‘The Martian’ is widely regarded as director Ridley Scott’s return to form. Although, this very much depends on your view of 2012 ‘Alien’ prequel, ‘Prometheus’. Proving one of the most divisive films in recent years many fans were disappointed with Scott’s effort. I’m actually a massive fan of ‘Prometheus’, however I can understand the fan frustration. Audiences were expecting a direct prequel to the 1979 classic ‘Alien’. Instead viewers received a much more complex and distant story compared to the straight up monster thriller that started the whole franchise off. With this more convoluted series opener out of the way though hopes were high for ‘Alien: Covenant’ to deliver more of what fans had wanted. With Scott back in the directors chair and hints to far more alien action it felt right to be excited.
Unfortunately if you didn’t like ‘Prometheus’ I doubt you’ll like ‘Alien: Covenant’ and even if you did enjoy ‘Prometheus’ this still might be a struggle for you. Unbelievably so the film manages to be dull for a ridiculously long time. After an intriguing opening scene the story just refuses to kick into gear and audiences are dragged along for what seems like an eternity. The narrative only really delivers what fans will be wanting in the final ten minutes or so but by this time it’s too late. If Scott was to take anything away from ‘Prometheus’ it should have been that simplicity is often the key. Simplicity is the reason why ‘Alien’ & ‘Aliens’ are the two most popular films in the franchise. The closing scenes here are good and could have been lifted straight out of the franchise favourites. However the rest of the film feels miles away from these and is filled with cringey moments that make you forget just how cool the Alien series used to be.
The cast assembled to captain this latest alien exploration weren’t as impressive as the previously star studded cast we saw in ‘Prometheus’. Their characters are similarly as unimpressive. There’s no one like Ripley, Hicks or Hudson here. Katherine Waterston is our new leading lady and whilst her performance is good she fails to reach the heights of Sigourney Weaver & Noomi Rapace before her. Michael Fassbender is probably the biggest name attached to the film, he reprises his role as David but also plays new character Walter. Even with his synthetic state taken into account he simply doesn’t seem as natural in his role anymore, the camp nature of the whole film probably didn’t help his case either though. Other than these two performers the rest of the cast and characters are instantly forgettable.
What about the real stars of the show though, the aliens themselves!? Well we at least get to see more of them than we did in ‘Prometheus’. However I wasn’t so fussed on the design of some of the creatures. Ultimately whilst the CGI is fantastic it lacks the authenticity of the practical effects seen in the early films. Whether it’s face huggers or chest bursters you can’t have aliens without gore. The level of violence here is brutal which added plenty of atmosphere to the more horror heavy side of the film which should please fans. However, the alien action is often neglected in the place of the uninteresting narrative already discussed. Thankfully the film always looks stunning though, so even when there isn’t much of anything happening in terms of the plot at least it’s pretty to look at.
Pretty is not going to cut it with fans though. If you’re optimistic about the whole thing you can appreciate Waterston’s performance, the visuals and some of the horror elements. It’s a shame that there is just too much else dragging ‘Alien: Covenant’ down into the lower ranks of the ‘Alien’ franchise. You’ll feel like you’re in a hyper sleep chamber for the majority of the proceedings and by the time the credits role instead of marveling at what you’ve just watched you might just be filled with dread over what Scott’s got planned next!
Rating – 5/10
Question: How would you rank the films in ‘Alien’ series?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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