Alien: Covenant Reviewed by Jon E Clist

The Premise
The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape.

The Review
So many people slammed the guts out of Prometheus. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and sure there were things that didn’t seem to add up in the “Alien Universe”. Yet we were warned that it wasn't purely a prequel of sorts and that it wouldn’t be a perfect flow into the world that scared the poop out of us in the form of “Alien” and “Aliens”. Luckily for me, I read this before hitting the preview of Prometheus and watched it accordingly. I thoroughly enjoyed it and even more so in a second viewing. (Click here to read my review.)

For many I am sure this has created a bit of an expectation for Alien Covenant to continue to rebuild the franchise again and restore our faith. It would make sense to have Ridley Scott again in the director’s chair to attempt this task. Perhaps it is just me, but I think this film connects so many dots between the original films and Prometheus. In fact, the film was originally named 'Alien: Paradise Lost' to avoid confusion that surmounted due to disassociation with 'Prometheus' from the 'Alien' franchise. The film was later retitled to 'Alien: Covenant'. That is probably another reason people struggled a little with the concept and style departure that came in Prometheus.

The film studio has also done something rather cool in the process for the release of this film by providing 2 prologue clips that help to set up the film a little better. Here they are to watch.

Okay so let’s start with how this film looks. It is stunning! There is no other way to describe the visual aspects of the film and when they arrive on this new planet, that unbeknownst to them is the home world of “The Engineers” that we first came to know in Prometheus, it is mind-blowingly raw, natural and beautiful. As New Zealanders, we already know it is that way as these scenes were shot in Fiordland National Park right here in “God’s Own”. I understand that connection and it makes so much sense to me that you would film in New Zealand to represent a planet that “Humanity’s creators” would come from.

Another aspect to Scott’s film making style that plays out here is his non-reliance on CGI to create everything. Sure, CGI is great for the tidy ups and the smoothing out of edges so to speak, but these days film makers have a tendency to use it for everything rather than building things and monsters. Ripley Scott loves to use physical things in his creative process and this certainly helps with the actor’s performances as they then have something to react to rather than a dude in a green suit with Ping-Pong balls on it…

This is the first Alien film to be released after the death of original alien creature designer H R Giger. Giger inadvertently designed the original Alien looks and environments in his "Necronomicon" book, which led to Ridley Scott hiring him as art director for the film (and series on going). So, Giger essentially gave birth to the entire Alien look that we all know now. They are super scary and that is a general feel for this film, “Super Scary”. If you like plenty of jumps, you will be happy to be on the edge of your seat. These aren’t films for kids and with its R16 rating you can be sure that it will satisfy the hunger of the sci-fi thriller fan.

The cast is brilliant and seriously, Fassbender is so amazing as David the android and here we now see the addition of Walter the Android. So, to see him playing off himself is something rather amazing. He is both deeply disturbing and subtly menacing. Then you have the cowboy loud-mouth character that all good “Alien” films must have, and here he is perfectly portrayed by Danny McBride. In fact, you could say that all of the typical sci-fi archetypes are here and combine to make for a great killing field for the “Aliens”.

The Verdict
A 5-star brilliant return to the sci-fi goodness that we loved in Alien and Aliens. Scary good in so many ways.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 11th May 2017
Rating: R16 – Contains Violence, offensive language & horror
Duration: 122 minutes 
Genre:  Sci-Fi
Starring: Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, James Franco, Billy Cruddup & Danny McBride
Director: Ridley Scott (Alien, Prometheus, Kingdom of Heaven)

The Extras
On November 27, 2015, Ridley Scott announced that this will be the second (following Prometheus (2012)) in a new Alien Trilogy which will take place closer to and lead up to the original film.

Ridley Scott avoided watching Alien 3 (1992) after it was released, and strongly disliked it when he finally saw it decades later. Subsequently, he came up with the idea of making a "sequel-substitution", which then became this after many rewrites.

The new planet, which is assumed to be the home of the engineers, is being referred to as a paradise and could be the home of the gods who created humanity.

Will be one of three features in 2017 to receive an IMAX 70mm release. The other two being Dunkirk (2017) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017).

The film is in production in New Zealand. Some of the scenes were filmed in Sydney, Australia at Fox studios. Ridley Scott had given Michael Fassbender time off between takes in order for him to attend the X-Men: Apocalypse premiere that was being held in the same area.

The androids names, David and Walter, are a tribute to producers David Giler and Walter Hill.