Review/Thoughts: Alien: Covenant [2017]

a review by the Azure-Winged Magpie (with an assist by the Crow!).

“YOU’RE SUCH A DISAPPOINTMENT TO ME”

— David

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OPENING THOUGHTS

Wow. I’m REALLY late with this one (again!)

(◕︿◕sorry once more, folks…

I dunno, guys. I’m just not cut out for early reviews. While I love stealing the Crow’s golden tickets and soaring off to early premieres, I just can’t do these things fast enough right now. I’ve been getting kebabed-up with writing too easily.

I was late with GotG Vol. 2, I’m wayyy behind with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and I’m behind with Wonder Woman as well. Writer’s block sure stinks.

I’ve missed every target that was set, and now, we’ve missed out on so many hits. Right now, it looks like I’m the only active writer on this site, so… lots of catching up to do!

But whatever: let’s cut the chatter and go nom on some silly hoomins!

(Edit: Halfway through, I decided to turn this into a proper review instead of a spoiler-free one. I had to dig the Crow out of his reading to toss me a line as well since I’m still having trouble writing, and I liked some of the points he made about this film when we watched it.)


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ALIEN: COVENANT

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MODERATE SPOILERS

Alien: Covenant is the sequel to Prometheus. I remember the Crow’s review of it from his old blog. It was pretty brutal. I didn’t much like the film myself, as a matter of fact. And considering where it left us, I wasn’t really looking forward to a continuation of its story. 

But we’ll talk about Prometheus some other day (I made the Crow promise to maul that film again on The Corvid Review).

Alien: Covenant begins with David (Michael Fassbander 1.0) waking up into the world. He shares a brief scene with Peter Weyland (non-pudding Guy Pearce), in which we find out a little more about the relationship they share. Unlike the first film leads us to believe, things aren’t as clear-cut between them.

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Some years later, the Covenant is headed towards this planet called Origae-6. Everyone on-board is asleep, whilst Walter (Michael Fassbander 2.0) walks around the ship and takes care of things for Mother, the ship’s OS. (And probably investigates new and exciting ways to watch paint dry, I guess.) 

The ship is hit by some scientific-sounding-excuse. Despite an emergency wake-up being initiated, the Captain Branson (James Franco) gets grilled in his cryogenic-suitcase (I’ll get to this later), leaving his wife Daniels (Katherine Waterson) a widow.

Once the fire is put out and repairs are made, new Captain Oram (Billy Crudup) immediately decides to be a jerk to everyone and everything (put this next to Franco for later), and decides that the Covenant should change course and head to the source of a mysterious transmission

The Covenant‘s pilot Tennessee (Danny McBride) picked up this mysterious transmission while… outside the ship… making… repairs (?!), and when it’s cleared up a little, it’s revealed it’s the song is some bint singing Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver (what? It’s not like you’d have wanted a link or anything).

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I mean, there’s nothing ominous about that, is there? That sounds like a really top-notch idea, doesn’t it?

Oh, how I sigh… 

Here, Captain Orek (Oman + jerk, you see? Easy!), let me give you a better idea: 

How about you sit and fume for a while while Walter goes out takes a look, and gets back to you?

Can’t do without Wally on the ship, or Just don’t trust him (’cause you’re a jerk)? Why not send out a small team of trusted people first? 

(On that note about Wally and the ship, here’s a big-huge spoiler: the ship’s totally fine without him. And on that note: why aren’t there ever more robots cough-cough! on these missions, anyway? Who masterminds these missions?! Execute them. Execute them via cryo-pod grilling.)

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But getting back to the point, Orek… 

You know, you could’ve done just about ANYTHING but taking your whole ship into orbit, landing with most of your crew, and letting them WALK AROUND the planet without protective gear, sniffing and touching things however they please?! I mean, just LOOK AT THEM!

(> っ <)IDIOTS!

Anyway, I’m going to into full-spoiler review mode, here, and… Hang on a minute. When did this thing come out again? You know what? It’s been long enough since Alien: Covenant‘s release. Let me change that spoiler tag up there.

(◔◡◔)

There. All set! I’m back! And this time, we’re doing this the right way!

Mind you: I won’t spoiling EVERYTHING about the film, but I’ll be talking about a good few details that are going to give away major portions of the plot, so… Let’s get back to it!

So yeah, where were we? Ah yes! The landing party strolling around without so much as face masks and gloves. How does this go for them? It goes exactly how one would think it goes: they get sick from that black stuff from the previous film (which now seems to move around of its own accord). And everyone who’s watched Prometheus knows what that means.

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The landing party splits up: one of the parties tracks the transmission to the ship Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and David left LV-223 aboard, while the other carries one of the sick individuals back to their lander for medical attention.

Well, you get the idea, don’t you? THIS is where the film actually begins. Or… sorta begins. We don’t actually get the promised title monster until almost the very end of the story. 

Instead we get these new creatures which take up most of the story until we’re reunited with something closer to our good old Xeno.

We shortly meet David again. In a film with so many supporting characters running around (I couldn’t be bothered to keep track of them), it was a bit of a relief to get that kind of foothold. He’s also a bit… different than he used to be. But the movie does move into a higher gear following his arrival on screen. It becomes a much better film — that’s for sure. The mystery surrounding him and what’s really going on behind the scenes is played mostly straighforward. But while we are told what’s happening, the film raises the question of why and dangles it in front of us, hinting, but not telling.

Sure, I can see a few pretty direct ideas, but it’s just not enough. That’s a problem when this is the core of your story we’re talking about. The Crow has a theory likening him to a character from a story of his, but that’s just him.

I found that to be a bit more than annoying. I get that Ridley Scott is trying to tell a large (and what I’m beginning to think of as pointless) story, but this constant teasing the audience is a little bit pathetic, I think. One or two definite answers wouldn’t be too much, now, would it?

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And you know what? I liked the Xenomorph before these two films went and wrecked the mystery surrounding the creature. Even if Alien: Covenant didn’t make the origin of the strain we saw in Alien 100% clear, Prometheus‘ final scene is still a nail in that coffin.

These “neo-morphs”? I dunno. I’m not that fond of the design or the whole ‘accelerated ageing’ aspect to this film’s monsters. Alien: Covenant is trying to do too much without allowing the tension to build. I would even say this film would’ve worked better with just one monster. It didn’t even have to be the Xenomorph. 

The accelerated ageing looks off to me. We get new versions of the egg and the grabby-vagina penis-monster, and while its a lot faster at its job (like everything else in Covenant), it’s pretty much the same thing we all know and love.

One of the issues I have with the film goes back to how the characters are dealt with. Remember Captain Orek? See, I kept repeating how much of a jerk he is because the film makes it painfully obvious to us that he is. It’s like he’s due a comeuppance. And it does happen, I guess, but not before his character is morally “reset”, and instead of it feeling like “hah! He had that coming!”, you just kind of sit there and go “oh. Right.”

Why we was he such a jerk to everyone at the beginning of the film, then? What was the point of that?!

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Just to quickly cover everyone else: I kinda liked Tennessee’s character, and hated his wife (unbelievably stupid woman, that one). Upworth is my chosen bae in this film, although she’s not in it as much. And if you’re expecting lots of Shaw (even though I found her character unbearable in Prometheus), don’t get your hopes up (thank Magpie-heaven!).

Now, let’s talk about the one person I’ve barely mentioned in this review: our main character, Daniels. I haven’t mentioned her because while she has a character arc, it has almost nothing to do with the core story. She’s not even grieving for too long after Franco’s death, but turns into a hysterical mess throughout the film while suddenly showing up big time as a tough girl. Her character’s very ‘slippery’ and I just didn’t feel she was incorporated that well.

And there’s a certain bit near the end which the Crow pointed out to me, which I think I should mention. It’s a callback to a certain ‘situation’ involving Ripley and the colour white. That’s repeated here. We felt it was completely unnecessary.

The Last Supper, a short released to promote Covenant, should’ve really been released as part of the actual film. I mean, why cast Franco? He’s in the film (via a video on a tablet), which Daniels is watching for a few seconds. Did he just want to die on-screen in an Alien film?

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On to our synthetics: Walter and David’s interplay is interesting, even though it’s pretty basic stuff. There’s one point where David teaches Walter the art of fingering, and Walter picks it up quite quickly, and I hear Fassbander shot a scene where he snogs his doppelganger.

( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

I mean… I wouldn’t have been complaining if that scene were left in.

I’m not going to go too in-depth with this character. Doing so would wreck everything about the plot. But I’ll tell you this: Fassbander is again the best thing in the film. He bosses the role like few could, but it’s just not very good content that he’s working with. David’s connection to Shaw and his overall relationship with humans is done really well, however. As a final note on these characters: I totally expect them both to be back for future sequels.

I liked the visuals, I liked the feel at points, but this just isn’t that good in the end. I hear they’re next doing an interquel, and then a sequel. This is more getting more confusing than the Crow’s plan for his upcoming (I’m still waiting, Crow! Finish it!) novel series.

The religious themes also make a comeback, but they’re nowhere near as stupid as in the first movie. They’re okay, I guess. And while I’m interested to see what Scott does next, I don’t think that I’ll be going to any early showings of whatever the next one is when it comes out.


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CLOSING THOUGHTS

So yeah. It’s not that great, and it’s just really disappointing.

Scott is still a good director, and manages to make good-looking films, but Alien: Covenant is a pretty hollow shell. I like the body-count, but the gore for some reason didn’t feel… I dunno, soulful, enough?

Anyway. This is long enough. It’s a good-looking film, it has some good performances, some new creatures, and it makes the Alien franchise all the more confusing, but it’s just a hollow, hollow film that would’ve been best made for a good TV-serial pilot.

That’s all there is from me. Thanks to the Crow for all his help.

I’m back, everyone! Love you lot loads. Take care, and let us know if you liked Alien: Covenant (there are bound to be people who loved it)!

— Azure-Winged Magpie out!

(◔◡◔)


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FINAL RATINGS

THE AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE: 4.5/10

THE CROW: 3/10


This is one really cool poster, though:

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Up next (hopefully soon!):

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3 thoughts on “Review/Thoughts: Alien: Covenant [2017]

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