The Alien Franchise has had a mixed track record to say the least, the original science-fiction horror film came out in 1979 directed by Ridley Scott. It was met with universal acclaim and is now considered one of the greatest science-fiction films of all time. It’s sequel Aliens (1986) was helmed by James Cameron and was a even bigger success commercially. Cameron took Scott’s claustrophobic sci-fi horror and turned it into an exhilarating action flick. The franchise took a steep dive Alien 3 this time with David Fincher at the helm, marred by overinvolvement of the studio Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection were poorly received. (Who knew David Fincher would go on to become one of the greatest contemporary directors in Hollywood!). Ridley Scott returned to the helm with Prometheus (2012) which polarised both audiences and critics alike. Prometheus was touted as a prequel to Scott’s original Alien (1979) but provided little continuity and seemed more like a spin-off than a prequel. Now five years later Ridley Scott returns with the latest instalment in the franchise Alien: Covenant.
Alien Covenant follows the crew aboard a colony ship called the Covenant. “Bound for a remote planet on the far-side of the galaxy, the crew discover an uncharted planet along the way however their expedition soon turns deadly as they encounter hostile alien-life forms.’’ With Alien Covenant Ridley Scott learns from his mistakes and delivers a terrifying film that in many ways lives up to his original masterpiece.
Scott’s films are visually stunning and Alien: Covenant is no exception with impeccable set-design, CGI and amazing special effects. The performances in this film are fresh, Danny McBride in particular delivers a stoic performance proving that he is not just a throwaway comedic actor. Katherine Waterson plays the lead Captain Daniels and delivers a fine performance reminiscent of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley from Alien (1979). Michael Fassbender reprises his role as David the android from Prometheus and plays another android named Walter, part of the crew onboard the Covenant. Fassbender steals every scene he’s in, pulling off a dual-role is not easy and Fassbender does so effortlessly. The characters overall in the film are very well written, even the disposable crew members who we know are not going to make it, possess distinct personalities and backstories. There are some horrifyingly gory moments in this film that are very entertaining to watch, including a twist on the infamous “Chestburster” scene. The Xenomorph itself, now rendered fully in CGI looks as horrific and ferocious as when it was introduced in 1979 albeit less gritty than the animatronic puppets of the earlier films.
Covenant does well to bridge the gap between Prometheus and Alien for the most part but fans still might feel a little disappointed. Scott tries his best to integrate the events of Prometheus (2012) into the storyline but fails to provide as much closure as fans would have hoped; the fate of a major character from Prometheus is revealed and quickly forgotten. Some of the deaths in the film while visceral and terrifying to watch fall to horror-movie clichés. There is a twist at the very end of the film although satisfying, was very predictable. The biggest strength of the film and perhaps it’s weakness is that Covenant combines the mystery/discovery aspects of Prometheus (2012), the claustrophobia and isolation of Alien (1979) and the exhilarating action of Aliens (1986) into one film. While the end-product is highly enjoyable to watch, it does feel a little disjointed.
Alien: Covenant does not reinvent the franchise like Alien (1979) or Aliens (1986) did before it, but it does an excellent job in reviving the Alien franchise and is a return to form for Ridley Scott, who proves he truly is a master of the science-fiction genre. With four more sequels already in the works, it’s clear that Scott (who turns 80 in November) has only just begun his work on this franchise. This film is the third best instalment in the series, coming close to, but not quite reaching the heights of the first two films. That being said Alien: Covenant is a thoroughly entertaining sci-fi film that will leave audiences breathless and wanting more.
Alien: Covenant is now showing in cinemas.