Alien and Aliens are two of my favorite films, and I think both are among the best fusions of horror and science fiction ever made. I also liked Alien 3 very much despite having been almost unanimously hated; and even though Alien: Resurrection offered some positive elements, it didn't leave me very satisfied due to its irregular tone. Then, we had the prequel, Prometheus, and I was one of the few persons who enjoyed it as a solid sample of "space horror" with grandiloquence moments which added the exact dose of "serious science fiction". And now, we have Alien: Covenant, which had the good intentions of tying loose ends, conciliating some contradictory points in this mythology and offering the fans what they are expecting. Could it achieve all that? I don't think so, even though I found it moderately entertaining despite its mediocrity. To start with, we have the unbelievable ineptitude from the characters of Alien: Covenant, as well as the sudden behaviour changes required for the story to move forward; for example: Where the hell are the strict "quarantine protocols" mentioned so often in the previous movies? Maybe, Weyland Corporation sub- hired the vessel Covenant with some other aerospace company with more flexible safety directives, but the space travel still seems too dangerous to face such absurd and unnecessary risks. Moreover, Alien: Covenant pretended to continue the story initiated in Prometheus, and I didn't like what was done in that regard either; there undoubtedly was potential in the exploration of "the Engineers", but they are quickly discarded in order to focus on a monotonous sub-plot of the android with "daddy issues" (example: there is a flashback which should have been an entire movie, and not just a 20-second disposable scene). Besides, Alien: Covenant continued the objective of unifying the whole franchise, trying to explain how we go from the year 2089 (the beginning of Prometheus) to the year 2124 (when the original Alien is set), and that's where I found the most important fails of this film. To start with, so much explanation about the xenomorph dilutes the horror it should provoke, and ruins the mystery about its existence, biology and purpose on this universe. What is more, the screenplay deals with too many concepts it can't take advantage of due to a lack of time. If I had to summarize all the previously mentioned problems, I would say the following: Alien: Covenat includes enough material for two or three films, and the forced compression of so many stories into only one movie trivializes moments which should have been epic. On the positive side, Ridley Scott's direction keeps a fluid rhythm which avoid the experience from getting boring, and the special effects, production design and cinematography are very good. As for the monsters... I liked them, but I would have preferred a better defined and less arbitrary biological cycle. The actors do whatever they can with a weak and poorly structured screenplay. The Covenant vessel has 15 members, but most of them are anonymous victims, and only a few of them have some dimension. Katherine Waterston brings a decent performance in her role, but the screenplay doesn't make her character's sudden transformation into Ripley 3.0 (the 2.0 version was Noomi Rapace in Prometheus) credible; Billy Crudup credibly transmits the insecurity his character has; and Danny McBride brings an appropriate gravity as the pilot. So, there was potential in various individual components of Alien: Covenant, but I didn't like the chaotic way in which they were integrated. And even though I'm still interested in watching more installments of this saga, I think Alien: Covenant was a disappointment and a wasted opportunity. Anyway... let's see what the cinematographic and chronological future of this franchise will bring us. And, in the worst of the cases, we always have the alternative of re-reading the old Dark Horse comics.
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