Let me start this review out by saying I’m a Prometheus defender. The 2012 film by Ridley Scott was promoted to be in the same universe as the “Alien” franchise but not a direct sequel or prequel. Many were left disappointed by the lack of “Alien” elements in Prometheus and the fact that it raised a lot of questions and had no specific answers to them.
I enjoyed Prometheus as a film, without trying to compare it to other films in the franchise. Scott still remains (even in his 80’s!) one of the masters of directing sci-fi films that dare to ask tough questions. Prometheus is a flawed film, but it’s still a beautifully shot and impeccably paced sci-for movie.
All that being said, Ridley Scott heard all your complaints and “Alien” is back! Alien: Covenant is far and away the best film within the franchise since James Cameron’s sequel Aliens. Scott has already stated that he has a specific trilogy that he has in mind for this story, starting with Prometheus. So he does still aim high in his newest film and try to tackle a lot of the questions which Prometheus posed in the first place – but this time around he does it with much more action, faster pacing, and lots of bloody creatures!
I’ll be the first to say that I’m a huge wuss when it comes to bloody sci-fi movies. They scare the crap out of me! But what Ridley Scott does so masterfully is make his sequences all about tension and using lighting and his camera to really elevate the level of suspense the audience feels. Yes, ultimately, the blood and creatures are there- but they’re the payoff to beautifully shot scenes from one of our finest directors.
I won’t go into too much of the storyline because I don’t want to spoil much of it. If you have not seen Prometheus or it’s been a while, I recommend revisiting that film because even though Covenant follows a different crew on a different planet, you might see familiar faces and the storyline does connect directly to the previous installment.
Ridley Scott has a knack for some unique casting choices that turn out to be spot on. The only returning cast member from Prometheus was the standout of that movie (and the standout in this movie) Michael Fassbender. His work as the android in Prometheus was absolutely stunning and in this film he plays a newer model of android named Walter. His work remains impeccable. He adds so much dimension to what could easily be a rather dull character and makes him the most fascinating and watchable on the screen.
One of the best things about the Alien franchise is that most of the films have been female-centric. The scripts rise above the level of others in this genre by creating powerful characters and relationships that are complicated and unique, all the while fighting the alien menace. Alien: Covenant gets a new heroine in the form of Katherine Waterston and for my money she’s on par with the ultimate badass of the Alien universe, Sigourney Weaver (as Ellen Ripley, one of her Oscar nominated performances.) From her first five seconds on screen to her last heartbreaking moment, Waterston carries this movie with such amazing strength, vulnerability, and heart. Playing a fully developed character in a horror film is no easy feat, and she makes it look flawless.
Alien: Covenant‘s screenplay was worked on by John Logan, who is also responsible for such films as Skyfall, Hugo, The Aviator, and Gladiator. Not to mention he won a Tony Award for his superb play, Red. So clearly the level of storytelling is getting much better with each installment of the franchise. The final moments may have been a bit predictable (for me at least) but that definitely didn’t tarnish any goodwill that the film had earned leading up to those moments.
The Alien franchise remains alive and well (and getting better!) It’s so exciting to see a master of his craft, like Ridley Scott, still working in top form on such lofty films. Though Covenant may not bring a lot of new material to the Alien universe, it’s still an extremely fun ride and superior filmmaking. I can’t wait for the next one!
Awards Prospects: Best Visual Effects, Best Production Design, Best Makeup