Movie Review: "Alien: Covenant"
The Covenant is a large spaceship filled with thousands of civilians. Their goal is to reach and colonize a distant, habitable planet on the far side of the galaxy. The trip should have taken about a decade, but an unexpected incident damages the ship and wakes up members of the crew seven years early. Unwilling to go back into hibernation, the crew discovers another habitable planet only a few weeks away. The ship makes the trip to this mysterious planet and sends a group down to the planet's surface to determine whether or not it would be a suitable replacement for their colonization mission. This seems like the perfect planet, but the group quickly discovers that they are not alone. they are in grave danger as long as they remain on this horrendous planet.
The Pros & Cons
Walter & David (+5pts)
Character Development (-10pts)
Action & Violence (+10pts)
Missing the Horror (-8pts)
Prometheus & The Xenomorph (+5pts)
Recorder & Kissing (-4pts)
Pro: Walter & David (+5pts)
Michael Fassbender plays two characters in this movie. Both are humanoid robots that serve in colonization missions. The first, Walter, was assigned to the mission shown in this movie. The other, David, was assigned to the crew of Prometheus (the precious movie in the franchise). I thought Fassbender did a great job in this role. It was interesting to watch movie play with the audience by making it uncertain which humanoid robot you are watching at the time. I thought the climax of this storyline was a bit predictable but I enjoyed looking out for the subtle changes in Fassbender's performance.
Con: Character Development (-10pts)
This hurts the movie more than anything. In order to care about the story, the audience has to care about the characters in it. This movie resorts to lazy characters development. This mostly comes in the form of bad dialogue. For example, the movie (for no apparent reason) wants to convey that a particular character is religious. So they have that character say, "They don't respect me because of my faith". Lazy writing like this causes me to dislike a character. Most of the cast in this movie felt like plot devices and targets for the aliens to murder. As a result, I could not be that invested in this story.
Do not even get me started in how dumb every character was. It seemed like every time the writers got stuck on a plot point (which seemed to happen frequently) their answer was to have the characters make terrible decisions just for the sake of moving the plot along.
Pro: Action & Violence (+10pts)
While I wish this movie went in a much different direction, I have to admit that the violent action was fun to watch while it was happening. People die in this movie in brutally bloody ways. There is no shortage of crazy Xenomorph violence. If that is something you have been missing, know that this movie gets it right.
Con: Missing the Horror (-8pts)
This con is a huge result of the poor character development. I did not feel like this movie was the horror film it should have been. There are some dark and violent moments in this movie. However, because I did not care about the characters, the movie never felt like a horror. Instead, it felt like an average action sci-fi film. These movies are at their best when the audience fears for the character's well being. Sadly, this is a concept that the filmmakers have not quite gotten right since the original films.
Pro: Prometheus & The Xenomorph (+5pts)
This was a fairly average movie. It has its issues but one thing that the movie does well is tie-in with Prometheus and make that film's plot fit in with the rest of the franchise. It does this through the evolution of the Xenomorph. I do not want to get into the specifics here, but this movie was an origin story (of sorts) for the Xenomorph and I thought it worked well. The creature is menacing in its early stages, so watching it evolve makes it feel even more dangerous. I feel like there's a story (or two) to be told leading up to the events of the first Alien film, but this one tied to the previous movie well. Now we have to hope that future movies get the plot and genre right!
Con: Recorder & Kissing (-4pts)
This is not a spoiler in any way, but there is a scene where David (Michael Fassbender) teaches Walter (Michael Fassbender) how to play the recorder. It is an awkward scene and I still can't figure out why it was in the film. This is a weird scene that should not be in the movie. Another thing in this movie is the kissing. David has some bizarre obsession with kissing people in a rape-like manner. It is another element of the movie that is just awkward and has no place in this film.
Grade: C- (73pts)
Alien: Covenant was not terrible but it did not come close to living up to its potential. A sci-fi horror featuring the Xenomorphs could and should be an A+ horror film. This movie resorts to lazy writing, poor character development, and focuses on the action rather than the horror. Don't get me wrong, the action was cool while it was happening. The Xenomorphs are violent murder machines and this movie has a few of them. Unfortunately, this movie is not all alien action and the lazy writing leaves the audience waiting and wanting for a Xenomorph to come slaughter these poorly written characters. At least that would be interesting to watch. The result is a very average action sci-fi movie.
If you are not a fan of these kinds of movies, this one will not win you over. You should probably ignore Alien: Covenant. If you love the Alien franchise and have been missing the Xenomorphs, know that this is a weak entry. Granted, there is plenty of Xenomorph action in this film, so you just might enjoy it.