Alien: Covenant Review

Posted by Corporal Hicks on May 7, 2017 (Updated: 12-May-2017)

Beware spoilers.

I had the good fortune of being invited to London to attend the world premiere of Alien: Covenant on the 4th of May 2017. It was a great experience to be able to walk down that green carpet and sit in the same theatre as the cast, director and crew and watch the film on the big screen.

Before I get into this, you need to know that this is a review from a fan on a fan site. Alien vs. Predator Galaxy might be the best fan site but it is a website run by people who are dedicated to the Alien franchise and are very invested in the series. I wanted to put this out there because the issues I have with the film (and I don’t want to start off negatively) come from that angle.

Alien: Covenant started life as Prometheus 2 before it seemed to transform into an Alien film, in the same way Prometheus originally turned from Untitled Alien Prequel into Prometheus.

Don’t let that fool you, though, this is still Prometheus 2. It may have Alien in the name and we may get Aliens but this is still a film following Prometheus’ legacy, just not full of questions with no answers and much more focused on one central theme.

The film is largely focused around the themes of creation and life. The crew of the Covenant are on a mission to start a new colony, they’ve got the life of 2000 colonists and hundreds of human embryos in their hands. And David is obsessed with being able to create his own offspring (in a fashion).

The marketing for Alien: Covenant might not be putting a massive emphasize on it being more than a simple straight forward horror film, but creation (and destruction) is fairly constant throughout.

There was a scene I was somewhat surprised at with some very overt rape implications that fed really strongly into David’s change of disposition and as a bastardized view on the theme of creation.

Once again, Michael Fassbender just knocks it out the park – as both Walter and David. David continues to be such an interesting character. There’s some definite differences with his behaviour between Prometheus and Alien: Covenant but I think it works really well.

 Alien: Covenant Review

However, due to this there are questions left hanging about David, primarily about what happened to him to change his motivation after Shaw went to cryosleep. Perhaps Scott, Logan and Dante are leaving that to Alan Dean Foster to expand upon?

While he still retains a lot of that snarky, sly personality from Prometheus he’s also quite focused on what he’s doing and he has developed a more overt superiority complex. It still worked for me though.

As with Prometheus, there’s lots of little moments with David that are just gold. There’s one particular moment I really enjoyed where David is just sat throwing stones while waiting for the birth of a certain creature that just really stuck with me. It sounds lame written down but I thought it worked so well on screen.

I was also a fan of Walter and how Fassbender portrayed him. It was really fun to see the interactions between him and the other characters, especially Daniels. Having him portray both synthetic characters really highlighted the differences between the two. It was also a real treat to see Fassbender interacting with himself, especially during the quieter moments between David and Walter, as well as the physical scenes.

The rest of the cast was also great. Their dynamics and interactions really worked in establishing a rapport between all the characters in much the same fashion as the crew of Nostromo or the marines of the Sulaco. I don’t think there’s a single character or actor I didn’t like in the film despite everyone obviously not getting the same amount of screentime.

With that being the case, we don’t get to know everyone very well which I think is somewhat detrimental at times – specifically the death scenes, especially the earlier ones that kick off the action because it was harder to care in the same way that you might have when Kane finally burst.

However, I did really enjoy sticking around with all the main characters. I think Katherine Waterston made a really effective lead. I know there was a lot of concern over her being a Ripley clone but I only really picked up on superficial similarities to Ripley (being the third in command who has to step up, tank-top with a gun). Personality wise, I didn’t think she felt like Ripley at all. I could really just get behind her character and cheer her on.

 Alien: Covenant Review

I loved Danny McBride in this. While he has funny lines, he is not the comic relief people were worried he would be. I do feel like he was really under-utilized though. I would have loved to have seen more of him.

The only character I was somewhat disappointed in was Oram – and that’s just because how he meets his end. We all know from the trailers and some of the preview footage that the press was able to see that he is led to his death by David.

Throughout the early film Oram had been a really interesting character. He was someone thrust into leadership and was fighting to maintain it. Billy Crudup spoke previously about how Oram had originally been antagonistic but he was more interested in bringing some more dimension to his situation and I think that really worked well.

And then Oram disappoints me by going Prometheus on me and letting the dubious android lead him to his death, though he should have known better.

As expected the film looks absolutely gorgeous. I don’t think that would ever be doubted. I loved that Covenant took us to such a green world. How many barren waste worlds can we set these films on? It was such a visual breath of fresh air and I really appreciated it from the moment we set down.

I thought the Covenant sets looked really great. Definitely leaning more on the Alien side of set aesthetics than Prometheus’ flashy science-fiction. It still looked a little advanced with holograms but I don’t think Scott has any interest in going all the way back to CRT monitors or old school graphics which is a shame. Rogue One showed us there was still success to be had in looking old and grubby.

Though we spend so little time inside the Juggernaut, the additional hallway set they added was also great to see. It looked so like the original, even feeling a little like the hive in Aliens. It was nice to see a little more of a Giger aesthetic in the film but there was room for so much more.

Considering one of the more alluring aspects of the Derelict and the Space Jockey in the original Alien film was Giger’s design, it was still disappointing to see less of his style in the films that rotate around those creatures. I know that Ridley and Author Max talked about edging into more of that style but even Prometheus had some of the same sort of shapes and patterns.

And while I think the Engineer citadel that a good portion of the middle of the film takes place in looked amazing, I couldn’t help but wish to see more of that Giger-esque style, even if it was just the more rocky looking shapes and patterns. I don’t think I’ll ever stop wanting to see more of that. I’m still holding out on the hope that I will eventually get to see a Giger-esque landscape stretch across the big screen.

While I mentioned earlier that this was very much a Prometheus sequel, the Engineers are noticeably absent of any meaningful inclusion. The big question left over from Prometheus – why did they want to kill us – is still left unanswered.

We’re also left with the question of this disconnect between this gorgeous looking city that seems to have been scooped from ancient Rome and these incredibly advanced starships with a genetic weapon aboard them.

 Alien: Covenant Review

With Covenant being framed around the new characters and its focus on David and creation rather than continuing Shaw’s quest for answers, it isn’t as frustrating but it’s still noticeable and will likely leave some fans of Prometheus a little annoyed.

The film does leave some of its own questions open. What really went down with Shaw and David, especially after how he talks about her and what we saw in the prologue. What did David learn en route to Paradise that made him kill the Engineers on sight? And really, what is the purpose (other than being intended as weapon for us) of the black goo?

Alien: Covenant introduces us to some new Alien-like creatures, the Neomorphs. Though they’re not in a lot, I did really enjoy them. They’re an interesting take on Alien-like creatures and how that all relates to the black goo.

I would have liked to have seen more focus on exploring them as they weren’t quite so Alien. It was really nice to see a return of some of the older Beluga-Alien concepts from Prometheus for the Neomorphs too.

I was really enjoying the film until the last third and then it just made me groan. This is where you can see Ridley Scott felt the need to throw the Alien in there. Up until this point we’d been focused on the Neomorphs and the characters and we shift gear into the titular Alien.

And it seems like Scott, Logan or Dante forgot to go and rewatch Alien before they made Alien: Covenant. They’re pulling Paul Anderson levels of messing with the Alien lore, especially in the way they handled the Alien lifecycle.

We get a five minute chestburster which is a completely different chestburster. We don’t have a snake, we get a perfectly formed miniature Alien. Which, granted, I think looked fantastically creepy and was a great visual effect. I loved how it was translucent and how it was so disproportionately formed but that’s not what human chestbursters look like.

However, you may be able to explain that away depending on where Scott and co. take the next prequels. Something that we’ve long suspected was that David is somehow responsible for the creation of the Aliens in this film. He is.

But these Aliens don’t look the same. The eggs look different, the facehuggers are slightly different, the chestburster is completely different and the Alien is lacking the biomechanical elements. If it is a narrative point later on down the line that this particular batch is not quite the same or right, I could maybe buy into these seemingly random changes.

I’m still not sold on the idea of David being the creator of the Alien species either; I’m too married to the concept of the Alien being an ancient creature from some long lost war. It’s not definitively put across that these are THE Aliens. There’s still wiggle room for those theories about him re-creating the Aliens but until the later films, it’s still up in the air.

The most annoying and groan-inducing thing for me was the 10 second facehugger. One of the characters is attacked by a facehugger and has it on his face for barely any time at all before being cut off and injuring the intended victim (which in itself is pretty cool!) but this is apparently enough time to result in him being infected.

It’s not something the casual viewer may pick-up on but as a fan it really bugged me. And it all seemed in service of picking up the pace to make sure it all fit in. And that brings me to another problem with the film.

The last act of Alien: Covenant feels like the last two acts of Alien being squeezed into one. It felt tacked on and almost felt like this was Ridley being forced or feeling obligated to shoehorn Alien into the film.

It also moves along so quickly that the Alien portions of the film just didn’t feel effective. Nothing is allowed to build or sit. It just rushes right through it. In regards to the editing of the rest of the film, the earlier portions felt much better but when David is introduced, the film speeds along too much, speeding past parts that should have been held on to get to more of Fassbender, who I loved, but I would have liked more of stuff like the characters having more interest in the Citadel or more suspicion in David

Personally, I felt it might have served the film better to have focused on the Neomorph and make a single effective film than try and squeeze both Prometheus and Alien into one.

 Alien: Covenant Review

So let’s talk creature effects! I know a lot of you are probably really curious about this. There definitely seemed to be more digital effects than practical. The only piece of practical effects that I particularly noticed of the full sized beast was of a shot of the Alien head and the inner-jaw in action. I may be completely wrong but the majority of the other creature shots looked digital to my eyes.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing though. The effects are up to scratch! I don’t think there was any particular shot that stuck out as looking bad. And it looked to me like there was a good mix with practical and digital for the smaller creature effects. It’s just that the majority of the shots looked noticeably digital.

There were some lovely looking shots of the creatures, especially the Alien. There’s a shot towards the end of the film where you get a really good sense of just how alien this humanoid form actually is. It looked great on the screen!

Unlike Prometheus, I really dug Alien: Covenant’s score. I could have done without the Jerry Goldsmith refrains because Alien doesn’t have a series theme and I found it a little too referential, like it was trying to remind me from the offset that this film had Alien in the title.

One of Prometheus’ tracks does sneak in but it’s quite appropriate in its use. Until the film includes David playing the same tune on his flute. I just didn’t enjoy that kind of self-referential moment. It felt akin to Fassbender turning and winking at me through the screen.

What Ked Kurzel brings I really liked. It had a great sense of foreboding with some very chaotic sounds and ambience that I work really well as the score for an Alien film.

I enjoyed Alien: Covenant. I didn’t love it but didn’t I hate it either. I’m looking forward to seeing it again to try and digest more of it. There’s a lot going on and a lot of questions left but as Covenant didn’t frame itself around that kind of thing, it doesn’t feel as dissatisfying as Prometheus did.

I would say it also felt like a retry of Prometheus, except more successful. Alien: Covenant goes back to a lot of the structure of Jon Spaihts’ earlier Prometheus scripts when it was an Alien film, utilising not-quite Aliens and Aliens. It also still manages to bring in higher themes of creation that Prometheus was interested in.

I would rate Alien: Covenant as being my fourth favourite in the series (with Alien, Aliens and Alien 3 being tied for first place. I can never pick a favourite when it comes to the original trilogy) but definitely above Prometheus, Alien: Resurrection and the Alien vs. Predator films.

For a final score I’m stuck somewhere between a 6 and a 7. I really want to rewatch it to get a feel for anything I may have missed. But for now, from Aaron Percival at Alien vs. Predator Galaxy, I award Alien: Covenant with 6.5 out of 10.

Rating: 6.5 Stars (6.5 / 10)
Post Comment

Comments: 63
  1. Man that was well written and thought out with no bias, nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking, easy to read.
    You should do more reviews, even for films outside the alien franchise.

    Your review has actually got me amped up for the film now.


  2. I never truly believed the AvP movies were Canon anyway. I’m a huge fan of that part of the series, but the stories and ideas they told were far inferior to what the various comics, books, and video games have done with the crossover concept. While I did enjoy them, they just didn’t seem to “fit” with the rest of the Alien franchise, so I always thought of them as existing in their own separate universe.

    As for Covenant, I’m glad to see it’s getting positive reviews, can’t wait to see it!


  3. Great review — I’m disappointed in some of what you said as I love digging into lore of my favorite franchises and it sounds like they only roughly handled this and left you a little in the dark on some of what I hoped to learn more about.

    Either way — all these films always take a few viewings to absorb — and I haven’t even seen it once yet! Can’t wait!


  4. I feel Covenant will be loved by those who loved Prometheus.

    Most of the Prometheus fans thought Covenant will leave the philosophical concepts behind and focus only on the Xenomorph. But it’s not the case it seems going by all the reviews and its sure that there’s lot of Prometheus in Covenant.

    I hope to see some good concepts / alien mechanics / alien bio-science and of course the fate of Engineers and Shaw.

    Thanks to Scott!


  5. Don’t care about ratings at least we have the Alien saga continue. I saw Alien when i was 7 yrs old and am privileged to be able to watch this next episode


  6. *Blomkamp pardon

    Growing up with Aliens, Alien and Alien 3. They will always be my favorites. I’ve disregarded everything else since.


  7. Great solid and rounded review. Does confirm my suspicions though. Just another visual feast with no substance. I can’t stand how they mess with the lore. I mean it’s cool Ridley did the engineers but messing with the Giger design of the Alien is just retarded. Even Prometheus sucked with it’s Neomorph showing up at the end. I really was hoping Ridley would have gone for naming the movie Paradise and just continuing on with the Engineer story with bits of Alien history thrown in but nope. Once Neil Bloomkemp announced a proper sequel I think Fox got nervous so had Ridley do the shoehorn in of the Alien.

    Nothing will ever top Aliens in my opinion which is a better film than the first Alien.


  8. Solid review. I figured it would land about 5 or 6/10 when the dust settled. It’s a mixed blessing really. It’s more Aliens to watch, but it’s undoing the mysteries and formula that made the original so exquisite. What is that old saying, “I wished for as many years of life as grains of sand in the desert, but forgot to ask that they be years of youth”.


  9. Thank you for the review, Corporal Hicks. Unfortunately, your review confirmed my suspicions and worst fears. Ridley Scott has absolutely gone off the Reservation. Sure, he might still be able to craft beautiful shots and imagery, but he has lost all sense of telling a story, and creating a cohesive narrative (IMHO). If sounds like, once again, there were multiple hands in the cookie jar in terms of script writing and doctoring. Full disclosure — I was and am totally against the “Chariots of the Gods” story line of Prometheus, which is obviously continued here. Putting aside the fact that Ridley is an atheist (or perhaps agnostic, to be charitable)…the whole “an advanced alien civilization created mankind” is just lazy and uninspired fiction. However, Ridley seems to take a peculiar pleasure in shoving this down the audience’s throats. It answers nothing, and just kicks the proverbial “can” down the road. Plus, it takes all the darn MYSTERY out of the Alien universe. Or, as I am fond of saying, “it takes the alien out of Alien”.


  10. He’s probably getting confused with the old regime at Fox because under them the AvP films were canon. I thought they were too, until I heard about Scott creating a new ten page rule book while making Covenant.


  11. :member:athlondude

    Even if covenant happens only 10 years after Prometheus that’s still not enough time for David to not only engineer but perfect the design of the Xeno, gather those thousands of eggs into cargo hold of a jockey’s ship, send it off so it will crash on LV-426 in time for Ripley and the gang to find it. Not to mention the fact that the Jockey found in alien was fossilized into the chair of the ship, so even if the ship got there in time for ripley and her crew, there is clearly not enough time for it to fossilize. If Fox or Ridley or whoever is trying to say that David was the original creator of Xenos then I’m done, it makes no sense what so ever.


  12. If what your saying is true about pace of the movie, especially the last 3rd this movie aught to do pretty well in the box office. While we’re all alien fans here and we all want that space odyssey / episodic feel of the first movie; attention spans are much shorter today than they were 30 years ago.

    That being said sounds like a good mix of action and suspense (minus the oddities about the alien life cycle) im hoping this movie does very well.


  13. I don’t think Scott considers AVP canon. Seeing as how he has the reigns to the Alien series now, it’s really up to him. Those were silly ( and entertaining ) movies, but I don’t think I’d take anything seen in them very seriously in regards to each franchise.


  14. Will someone just a representative from Fox (or Ridley) to stand in front of a mic and state once and for all; “AVP is not canon”.

    I can’t believe some people are still having this discussion lol.


  15. I wouldn’t say any reviews are spoiler free and this review is one of them. There are too many descriptions/commentaries/trailers/stills of what to expect that I almost know what I’ll see going in now.

    Going to check this out Friday (UK release is Friday 12th May 2017).

    I predict a score of 3/5 to 4/5. Bloody disgusting gave KONG-SKULL ISLAND 4/5 and based on their weighting and logic it’ll be the same for ALIEN-COVENANT.

    Interesting that Corporal Hicks said there are some Paul W S Anderson-esque elements in Covenant. Cause people argue that Prometheus was an almost shot for shot remake of AVP!

    Looking forward to ALIEN VS PROMETHEUS, this coming Friday.


  16. I want to ask one qestion. Is “Alien: Covenant – Prologue: The Crossing” included in the movie? thanx for the answer


  17. Alien Aliens Alien3 tied at first place!Lordy Mercy We park our cars in the same garage.I’m sure as Corporal Hicks you know Michael Biehn directed a cool “grindhouse picture”The Victim,directly inspired from his work on Planet Terror!!Apparently one the first people to see it was James Cameron.I still wish Neill Blomy Good Luck with his “dead poroject”the only shred of hope for this franchise is fresh blood!!:)


  18. In A Nutshell&Crystal Clear;Love Rid&his brother Tony for that matter!-True Romance!But he has officially jumped the shark,screwed the pooch,and is ruining his legacy.Some people just don’t know when to leave the party!Can’t believe you fanboys havn’t figured out who David&Walter are named after???Hint;David is real and during the Equinox Writer’s Workshop he encouraged me to send my original script W.O.TR. to Paris!Actually a pretty cool guy!Alien Day as still the shizzznnnitt for me-I’ll skip this……Twist a fatty and screen Alien 3-A downbeat spiritual effing masterpiece!Peace:)


  19. I cant see David being the creator of the Alien for one simple reason. There is no way that David created and perfected the xenomorph and shipped it off to crash land on LV-426 in time for Ripley and the gang to find it. Prometheus takes place 30 years before Alien right? And this movie takes place 20 years after Prometheus right? That makes it pretty much impossible for David to be the creator. I think if anything David is trying to recreate or perhaps improve upon what the engineers have already created. This would explain the variation and the differences in the alien, facehugger, etc. Judging from the review I am going to love and hate this movie in the same breath. Good Review, little disappointed now though.


  20. I’m really happy to hear the chest buster is not a variation of the worm xeno + spacejockey Big chap and is very much a human hybrid , I love how much attention and continuity they are putting into this 😊😊😊


  21. Maybe just to troll Gregson Williams for withdrawing from the film due to creative differences. My guess is he didn’t want to use the Goldsmith music and have some creative freedom :-)


  22. Thanks Corporal Hicks for a great, almist spoiler-free review!

    I’m relieved, firstly because it’s more of a straight sequel to Prometheus even though it has Alien in the title. Even all other reviews confirm its more of Prometheus story and less of Alien.

    I’m also relieved to learn that the big question of Prometheus hasn’t been answered and is still a mystery.

    And as I hoped, Covenant continues the legacy of Prometheus by raising even more questions and mysteries.

    I look Prometheus as a branched series and Scott is trying to cater to the new age set of audience. Only the hardcore Alien fans will realize inconsistencies. I have no problem with chest buster being different than original Alien film. For me, Alien franchise ended with Alien Resurrection. And with Prometheus, I am seeing new revamped Alien series and welcome the changes.

    About the pacing at the end, I am not bothered as well. I know Scott movies get better and better at repeated viewings. I’m sure you will catch many more stuffs during your second viewing especially in the finale. And then probably, you wouldn’t have complain about the pacing.

    Now, my only worry is to technically explain myself how does the spore seed a Neo-morph into a host?! And where and what was the Mural creature in Prometheus?

    Anyway, thanks again.


  23. I can’t say that I understand or agree every complaint that you make, but I do agree that pacing in the 3rd act is vital. Much of what you say sounds encouraging, however.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this! :)


  24. ” we’ve long suspected was that David is somehow responsible for the creation of the Aliens in this film. He is.”

    “But these Aliens don’t look the same. The eggs look different, the facehuggers are slightly different, the chestburster is completely different and the Alien is lacking the biomechanical elements. If it is a narrative point later on down the line that this particular batch is not quite the same or right, I could maybe buy into these seemingly random changes.”

    David being the creator of these variants is fine, no issue here with him have created his OWN version by learning about the Engineers, but I definitely don’t want him being the creator of the traditonal Xenos as like you I prefer the ancient and mysteriousness of their origins.

    “I’m still not sold on the idea of David being the creator of the Alien species either; I’m too married to the concept of the Alien being an ancient creature from some long lost war. It’s not definitively put across that these are THE Aliens. There’s still wiggle room for those theories about him re-creating the Aliens but until the later films, it’s still up in the air.”

    So the movie itself does not actually state that David created the “normal” Xenos? Excellent, now I need to have word with all those that kept putting that across as if it was fact. Those S.O.Bs lol

    “The most annoying and groan-inducing thing for me was the 10 second facehugger. One of the characters is attacked by a facehugger and has it on his face for barely any time at all before being cut off and injuring the intended victim (which in itself is pretty cool!) but this is apparently enough time to result in him being infected.”

    Seriously? wtf? How could Ridley Scott do that? that is worse than Defiance in that regard, A character is infected and the facehugger was barely on her face for a few seconds. I can atleast expect rubbish like that from the EU but not from a movie by the original director. What is wrong with him?


  25. I liked how the Prometheus score was used, even the flute moment, but that’s just me.

    Hicks, what did you think of the shower scene? Surprised you didn’t mention it. It got a few snickers in the audience I was in, I’m guessing because of the musical choice, which I felt made the scene way more cliche.


  26. Hicks you are obsessed with Giger-esque style :)

    “I’m still not sold on the idea of David being the creator of the Alien species either; I’m too married to the concept of the Alien being an ancient creature from some long lost war.”

    It’s just your perception. When you watched Alien for the first time you probably came to conclusion that Aliens have to be ancient like in Lovecraft’s mythos and I understand that because almost everyone had the same feeling about it. As human beings we like to create our own reality and fit everything we interact with into that reality. It’s an illusion. I personally find that ironical that David who was created by human is now responsible (if it’s true, we have to wait for Covenant sequel) for Alien species that kills human.

    “The most annoying and groan-inducing thing for me was the 10 second facehugger. One of the characters is attacked by a facehugger and has it on his face for barely any time at all before being cut off and injuring the intended victim (which in itself is pretty cool!) but this is apparently enough time to result in him being infected.”

    Look at Aliens: Defiance.

    “I enjoyed Alien: Covenant. I didn’t love it but didn’t I hate it either. I’m looking forward to seeing it again to try and digest more of it.”

    HuDaFuk enjoyed it more the second time.

    Cannot wait to see it.


  27. Aliens don’t look the same. The eggs look different, the facehuggers are slightly different, the chestburster is completely different and the Alien is lacking the biomechanical elements.

    Protomorphs Is not it ?


  28. Nice review. It seems I am going to have some issues with the movie myself. So no lessons taken from Prometheus? Nobody’s ever going to be suspicious of David? Will we get an aging Fassbender coming back every couple of years like the Terminator? It sounds to me this is more beating around the bush.


  29. To me, it sounds very much like the Spaihts version of Prometheus’ original script (which was my preferred version) which I always had a feeling would be the case after the first batch of promotional footage was released.
    Almost like Ridley’s saying “ok guys, my bad, here’s what was originally intended”.
    Can’t wait to check it out despite the apparent changes to the lifecycle and lack of certain answers.
    That was a great, informative review Hicks, thank you


Facebook Twitter Instagram Steam RSS Feed