After the lacklustre Prometheus, Ridley Scott returns to the Alien franchise with hopes of kickstarting a new string of films to capture the fear of movie-goers. Unfortunately Alien Covenant doesn’t quite hit the mark. The colonisation ship, ‘Covenant’ is bound for a planet named Origae-6. When they receive a signal from a nearby planet they decide to investigate, hoping to find a safe and closer home for the thousands of colonists they have on board. Things soon go wrong with some of the landing crew becoming infected with alien parasites.
If this sounds all too familiar then that’s probably because it is. You’d be forgiven in thinking that this is a remake of the original Alien as opposed to the prequel that it is. And the similarities don’t end there. Throughout the film you’re hit with the sense of, “Hang on, have I seen this before?” It’s a shame because such a exquisitely crafted universe deserves better. The Alien franchise seems to be suffering from the Force Awakens syndrome - rehashing old ground. We need another film about an Alien on a spaceship like we need another film about a Death Star. (i.e. we don’t.)
Covenant's start is very slow (especially when you already know what to expect). However the filmmakers seem intent on defining the complex relationships from the start. This is a problem as there is no real initial hook to get us to care about them. What the first ‘Alien’ did so well was to immediately throw the crew into danger and have them deal with it. Circumstances spiralled quickly out of control and what results is a nail biting, tension filled masterpiece. Covenant however has the crew talk at great length about the issues they face and by the time the action kicks in I was left wondering why I should care. This confusion is present right from the second scene with the death of a minor character. The audience hasn’t even been introduced to them and yet is expected to mourn the crew’s loss for the next twenty minutes.
The main character of Daniels (Katherine Waterston) fails to really incite any feeling and you can’t help but feel like you’ve been left with a watered down Ripley. Once you’ve seen the real badass you can accept no imitation! This, coupled with the pretty weak supporting cast, results in a real struggle to feel any empathy for the protagonists.
Covenant’s one saving grace is Michael Fassbender. That man can ACT! From the first scene to the last he is excellent. Even though there are certain choices the writers made which leave you a little confused, it’s easy to forgive when the execution is so well done.
Whether we like it or not it seems that more Alien films are on the cards and it seems probable that the only good thing about this is that Fassbender will be playing an important role in the future films. Right now the direction of the franchise seems shakier than a xenomorph clinging to a cargo loader.
written by Bradley Allen