Alien Covenant


Viewed – 03 October 2017  Online-rental

I was optimistic about this one.  I was initially a little hyped when it hit theatres considering that director Ridley Scott not only created the Alien franchise, but also helmed last year’s (for me) ‘movie of the year’ Martian.  So I was thinking, he’s back and bringing Alien back.  Oh was I wrong…

Alien Covenant

The crew of the Covenant are transporting a colony of thousands in hyper sleep, in search of a new planet to call their home.  After receiving a distress call from a near by planet, they choose to, albeit reluctantly investigate.  Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.  Sort of a direct sequel to the much hyped yet bewildering Prometheus, a film I came away disappointed by, this has returning character David, a synthetic android marooned on said planet who the crew of the space ship meet up with.  Amongst their crew is also an identical synthetic called Walter (both are played by Michael Fassbender), who soon finds himself bonding with his look-a-like by way of a drawn out flute lesson (yes you read that right…a flute lesson).

This is a movie in search of an identity.  It wants to be a survival horror typical Alien movie, and then like Prometheus it wants to be a philosophical origin story on both the creation of the Aliens and some mumbo-jumbo mythology involving mankind and bio-engineering.  The problem is it’s very hard to get invested in much of any of it, what with tedious characterisation and a plodding pace.  Fassbender tries his best but is let down by a poor script that is both over-complicated and boring.  Unconvincing CGI for the Aliens doesn’t help either and when crew members start dying off and you’re not even entirely sure which ones they were – the movie has problems.

Alien never needed a deep mythology.  It didn’t need a back story.  The mystery, the foreboding eeriness of H R Giger’s designs was enough – once a director attempts to explain it all, it ultimately kills it … which Scott is very much going to do if he insists on making the franchise something it never needed to be.

Verdict:  2 /5

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Aliens


Viewed – 30 July 2008  DVD

Special edition

Having not watched this movie in a long while, and actually not having seen the extended special edition at all; with the recent purchase of the Alien Quadrilogy box set, I thought I’d give it a look.

James (Terminator 2, Titanic, True Lies) Cameron’s 1986 sci-fi action movie is the follow up to Ridley Scott’s seminal Alien, and turns a slow-burning horror movie into a gung-ho marines in space testosterone-fest.  Sigourney Weaver’s iconic heroin Ellen Ripley wakes up 57 years after the first film, only to discover that a colony of settlers on the same planet that the alien was discovered originally, have ceased communication.  Knowing that something may have gone horribly wrong, she leads a band of tough, cocky Marines on a search and rescue mission, only to come face to face with a  nest of the deadly, vicious xenomorphs – and a battle for survival commences.

What makes this such a memorable movie is a great cast, with Weaver joined by Cameron regulars Michael Biehn & Bill Paxton, as well as a stand-out Lance Henrickson as android ‘Bishop’.  Now compared to much sci-fi or any action movie of the time, this is all played VERY seriously, with a gruelling 2hr 35 minute run time, but the story and the atmosphere is solid stuff and I personally never got bored.  Ok, it takes a while for the action to kick in, but by this time we’re already hooked by the characters and their situation, and the pyrotechnics are just the icing on the cake.  This extended version adds some back story to little girl ‘Newt’ and some references to Ripley’s daughter, but don’t really make for a radically different film so if you’ve only seen the theatrical cut…you’re still seeing the best this movie has to offer – and the ending is stuff of cinematic legend.

Verdict: 4 /5