Review: Michael Fassbender is the most alien part of ‘Alien: Covenant’

Marcus Goh
Contributor

 

Karine (Carmen Ejogo) watches in horror in “Alien: Covenant”. (Twentieth Century Fox)

Secret ending? No.

Running time: 123 minutes (~2 hours)

Ridley Scott directs and Katherine Waterston stars in “Alien: Covenant”. (Twentieth Century Fox)

“Alien: Covenant” is a science fiction horror film that’s the sixth in the “Alien” franchise and the second of the prequel movies.

The film sees the crew of the colony ship Covenant investigating a seemingly-undiscovered paradise planet. Unfortunately, in the course of their investigations, the crew soon find themselves involved with the eponymous creatures of the series.

“Alien: Covenant” is directed by Ridley Scott, with a screenplay by John Logan and Dante Harper, and a story by Jack Paglen and Michael Green. It stars Michael Fassbender (Walter and David), Katherine Waterston (Daniels), Billy Crudup (Christopher Oram), Danny McBride (Tennessee), Demian Bichir (Sergeant Lope), Carmen Ejogo (Karine Oram), Amy Seimetz (Faris), with appearances by James Franco (Jacob Branson), Noomi Rapace (Dr Elizabeth Shaw), and Guy Pearce (Peter Weyland). It is rated M18.

“Alien: Covenant”. (Twentieth Century Fox)

“Alien: Covenant” has been a long time coming, with its original title being “Alien: Paradise Lost”. As with any long-running horror film series, the question is not so much what stalks the protagonists, but when it will appear. While that aspect is handled less deftly than expected, the weirdest moments come from the handling of Michael Fassbender’s character. It’s probably safe to say that that is probably the most alien part about “Alien: Covenant”.

Daniels (Katherine Waterston) in “Alien: Covenant”. (Twentieth Century Fox)

Highlights

Claustrophobic science fiction setting
The dark, moody hallways of the spaceship and the tight corridors that the characters frequently find themselves traversing remind us of the advanced technology at play. This science fiction element unbalances us since we don’t know what passes for normal for the characters, and this fear of the unknown carries on into the conflict against the antagonists of the film. We don’t know what’s happening, and the tight corners amplify the claustrophobic mood of the movie.

Ridley Scott directs “Alien: Covenant”. (Twentieth Century Fox)

Interesting props and visuals
The colony ship effects are done well, and it shows us that despite the grandeur of man’s scientific accomplishments, they’re still ill-equipped to deal with the aliens. The planet itself is what’s vastly more interesting, with Gothic structures and a long show-and-tell sequence that gives us a primer/reminder on what the aliens are. A lot of work went into the set design for the planet, making it a thematically fitting place for much of the action to happen in.

Michael Fassbender and Ridley Scott on the set of “Alien: Covenant”. (Twentieth Century Fox)

Letdowns

Cringeworthy homoerotic scenes
There’s nothing wrong with homoeroticism in the right places. Unfortunately, one particular scene is peppered with such hammy dialogue that it sent the whole cinema snickering, and it seems to come out of nowhere. It has so many perverse connotations no matter how you look at it. It’s not that terrifying either, which makes you question the purpose of such scenes in the first place.

“Alien: Covenant”. (Twentieth Century Fox)

Painfully boring beginning
If you’ve even seen a single poster, then you know what awaits the crew in the film. Yet “Alien: Covenant” plays it up like some huge mystery that nobody knows. The film doesn’t understand the point that the fear comes from when the creatures will appear, rather than the form and identity of the antagonists. As a result, the beginning has some measure of suspense, but could have played out a lot faster.

“Alien: Covenant”. (Twentieth Century Fox)

Fails to pay off the suspense and tension
After the slow revelation that something is killing off the crew members, the film launches into a tense, suspense-laden portion where you’re just waiting for everything to go wrong. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of letdown when the creatures finally appear. The action sequences don’t last for as long as you’d expect, and it’s also rather obvious what direction the climax is heading toward.

“Alien: Covenant”. (Twentieth Century Fox)

The most alien part of “Alien: Covenant” is Michael Fassbender’s character.

Should you watch this at if it’s free? Okay.

Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? No.

Score: 2.0/5

“Alien Covenant” opens in cinemas:
– 10 May, 2017 (Singapore)
– 10 May, 2017 (Philippines) 

Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter, having written for Police & Thief, Incredible Tales, Crimewatch, and Point of Entry. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.

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