A Movie Review - Alien Covenant

Ridley Scott has often been undone in the last two decades by the need of studios to have most movies finish around two hours.  His sweet spot of length always tends to lie around two-and-a-half-hour mark.  In some instances, like Kingdom of Heaven, the movie felt rushed even at two and a half hours.  Alien Covenant felt rushed, and although I empathize with the thinking that people don’t have the stamina for long high intensity thrillers, an extra twenty minutes of exposition would have helped the movie tremendously.

A lot of people, including one of our esteemed editors, despised the first film of the Alien prequels Prometheus. I was not one of those people. Although it had some glaring plot holes, it was a well-made movie that tried to tackle big ideas, often successfully. Alien Covenant continues in that vein, but the seeking of answers and the battle of faith versus science are pigeonholed into the standard machinations of a horror movie.

The movie begins much as Prometheus did, except this time the massive ship voyaging through space aims to set up a colony at a planet they had studied for years. The crew has hundreds of colonists as well as embryos on board.  After being hit by a storm in space, they receive a curious transmission, and venture forth to investigate. Because of course they do.

It then ventures into the path of predictability, repeatedly. Of course these characters do not know that they are in a horror movie and don’t realize that investigating strange noises, leaving the group to light a cigarette or splitting up to investigate a new space is an unequivocal death sentence.  The ending was plainly obvious.

However, I don’t watch Ridley Scot movies for twists and turns.  He is one of the finest technical filmmakers of his generation and his forays into science fiction consistently tackle ideas of creation and consciousness. The movie looks beautiful and the cast is strong.  It is also ruthlessly violent and Scott shows it all in his unflinching style.

Overall, I would have liked more of the philosophy and less of the chasing and screaming. Odds are there is another half hour of solid footage on the cutting room floor, and a viewing of the Directors Cut should be necessary.