Review: Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant, a horror/sci-fi experience meant to cause spine tingling scares, suspense, and amazing scenes of scientific wonder to inspire awe. Does it deliver on all these promises?

The short answer is… yes?

Is it Science Fiction?

Without a doubt, it is science fiction that inspires awe at the creativity of the screen writers. The opening scene with the gigantic colony ship extending massive sails to recharge the spacecraft through solar energy is without a doubt an ingenious idea, that nobody else in cinema had thought of — to my knowledge — or pulled off in such a spectacular way.

The synthetic human Walter, who runs the ship while the colonists and crew all sleep in cryogenic pods, goes some way to explain how they can live through the extended space travel.  This boggles the mind, and when they show off the “second generation” colonists, you are amazed at the level of thought that went into this movie. Without a doubt, this is a sci-fi movie that delivers jaw-dropping scenery, technology, and adventure at every turn.

Is it Suspenseful?

Alien: Covenant

No question. Alien: Covenant is a sequel to Prometheus, and you spend some time wondering how the new planet they choose to land on became infected with the bio-weapon the Creators made in the last movie.

You wonder why Dr. Elizabeth Shaw from the last movie sent out such a disturbing distress call. You wonder about the strange synthetic David, the original one from the Prometheus ten years ago (movie time), and how he got his body back. And most importantly, you slowly creep to the edge of your seat as the aliens make their appearance in new guises, acting far more viciously and animalistic, yet strangely more humanoid, than ever before.

I spoke at length with another horror author friend of mine, and we concluded that the Xenomorphs of this movie are a different strain then we see in the other movies. They have no queen, no real way to reproduce once “born”, and no apparent desire for self-preservation. They only live to slay, and when you have an intelligent creature that declares total war in such a fashion, you can only deal with it in so many ways.

Is it Horror?

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From gruesome homages to H.R. Giger and his original Xenomorph art, and sculptures based on the disturbing infectious diseases that create monstrous life, Alien: Covenant reinjects horror back into the franchise in a way that hasn’t been seen since the first Alien movie.

New Xenomorphs, new ways to contract the dreaded infection, finding out no locale is safe on a planet that went from paradise to perdition in a freakish event, where rescue is impossible for the majority of the movie… it has all the hallmarks of a true horror film.

Now, I will state that the underlying subtext of humanity vs. machines is an interesting one to throw into the works, eventually showing how humanity is a far more dangerous and treacherous beast than the Xenomorphs.

I won’t reveal this plot twist as I want you all to enjoy the film as I did. Make certain you go in knowing that this is most likely the second movie in a trilogy, that there are disturbing images, and you get to see a strange sexual charge between three of the characters that makes everything super disturbing on a primal level.

So yes. Horror it is.

In Summation:

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For me, Alien: Covenant is a suspense-driven horror/sci-fi movie with certain ‘thriller’ elements. It has speculative sections that resolve questions from the first movie, and poses some new questions that should be resolved in the next installment. Broad subjects that are somewhat touchy in mainstream society are brought up with bold assertions and slight touches, each with terrifying results.

Today, where you can wait for a movie to come out on DVD or Blu-Ray to rent or own, I can say without hesitation: see it in cinemas. The surround sound and the darkness really adds to the quality, and you will lose yourself in this immersive film. This is a great horror film, and it needs to be recognized for its greatness. See it this weekend, take a friend. Hell, take two friends so you can all discuss the movie afterwards.

By Nicholas Paschall (@Nelfeshne)

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