Alien: Covenant (2017) Review (No Spoiler Review)

The Alien universe has come back after the lukewarm reception to Prometheus. Trailers ensue to a more ‘alien’ film and the return of the Xenomorph provides a film brimming with anticipation.

A few years after the tragedy of Prometheus, the ship Covenant is looking for an habitable planet to recolonize. Their destination is 7 years away and after an horrific solar flare, that kills members of their crew, they are persuaded to investigate a nearby planet that looks to be habitable. When they land they encounter a disease that plagues the planet that leads to the birth of the Xenomorph and horror ensues as they realise this is the planet that was at the end of the film Prometheus.

The wait and return of a good Alien film has been too long and I sat in the cinema, surrounded by the IMAX screen ready to experience a truly masterful lesson in horror from one of the greatest contemporary directors in Hollywood. The expectation was a far reaching goal that was nowhere what I expected.  This had similar issues than Prometheus. it was marketed as an Alien film but instead it could easily be a completely different film, in a completely different universe. This needed to be called just Covenant. The title of Alien gives viewers the expectation of a film built with a tense feeling of being followed and watched. This film gave none of that.

The cast were full of expendables, that the only exception was Michael Fassbender’s robotic roles of Walter and David. This film is not about the Alien, it is about David and his sense of belonging and trying to create a purpose for oneself. The Xenomorph is just a secondary character. The original Alien films had moments throughout where you did not see the Alien but you knew it could be just above, below or behind the characters. The sense of always being watched. However, the Alien was visible at most points and there wasn’t one point where I was scared or even tense. Tension is crucial for these sort of films and for me it fell flat. I have a feeling that Ridley Scott may have similar desires to keep the Alien in the background because this is not about the alien at all. It looked like the studio was enforcing their power to slap the Alien name on this.

However, the wonder of watching a Ridley Scott film in IMAX is astonishing. Ridley Scott knows how to create a visual masterpiece. The stunning sets and natural sweeping shots were in itself worth the admission price. The Alien and chest bursting scenes were gruesome but fantastic. Just like Prometheus, visually amazing but the story is a little weak. This is more a Prometheus sequel than it is an Alien prequel.

I came into this film wanting to be scared, ready to feel tense. But I didn’t. I could argue that they could of just remade an Alien film plot, with Alien vs Ripley-esque character. They tried something different, more original I guess, but why put the Alien title on it? I would rather see Ridley Scott attempt a new original film then bring back old franchises. I’m now more excited for his newest project then the planned Alien sequels, because at this present time, it is not working.

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