Alien: Covenant – A Dearth of Answers Submerged in Plenty of Gore
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Ridley Scott’s Alien created quite a futuristic splash back in 1979. People came in hordes to witness path-breaking Scientific Fiction and left wonderstruck by the director’s ability to strike terror and still create a platform for self-identification. So, after three decades, when Scott came back to the Sci-Fi world with a mighty Prometheus, people went berserk with excitement. Sadly, however interesting the film was, it fell short of his brand of terror. Now, another five years later, he ventures deeper into the same territory with Alien:Covenant.
Alien:Covenant is everything you wanted from Scott in 2012. It’s everything you wished you were a witness to in Prometheus. But it falls short of an element of surprise, leaving the film with a fifty-fifty chance of survival. Sure, it promises horror and delivers it greatly. But it also leaves many questions further unanswered in turn leaving you infuriated. Alien: Covenant will undoubtedly receive a mixed bag of reactions. What you will eventually take away from the film is entirely dependant on what you expect from it.
Taking place a decade after Prometheus, 2000 odd colonists set out in the spaceship, Covenant to explore a possibly habitable planet. Their journey takes an unexpected turn and they land at another fairly habitable planet that is closer than their first option. As they set out to explore this dubiously heavenly looking planet, multiple members of the crew start to get infected and find themselves dying a gruesome death as they give birth to Xenomorphs. In the crew’s ultimate test of survival, they come face to face with David whose questionable intentions take a horrific turn.
In his efforts to ensure that no aspect is left half-fulfilled, director Scott provides you gores in plenty accompanied by a touch of familiarity to create a sense of nostalgia. But this decision risks the possibility of two uncontrollable outcomes. If you were left dissatisfied with dearth of horrors in Prometheus, this film not only throws in Aliens in plenty, it also penetrates your deepest fears. The manner in which the climax unfolds will leave you feeling queasy and uneasy.
But if you expected to obtain answers to the plethora of questions Prometheus left you with, you are in for disappointment. Even though Alien:Covenant traces the lives of Shaw and David after the disaster they encounter, it never takes the time address a set of pressing questions in the minds of the audience. The origin of giant creators seems to be wiped out, so their existence and the theory surrounding their creation goes completely unexplored. The thought of having to wait a few more years just to obtain viable answers is infuriating to the average viewer.
When it comes to creating eerie and fascinating moments of terror, there can be no one more masterful than director Scott. So, Alien:Covenant has it’s fair share of spine chilling horrors too. The scene in which David tries to teach his fellow synthetic Walter to play the flute is so brilliantly executed.
As David and Walter, Michael Fassbender is easily the spine of the film. His character forms the strength of Alien: Covenant. The two synthetics Fassbender plays are all the same yet tremendously different. Fassbender has perfected this intricate balance. Walter is painted as a gullible and loyal hero while David is the mastermind consumed by a notion to create and break free of servitude. The way these characters are written are particularly interesting. They largely drive the story forward with undeniable shades of grey. Michael Fassbender’s masterful body language and the manner in which expresses himself leave you questioning his intentions till the very end.
The rest of the cast including Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup and Danny Mcbride lack the depth to pull you into their lives. Their actions and reactions fall to the fate of predictability.
The imagery and production design of Alien: Covenant is quite spectacular. From the design of the spacecraft to the beauty of the unexplored planet, the entire film is well imagined and impeccably shot. Dariusz Wolski deserves due credit for the matchless flow of creative visuals.
On the whole, if blood-burning, chest-shattering, gore is what you’re looking for, Alien: Covenant’s tested formula provides just that in abundance. But if you expect it to venture into new territory or help you find answers, you will be left discontent.