For a start, Alien Covenant provides some much needed answers to the end of Prometheus, and helps to explain quite where that film was heading. In a way, the answers that we receive in the newest instalment provides a new purpose and interest to Prometheus which that film was lacking, as despite all its talking, little progress was made. However, Covenant helps to complete Prometheus’ story, but also set up some new questions: did they ever make it to Origae-6? What happened to the Alien and humans once they were there? With Scott not ruling out further expansion in the series, one feels these questions could very well be answered.
Alien Covenant also saw a much needed return of action and horror that was sorely missing in Prometheus. Some of the scenes are so intense and the part seen in the trailer, with quarantine regulations in the medical bay, was one of the best scenes of the film. The tension that was built during this was immense and it showed Scott was still able to create the same horrifying grip that the original held on audiences. Sadly these moments of action or horror/tension are often then spoilt by extended dialogue between two characters to explain what is going on, as if it wasn’t entirely plain at points, and ultimately this is a failure to show the audience and have them work out the points from shots, something that made the original so good. These long periods of speech dull any fear that has been built, and at points get very weird: the whole Michael Fassbender on Michael Fassbender action is straight from fan fiction, and ultimately drawn out too long. This being said I do think that Covenant does a good job of creating tension and fear, despite the now well known Alien no longer having the shock factor it originally had due to the success of the franchise.
Covenant also shows a nice mix of Alien and Aliens in its genre, combining the horror of the original with elements of Aliens’ action packed, shoot-up style. This movie meets in the middle of the two and this works nicely for it, as it helps to show that this is still an Alien film, despite the different settings that the characters are found in compared to the originals, where they are more confined to buildings or spaceships.
Perhaps the biggest issue is with the number of crew there are on the ship. There are 15 members of the crew, compared to the 7 of the original (and cat), each married to another crew member, and the sheer volume of them leads to them treading on each others’ toes in regards to the role they have in the movie. As a result each of the characters lacks depth, and this is compounded by the films gleeful willingness to kill them off; essentially this is the most evidence of “crew expendable” yet seen in one of these films. Danny Mcbride’s Tennessee is the best of the characters with his cowboy hat, while Katherine Waterston’s Daniels is overcome with grief, but the film really struggles to show her character until the end. Had there been less crew members then perhaps each character would have had more depth and so their deaths could have been more shocking. Instead we are left with crew members dying and not really anyone missing them.
Alien Covenant is a nice return to some of the aspects that made the original Alien so scary and brilliant. A mixture of Alien and Aliens is presented and creates a story that moves along with jumps and scares, sadly to be bogged down by the heavy handed dialogue that made Prometheus dull. This combined with a forgettable crew are the main issues, but Alien Covenant is very enjoyable and should be seen by any fan of the series.