BEIRUT: Ridley Scott has been going some sort of existential crisis, and to prove this all one has to do is watch Prometheus (2012) and the most recent sequel to the prequel Alien: Covenant.
With Hollywood pushing forth and expanding on its quest for Franchise Global Domination, it’s no surprise to see directors like Ridley Scott joining the Hollywood-ic Empire.
Yet, what was once an ahead of its time concept that tackled the oppression and objectification of women, now tackles the hackneyed and pretentious concept of creation and existence with a dab of obsessive love, and narcissism.
Following the same paradigm as recent films in the same genre, the narrative opens with a crew in hibernation and due to cosmic and rather coincidental events, they are forced awake ahead of schedule, granted this time slightly more violently.
After intercepting what seems like a distress call on a planet with habitable conditions, the crew of the Covenant head over to the planet to investigate. This sets the stakes, and the players in this hopeless game of survival.
The film’s visual aesthetic is one aspect in which the film works. Scott’s control over his mise-en-scene, with breathtaking landscapes, creepy lighting and camera movement, and framing is awe-inducing. Some of the Alien CGI did look rather cartoon-esque, though that can be easily forgiven.
The film’s biggest weakness however is not in its look, or feel, but rather in its content.
In 2017, audiences have been bombarded with every story, plot-twist, plot-trick, and plot-trap which makes predictability a big risk in any film.
With Franchise Global Domination hitting a high this summer, many will start feeling symptoms of what many critics are now calling franchise fatigue.
When filmmakers are asked to return to a world they helped build, it risks those filmmakers falling back to old habits, and resorting to using tricks that once were affective.
This, unfortunately, is the case for Ridley Scott in Alien: Covenant.
The scares used in this film were not new nor were they scary, they were instead quite foreseeable, and some even laughable. This is due to the fact that many of the characters made illogically bad decisions even for a scifi-thriller.
Not even the world building was new.
The performances, specifically Michael Fassbender, were the film’s saving grace. Katherine Waterstone, who plays Daniels, a call back to Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley with an Alien 3 hair-cut, does a decent job as well giving the film one of two emotional journeys.
The film’s protagonist, and only interesting storyline, belongs Fassbender’s characters - one the humans’ savior and the other a fallen angel, Walter and David respectively.
Both characters somewhat monotonous, and David’s mad scientist routine is the same candy with a different wrapping.
Running at two hours, the film’s pacing is slow and there is nothing dynamic about the overall rhythm., instead it seems overly orchestrated and constructed.
It is clear how influenced this film is with the world’s societal climate.
The majority of the crew is made up of married couple with one being same-sex, and then later in the film David teaches Walter how to play the flute, the dialogue plays off as extremely homo-erotic and downright campy, giving 50 Shades Darker a run for its money.
Instead of a slow burn, like the original film, this entry follows the hyperactivity of the audience that is watching it, and ends with the same doomed humanity beat that LIFE from earlier this year ended with.
Through all its formulaic faults, ALIEN: COVENANT somehow succeeds in entertaining its audience, especially those who are new to the franchise.
A rather disappointing addition to the Alien franchise, ALIEN: COVENANT suffers from franchise fatigue and doesn’t make an effort to bring its audience anything new.
The film is playing in VOX CINEMAS, exclusively in IMAX and 4DX.
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