Year: 2017
Director(s): Ridley Scott
Writer(s): John Logan, Dante Harper
Region of Origin: UK

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Rating: R
Digital, Color, 120 mins

Synopsis: The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape. (Source)

Alien: Covenant takes us a step further into the Xenomorph mythology – it’s both a Prometheus sequel and an Alien prequel, with director Ridley Scott returning the franchise to its tonal roots. There are gorgeous visuals, an amazing score, and a few noteworthy performances, but like Prometheus, the heavier ideas don’t hold as much weight as they could. Luckily, hardcore fans who enjoy the original films’ primal thrills can rest assured that there’s a solid monster movie in here, one that adds scope and extremity to the undying series.

Several years after the events of Prometheus, the members of colonizing vessel Covenant are woken from hypersleep by their android, Walter (Michael Fassbender). Their final destination was meant to be a new planet with human-sustaining capabilities, but their journey is cut short by tragedy. It’s then that the ship receives a mysterious transmission and the possibility of yet another planet that could sustain life. Trying to make due after several casualties, crew members Oram (Billy Crudup) and Daniels (Katherine Waterston) reluctantly pursue their only lead. What they discover when they reach the signal’s origin is a planet with a terrible secret, one that’ll push them to a fight for survival and the very meaning of humanity.

Enjoyment of the film may boil down to expectation. We wanted horror with Prometheus, but got a shoddy mix of heady philosophy and mangled script, leaving most of its tension by the wayside. Though Covenant sets its opening act with ideas of gods, monsters and the humanity caught within, the film makes simplicity an asset, with its main intention to thrill. There’s nothing wrong with this, and when the story really puts things into gear, it delivers a slew of memorable frights and explosions. Look out for a cool birthing sequence, which is totally graphic but exciting, and also a hair-raising escape sequence featuring Daniels and a crane.

Performance wise, Michael Fassbender is brilliant, and steals the show. His performance(s) push him to a full range of physical and emotional states, and for a character who plays a robot, he’s surprisingly the most human aspect of the film. Danny McBride also shines as Tennessee, the ship’s pilot. He’s a bit of a curveball and a character that could only be pulled off by someone as funny and charismatic as McBride – he brilliantly adds to the terror and tension by how straight he plays things. As Daniels, Katherine Waterston proves that she’s every bit as badass as Sigourney Weaver, understated, but with an impactful physicality. Her strained emotiveness makes you feel how the character is bearing so much more than she was prepared to handle.

Overall, Alien: Covenant is a same but different step in the right direction. It’s stylish, fun and can be scary when it really wants to be. Longtime fans will be interested in how the story expands the Xenomorph mythology, but the film works best when its all about the hunt, with aliens tracking everyone down in truly gruesome ways. This is a B-movie done with blockbuster scale and the craftsmanship of a visual master, so there’s not much to dislike all things considered.