Friday, May 19, 2017

Alien Covenant Review: Gruesome, Thrilling and All Together Different!

If there is one franchise that has defined the concepts of sci-fi and horror, it would be none other than Alien. Since 1979 this franchise has brought a sense of horror to the realm of space as the monstrous Xenomorphs have become cultural icons in both movies and pop culture. Now the franchise returns with the seventh installment in the series Alien: Covenant. Directed by the pioneer himself, Ridley Scott, Alien: Covenant is a prequel to the 1979 classic and continues the started started in 2012 blockbuster: Prometheus. With the movie looking to go back to the series' roots, Covenant seeks to be the bridge between Prometheus and Alien. Yet can this new installment live up to franchise's name or does no hear the screams of Alien: Covenant?

Then film centers on the crew of the Covenant who are tasked to find a new planet for colonization. After the ship is damaged by a freak accident, the crew discover another planet that can possibly sustain life. Once arriving the crew soon discover that things are not as they seems on the peaceful world as two crew members are infected by a spores that create monstrous aliens known as Neomorphs. Things take a darker turn when the crew meet David (Michael Fassbender), who has been stranded on the planet for over ten years, and reveals that there far worst creatures waiting to be released.

The story to Alien: Covenant was unexpected. Going into the movie I anticipated the plot to follow many of themes that made up the story to Alien, but that was not the case. The story took the ideas formed in Prometheus and not only expanded on them but did it in a way that added to the Alien lore. It was for this reason that I ended up enjoying Covenant's plot as it presented itself as a different kind of tale for the series. However this is not to say that this sci-fi story was perfect. Although it has some good ideas, the story's execution could get lost at times which prevented certain moments and twists from being effective. Another issue was the pacing as,while it did work to build up the conflict, it could be a little too slow in places. Despite these issues the story to Alien: Covenant was thrilling to say least as it featured a grizzly tone that certainly did the franchise justice.

In the matter of cast the ensemble of Alien: Covenant was effective. While they may not have had the impression that made up the cast to Alien, this group was tolerable and certainly fit well within the franchise. Katherine Waterston was decent as Daniel Branson. While the character's direction was a little too narrow Waterston's performance helped to make the character believable. The movie also featured an array of supporting character and most of them were able to stand out; whether it was Billy Crudup as Christopher Oram or Danny McBride as Tennessee. Yet the one performance that stood out from everyone else was Michael Fassbender as Walter/David. Fassbender's performance as the synthezoids was impressive to say the least as he not only gave both characters their own traits but was able to create an intriguing dynamic between Walter and David. The movie also featured appearances from James Franco, Noomi Rapace and Guy Pearce and each of them served their purpose in the cast-with the exception of Franco who had a very brief appearance in the movie.

The technical aspects to Alien: Covenant were efficient, but it did lack in some areas. While I did wish for the movie to feature more practical effects(especially for the Aliens) that is not to say that the use of cg and motion capture was ineffective as the use of both techniques managed to worked to the movie's advantage. While the monsters could have been a little more practical this direction did not take away from the creatures' designs which provided a different look and concept for the Xenomorphs. Along with the stellar design was the cinematography by Dariusz Wolski. The movie's look was a blend of styles as it meshed the cinematography of both Prometheus and Alien flawlessly. Then there was the score by Jed Kurzel. Like the cinematography the score captured the music of its predecessors remarkably well; all the while bringing out the sci-fi and horror aspects of the movie. Speaking of horror Covenant's scares were decent. While nothing was spine tingling the horror element to the movie was effective within the movie's atmosphere; and adding to this aspect was the film's gore which was as gruesome as it was definitive.

Alien: Covenant was a surprising but not in the way that I was expecting. While the movie could lack in its presentation the movie managed to be effective thanks to its plot concepts, decent performances and dark atmosphere. While it may not have had the impact of the likes of Alien or Aliens, Alien: Covenant was a different kind of movie for the franchise, and I for one felt that it was a refreshing installment for the franchise.

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