Ridley Scott took a shot at the Alien franchise once again with 2012's #Prometheus, a film that, despite existing in the same universe as the stomach-churning Xenomorphs, felt like a complete different experience, one that generated controversy among fans. Now, Fox and Scott are going back for a second try at revitalizing the franchise through #AlienCovenant, a film that's expected to pave the way for at least two more sequels to line up with the 1979 sci-fi horror classic.
Understandably, expectations are through the roof for Covenant to deliver a great story and successfully breathe new life into its troubled universe. After years of waiting, the film is here, and reviews are coming in. So, what did they have to say about it? Let's take a look:
"This Beautifully Made Sci-Fi Thriller Will Immeasurably Boost Fan Interest In The Run Of Prequels" - The Hollywood Reporter
"A franchise renewed" is how THR's Todd McCarthy describes Covenant, praising the engaging emotional connections between a group of characters who will at some point have to go through a horror and gore-filled experience. As I'm sure audiences will be pleased to hear, McCarthy felt #RidleyScott found the perfect balance in the film between those elements:
"Scott and the writers have achieved an outstanding balance in 'Alien: Covenant' among numerous different elements [...]"
Even more impressive, Scott managed to craft a two-hour story without a single scene that doesn't fit, with each playing their part in upping the story's tension and emotional drive:
"The drama flows gorgeously and, unlike in many other franchises in which entries keep getting longer every time out, this one is served up without an ounce of fat. It provides all the tension and action the mainstream audience could want, along with a good deal more."
"The Confidence On Screen Here Is The Cinematic Equivalent Of The Filmmaker Rolling Up His Sleeves And Saying That He's Got This" -Entertainment Weekly
EW's Kevin P. Sullivan calls Covenant Ridley Scott's successful merge between Prometheus' philosophical themes and classic Alien elements. This film may not be as subtle as the first #Alien, but it understands its audience, providing a fast-paced adventure that doesn't give you breathers:
"The movie is essentially a compromise between the prior film’s fans and haters. Some of us [clears throat] will miss those big swings, but regardless of where you landed with 'Prometheus', there’s bound to be something to delight you in 'Covenant' because, Scott — thankfully — still makes ’em like he used to."
"'Covenant' Is Wanting, Neither Truly Making Its Own Thematic Points Nor Carving Out Its Own Unique Place" - The Verge
According to The Verge's Bryan Bishop, Covenant is at its brightest when it focuses on its horror elements. But that #horror is not-so-successfully mixed with existential questions that its predecessor was so criticized for:
"It’s a film full of terrifying, heart-pounding terror, on par with some of the best work in Scott's career. But it’s also a movie stuck between modes, mixing that horror with the same pseudo-intellectual pondering that ground things to a halt last time. The result is a film that is a welcome improvement over 'Prometheus', but perhaps not the home run that sci-fi and horror fans might have been hoping for. [...]
Unfortunately, that ends up feeling like two different films. And while it's an improvement over Prometheus, Covenant still leaves a lot to be desired:
"It often feels like there are two different movies spliced together, resulting in an odd and awkward mix of tones, with each undermining the other [...] there’s no escaping the fact that as a standalone film, Covenant is wanting, neither truly making its own thematic points nor carving out its own unique place in the legacy of the franchise."
"'Covenant' Extends A Grasp So Impressively Audacious, It Might As Well Come From A Director With Nothing Else" - Polygon
Similar to 1986's #Aliens, Polygon's Charles Bramesco sees a great fluidity between the film's tones: A small-scale, dark thriller story mixed with blockbuster elements. According to him, this feels like Ridley Scott going all out, which works for the nature of the franchise:
"Scott vacuum-packs a lot into two hours and couch change, both in terms of expansion to the mythology linking the 'Alien' films with 'Prometheus' and sheer blockbuster bombast [...]"
Furthermore, Bramesco states Covenant not only successfully renews the saga's classic elements, but also expands on them:
"Scott has successfully renewed the elements that originally endeared the 'Alien' formula to audiences and in many cases, inflated them to more colossal proportions."
"One Mightily Impressive Piece Of Cinematic Engineering" - The Independent
Have you ever seen a film that's so strange it actually works? That's what The Independent's Clarisse Loughrey found so endearing about Covenant. Citing the film's best quality as its self-awareness and its subsequent embrace of the franchise's eccentric elements:
"'Covenant', indeed, thrives on its own self-awareness [...] this film is admittedly bizarre; there is the faint sense some will inevitably be put off by its greater eccentricities [...] But, in the context of a film that is strongly and coherently pieced together in its pacing, its tone, and its themes, those eccentricities only make the whole thing feel more mesmerizing.
That combination of quirky elements make it an adventure worth re-watching so fans can get a better, complete experience:
"It immediately begs to be re-watched, to be savored. It's relentless and overwhelming, but all in the very best of ways. "
"The Personal Enjoyment You Derive From The Film Probably Depends On What You Thought Of 'Prometheus'" - Variety
Meanwhile, Peter Debruge of Variety states that, after two decades, Covenant carries on the franchise's signature horror elements. Essentially, it's the same thing we've seen before, which may not be such a good thing, as he states the more grotesque elements of this universe no longer have an effect on its audience:
“In short, it’s more of the same, which is both a relief to fans and a letdown to those hoping it might pave new ground [...]
Debruge was also not impressed with Covenant's lack of spirit, mainly from its main characters, and the fact that the film has you rooting for the monster (something that's not good with such an ensemble):
'Alien: Covenant' may continue the 'Prometheus' storyline, but it doesn’t share that film’s spirit [...] As acts of creation go, Scott has made an 'Alien' movie for that segment of the audience that has always rooted for the monster."
'Alien: Covenant' Feels Like Something Of A Response To The Criticisms Leveled At 'Prometheus' - Den Of Geek
Den of Geek's Ryan Lambie stated the film very much felt like a response to the criticism directed at Prometheus, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The crew is likable, and manage to take you through the story. The pace is exhilarating and the film is disturbing:
"[The movie] still has it where it counts in the action-horror department. Some of the plot developments may not convince, exactly, but the pace is terrific [...] The events in 'Covenant' a far gorier and more disturbing than they were in Prometheus.
However, he still cautions this isn't the best in the Alien franchise, but stands as one of the better ones. With over seven movies in, that's great to hear:
'Alien: Covenant' isn’t, therefore, a perfect specimen. But in the now quite large run of Alien movies [...] 'Covenant' still ranks as one of the better ones."
Those are the reviews Alien: Covenant has been getting. The consensus seems to be that, even though it doesn't reach the same level of quality as the Alien franchise in its prime, it does a good job of getting the saga back on track after Prometheus veered off-course, not only in story but also in tone. After all these years, the franchise is finally returning to space horror, which will surely please a lot of fans. With these aspects in its favor, I can't wait to see where Ridley Scott and Fox take the franchise next.
#AlienCovenant hits theaters on May 19, 2017, so don't forget to go see it.
What do you think of these reviews? Will you be watching Alien: Covenant opening day? Let me know in the comments!