- Directed by: Ridley Scott.
- Released: 2017.
Much like the central theme of the poem, Ozymandias, by Percy Shelly, ALIEN: Covenant is Ridley Scott’s uncompromising take on the ‘decline of Empires’; except this time the fragile ‘Empires’ Scott is targeting are the expectations and pretensions fans of this series have been carrying for almost 40 years. This is a brutal movie. Fast, layered and gorgeous. It’s the work of a Master movie maker at the absolute height of his artistic ability. Despite all this, not everyone is going to like it, that’s for sure.
ALIEN – Covenant is an excellent follow up and companion piece to Scott’s 2012 PROMETHEUS, a somewhat muddled effort that had some difficulty identifying its target audience. Being too intelligent for the Saturday night popcorn crowd and yet too stupid for a more savvy audience, it was laden with equal doses of pretense, philosophy and questionable characters and it satisfied very few in the middle ground audience. ALIEN: Covenant contributes a great deal to make the earlier movie a more acceptable opener for what promises to be a long running series. A more appropriate moniker for the older 2012 movie would be ‘ALIEN: Prelude’ as PROMETHEUS more adequately serves as a prologue of sorts for the greater, more cohesive components of ALIEN Covenant.
There are some elements to this movie fans are definitely not going to like. I found them to be refreshing and welcome and the film was only weakest when familiar Alien iconography was introduced in the final Act levering a very familiar set of ‘ALIEN’ tropes to dominate the closing half hour. There’s a couple of scenes in this movie that will conflict with many Fan’s ‘head canon’, notions and speculations that were never official or concrete in the first place and sat comfortably with fans for decades are now thrust aside for what I like to call ‘The New Canon’. Remember though, this is an ‘ALIEN’ movie. Nice people don’t always receive justice and certain sections of fans are treated no less lightly. This is a series where ‘fair is for children’ and there is a lot of content not appropriate for the young or anyone of a conservative fannish disposition on offer here.
Amidst all the chaos and shooting ugly things in the face, this is a layered and richly detailed experience littered with symbolism and philosophical content sitting ever so slightly below the surface, tucked away at an almost subliminal level. Scott isn’t just making an ‘ALIEN’ movie here, he’s liberally coating it with ideas and themes he wants to throw at the big screen. He’s cramming them into the background to satiate the closing years of his long movie making career with ideas he needs to express as a filmmaker. My twisted paraphrasing of David 8 quoting the husband of Mary Shelley, the author of ‘Frankenstein – or The New Prometheus’, at the top of the page is but a single example of this.
Rewatchability is going to be essential for those seeking everything this movie has to offer. At the heart of the movie is the birth of the Alien we all know as well as Creation being a core theme we’ll visit and revisit constantly throughout the Covenant’s fateful interrupted journey to Origae-6. We find out who – or rather ‘what’ – created the Alien and along this bloodied path we experience the origin of the eponymous creature itself. We’ll also witness other forms of hostile parasitism very closely related to the otherworldly monster. Not least of all the nastiness we are also exposed during the running time of this movie is a horrendous act of genocide.
This isn’t a movie for the squeamish and ALIEN: Covenant is the welcome big budget antithesis of lighter, brighter space adventures like Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s more meat here both in terms of viscera and philosophical content than any Marvel Comics Universe movie has to offer. Audiences expecting light hearted entertainment are advised to look elsewhere. If anything, ALIEN: Covenant is more along the lines of Star Trek’s deep space exploration; but a very nasty episode, at that. Think of everyone aboard this vessel wearing red shirts and you got the idea pretty straight.
Amidst all the blood letting and unwholesome things crawling out of living, palpitating human hosts is the hapless crew of the Covenant itself. Their mission of populating other worlds with 2000 hopeful colonists rapidly descends into a bubbling pit of disaster and horror, seething under the mutating properties of the black goo accelerant introduced in the earlier PROMETHEUS.
All of the major cast members deliver terrific performances. The very nature of their relationships with each other lends an additional level of weighty discomfort as loved ones are lost in a gruesome nightmare fitting of an ‘ALIEN’ movie. This is a well balanced ensemble of actors and we get to know each of their characters adequately – just barely, but adequately – prior to the body count tally rapidly rises.
This is a rich, refreshing and solid entry set in a Universe where 38 year old mysteries are solved. It demonstrates why facsimiles of human intelligence shouldn’t ever be handed over any power or responsibility. It’s no wonder corporate entity, Weyland Yutani, are seeking the Alien for their bioweapons department – it turns out the Alien is a creation of one of their own creations. In this regard, Weyland Yutani kind of have the rights to it. It would appear they’ve always owned it from the outset. Creatures look terrific and are welcome in variety as well as numbers.
Normally, I’m not too interested in posting movie reviews on this site, but ALIEN: Covenant is going to be the source for so much more merchandise in the form of toys, action figures and collectibles over the coming months and years – and they do interest me a lot. There’s going to be a ton of good fun things based on this movie coming out, that’s for sure. It’s just natural to have a review of this latest movie present here, somewhere.
I enjoyed ALIEN Covenant a lot. Not only is it a ruthless roller coaster vehicle of destruction bombarding the viewer with a fresh take on familiar forms of cinematic nastiness but Scott has also delivered an iconoclastic piece of cinema that will forcefully change your perception of some pivotal notions this series has been laden with – nay, overburdened with – for decades.
Is it perfection? No; but if that’s what you’re seeking, you’re not Human.
Solid, not perfect. Still awesome.
I strongly recommend you what both of these Official 20th Century Fox viral items. They provide additional content mostly not appearing in the movie. Minor spoilers present: