Katherine Waterston and Michael Fassbender examine alien wheat on a distant planet in Alien: Covenant. (Scott Free photo)

Reel Reviews: Same aliens, same situation, new thrills

In the near future, spaceships full of humans blast off from Earth to colonize distant worlds

In the not too distant future, giant spaceships full of humans blast off from Earth, hoping to colonize distant, uninhabited worlds. When a space storm forces one ship — the Covenant — to wake its crew from hypersleep, they discover a distress call from a habitable planet previously undiscovered, despite being on their route. On the undiscovered planet are the ruins of an advanced civilization, an old friend and an old enemy.

We say, “Alien: Covenant fits in the middle of things nicely.”

TAYLOR: I enjoy these films, for the most part. I shan’t go into too much detail, but each of the Alien franchise, which now includes Prometheus, a veritable franchise unto itself, has something to offer viewers assuming they accept that they’re attending a sci-fi horror flick. For instance, the original Alien was a civilian Das Boot with a monster on board. The second film was a soldier movie with lots of swearing and shooting. Alien 3, my personal favourite, is a British prison movie. From there, I like the films less, but they still have their merit. I thought Prometheus was good, not great. Alien: Covenant is probably better than Prometheus, it’s certainly more exciting and horrifying.

HOWE: When we reviewed Prometheus a few years back, I got slated from a few people, saying how bad it was and how it’s not an Alien movie, etc. I tried to explain that Prometheus wasn’t technically an Alien movie, but more of an origins film. I enjoyed that film. Hopefully these same people enjoyed Alien: Covenant. I thought it was a very good and interesting installment to the series. It answers all the questions that you ask of it: back-story, scares, terrifying creatures, and some great scenery. It is a slow movie for the first hour, yet I didn’t mind, as it draws out the tension, making you feel part of the crew on board. And it puts the scares in all the right places when the time comes for them.

TAYLOR: We got some back story, some philosophy, and there is exposition in the film that feeds into the arc of the series. But the threat of the aliens in the Alien film series is always played against what humans do with that threat. The aliens are always stowaways, either on your ship or in your bloodstream. Dealing with them will always involve screaming, running, fighting, and dying. Whether or not you buy into the reasons we keep coming back to the same fight is moot, the fight remains the spectacle. Still, this is a good looking and expensive sci-fi movie that takes itself seriously, and Michael Fassbender’s performance in it is worth the price of admission.

HOWE: Fassbender was great, I will agree with you on that, but we all know why we go to see these movies and she didn’t let us down. Although developing differently depending upon the host, she still looks as frightening and as beautiful as she did the first time I saw her in 1979. Very well done.

Howe gives Alien: Covenant 4 terraforming truckloads out of 5.

Taylor gives it 3.5 Lawrence quotes out of 5.

— Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon. Their column, Reel Reviews, appears every Friday.

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