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Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant - Prometheus sequel

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Alien: Covenant Spoiler-Free Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Spoiler-Free Movie Review

On May 4th, I attended the world premiere of Alien: Covenant. Tonight, I have published my official review of the film, covering everything from the film's score, its cast and characters, the overall plot, pacing, effects, creatures and endings. Though Covenant was not necessarily exactly what I had expected, it does serve as an intriguing evolution of the Alien mythology and a worthy addition to the Alien universe. Below are spoiler-free excerpts from my full review - which you can read here if you don't mind spoilers.

Having tracked news on this film since 2012 and having become obsessed with its production and every shred of material associated with it, my expectations for Ridley’s highly anticipated Prometheus sequel were rather high. From casting, to the film’s score, to the portrayal of the film’s new Aliens and the profound philosophical concepts introduced in Prometheus, I went into Covenant with hopes of being impressed, inspired and immersed in an expansive Alien universe. I left the cinema feeling satisfied, but at the same time yearning for more.

Alien: Covenant The Crossing Prologue

The Score

The first thing I noticed when the opening credits began to roll was an incredibly Alien score composed by Jed Kurzel. As opposed to Prometheus, this score produced an incredible amount of nostalgia – It did a perfect job of setting the tone and atmosphere of what was about to transpire. There was no mistaking it – I was watching an Alien movie. I had zero complaints regarding Kurzel’s work on Alien: Covenant, it was a magnificent score and one that I could listen to for hours on end.

The Characters

Another aspect of Covenant I was more impressed with than with Prometheus was the film’s characters. Each of them seemed to have more personality and emotion flowing through them. There were a number of moments throughout the film where I felt for the crew of the Covenant, while in Prometheus, many of the crew who met their demise on LV-223, I felt very little for.

Alien: Covenant Crew

Danny McBride’s performance as Tennessee was an enjoyable and relatable one. Despite early criticism of his comedic background, Danny knocked this role out of the park. Offering a few quips throughout the film, his demeanor was more so that of a serious, protective parent. Throughout the film, Tennessee is constantly calculating risks in order to save the crew stranded on the surface of the Engineer homeworld. When his wife Faris (Amy Seimetz) encounters an Alien pathogen-infected crew member, her reactions become frantic and you could feel a strong connection with McBride’s character as he tries to manage the situation from afar – feeling helpless and genuinely concerned for his wife’s wellbeing.

Daniels in trouble

Katherine Waterston did a fantastic job playing Daniels. As the film progressed and situations arose which threatened not only her own survival, but the survival of her fellow crewmates, she wasted no time conjuring up inner strength. Daniels acted as the audience’s connection, I felt – seemingly being the only one with much common sense and a rational thought process for combating the Alien onslaught.

David or Walter?

Michael Fassbender, as expected, stole the show with his portrayal of both the latest iteration of Weyland-Yutani’s android Walter, as well as the aging Weyland synthetic-turned mad Alien scientist David. Fassbender did a remarkable job transitioning between the characteristics of character, there was never a moment where I felt they were one in the same.

Like in Prometheus, David was by far the most intriguing character and rightfully so – considering the entire film and its eventual sequel, Alien: Awakening seems to revolve primarily around David and his pursuit of transcendence and domination over all living things.

Alien: Covenant Trailer 2

The Plot

The overall plot for Alien: Covenant was much easier to follow than that of Prometheus. However, the film was nowhere near on the same scale and scope of concept as Prometheus. As someone who enjoyed Prometheus for its profound and seemingly limitless concepts, I found Covenant to be rather narrow in view. The focus was very clearly on David and his personal vendetta, with very little to no expansion of the Engineer mythology, their city prior to David’s arrival and their own agenda and the explanation behind the prevented assault of Earth 2,010 years prior. I was disappointed with the lack of explanation concerning the Engineer home world and the questions posed regarding their society in Prometheus. The prologue sequence involving David and Shaw very clearly explained that David had learned of the Engineer’s ways but nowhere in Covenant does David explain and elaborate on those “ways”. The mystery surrounding the Engineer culture, their relationship with the Black Goo and their agenda to destroy mankind were not addressed, or explained.

However, if you were not that fascinated with the Engineer side of the story, then you may find Covenant more enjoyable – as the film clearly harkens back to the concepts and themes present in Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986).

The beast is NOT so cooked.

Contrary to Ridley Scott’s initial remarks about the story focusing on the expansion of the Alien universe and its other indigenous species other than the Xenomorph, Alien: Covenant is very Alien focused.

For those who were hoping for a grotesque, horrifying and adrenaline pumping Alien experience – you will be very pleased with Covenant. There is very little letting up throughout the entire film with regards to Alien mayhem.

Alien: Covenant Trailer 2

Visual Appeal

Similar to Prometheus, Alien: Covenant is a beautiful film to watch. The practical sets and environments were breathtaking and aw-inspiring. Like Scott and the cast reiterated countless times during Covenant’s production, the overall aesthetic of the Covenant and its technology was more so a blend of Prometheus’ pristineness and the aged look Scott’s original Alien. Though, it still blows the technology found on the Nostromo out of the water.

The Neomorphs

Oddly enough, I actually preferred the Neomorphs to the Xenomorphs in Alien: Covenant. Their development, presentation and interactions were way more fascinating and way more realistic than that of the Xenomorphs.

Neomorph attack

Although they grew rapidly, throughout the film you could actually see them growing. Their white skin color made them seem creepier as well, along with their Deacon-like jaw structure.

 

The Xenomorphs

My favorite scene from Alien: Covenant was easily the shower scene teased in the first trailer because it was the only scene to have featured the Xenomorph in an ominous, dark and traditional manner. However, despite my favorite scene being one that involved the Xenormoph, the Xenomorph portrayal for most of the film is also one of my biggest gripe about the film.

The Alien: Covenant Xenomorph / Protomorph

To start things off, the Xenomorphs grew incredibly fast. Within hours, or less, the Chestburster was able to grow to adult size. Compared to the time in every subsequent Alien film in the franchise, this was by far the quickest growth time we have ever witnessed. Dare I say it’s on par with the growth rates of Alien vs. Predator… The reason for its rapid growth was not explained and considering this is meant to be an early version of Kane’s son featured in 1979’s Alien, you would assume the growth rate to be at least the same, if not slower.

The other issue I have to take with the Xenormoph portrayal is the fact that many times we saw them in light, not shrouded in darkness. With the advent of CGI I understand the reality of being able to show the Alien more easily, but for me, part of what made the original Alien so terrifying was the manner in which it lurked in the shadows. You never knew where it was until it was too late. With Covenant, everyone saw the Xenormoph coming (except the shower scene) and never once, besides the shower scene did it hide or stalk its prey in a stealthy manner. Like the Neomorphs, the Xenomorph seems rather spastic in this film.

The Chestbursters

The Chestburster was probably the biggest and most confusing curve ball of the entire film. I'll leave the rest of my thoughts on this aspect for the full, spoiler-filled review.

Alien: Covenant Movie Trailer

The Facehuggers

By far the best part of the Xenomorph life cycle in Alien: Covenant was the Facehuggers! They were ruthless, aggressive and the most iconic-looking of the three stage life cycle. The eggs which housed them too, looked incredible. Everything from how the Facehugger’s moved to how they attacked their unsuspecting hosts – they were phenomenally crafted and portrayed in every instance.

The Pacing

Although everything in Alien: Covenant seemed easy enough to follow, I did find the pacing at certain parts to be a little rushed - specifically David’s explanation of the events which led him to Paradise and why he bombed the city, the Xenomorph scenes and the interactions between David and the Covenant crew. There were a few moments between David and Walter which were fleshed out properly, but besides them, the surviving crew didn’t really interact with David much.

Alien egg hatching

The film felt like it went by quickly to me. I would have much preferred an additional 20+ minutes to properly introduce the Xenomorph and I would have liked the Covenant crew to have questioned David more, asking about Shaw, their journey and the ancient beings which once inhabited the planet.

Alien: Covenant The Crossing Prologue

In Conclusion

In conclusion, Alien: Covenant serves as an intriguing evolution of the Alien mythology, by expanding our understanding of the Xenomorph and its origin, but could have expanded upon the concepts surrounding Mankind’s origins as well and the Engineer race introduced by Prometheus. The film lends many nods to its predecessor and is clearly on track to back into the 1979 original Alien but, like Prometheus, it leaves us with a host of new questions to ponder and theorize over. As this series continues I look forward to discovering the answers to who created us, what happens to us when we die, why the Engineers hated Humanity and other profound concepts and questions. The beast has been explained, David’s agenda has been explained. The future of this series remains looking bright and I can’t wait to see what Ridley has planned for Alien: Awakening. Big things have small beginnings.

Alien: Covenant The Crossing Prologue

If you wish to read my full review, complete with spoilers and all, you can do so here! Please refrain from discussing spoilers in the comments section of this post, to avoid ruining any surprises for those who have yet to see the film.

If you're a fan of Alien / Prometheus and would like to discuss Alien: Covenant and its upcoming sequel with other like-minded fans, be sure to join in our forum! Ranked the #1 Prometheus forum back in 2012 and reigning as the web's top Alien: Covenant fan site, it's a great place to discuss the upcoming Prometheus sequels, dissect details from every trailer and engage with other fans just like you.

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32 Fan responses to Alien: Covenant Spoiler-Free Movie Review

joylitt

May-08-2017 9:49 PM

Well, it sounds like imagination flew out of the window.

Roger55

May-08-2017 9:54 PM

I will enjoy reading all, need a break! Thanks!

Blackwinter-witch

May-08-2017 9:58 PM

Really well-done spoiler-free review for those who want such. It must have been a challenge, with what to say vs what not to say, and wondering if maybe some sentence says too much.
But, you did a really well-crafted job of it Chris! :)

Me, I LOVE spoilers, so I'm off to read your full review. :D

ripley05

May-08-2017 10:05 PM

Thanks a lot Chris! It's nice reading a review from a huge fan of the franchise. 

Icebear2017

May-08-2017 10:06 PM

Strangely, for a spoiler free review, I'm pretty sure you've just given away the twist at the end.

Thanks for that.

Chris

May-08-2017 10:08 PM

Thanks guys, glad you enjoyed it! Yes, it was challenging to piece together the spoiler free review. I originally wrote my review with spoilers and trimmed out certain parts for the spoiler free version. That's why it's all one block quote. I figured writing 2 reviews would have been a waste of time haha

Dorian Gray

May-08-2017 10:18 PM

Yo Chris you're looking fresh there bro. Thanks for the review.

David 7

May-08-2017 10:34 PM

Thanks for the review Chris. 

Jim Pills

May-08-2017 11:01 PM

Thank you for your review Chris. Sounds like a very good movie.

clovenberg2

May-08-2017 11:36 PM

Thanks for the review! P.S the Alien in Alien3 was born fully equipped. 

dk

May-09-2017 12:00 AM

Thanks for a very thoughtful review and for giving a spoiler free option. I read that and may go back to read the full review later- nice to have the option!

Jonesy

May-09-2017 12:17 AM

Chris, you are...my..lucky star

Lone

May-09-2017 12:57 AM

Thanks so much Chris, your spolier free review is the only one I have read and as far as I am concerned the only one that matters, for now!. It will keep me going until Thursday, when I will finally see A:C myself :)

The story is pretty much what I was expecting regarding the "Engineers". I think the next installment will expand upon them and their culture, motives etc.

I hope you found some time to kick back and enjoy your short stay in London. 

IRaptus

May-09-2017 1:41 AM

Thanks Chris, great review!!  Oddly, I'm getting really excited about the Neomorphs more so than ever. 

Cant wait!!

 

LH31

May-09-2017 2:20 AM

Cheers mate.

I suspect the gaps will be filled in come the next Instalment.

A common criticism seems to be the lack of stealth by the xenos. Don't remember there being too much of this in Aliens as it was more an action packed film in comparison to the first one.

Looking forward to Friday.

Gee W

May-09-2017 2:23 AM

Great spoiler-free review! I'm a little disappointed that the engineer mythology isn't elaborated on as much, but that wasn't wholly unexpected seeing the mixed reaction to Prometheus. Hopefully Awakening will go deeper into that aspect, now that the fans' itch for the Alien will be satisfied by this movie.

djamelameziane

May-09-2017 2:36 AM

Great yes seems to follow what some are saying... Ridley has listened to critics fixed some bitsbut not all :s . Believable characters hooray! More aliens great. More coherent hooray!  Back to the original sound tracks and feel of alien..perfect!

But on the down side i agree we want more engineers maybe elders and the demi god he mentioned... more about the why's and what's. I guess we have to wait till next time :s .

 

Possibly this is a minor spoiler review quiet a few things are given away...i had to skip a bit. Sounds like Ridley is trying to inject his blade runner thoughts  :p

Did you interview anyone in the end? Or did I skip that bit :s

 

Neomorph

May-09-2017 3:47 AM

Fantastic review Chris, thanks! 

LV226

May-09-2017 6:56 AM

Thanks Chris!

masatojpn81

May-09-2017 7:24 AM

thanks for the review!

 

but the next movie will be called alien awakening? I don't understand. if he names so, prometheus gets ignored. he should've named them like, prometheus -> covenant -> awakening without the word "alien" from the beginning. whatever it is, this franchise is different from prior one (alien, aliens, etc).

Movie fan

May-09-2017 7:35 AM

I read your full review, I would say that Prometheus was better than Covenant. (in my opinion)

Inquisitor Fifield

May-09-2017 7:48 AM

Hehe thx for that insight.

I guess what I probably will like most about it is, that basically all the subjects that were theorized over with the most obsession and hatred by 'fans' in forums like this since prometheus, seem to be the ones regarded with the least affection in the movie ;)

Chris

May-09-2017 7:49 AM

Thanks for the kind feedback guys! Yeah, I too was half expecting the Engineer side of the story to take a backseat for this one, but I had still hoped we would get some answers regarding them.

The good news is, that with new questions to ponder, these forums should continue to develop and grow as we anticipate Alien: Awakening! We know Scott doesn't want to wait 2 years to make another one and that Awakening was being written during the production of Covenant. So, I suspect we'll get our answers soon enough!

I definitely recommend repeat viewing for Covenant, though.

dk

May-09-2017 12:38 PM

Repeated viewings- that's why I look forward to the blue ray. Which begs the question Chris- was your review based off watching in the theater once? That is a lot to take in. Were you given means of viewing at home to go through it multiple times? Sorry if this sounds stupid or if you are not allowed to answer.

BlackGooDrinker

May-09-2017 12:59 PM

Read your spoiler review and I have a question. What was the Covenant all about? 

Xeno84

May-09-2017 2:11 PM

Just back from the movie.

 

I really liked it and wasn't disapointed. Starts a little bit slowly but when the action begins it's pretty tense and nervous. The characters are well developped. Special mention to Fassbender who's absolutely phenomenal in my opinion.

 

Conclusion: A very good Alien movie. Not better or worse than I expected. It gave me what I wanted.

Chris

May-09-2017 4:22 PM

@dk, yes it was after a single viewing. I'm seeing it again tomorrow, so I may notice things I missed originally.

dk

May-09-2017 5:14 PM

Chris- Gotta tip the hat to you- I couldn't take all that in and write in that much detail after one viewing.

Northmathr

May-10-2017 11:10 AM

Alien Covenant was really good. Very intense, with a frenetic rythm. It's an almost perfect combination of a sci-fi slasher and a deep story of creation and all its philosophical aspects. I really liked it a lot.

 

In my sense it would've been even better if the movie took its time to elaborate more on its concepts since its duration is around 2hrs it quickly jumps from one scene to another. It has the same duration as the first Alien, but with a lot more things to tell. The movie also lacks several scenes from the trailers (I was surprised not to see the one with the alien jumping around the red-lightened corridor!).

 

Nevertheless I was carried on a great dark and mysterious journey, thanks to you sir Scott !

MJD

May-11-2017 3:24 AM

there is a reason they leave big questions unanswered, it´s like with Alien 1979 and the left out questions and answers to the space jockey. I doubt it´s clever to reveal the magicians tricks, it did´nt work in Star Wars with Medicloreans and it won´t work with Covenant. I am glad when they leave mystique and questions unanswered, either to create more talk about it and to keep it unique, like the McGuffin (Brief Case) in Pulp Fiction etc. or answer it in the last movie to make, perhaps in Awakening, which is between the events of Prometheus and Covenant. There they could could go further into the lore behind the curtains and show not tell what really happened but seeing David wipe them out, i doubt we would of had long discussions with them. I think it´s fantastic that it is focused on David, he is the creator of the story and like his parents, and their parents before them, a dictator for himself. Power corrupts Power and provokes you becoming God sick, thinking you are a God yourself ;-) 

joylitt

May-11-2017 3:40 AM

MJD I personally see this as a bait and switch situation. Also, I hate movies set in space that deal with things for which that type of setting is rather superfluous. For instance, as much as I like Gravity, I cannot help myself from thinking it is just a survival story that could be set in the jungle. In this case it is the same, they sell me horror in space when what they are giving me is Ex Machina.

Pete H

May-13-2017 12:26 AM

This is a great review and sums up the film really well. Covenant is much more of a thrill ride than Prometheus and feels more coherent. I think it does explore the big themes almost as much as Prometheus did (particularly the meaning of faith in a hostile universe), but it takes a pretty bleak perspective on things which is saying something for an Alien movie.

And I loved the little nod to Bladerunner planted in there. 

Even though it's not perfect, I left satisfied but keen to see what happens next. I'll definitely watch this one again.  :-)

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