael Fassbender), survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.

There are some logic gaps and flimsy moments but director Ridley Scott keeps the long term narrative going here with Alien: Covenant providing us some better action set pieces then Prometheus did.

Scott can easily direct a movie like this in his sleep with the cold hard edges that he made so famous in the original Alien.  The action sets itself up and moves at a predictable yet solid pace, with this being the now sixth film (not including the Alien vs. Predator installments) in this franchise.  It doesn’t reinvent the wheel and it doesn’t piss on any of the previous installments either as it is a narrative that is focused on answering so many of the questions that we presented in Prometheus while still giving us some epic scale and scope that the franchise so richly deserves.  The script makes a couple of awkward leaps from time to time with some weak dialogue and additional casting issues.  On top of all that the pacing did have some hiccups from beginning to end but the essence of an Alien movie was there in full force.  Scott is crafting something here with a bigger picture in mind.  Does it occasionally take away from the experience in the moment, yeah once or twice but never enough to be a genuine determent on the whole.

Sadly where this movie dips is in the performances.  Outside of Michael Fassbender in the duel role as David and Walter (on the Covenant) there just isn’t a ton of character development in this one.  We’re supposed to have sympathy for Katherine Waterston as Daniels who loses her husband and the captain of the ship when the crew awakes early due to a solar flare, however when the husband is reveled the be James Franco all that sympathy kind of goes away.  She’s first officer on a ship with a weak willed Billy Crudup who is playing against type as forcibly spineless and kind of unlikable while the likes of Demian Bechir, Danny McBride, Jusse Smollett, Carmen Ejogo and Amy Seimetz all just stand around not doing very much.

Fassbender is the defacto lead in this whole affair and while he is certainly talented enough to make the effort , him playing opposite himself for a good chunk of the film feels awkward enough to leave us as an audience a little unsatisfied with the entire proceedings.  Katherine Waterston certainly has the chops to settle into a Sigourney Weaver type mold but ends up being more victim than anything else.  The film had no powerful heroine for us to buy into and while it wasn’t a fatal mistake, it was an unquestionable misstep over all.

Ultimately with Alien: Covenant things work well enough if you bought into what Prometheus was setting up and ultimately foreshadowing for us with future installments to come.  But if you weren’t a fan of the last film, then it might be time to step away from this franchise as a whole.

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David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.