Alien: Covenant

Remember how excited we were when we heard that George Lucas—the man who started it all—was going back to directing Star Wars movies? And a lot of us went to see Episode I and said, “Oh.” And then, a few years older and wiser, we sat through Episode II and said, “Oh. Well.”

Ridley Scott is putting us through much the same ringer with the Alien franchise he began, famously returning for 2012’s technically accomplished but overly complicated Prometheus (also newly available on 4K). And now he’s back again with Alien: Covenant, which might just be the nadir for the series.

Ten years after the events of Prometheus, the colonization vessel Covenant is on a long journey to an inhabitable new world when a random celestial event interrupts the trip. Soon after, a mysterious transmission leads passengers and crew to a previously undiscovered planet that seems like an even more promising destination. A landing party ventures forth and makes a series of unfortunate discoveries and poor decisions that thin this remarkably naïve herd in nasty ways. To be fair, the gross, scary, violent parts are often appropriately disturbing, but Covenant is also chock-full of tiresome clichés, re-created here with big, elaborate CGI... that often looks like big, elaborate CGI., many of the sprawling scenes could only have been achieved with today’s digital wizardry, and the giant spaceship and the city of an advanced civilization flaunt ultra-precise details. At the same time, we can appreciate the Covenant as a speck against the vast expanse when it first appears, slicing across the 2.4:1 frame while tiny stars slowly come into view. Elsewhere, fine particles that might otherwise vanish are expertly reproduced in 4K. Little lights across the smoke-filled bridge are razor-sharp, and the faint geometric pattern across the surface of a crew helmet is plain to see. The color palette is oppressively bleak. The lighting too is frequently subdued, which gives the HDR10 a chance to shine, as when a flashlight pokes dramatically around a cargo bay, or shafts of sunlight peek through a thick canopy of trees, or a life-saving flare illuminates the night.

The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 presentation (the core of the supplied Dolby Atmos soundtrack) distinguishes itself with generous surround activity and plenty of bass, the latter serving to reinforce the scale and power of all the heavy metal as well as the lethal might of the non-human creatures. Discrete voices are placed effectively behind the listener, while the immense, wide explosions serve up ample nuance and full-bodied resonance. Even the trebly slice of blades is evident in this clean, impressive track. Interestingly, the audio on the accompanying Blu-ray is DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1.

The Ridley Scott commentary is the sole extra on the 4K disc, while the Blu-ray carries a strong if not surprising complement of bonus material. There are 17-and-a-half minutes of deleted and extended scenes, some in-universe featurettes and extensive production image galleries, but best of all is an in-depth “Master Class” that shows Scott at work. An HD Digital Copy of the movie is also bundled here.

Covenant does provide a bridge of sorts between Prometheus and the original Alien, but the many subtle callouts to the older films only serve to remind us that this franchise has become lost in space.

Studio: Fox, 2017
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio Format: Dolby Atmos / TrueHD 7.1 core
Length: 122 mins.
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup

pw's picture

This movie ends up as a cheat to the audience..
So stupid and insulting to fans..
Just re watch Alien..

Deus02's picture

I purchased this movie and overall I kind of enjoyed it. Certainly, the ending was problematic, however, given the right script, the follow-up(if there is one)could be potentially quite action-packed. I read an interview with Ridley Scott shortly after and he mentioned that there was the potential for TWO movies and given the ending of Covenant and that all these movies are prequels, I would think he would need at least one more to tie it all together. Fox, apparently, has yet to make a decision on this going forward.

It is also rather interesting to note that in an interview I saw with James Cameron(Aliens), he said he saw Covenant and did like it, however, he stated quite emphatically that wouldn't have been the movie he would have made, he didn't go into details.