Thursday, July 06, 2017

'Alien: Covenant' Underwhelms

I think it would have been better if this movie was just titled Covenant.  It would’ve had followed the style of its predecessor, which was just titled Prometheus.  Then, when another film is made, its title would reflect another eponymous spaceship – completing an Alien prequel trilogy that follows a pattern of titles based on the names of the respective spaceships featured in them.  Just a random, minor musing.

Anyway, Alien: Covenant is set a couple of years after Prometheus.  The focus is now on the crew of the colonization ship Covenant, which is bound to a faraway planet called Origae-6.  However, they take a detour to a nearby planet because of a rogue radio transmission that they have picked up.  On the ground, they soon find the pleasant, desirable world turn into a terrifying, deadly one when murderous alien creatures start to emerge.  Later, they encounter the android David (Michael Fassbender), the last survivor of the Prometheus expedition, who is mysteriously on the planet somehow.  But is he friend or foe?
Alien: Covenant is a solid science fiction horror film.  The narrative is okay.  It’s less plot hole-y and confusing than Prometheus, and almost as visually gorgeous and gory.  And it delivers satisfying thrills through decently compelling action, and cool, gruesome violence.

However, like all subsequent films after Aliens, it fails to bring the franchise to new heights.  With groundbreaking films like Alien and Aliens as unavoidable benchmarks, it’s not good enough to be just “solid.”  Hence, it feels irksomely underwhelming.
Aside from Michael Fassbender’s characters – the androids Walter and David – the characters are pretty dull.  In fact, the androids aren’t really much fascinating, displaying only the most basic of layers and elements to pique some interest.

There’s actually a “plot twist” involving their characters.  But everyone will probably see the reveal coming many prior scenes away.  Thus, it felt meh.  A shame, since it could have easily been done much better.  I even can think of some simple things – like better editing, some additional scenes, and better thought out conveniences – that could have sold this “plot twist” much more powerfully.

Alien: Covenant entertains.  But, for me, it also generally disappoints – from its choice of title to its lack of innovative thoughtfulness.

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