Film: Alien Covenant (Blu Ray)
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Retail Price: $34.99
The Alien franchise is a long running sci-fi staple that has been toted as one of the best (if not the best) example of the genre’s success. From its initial conception, it introduced a strong female protagonist and the horror aspects that sci-fi films can embrace when done correctly. It spawned four films before eventually earning itself a prequel series (similarly to Star Wars) many years later, all at the hands of franchise mastermind Ridley Scott. The first chapter of the prequel, Prometheus, introduced us to this universe at it’s earliest point in time - which was met with extremely positive reviews and was an easy “yes” to seeing it explored in another sequel as Ridley had initially mapped out.
The first film had established a potential heroine named Elizabeth Shaw (played by the talented Noomi Rapace) who is an archaeologist investigating uncharted alien culture alongside an android named David (played by Michael Fassbender) that ties into the origins of mankind. The ending alone left plenty more room for Shaw and David and the follow up more than 4 years later felt natural (but longer than we had expected.) The sequel introduces us to a new crew with the protagonist being Janet “Danny” Daniels (Katherine Waterston) on a colonization trip that gets sidetracked to a beacon of an audio message where Shaw is singing John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” taking them off the path and investigating the uncharted territory.
Alien Covenant very quickly takes a more horror centric turn then ever before as the crew realizes they’ve made a massive mistake that begins to cost them their lives. With the reappearance of the android David and a smaller pale version of the neomorphs becoming a part of the plot, the creatures appear fast, creepy, loud and completely brutal that brings intensity to the franchise that I hadn’t seen in quite some time. Infection becomes a risk for the crew, adding additional paranoia to their survival rates and sending a high energy shockwave through the entirety of the films runtime. There's a twist towards the film’s midway point that delves deeper into the Alien mythology and provides answers to the development of the Xenomorphs that makes sense and establishes a character whose path will be followed if the series is set to return for another installment. Giving the neomorphs a more primitive appearance and demeanor makes them more ruthless and far better selections for a horror themed spin on the Alien series - one of my favorite things about the film and its best assets.
From a character position, Daniels is the most memorable from the film since Shaw’s nowhere to be found in Alien Covenant. She has been compared to Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) but I feel like Daniels is very much her own person. Her original relationship with her husband that took a turn before the horrors even began and you get to see the character go through a transition from being in love, to pain and then through the strength required to fight back and survive for the dream she chased down for herself and in her husband's memory. If anything, I credit the franchise for consistently introducing strong women to carry the weight of the franchises in the past as well as the present (Ripley, Shaw, Daniels.)
The special effects in Alien Covenant are wholeheartedly impressive by the surroundings on this uncharted world and the depiction of the frightening creatures. The film seems to generally be underestimated by most critics and audiences writing it off as another sequel to an ongoing sci-fi franchise for money - but I believe that the adrenaline rush the film gives off with the doses of horror, mystery, origins and interesting characters makes it a franchise standout and one of the most entertaining blockbusters of 2017.
Overall Grade: 7.5/10
For having aged quite a bit, the Alien franchise still has plenty of steam to generate interest and new plot developments all these years later. My only gripes were the repeat conclusion for a strong female and the abrupt conclusion of Elizabeth Shaw’s tale.
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
-I would like to see an Alien 5 down the pipeline in addition to the last prequel chapter.
- Anyone else holding out hope for Daniels safety? Seems unlikely given the longevity of protagonists lately…