Movie Review: "Alien: Covenant"
The Covenant is a large spaceship filled with thousands of civilians. Earth's resources are slowly running out, and global warming is making it clear that humanity cannot survive on Earth forever. Thus, to save humanity the civilians aboard the Covenant have a goal. 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 damaged the ship and has woken up some members of the crew seven years early. Unwilling to go back into hibernation, and unwilling to spend the next seven years aboard the Covenant, the crew discovers another habitable planet only a few weeks away. They make the trip to this mysterious planet and send a group down to the planet's surface to determine whether or not it would be a suitable replacement planet for their mission. It seems like a perfect planet for humanity to colonize, but the group quickly discovers that they are not alone. They are in grave danger as long as they remain on this horrendous planet, but getting off alive will be no easy task. There is a dangerous species on this planet, one that begins hunting the crew.
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 played two characters in this movie. Both were humanoid robots whose purpose was to assist the crew on 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 previous movie in the franchise).
I thought Michael Fassbender did a great job in this role. The filmmakers played with the idea of which character you were watching in each scene. It was also clear that one of them could not be trusted, which gave the movie a mystery-thriller element, in addition to the horror. I thought the climax of this story-line was a bit predictable, and some aspects of the robots' story was really weird, but I enjoyed what this story-line added to the movie, as it set this movie apart from others in the franchise.
Con: Character Development (-10pts)
This hurt the movie more than anything else. In order to care about a story, the audience has to care about the characters in it. However, the filmmakers of this movie resorted to lazy character development, which mostly came in the form of bad dialogue. For example, the filmmakers (for no apparent reason) wanted to convey that a particular character was religious. In order to do that, they had that character say stuff like: "They don't respect me because of my faith". The character's dialogue just felt too on-the-nose and lacked any sort of subtly, which made the character feel fake. It was just lazy, non-organic dialogue, which made me not care about the characters.
As a result, most of the characters in this movie felt like nameless, faceless bodies for the aliens to murder, which made it hard to invested in this story. On top of that, do not even get me started on 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. The bad dialogue and poor decision making were two examples of lazy writing that riddled this movie, and made it hard to care about any of the characters.
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. A lot of people died in this movie, and they did so in brutal and bloody ways. There was no shortage of crazy Xenomorph violence. If that is something you were hoping to see from this movie, then know that the filmmakers delivered. Unfortunately, the filmmakers did not deliver on much else, but the Xenomorph action was pretty intense and entertaining while it was happening.
Con: Missing the Horror (-8pts)
This issue was definitely a result of the poor character development. I did not feel like this movie was the horror film it should have been. There were some dark and violent moments in this movie, but because I did not care about the characters, the movie never felt like a horror. I was not "afraid" for the characters' lives, which meant that I was not invested in the horror-style situation that they were in. As a result, it just felt like an average action sci-fi film. These movies work the best when the audience fears for the characters' well being. Sadly, this was a concept that the filmmakers were not able to bring to this movie, which made the movie feel like it was a hollow shell of the movie that it should have been.
Pro: Prometheus & The Xenomorph (+5pts)
This was a fairly average movie. It had its issues, but one thing that the filmmakers did well was connect its story to the story from Prometheus, while also making both movies feel like they are part of the overall Alien franchise. They did 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 was an origin story that worked well. The creature was menacing in its early stages, so watching it evolve made it feel even more dangerous as the story progressed. I feel like there would still be a story (or two) to be told that would connect the events of this movie to the events of the first Alien movie, but this one tied to the previous movie well and made the connection between it and the original movies clear. Now I only hope that the filmmakers are able to deliver in the inevitable sequel to this one.
Con: Recorder & Kissing (-4pts)
This is not a spoiler in any way, but there was a scene where David (Michael Fassbender) taught Walter (Michael Fassbender) how to play the recorder. It was an awkward scene and I still cannot figure out why the filmmakers felt the need to have it in the movie. This was a weird scene that I really do not think should have been in the movie. Then there was the kissing. David had some bizarre obsession with kissing people in a creepy, non-consensual manner. Both of these parts of the movie were pretty awkward and left me very confused, wondering what on earth the filmmakers were thinking.
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 have been an excellent horror film. Unfortunately, the filmmakers resorted to lazy writing, poor character development, and focused on the action rather than the horror. Do not get me wrong, however, the action was cool while it was happening.
The Xenomorphs were violent murderous machines and this movie had a few of them running around. Unfortunately, this movie was not all alien action and the lazy writing will leave audiences hoping for a Xenomorph to come slaughter these poorly written characters, as that would have been a lot more entertaining than some of the things the filmmakers put on screen. If you are not a fan of these kinds of movies, then this one will not win you over. If you love the Alien franchise and have been missing the Xenomorphs, know that this was far from the franchise's best, but I also thought it was far from the worst, as it certainly had enough entertaining Xenomorph scenes to keep me watching.