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Review: Alien: Covenant is heavy-handed and light on thrills

New Ridley Scott film is sadly predictable

Where did Alien: Covenant go wrong? The Sci-Fi Horror/Thriller takes a misstep by not living up to its very genres. Sure, it nails the Sci-Fi genre by mere inclusion of aliens, but Covenant has few thrills and chills, none of which leave a lasting impression. Most disappointingly, all of the film’s ‘surprise twist’ moments are so paint-by-numbers that they’re obviously spotted long before the film gives them away. All of the film’s connections to Prometheus serve as a simple reminder that the former film was more inventive and original.

Alien: Covenant takes heavy cues from both Prometheus and the Alien franchise, yet never feels like it belongs in a league with either films. Rather, Covenant copies the better elements of these films and adds nothing original. Chances are, if you’ve seen Alien or PrometheusCovenant is nothing more than a cosmetic upgrade, thanks to its beautiful visuals. The alien creatures are beautifully rendered with remarkable detail. Landscapes and scenery are lush and engrossing. The sets, both outdoors and on the space ships, are fully realized and feature a cornucopia of details to be seen.

Michael Fassbender reprises his role of David from Prometheus and also plays Walter onboard the ship in Covenant. David and Walter are both synthetic humans, and Fassbender does well to make both his characters relatively void of emotion. Although Davis is the earlier model, he has a wider range of motives and desires. As the film progresses, the character of David is further explored, compared and contrasted to Walter, which makes for an interesting glimpse at how the two synthetic humans operate. Fassbender manages to make both characters unique, both in his portrayal and visually. Walter is more apprehensive and submissive, and the weathered David has been there, done that.

It’s hard not to compare Katherine Waterston’s portrayal of Danny to Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley. Waterston does well to separate herself from too closely following in Weaver’s shadow. Key differences are apparent in the two characters, namely with Ripley being more the gold standard of leader. Despite being surrounded by men, Ripley held her own and took control. Danny rarely takes control and usually relies on other characters for help or to take the lead. In this regard, Danny fails to live up to Ripley. As far as acting goes, Waterston does her character justice and performs her script well, even if that script doesn’t give her much to work with.

Other characters featured in Alien: Covenant are interchangeable and forgettable. The film focuses mostly on Danny, David and Walter along with the alien life forms, so to have other characters fall by the wayside is understandable. It’s worth noting that even the most shallow characters in Covenant do manage to have a great depth to them, and even the most brief backstory is done with perfunctory precision.

Covenant is a new addition to the Alien franchise, and despite failing to offer many exciting scares or thrilling twists, it does manage to do a good job at setting the franchise up for further exploration. Covenant feels more like a bad sequel to Prometheus but also a very interesting prologue for a future film. It’s safe to say that a new film in this universe will one day see the light of day, and hopefully Ridley Scott uses the groundwork he has put in place with Covenant to deliver a film that takes a new direction and offers something genuinely exciting. If Covenant is indicative of where Alien is headed, there may be no hope left for those aboard the spaceship or the sci-fi film series.

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Written by Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett is the creator and editor of POParazzi. He works primarily in Washington, DC. You can contact him at sam@poparazzi.org and visit his portfolio at sam-bennett.com.

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