Alien: Covenant Screen 61 of 19 reviews

Alien: Covenant

2017

Alien: Covenant Poster
  • Scott does more than make a horror film here; he makes a film about the horror genre, its history, its place in the psyche, analysing the way the death-dream constantly underlies all fantasies of ego and eros.

  • It’s an Alien movie for our times, one in which mankind isn’t just under the thumb of an oppressive corporation but sowing the seeds of its own destruction on a more sweeping scale. When a xenomorph, in its classic form, finally does make an appearance in Alien: Covenant, we see it not from a horrified human perspective but from the clinical point of view of a synthetic. It’s a forebear of doom, but it also feels like a dark moment of triumph.

  • This is one of Scott’s best-directed movies and one of his most entertaining overall, partly because he’s working in a genre, the science fiction spectacle, that he does better than anyone since Stanley Kubrick, but also because he seems to be approaching it almost entirely in terms of visceral impact and emotion—as symphony of fire and blood, poetry and schlock.

  • It does a more coherent job than “Prometheus” of having it both ways, of preying on our fears of what we can’t see while teasing us with questions about what we don’t know. But on some level, the impulses at work here... are at fundamental cross-purposes. Both threads holds your attention while they’re on-screen in front of you, but with the exception of one stunning, nightmarish sequence of a genocidal cataclysm in progress, they never succeed in merging and breathing as one.

  • Sometimes, they act as illogically as second-act victims in an ’80s slasher flick. The performances sometimes make up for this flaw, especially from Waterston and from Crudup, who makes Oram completely believable and sympathetic as a man in over his head. But there is also the matter of style. There are long sections of Alien: Covenant that amount to the best filmmaking Scott has produced in decades. By the standards of contemporary blockbusters, it’s a very deliberate film.

  • If nothing else, Alien: Covenant is the most ambitious Alien film ever made... If in the end it doesn’t quite work — if its many fascinating pieces and ideas and odds and ends don’t ever cohere into a whole — lament not what might have been. Instead, be grateful that Ridley Scott has lost none of his ability to provoke, captivate and infuriate.

  • It's not a great film – it might simply be the best worst Alien movie. But to be fair to Scott, this is not a straightforward rehash of Prometheus, his grand folly from 2012, as many were expecting. In fact, he has made a constantly surprising, occasionally bewildering sequel that achieves the rare feat of resolving more questions than it leaves unanswered. An expansive film unshackled from its frustratingly convoluted and mealy-mouthed predecessor.

  • Doubles down on my Prometheus problem, which is that I just fundamentally don't give a shit about how xenomorphs originated. Especially not when the mythology seems increasingly geared toward folks who consider Ex Machina a masterpiece. (I do not.) Fassbender's having fun here, but he's surrounded by human characters who might as well be mannequins, which is tiresome even if one charitably assumes that's intentional/the point.

  • There’s an air of mystery to Alien: Covenant that the movie can’t live up to, because for all its interest in _what it all means_, it has relatively little to show for all that idle questioning. You aren’t alone, humans, but if you’re going to keep squandering perfectly fine IP in favor of asking questions whose implications you don’t take seriously, don’t you deserve to be?

  • Our contemporary culture's need to resolve the dangling narrative threads of popular works of art is truly a pox... It’s always better to allow the mind to race just enough so that it deepens the things that we see and hear. Covenant, with one exception, sheds so much light on what's come before, and augurs so much of what's to follow, that the overall experience is flat and lifeless—basically a big-budget, blood-and-guts rendition of Connect the Dots.

  • In The Counselor, Fassbender is mostly on the receiving end of speeches. In Alien: Covenant he gets to give them — solemn disquisitions on creation that serve mostly to set the audience up for a late, semi-effective shift into the kind of visceral, predator-prey horror show that Scott pioneered in the first place... [It's] suggestive of what’s impressive and frustrating about a director whose eye remains sharp even when he can’t see what’s wrong with his own big, beautiful, insufferable movies.

  • The movie is reasonably entertaining. But it slips off course after that opening section, and the problem is caused by the very creatures we presumably came to see... Alien: Covenant is filled with heady ideas that don’t carry much dramatic weight in the end. But it’s hard to argue with two-for-one Fassbenders. How did we ever make do with just one?

  • The thrill of this new take on Alien that Prometheus promised is entirely drained from Alien: Covenant, which aims for being little more than Prometheus: Again—Fassbender is back in a big way, which is welcome, but none of the scenery, plot turns, bit players or “themes” add anything new to the recipe, and the shameless sequel setup at the end offers scant hope that the sigh-inducing third installment will bother with reinvention either

  • In Alien, Ash summarized the xenomorph as a pure evolutionary machine, his dispassionate tone of nihilistic praise setting the highest standard for cosmic horror ever glimpsed outside of H.P. Lovecraft's fiction. But both of Scott's returns to the franchise fail to attain the balance of grim existentialism with Spartan, primal horror, with Covenant leaning so heavily toward the latter that it loses sight of the rich vein of possibilities inherent in David's quest for self-actualization.

  • There is plenty to admire here. The sound design is masterful... Fassbender’s performance is an elegant pas de deux that effortlessly delineates between the two identical androids. But the film is laboriously talky, filled with expository dialogue as stale as the recycled air on a spaceship. Long gone is the naturalistic banter that made Alien so potent and, with it, the ability to explore its ideas through image alone rather than pages of over-written words.

  • Prometheus was nigh on a visual masterpiece, especially in 3-D, but it was hollow at its core. Covenant is a more by-the-numbers exercise in giving the people what they want, right down to a climax that feels like it’s cobbled together from the ends of Alien and Aliens, but at least it’s got some tender Fassbender-on-Fassbender action, including a scene where David teaches Walter to play a primitive flute and offers, “I’ll do the fingering.”

  • Although it will be of considerable interest to devoted fans, Alien: Covenant feels like a creative hull-breach in this series. It may further the narrative which commenced in 2012’s ambitious Prometheus, bringing us closer to the events of 1979’s Alien, but it’s a long, flat, no-frills journey which struggles to engage despite its many bloody shocks.

  • It's deadly serious about matters that he takes deadly seriously, and the only things that he derides with any irony are the movie’s snippets of art greater than his own, by artists greater than himself—starting with Wagner, whose “Entry of the Gods into Valhalla” is heard in the first and last scene. The movie’s lack of irony is all the more ironic since its subject is the recklessness of mankind in daring to synthesize humans androidally in order to extend our own control over the universe.

  • Scott is too skilled a filmmaker to make something as disposable as the Alien vs Predator films or as ordinary as Alien Resurrection, but Covenant has the distinction of being the worst-scripted film in the entire franchise. If The Martian addressed crises in space by having a hero ‘science the shit out of’ a problem, the writing team on this approach each challenge as if the answer were to ‘stupid the shit out of’ it. Every idea here is half-baked, even the ones carried over from earlier films.

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