It’s not secret that Prometheus was met with a somewhat…interesting reception. Ridley Scott has himself explained he thought audiences were tired of seeing Alien and xenomorphs, so his intention was to delve deeper into a universe that had formerly been hinted at, turns out what we wanted was in fact, to see more alien. Enter Alien Covenant, the combination of Prometheus and Alien, set between the two films.
The Covenant is on a colony mission to the planet, OREGIE-6 when a distress call is heard from a nearby planet with even better conditions to house humans, they take the plunge.
Ridley Scott’s dilemma is obvious in this movie, despite that, the legendary director manifests as much grace as he can with the project and an intimate understanding of this world is clearly on display here. The film takes it’s time at the start and is set up by the numbers in terms of filmmaking and story – when our covenant crew touches down on the planet is when things start to get interesting. Intense acting and great direction make the film’s entrance to the action VERY VERY appealing. Though after this, Scott fails to hit these heights by pandering more to sci-fi/action than sci-fi/horror. The first half of the movie feels like Prometheus, alien lore and profound detail into the very concept of creation and death. Then the second half jumps the gun with a sci-fi/action/horror sort of thing very similar to James Cameron’s Aliens but it’s not executed in a way that’s ‘special’ and tends to be underwhelming.
By throwing out the slow pace and build up that make the original Alien, Aliens and even some parts of Prometheus so great, Scott misses out on plenty of opportunities to build tension and despair, subtle moments James Wan would have exploited to no end. (A James Wan Alien movie would be a great shout by the way.) There are plenty of horror cliches “it’s behind you” or “I’m going for a walk” which I understand are necessary as well as they are uninventive, it’s the fact Ridley Scott does these in the most passable ways possible, combine this and it’s juxtaposing subject matter – themes of gods, creation and mankind. It’s all a little bit silly when you think about it. By not showing the incredible xenomorph (sometimes ‘neomorph’ in this case) you create that excitement for when it does appear, Scott forgets this apparently.
One definitive point of anchorage in the movie is Michael Fassbender’s performance as “Walter”. All of his work in this universe is nothing short of astounding as this point, he carries the weight of the movie on his shoulders and barely shudders as the prospect. His particular choices and sometimes ability to keep things simple by not making any choices at all is what makes his presence swollen and stand out compared to rest of the cast, not that anyone was poor per say. His only challenger would be a surprise, Danny McBride’s go as pilot “Tenessee” is somewhat of a tangent to his usual roles in R-rated Seth Rogen comedies. He clearly has a talent for drama, I would hope for a return from him in this franchise.
Words by Levi Eddie Aluede