Alien: Convent – Review

I recently treated myself to back to back movie viewings at my local theater. This is something I used to do all the time. I keep planning to do them but something would always come up at the last minute. This time…success! My two escapes were a bumbling pirate and a deadly extraterrestrial.

Alien has an unfortunate downward trajectory when looking at the films within its universe. Alien and Aliens are revered; Alien 3 has some debated admiration that is highly disparaged and Alien Resurrection…F&%$ that movie.

Fifteen years later, we got Prometheus, which took fans on a “secret” prequel voyage that over promised and under delivered. Famed director Ridley Scott returns to the franchise he created and sought to make up for previous wrongs while expanding upon a nearly untapped mythology with Alien Convent.

This latest installment occurs fifteen years after Prometheus and eighteen years before we’re introduced to Ellen Ripley. An appropriate setting considering the half first half of the film is a sequel and the second half is a prequel, which is a blessing and a curse.

The crew of the colony ship Covenant is bound for a planet until they discover a message from an uncharted world that looks promising but turns deadly beyond compare. Scott essentially creates an improved version of Prometheus that wasn’t bogged down by pointless exposition.

Still, despite how good it is, a lot of time is dedicated to tying up a film that turned off a lot of people. It was necessary for the sake of continuity but the 71% drop in ticket sales from week one to week two was a record low and might have been too steep of a price to pay.

The creepy, dangerous and dark sci-fi horror that Alien is known for kicks in during the second half of the movie. Face huggers, the introduction of Neomorphs, and of course, chest bursting, acid filled Xenomorph fury runs wild. The tension and gravity of the crew’s perilous situation made me want to cover my eyes while also making me feel that we’re finally home.

Michael Fassbender has a lot of heavy lifting to do with his dual roles as synthetics David and Walter. David’s God complex meshes well with Walter’s dutiful nature. Fassbender has been criticized for his sum of leading roles despite a lack of big box office returns. Still, his talent is undeniable and a big reason why Convent works.

I thought that Danny McBride’s casting as the straw hat wearing, John Denver loving space pilot, Tennessee was ill advised due to his resumé. His performance ended up being a much-welcomed surprise and was the only other character besides David/Walter that I cared about.

Ultimately, Alien: Covenant is a good movie that tries to be great but the energy it expends in serving too many masters prevents it from reaching its full potential. Still, I highly enjoyed the film and it kind of rekindled my enthusiasm for the franchise. Fingers crossed that it’s lower than anticipated box office earnings will be enough to make the sequel that is currently in development.

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