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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Alien: Covenant Review

My partner and I went on a spontaneous movie date on the weekend and decided to see Alien: Covenant. I haven't seen all of the Alien films so far, but I saw Prometheus in cinemas and enjoyed the snippets of the other films that I've seen.

Alien: Covenant starts on a philosophical note, with a throw-back to the creation of David, the synthetic who was on board the Prometheus. Cut to Covenant, a space vessel on a cross-galaxy expedition to settle a colony on a far-away planet, were Walter is overseeing the day-to-day upkeep of the ship while the crew and colonists are in cryosleep. An unforeseen emergency requires the crew to suddenly wake up and thus begins the action. There is death before we even see any aliens, and although the audience doesn't get the chance to form a bond with the deceased crew member, we do start caring about the crew mates left behind as they deal with the sudden loss.

Amidst grieving and repairing the ship, the crew picks up a rogue signal from a nearby planet that looks potentially inhabitable and go in for a closer look; they are excited by the prospect of reaching a planet to colonize, as their original target is still 7 years away. A portion of the crew takes a lander vessel down and soon enough, the audience picks up signs of danger that the characters are oblivious to. After losing half of the ground crew to aliens (in both classic burst-out-of-your-body and maul-the-fuck-outta-you styles), the remaining handful are seemingly rescued by David, the synthetic from the Prometheus, which disappeared ten years early.

Naturally, the audience should be suspicious of David, as he tells an overly simplistic tail to explain the fate of the Prometheus crew. He's a little too curious about the colony mission and details like how many colonists the Covenant is transporting. I felt that the newly made captain Oram gave up this information a little too easily and could have exercised better caution in the presence of this stranger. The relationship David tries to forge with the Covenant's synthetic, Walter, is creepy at best and there are alarm bells going off left, right, and centre that David is up to something. The fact that both of the synthetics are played by Michael Fassbender (who does an excellent job, by the way) makes the audience more and more distrustful and we do double-takes in every scene where they both appear. Will David get Walter on board with his insidious plans? Will they do a good ol' switcheroo?

One of the highlights of the film for me was when David recites 'Ozymandias' in front of Walter. This is accompanied by a revelation of some of David's horrific actions between arriving on this planet and the arrival of the Covenant crew. Amidst this discussion of creation and perfection, Walter asks David who wrote 'Ozymandias', and David wrongly attributes the poem to Lord George Gordon Byron. The dynamics between David and Walter were certainly my favourite part of the film.

The death-tally shot up as the movie drew to a close and sure enough there was a false sense of security before more and more danger was revealed. But I won't spoil the ending. I liked it, so you should go watch it and make your own judgments on the juicy details.

Have you seen Alien: Covenant yet? What did you think? 
- Bonnee.

3 comments:

  1. Funny thing: my daughter just saw this with a friend. While she was out, I said to my wife, "You know, The Magpie is going to be talking about plot holes and characterization and motivation, and her friend is going to be like, 'There were lots of aliens--cool!'"--and that's exactly what happened.

    I saw Prometheus recently. Frankly, I thought it was a mess. I liked what Ridley Scott was trying to do, and the questions he was raising, but I found there were too many eye-rolling, 'Why in the world would they ever do that?' moments. At the same time, there's also an ever-increasing feeling of "Here we go again"--crew woken up from sleep earlier, mysterious distress signal, sinister android--it's all been done before. I am fortunate to have seen Alien in theaters on its first run, when all of this was still fresh. We watched it a few months back, and it still holds up well.

    Hope I didn't rain on your parade!

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    Replies
    1. No rain whatsoever--I think few of the original Alien fans loved Prometheus, and I agree that after a while the plot gets a little repetitive. This is a little embarrassing, but I actually had no idea I was walking into an Alien movie when I watched Prometheus; the penny didn't drop until I actually saw the creatures, and then I put two and two together--derp. In other words, I guess it is still fresh for me. But I think it's time for me to make time to watch the REAL! ORIGINAL! Alien movies :D

      The Magpie sounds like she's got some healthy critical analysis under her belt. It makes for much better conversation than the general 'yeah aliens!'

      Thanks for stopping by, Jeff!

      Delete
  2. I've not seen it. Might get the DVD.

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