Solomon Grundy @ May 21, 2017 6:59 AM
I liked this enough. It has gotten decent reviews, and the few negative ones that aren't just trolling seem to mostly do what every negative review of any film in the franchise ever has done and hold it to the false standard of not being as good as the first 1979 film, missing the point that nothing is as good as that film or ever will be. The first film, Alien, was so completely groundbreaking for sci-fi, for horror, for effects tech, design, etc., as well as for ensemble acting by a stable of A-list talent which can never be reproduced [Sir Ian Holm, Sir John Hurt, Yaphet Kotto, Sig Weaver, Harry Dean Stanton: this was one of the best casts of any film of that decade].
Not to say there haven't been a few stinkers along the way. As soon as the second film Aliens came out, it sort of set the tone for a lower brow, action-horror approach to the franchise which opened the floodgates for the worst of what followed. By the time the Alien vs. Predator movies were being made [the Predator franchise itself owing its existence to the design, tech, etc. of the new world that 1979 Alien had created], the esoteric and artistic elements had long since been subsumed by audience-driven formula. Ridley Scott seems to have wanted to revive those elements with Prometheus, and to a large extent he succeeded; watching an edited version of the film on commercial television last night proved that it holds up even with its curse words bleeped out and interruptions by pizza and tampon commercials. Top shelf acting talent, an esoteric and artistic concept and design, etc., it is at least a better parallel film to the original than any in between.
*spoilers* This film is inevitably a step down from that, and my biggest complaint is with the writing or lack thereof in the minimal exploration of the engineers' home world and culture; I would have happily watched a film with no action at all that was just looking at that. Nor is David's decision to do what he does to them fully explored and represented on film. [and begs the question of whether this terrible decision by his character is an equally terrible decision by the writers of the film as a convenient way of avoiding the work of writing an engineers' storyline, which would be really criminal to the whole franchise] Nor is it well explained or explored what and why he does what he does to Shaw. Or what happens to the planet's animal life. Etc., etc. There are about a half dozen films' worth of material between Prometheus and Covenant that just get glossed over with gorgeous exteriors in the New Zealand countryside and the familiar trope of the 'crazy robot'. The absence of Noomi Rapace and her character from the film is also pretty disappointing. Covenant's female lead and its cast in general are definitely weaker in comparison to Prometheus, with the exception of Demian Bichir who is wasted in a minor role. Which is all also kind of inexplicable as there is no shortage of talent wanting to work with Ridley Scott [just borrowing Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Jessica Chastain from Scott's 2015 The Martian would have made for a much different film], and many that would have loved to work with him on this franchise in particular.
Still, when you deconstruct comparisons to 1979 Alien, and any expectations that any film will or can ever be that genre-changing, I think Covenant is a decent film. Definitely better and smarter that 99% of the crap it is competing with this summer.
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