Monday, May 22, 2017

[Review] Alien: Covenant

Ridley Scott returns to the bleak and futuristic outer-world of the Alien franchise with Alien: Covenant, which operates as a sequel to 2012's Prometheus (a film that I liked more than most people did, it seems). The results are mixed, but this space excursion still has enough exhilarating elements to make it an engrossing cinematic experience in its own right.

Daniels (Katherine Waterston), Oram (Billy Crudup), Tennessee (Danny McBride), and synthetic Walter (Michael Fassbender) are the notables comprising a space crew aboard Covenant, a colony mission ship bound for planet Origae-6. But along the way (a very long way) they stop at a surprise planet. What initially looks like a habitable environment, turns into an absolute nightmare.

The film is a little slow-moving at first, but after the planet touchdown, it dives into a nerve-wrecking and grotesque tale of discovery with plenty of nasty run-ins with face-crushers and chest-busters. The alien attack sequences are frankly horrifying to watch, like squirm-in-your-seat horrifying. Amidst the journey, there are a couple head-scratching moments, some stilted dialogue, and uneven pacing that's as clunky as the spacecraft landings. But the thrills and visual splendor are undeniable--from the grandly stark scale of the settings, to the precise framing, to the aesthetic threads of mythology and zoology.

Narrative-wise, the film doesn't exactly cover uncharted territory, but what it does do really well is establish a scary-good antagonist. And honestly, you can't always say that about high-concept genre films nowadays. The cast is solid, too. Fassbender displays his restrained excellence, essentially playing two different roles. Waterston, while a bit bland, emerges as the emotional backbone of the duration. And then there's the highlight Danny McBride, amusingly being Danny McBride in space. Early on, he pulls out a bottle of whiskey to honor a fallen crew member, because of course he does.

So even though it's burdened by a few flaws and the weight of past comparisons, Alien: Covenant isn't a bad ride. It's truly an extraterrestrial gothic. A provocative rumination on gods and creation, humans and artificial intelligence, monsters and life.

( 7.5/10 )

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1 comment:

  1. I agree, not as good as its predecessors (few films of this genre are as good as Alien, after all), but it's a fun ride all the same. Nice review!