Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup
Director: Ridley Scott
Running Time: 122 mins
Alien: Covenant is an American film and the sequel to Prometheus. After a crew of explorers land on a mysterious distant planet, where they discover an unnerving history, and where a darkly powerful presence lurks, putting every one of their lives at risk.
The Alien series is one of real ups and downs. While Alien: Covenant isn’t an awful film, it doesn’t utilise its premise to full potential, missing the mark when it comes to delivering a truly frightening and tense horror-thriller, as the original Alien did so memorably. Although it features moments of excitement and intrigue, it’s a far blander blockbuster than its predecessor Prometheus, failing to realise the same dramatic depth, and instead going for a less engrossing and far less eerie take on the story.
Let’s start with the positives, with the fact that the film does feature some more excellent visuals. Ridley Scott’s ability to create complex and vividly convincing sci-fi worlds is as fantastic as ever, and that’s only furthered by a plethora of thrillingly realistic CGI landscapes, all of which really emphasise the unnervingly powerful and mysterious atmosphere of the alien planet.
What’s more is that, although it doesn’t always come off entirely succesfully, there are elements of the story that are both riveting and original. At times, it does feel like a remake of the original Alien, trying to recreate the same haunted house in space vibe by setting more action on the ship in comparison to Prometheus, however at others, the film puts a lot more emphasis onto the David character played by Michael Fassbender, which allows for some interesting plot avenues to unfold.
In fact, the film feels more like a David movie than an Alien one at times, particularly in the less action-oriented moments. However, Alien: Covenant isn’t able to make that more original side of the story work so well simply because it doesn’t provide you as the viewer with the same depth of character development and themes, meaning that it feels a lot more of a drag to watch some very slow and arguably even pretentious sequences, really taking you out of the moment.
As a result, watching Alien: Covenant isn’t the great blockbuster experience that it could be. While Prometheus too had its problems, it proved a consistent and layered story, whch made for a riveting watch throughout. This, on the other hand, jumps to and fro between mimicking Prometheus’ semi-religious themes and drama and the haunted house horror of the original Alien, which doesn’t make for an entirely satisfying watch.
While there are moments of intrigue here, particularly its impressive ending that still leaves me wanting to see some more from this world, Covenant ultimately proves an example of the importance of story and character depth, as it uses the same tricks as the brilliant Prometheus and the legendary Alien, but is nowhere near as engaging simply because it doesn’t have the same depth to grab your attention, which is really disappointing to see. It’s not an awful film, but it really doesn’t live up to the potential of the series’ premise, and that’s why I’m giving Alien: Covenant a 6.9.