As film making continues to advance, franchises further with it. You can see clear distinctions in how movies are being made than the past. Ridley Scott’s Alien, however, has remained timeless; the technique and story still holds up due to how perfectly it was executed. It was almost executed too well in fact. With Ridley Scott directing his third entry here being Alien: Covenant, not only does he feel the need to revisit his roots, but they only feel cheapened now.
Taking place after Prometheus and before Alien, the Alien: Covenant mainly centers around the mission, known as “Covenant”, to find a new planet for colonization. In the midst of that is a sequel to Prometheus, following David and his philosophy. The two simply don’t mesh well, and there’s a lack of breathing room in which they coincide. The crew at hand, featuring Danny McBride and Kathrine Waterson, have to play off repetitive beats seen in the franchise before hand. It’s strange to see Scott with such a reliance with conventions he’s done before, it takes away from the tensity of situations.
On the flip side, Scott’s fascination with beings and creationism takes the win. Most of those aspects don’t come into play till the midway point, but it’s all the more earned. Dual performances from Michael Fassbender are the standout, giving one of the best performances of the year so far. Not only is he able to provoke your attention so well, but his character has the most to do. With higher concepts comes higher production value. Some of it works. It’s off-kilter to watch a precursor with neoteric movements and editing that fits poorly in hard when looked at in comparison. The original films worked perfectly fine without handheld and cuts to present itself. On top of that is a bleak grey cinematic coloring to nearly everything in the film. It doesn’t look artistic or enhanced; it looks like shots weren’t even lit. Evening the movie out is its CGI, which is one of the only modernized intentions that have great effect. The creature dynamics are not overbearing, but they’re just enough to send shivers down your spine as they tear open from bodies. The sound mixing adds and excellent backing to it. The xenomorphs are perfectly restrained, and the gore fits in seamlessly without it being in your face.
The big shame is that Alien: Covenant as a whole is on a paper thin balance between what it can effectively accomplish. Without clarity in the plot and a disjointed fit between style the alien zeitgeist is all too problematic. In this case we’ve got to be all the more thankful for Fassbender. He can fix anything can’t he?