Well I went and saw Covenant last night here in Melbourne Australia. I guess I should say here to read at your own peril if you have yet to see the new movie.
Although there are a few pacing issues for my liking the movie over all is good and solid. The performances are great. The effects (practical and CGI) are mighty fine. Script is great if not a little desperate to explain a few of the Prometheus secrets and this is where most of my issues lay.
Ridley seems desperate to link his canon into the Alien franchise and ram it home as gospel and I fear he is a little heavy handed here. We get all kinds of links to Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 and even Resurrection is a weird way. The contorted faces of David's experiments mirror the Ripley clones in Alien 4 beautifully. Still the links are many and varied. From the central computer called Muther (despite an American accent) to the dipping drinking bird toy which any Alien fan will immediately recognise.
Overall good......not great.
The actual Alien itself. And two for good measure. Wonderfully similar to the original Giger masterpiece yet given amazingly dextrous and acrobatic movement. Amazing, brutal, beautiful and dangerous.
The Neomorphs. The little ones were scary and fierce. The Adult, simply breathtakingly bizarre and fantastic.
All Alien effects and design are perfect. Huggers, Bursters and hybrids.
Space effects and hardware. Every bit as fantastic as Prometheus.
Not so great.
The Engineers..... Ho hum. Left questioning why, where........
The eggs! Where did they come from? Did David make them? Was it an animal wiped out by the black goo? Must have been big. We never get a reasonable explanation.....
Oh lets take a ship worth Trillions and many two thousand lives on a scientific mission to a Planet which possibly supports a similar environment to Earths because Muther says so despite it taking decades to find the origin planet which we are actually travelling to........
Lets go to said planet dressed for a jungle walk with no bloody helmets despite the fact that there is absolutely nothing but flora alive on the entire planet!
Timing issues with gestation and bursting..... Closer to AVP than Alien I'm afraid.
Oh well the predictable twist at the end leads to a rather spooky possibility for the next instalment.
Good work Sir Ridley. I'm proud of you for crediting HRG for creature and Alien designs and you did quite a good job. Just not great.
Great review. I haven't seen it yet. I hope I like it at least as much as you did.
Just saw it in Adelaide....really enjoyed it. The twist you mentioned is more obvious to us but not for the crew
Not too many plot holes... this isn't;t spoilerish as it's in the trailer but why go outside on another planet without breathing gear... everyone could die from that planet's viruses
Having said that ALIEN is my all time favourite movie and I'm a bit obsessed... I thoroughly enjoyed it. Could have been longer... many deleted scenes that have appear5ed in publicity
Keep an eye out for what appears to be Giger's original artwork
Was the twist what we think though? A little to obvious and where did davids neck wound disappear to? Maybe somehow he has upgraded to walter?!
Oh yes... you are correct about the timing issues... made that comment myself but that's nothing new
I assume the eggs were part of David's design. Queen??
Sorry people who haven't seen it yet but SPOILERS.
I think David made those Eggs by messing about with the Black goo. He had been experimenting with that stuff for all those years he was on that planet alone. Im near sure that he was able to create the "perfect organism" by using Shaws body. I think someone else on the forum has already said it but David used her reproductive organs for the development of the eggs.
Viddy well, little brother. Viddy well.
I saw Alien Covenant yesterday at my local theater (a preview screening). Even though I wasn`t a big fan of Prometheus (2012), I was still excited for Covenant, and I walked out of the theater satisfied. I thought that it was a great movie.
Warning: minor spoilers!!!!!!
The Xenomorph. It looked amazing, similar to the original Giger design, but still a bit different when it came to its movement and its brutality.
The Neomorph is a fantastic new addition to the franchise. It`s a bit smaller then the normal Xeno, but faster and more brutal. Some of the goriest death scenes in the movie came from them. It also has a fantastic scene with David (Michael Fassbender).
The creature designs and effects were great (except for one`s effect).
Most of the characters and performances were great. I cared more about the characters in Covenant then I did for the characters in Prometheus. The best characters were Tennessee (Danny Mcbride), Walter/David (Michael Fassbender) and Daniels (Katherine Waterston).
Every scene with David and Walter.
The Covenant ship and its hardware and technology were as great as they were in Prometheus, despite still being way more advanced then the tech in the original Alien.
The cinematography and the locations were beautiful. No one directs sci-fi movies like Ridley Scott.
The Not So Great:
While I did care about most of the characters, they are complete idiots (even though I thought they were less idiotic then the onces in Prometheus, that doesn`t say much). They walk around in a newly discovered alien world with no protective gear (not even hazard suits), they touch stuff that causes disaster, they trust a complete stranger and some of them seperate from the main group when they know a deadly alien creature could show up anytime (and then they get killed).
The CG on the Neomorph backburster when it is no longer covered in blood looked average.
I could see the twist at the end (where Walter is acutally David) coming from a mile away (though it was still a good ending).
The growing time from a chestburster to a full grown Xeno was really fast and reminded me of the AVP movies (even the time for a Facehugger to impregnate someone was really fast).
The tone changes drastically some times.
Overall, Alien Covenant is a satisfying movie that returns the Alien franchise back to its horror routes, yet still having some of the action elements from Aliens. Most of the characters were great, though some were clearly only there to killed by alien monsters. The effects and cinematography were fantastic and it was alot of fun.
I though that it was better then Prometheus, and it is my third favorite movie in the Alien franchise.
Final verdict: 8/10
Where shall i begin...
Well first of all let me just say i am a huge fan of the original Alien (its my favourite film) and the Alien universe in general. Despite the dissapointment that was prometheus as a film, i did thourougly enjoy what it added to the mythos of the Alien universe. I also really liked the characters of the mysterious and slightly disturbing android David, and the naive and kindhearted Elizabeth Shaw and her quest to meet our makers.
So i was very much anticipating this movie and the hype only got bigger after i watched the trailers and viral videos. I also got a sneak peak of it on a screening of the original Alien (on Alien day), which REALLY sparked my interest as they showed off one of (as i came to a conclusion after watching the film) the best scenes in the movie. It really gave me the vibe that this was the movie we were waiting for when we got prometheus. It seemed like it was finally heading back to the horror roots of the first Alien. Unfortunately the rest of the movie didnt build on this fantastic scene, and had alot of issues which brings me to my review.
First off all ill start off with the negatives:
I hate to say this but this movie could have been so much better if just a few scenes and their pacing had been tweaked and the score had been mostly changed or removed.
Below i have summarized in chunks what i found most troubling in this Alien: Covenant.
THE SCORE AND THE TONE:
Aside from the few nods to the first Alien and Prometheus score, i thought the score in this one was, dare i say awful, and it didnt fit the tone of the movie at all. Imo it ruined several good scenes which could have been great with a better or absent score.
There were several scenes where the music didnt fit at all and actually ruined the tone and intensity the movie was trying to portray. The best part of the "score" (Idk if you can even call it that, maybe more of a sound effect) is the sound of a beating heart during the intense scenes.
EDITING AND PACING:
The movie suffers greatly under bad pacing and a messy weird put together ansamble of scenes in the second and third act, much akin to what prometheus struggled with. I think this mostly comes down to editing, which is extremely frustrating as i think it would have been a far better movie had these issues been resolved.
It goes back and forth in tone in a matter of minutes after the second act starts, which really ruins any buildup and tension (and the score really doesnt help here) the scenes could have had.
The third act is so messy and rushed that you really cant keep up with the characters and what they are going thru. Things just unravel in a somewhat uninspiring way.
I wish we would have gotten more reactions and talks between the crewmembers about what they saw and what was happening to them as shit went haywire, especially in the third act. Things just happens so fast and it just feels really messy and rushed. This was one of the most annoying dealbreakers of prometheus, altho it wasnt as bad in this one.
The final xenomorph was somewhat underwhelming as it didnt do much interesting, i think the neomorphs stole the show in this regard. I missed the more stalking, slow, intelligent and creepy xenomorph from the original movie, rather than the fast moving, aggressive and dumber ones from Aliens which we got in this one.
I also felt there lacked something in the xeno sound effects department where one of the iconic sqeeling sounds (when it gets hurt) were missing.
LACK OF TENSION, SUSPENSE AND HORROR:
I was also dissapointed in how little Ridley hid the xenomorph (ikr!), as that was always one of the best aspects of the original movie. Less is more in this regard, as it makes the creature more scary and terrifying.
There was so much potential to make it scarier and more suspenseful, as opposed to fast and action packed.
I was expecting more practical effects, altho i do have to say; the cgi in this movie looks pretty damn good (but i didnt fancy some of the movements the xeno/protomorph made. There was such a good buildup in the first act and a really horrifying first encounter with the neomorphs, but it goes downhill after this. It lacks momentum moving forward and goes way too much back and forth between action and calm, slow dialouge and; as i pointed out earlier, it just feels really rushed and messy.
UNCREATIVE AND LAZY WRITING:
Alot of the character deaths felt cheap and cliche. The execution was for the most part good, so it felt mostly like a script problem rather than a directorial or visual problem.
Its the typical "im gonna go alone to take a rest" which sets up the typical lazy slasher horror formula.
There are so many other directions they could have gone in this regard that would have made this movie better and more belieavable.
TOO MUCH INFORMATION, NOT ENOUGH TIME:
As funny as it sounds i think some of the characters had a little too much going on for them as there wasnt enough time to let it all sink in and to build on it. Too much happened in a too short timespan which made the characters unable to properly react and digest what was happening. There was so much trauma dealt to all of these characters that because of the plot having to move forward i think they didnt get the chance to properly react to these situations and it just generally felt rushed.
I wish we could have gotten more information about the lost city and its extinct species (which i got the impression were not the engineers from prometheus but rather a subspecies which perhaps the engineers had created). There was so much we didnt get to know about, and the crew generally showed a weird lack of curiosity regarding this aspect. I reckon we will get more information on this in the rumored "Awakening" prequel to covenant.
Now, lets get over to the good parts;
First of all let me just get this out of the way; The visuals are georgeous (i mean come on its a Ridley Scott movie, of course it is!).
The movie looks outstanding in every aspect.
The special effects are amazing and the cgi blends perfectly with the practical effects. The art design is incredible and i really liked Davids "lab" and all his horrible creations.
There are some really stellar acting performances in this movie, especially from Katherine Waterson and ofcourse the brilliant Michael Fassbender. Michael does such a fantastic job at portraying both of the androids in this movie (David and Walter) and there are some really fascinating scenes between the two. I was also very pleased with Amy seimetz and Carmen Ejogos performances.
Billy Crudup and Danny Macbride both did good performances.
All in all i think the cast did a good job with what they had to work with.
David. I absolutely love this character. He is more human in this one than i expected, but this only made him more intruiging imo.
This actually makes him come off as a proper psychopath. I love the creepy vibe he gives off and all the hidden agendas he seems to have. It really adds to the disturbing feel and tone of the movie (which Unfortunately, the god Damn score ruins time and time again!). His scenes are probably the best in this movie, and really carries it forward.
THE FIRST ACT AND MOST OF THE SECOND ACT:
There was a real slow and proper buildup in the first act, much like in the original Alien, which i really liked. It took about 15 mins until they started approaching the actual planet. I also liked the prolouge with David and Weyland.
SEVERAL VERY GOOD SCENES:
I cant say much here without spoiling too much but i can mention this movie has several awesome scenes, especially one regarding a neomorph and two poor female crew members.
This first encounter with the backbursting neomorph (as seen in the trailers) was absolutely fantastic, both in the sense of acting, visuals, sound design, pacing and tone. This is probably my favourite scene from the movie. There are also some very cool scenes with David and his own little "paradise" lab. I will write more about this later when i have the time.
These guys were an interesting new take on a monster, really refreshing and creepy. I loved the aggressiveness they showed and the sounds they made. Also their occational curiosity where they would just stand still and observere, was really facinating and creepy. There is a really good scene with David and a neomorph in the temple which is a good example of this.
Although it was predictable, the ending is really satisfying and creepy and makes you instantly want to know what happens next.
I dont want to spoil anything too much but i have to say i love what was shown of Elizabeth Shaw and what this told us about the character of David and his intentions.
All in all i liked this movie and it is an improvement on Prometheus, despite having many of the same flaws that Prometheus had. It is frustrating tho how a tweak in editing and pacing, and a different score could have made this movie so much better. I really cant comprehend how awful and unfitting the score was in regards to tone, aside from the throwbacks to Jerry Goldsmiths Alien and the nods to Mark Streitenfields Prometheus score.
Maybe Ridley needs to hire both a different composer and editor for the next innstallment, since tis was such a major problem in big parts of the movie.
All in all tho im happy with the story and characters and im looking forward to the next innstallment.
I have to give this a second viewing before i can settle on a final score, but as of now im standing on a 7.5/10.
If they decide to fix some of the editing issues and maybe some of the score for the Blu-ray release, this could easily bump up to an 8-8.5/10 rating.
I was not really expecting much from Covenant especially as Prometheus was slightly disappointing for me. The original premise of the Alien prequel was a crew of astronauts and scientists landing on LV-426. It was a one-off story linking directly to the events that followed.
Whatever became Prometheus was a radical shift. Consequently, Covenant is hamstrung by this shift and can only go along with what came before.
Overall it succeeds, like the idea of robot David developing a psychosis that leads to the horrific massacre of the civilian Engineer population and poor Elizabeth.
I give it 7 out of 10 but look forward to the next film which hopefully ties things up.
Oh, I forgot to mention the (over) use of some of the original musical score from both Alien and Prometheus. Was wonderful to hear them touched on, but got a little old.
I have to say i actually liked it alot more on my second viewing. Maybe i wasnt as critical as i knew what i was getting into, but that being said i still have issues with the same things, which is mainly editing, pacing, lack of suspense and bad use of score in the third act, but it didnt bother me that much this time around. I have to admit that I think i was way too critical of the score, as it actually had some decent tracks in there. I still think there were some bad ones which ruined the tone of some of the scenes in the 3rd act, and also was used too much and in wrong places. But it wasnt as bad as i initially thought, so i take back what i said about it being generally awful. That was way too harsh. I think many of the musical issues goes hand in hand with the editing and pacing so i cant blaim it all on the score.
Anyway I think this is a good movie which sadly could have been great had it fixed some of the third act issues (editing, pacing, lazy writing, music). Hope to maybe see some improvements on the blu ray, maybe a directors cut as there were many scenes left out or cut short that i saw in the trailers.
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