Alien Covenant Review - White Knuckle, Pulsating Fear, A Pure Adrenalin Rush

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Alien Covenant, from TSG Entertainment, Scott Free Productions, and Twentieth Century Fox Films, presents an over the top epic space age horror story, a planet haunted from an evil past setting up the ultimate fight for survival.

Directed by Ridley Scott, Alien Covenant stars Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Amy Seimetz, Nathaniel Dean, Alexander England, Benjamin Rigby, Uli Latukefu, Tess Haubrich, and James Franco in an uncredited role.

Alien Covenant also uses the voice talent of  Lorelei King  as Mother and Goran D. Kleut and Andrew Crawford as Neomorphs. Guy Pearce and Noomi Rapace also star. The film was written by John Logan and Dante Harper with story by credits going to Jack Pagien and Michael Green based on characters by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett.

Alien Covenant opens with in contrast, a stark empty white room overlooking a lush countryside, two men, Michael Fassbender, David, a created android, speaking in methodical robotic tones and when told to move to the piano and play by his creator, Peter Weyland, played by Guy Pearce, he moves in clipped, but not disjointed movements, across the room.

Switching to our Space Station, the alarms are sounding and as we met Walter, also played by Michael Fassbender, a kinder, gentler, and physically more fluid, version of the humanoid robot, who has lifted the solar cell sails, stopping a space storm from passing over them. The ship becomes damaged in the tornado force space storm. Crew members, who are locked in pods for the trip to Origami, the planned mission site, are suddenly awakened.

The malfunction has caused pod damage and electrical shorts which we see Daniels, played by Katherine Waterston, screaming, and pounding on the pod of Branson, played by James Franco, who is unable to open the pod and the override system fails. The pod self-destructs burning him alive.

The remaining crew meet on the bridge with Oram, played by Bill Crudup, now assuming the role of Captain. Daniels, is the second in command. The other core crew members are Tennessee, played by Danny McBride, and his wife, Faris, played by Amy Seimetz; Ricks, played by Jussie Smollett, and his wife, Upworth, played by Callie Hernandez; Karine, played by Carmen Ejogo, the wife of Oram.

Due to the damage Tennessee had to perform repairs on the exterior of the ship, floating back his communication is crossed with what sounds like a melody. By the time he returns to the ship the interference passed. As the leadership has changed due to Branson's death, the crew is hyper-sensitive to any unusual sound, movement, disturbances.

The crew performs a diagnostics check, an advanced go pro style play back and hears again what sounds like a melody, a discernible and actual song. Tracing the source, the Oram, now the captain, decides on a course change to investigate the possibility of life on another planet which is essentially the mission of the team.

Over the noted protestations of Daniels, who explains Origami was the planned mission of the team, vetted no doubt by a team of specialists, scientists, and every other highly skilled professional available.

The lure of a melody, curiosity, shaken by the events and the need to prove himself seem to be all that Oram needs to make the decision and soon the landing team has touched down on what was once a vibrant, lush, living planet.

The team split with Daniel, Oram and others tracing the signal, Faris stays on the ship, Karine and Ledward, played by Benjamin Rigby, begin collection of soil, water, and plant samples.

Suddenly, Ledward steps on a pod and a puff, a spoor, a micro particle, released from a glop of gooey plant matter, travels into the air honing in on specific body temperature, and entrance, where it can rapidly gestates. Director Ridley Scott slows the film to show the micro-particle entering the ear canal.

The virus takes control quickly and within minutes Ledward is sick and on his way back to the ship with Karine.  The chaos of the breech when two crew members are rapidly quarantined with the third watching in horror as the male, reminiscent of Scott's earlier 1979 ALIENS, begins to convulse, with his back to the camera his skin is gradating through various shades of red, splitting and stretching with his spinal column protruding and shaking violently as the "thing" that has infected him is about to birth. Fluid, blood, and matter burst through his back with this small, white, hairless, vicious, alien monster emerging from the blood splattered congealment. 

Of course, this is where Alien Covenant begins in earnest.

I enjoyed this film. Granted it’s not a walk in the park or neatly complete in three acts and yet Alien Covenant is solid entertainment.

So, to say it is shocking is an understatement. Alien Covenant is an over the top and unlike any Alien film made. As I watched I admired Ridley Scott’s ability to create this masterpiece. To create worlds, which is always interesting; to build this escalating and heightened suspense, he sets the most common denominators known to man, good versus evil, in place and extracts the depth of each.

Evil, of course, with David, a Hannibal Lecter type humanoid character, is always more interesting and to see, as the audience is given access to his private chamber one can see the mind of Ridley Scott as he takes us to the deep.

The special effects are stunning, authentically sharp and morph taking on different shapes. And of course, as it is an Alien movie one can expect haunted house pop ups around every corner, and as the film moves into the second act they come in rapid succession with nail biting suspense.

Alien Covenant is also more than special effects as the crew projects genuineness. Alien Covenant is the kind of film where the talent needs to kick it up a notch, and bring the emotion in at elevated levels, which this ensemble does very well.

Alien Covenant is in your face fast action, blood and gore splatter, white knuckle suspense, shocking scenes and death all delivered with astonishing realism.

Alien Covenant opens May 18, 2017. A summer ’17 must see!

 

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