‘Alien: Covenant’ Review

Director: Ridley Scott

Writers: John Logan and Dante Harper

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Amy Seimetz, and Guy Pearce

Synopsis: The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

I’m going to start off the review with this, I didn’t mind Prometheus. Was it a perfect film? No, it wasn’t, and even I can see the faults the film had. But the amount of bashing and hate the film received when the film was released was a bit too much. One of the problems that I do wholeheartedly believe was wrong with Prometheus wasn’t in the movie itself, it was the audience. I get it, it’s hard not to get really excited over a film. I do it, and I’m sure you do it too. But I remember the hype level for Prometheus and it was ridiculously over that I shut myself out from reading anything about the film before it came out. And I get it, I do, Alien has a special place in many people’s hearts – as it should – but people got themselves way to hyped up that they were disappointed with Prometheus because it wasn’t what they thought or wanted it to be.

So this brings us to Alien: Covenant. Not only is the film a sequel to Prometheus it’s also more of a step closer to reaching the point we saw in Alien. Not only is the film a continuation of what we saw before, but they go back to the early roots – a sci-fi horror film with the famous Xenomorph we have all learned to fear and love.

Covenant follows the colony ship called The Covenant, which is filled with couples, that is on the way to a new planet to start a new life. The only person awake and not in cryosleep is the android Walter (Michael Fassbender) who, like his predecessor David (also played by Fassbender), watches over the ship. However, an accident occurs that causes Walter to wake the crew members which results in some of them dying, including the captain. While the crew makes repairs they receive a mysterious transmission from a nearby undiscovered planet that is also perfect for them to inhabit. This leaves newly appointed, and untested, captain Oram (Billy Crudup) with a tough decision: go to the unknown planet that sent the transmission or continue the original course – of course, there wouldn’t be a movie if he chose the latter. The decision isn’t met with much agreement from the ship’s second-in-command, and chief terraformer Daniels (Katherine Waterston).

As we see in the trailers, a group heads to the planet seeing it as a perfect replacement, but soon they discover the origin of their transmission – the ship from Prometheus. As they try to explore more, two of the crew members get sick and as they try to head back they get stopped by the new creations Neomorphs, which of course, come bursting out of the sick crew members. The remaining members get saved by a mysterious figure who tells them to follow him. Skipping ahead, they discover that it’s David who is the only surviving member of the Prometheus. The crew later find out that the planet isn’t really all that safe.

Alien: Covenant is hard for me to judge. Almost like Prometheus, this movie is good until it isn’t. Ridley Scott knows how to direct sci-fi films, and the visuals here are pretty damn great, along with the combination of the landscapes that are beautiful, but the problem comes to some of the characters. While Prometheus didn’t focus on all the characters, you at least knew what all of them did. Covenant missteps on that a bit, as it only focuses on the bigger characters, making every other character just a prop for the Neomorphs and the Xenomorph to kill.

Fassbender is great once again as the androids David and Walter, and kudos to Fassbender for making the two vastly different in every way. Katherine Waterston joins the Alien franchise of female leading ladies, but her character only gets the time to shine when David or Walter aren’t around. Billy Crudup’s Captain Oram is a mixed bag and doesn’t really get earn his place until one of the bigger moments of the film – and I’ll be interested in seeing how people take and accept that scene. Danny McBride would be the next, and potentially final, big character in the film as one of the Covenant’s pilots named Tennessee. Surprisingly to some maybe, McBride does crack jokes in the film, but is one of the more grounded and down-to-earth characters in the film.

The rest of the cast is pretty much cannon fodder, Demian Bichir plays Lope, one of the head military leaders, who is actually in relationship with Hallet (Nathaniel Dean), but it never pays out as it should. Camen Ejogo plays Oram’s wife and biologist, who believes in Oram that he can lead the crew in a good direction, Amy Seimetz plays Faris, Tennessee’s wife, and the other pilot of the ship that is probably the best of the supporting characters, but she doesn’t get enough screen time.

Covenant does have the feeling of an Alien film, with the suspense, but it’s not as revved up as it should have been. Even the action scenes aren’t all that great and they end pretty quickly, which is a shame considering the previous Alien battles. When it focuses on the themes bought up in Prometheus, it extends them and while I won’t go into them in details – due to spoilers – it all comes down to David.

All in all, Alien Covenant is a frustrating movie. It’s a good movie until it isn’t, and when it becomes a bad movie it’s hard to get out of it. However, the big thing that does make me angry and disappointed, is some of the things bought up in Prometheus are not fleshed out or are completely erased which makes Covenant in some ways another rehash of ideas. I would still recommend Covenant to people, but keep your expectations low.

Alien Covenant

3 out of 5

‘Iron Man 3’ Review

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Dir: Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, James Badge Dale and Ben Kinsley

Synopsis: When Tony Stark’s world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.

 

*Review Note: This is a NON-SPOILER review and if you comment PLEASE DO NOT PUT SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS.*

 

To fair to say Iron Man 3 could have been a tough sell. First, some people still have a bad taste in their mouths with the mention of Iron Man 2. Second, the movie finally has the famous arch-nemesis from the comic in The Mandarin. Lastly, the movie is following The Avengers which was a massive success and is still in many people’s minds. So is Iron Man 3 any good? Well, the short answer is yes.

The movie interestingly starts at a party where we see a pre-Iron Man and Iraq cave Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) being the playboy party guy that we saw briefly in the past. It’s there where we get introduced to Maya Hansen (Hall), who we see is just as smart as Tony and wants to do some good in the word, and Aldrich Killian (Pearce) who at that point is trying to make a name for himself. Fast forward to the present and we see the Tony in his workshop working on his new Mark 42 that he can now summon by will to attach to him.

But while all that happens we are finally introduced to The Mandarin. In the comics he’s more of a magical being but here he’s more of a real world terrorist that delivers some pretty chilling video messages throughout the movie. Speaking of differences, we see a different Tony Stark. We still get the smart quick witted Tony but now we get a Tony that knows aliens and demi-gods exist. He struggles with that and suffers nightmares with a few other things that makes the Tony we fell in love with distant to everyone. And Downey Jr. does another amazing job of playing Stark and gives him a lot more depth which is good to see.

The plot itself revolves around Extremis, a serum which comes from the comics but here concerns a process by which humans can be biologically enhanced by tapping into their DNA, resulting in hugely entertaining sequences that we won’t spoil here.

Something happens to someone close to Tony which results in Tony getting a little emotion and sending a message without thinking of the consequences. Of course this leads to the heavily marketed house invasion and destruction that eventually sends Tony to go off on his own and try to find a way to fight back. It puts him back metaphorically back in the cave where he has to rely on his smarts to get him out.

Of course the world isn’t without an armored hero. War Machine, now called Iron Patriot, is the government’s response for the attack on New York and goes around trying to find The Mandarin too. Don Cheadle by the way comes into his own as ‘Rhodey’ this around especially when it comes to his friendship with Tony. If there was ever any doubt that Cheadle couldn’t handle a spin-off movie then this movie puts those doubts to rest.

So, I’ve mentioned The Mandarin a lot in the review so let’s talk about him, sort of at least. It’s certainly an interesting take on the character to say the least and some fans were already bashing the idea but it works quite brilliantly in the context of this story. And Ben Kinsgley owns the role, stealing the majority of the scenes that he is in and clearly having a blast playing this character. Another standout is Guy Pearce as Killian and you almost can’t keep your eyes off him whenever he’s on screen.

As for the women, Rebecca Hall does the best can with her character that a little underwritten, which is a shame since Hall could have done so much with the part. Gwyneth Paltrow fares better and even has a lot more to do than just be the damsel in distress.

Of course one of the big differences in the movie is the new director in Shane Black who replaces Jon Favreau, who does come back as Happy Hogan. Black is known for his buddy back and forth conversation (Lethal Weapon) and that does happen in the movie through Rhodey/Tony and another relationship that Tony develops. However, Black also proves he can handle action sequences and not just with the house destruction. There is the plane sequence and the last big fight were all of Tony’s suits show up to help the fight.

All in all, Iron Man 3 is definitely going to get a mixed reaction, especially from the comic book fans, but overall it is a good movie. It’s smart, fun, funny, has some great drama filled moments and twist and turns. So really an overall a great experience to enjoy whether you know the comic book arc or not.

Iron Man 3

4.5 out of 5