06-21-2017 01:24 PM
I am a very big fan of the Alien movie franchise. I have never been disappointed by any of the six movies – though I admit there are some I watch less than others. I was surprised though by the polarization that occurred after the release of Prometheus. While purporting to be a prequel to Alien, the science fiction horror thriller form 1979 that started it all, it had much of the trappings of Aliens, but little of the texture engendered by the previous four films.
The audience loved Prometheus or hated it. There was almost no one who celebrated its mediocrity. But was it an Alien film or not? After watching it numerous times since its release, I can tell with certainty (at least from my point of view) it was not. Prometheus is what happened before the alien “xenomorphs” became the most feared monster in science fiction.
I know I’m late to the party, but I just saw Alien: Covenant. I was in the camp that loved Prometheus. I found it to be a beautiful film with compelling characters and some spectacular design and mythology. Alien: Covenant continues with those elements I loved so much, especially in the myth-building department. The movie is a joy to look at, with a spaceship repair sequence and a separate spaceship docking scene that are jaw dropping in their beauty.
But it’s not all a love-fest. One of Prometheus’ flaws was that it hinted at things without ever providing the satisfaction of a straight answer. The audience never gets to know more about events than the characters themselves and that’s a frustrating and claustrophobic environment in which to tell a story.
Alien: Covenant shares this quality. The xenomorph’s implied universe is vast, intricate, and beautiful, but the audience is provided only glimpses of it, the view one might get of a giant city as seen through the front door peephole. I want so very much more. I want to know about the Engineers and the biological weapon they created. And more importantly, I want to know why! But alas, it is not to be.
The movies villain is viciously evil and his interactions with another character in the film are among the most sentimental and charming I have ever seen. It sounds like an impossible conflict, but the tenderness and caring on the part of the villain is too convincing. The use of music as part of the story – in particular the beautiful fanfare from Prometheus – adds a dimension of depth to otherwise two-dimensional proceedings. It’s the heart and soul of the film and, for a brief moment, I forgot that there was murder and violence just around the literal corner.
It feels like there needs to be one more prequel-sequel to finish the story and connect the Prometheus and Alien film cycles. But it also feels like the Alien series needs one more too: a capping stone, a conclusion to Ripley’s saga. I would be first in line for that.
Pre-order Alien: Covenant