‘Alien: Covenant’ Director Ridley Scott Tests Classic Monster Movie Template To Mixed Reviews [Opinion]

Alien: Covenant is a tale of two reviews at this point.

While Ridley Scott’s return to the franchise he created with 1979’s Alien and furthered with 2012’s Prometheus has a 79 percent from top critics at Rotten Tomatoes as of this posting, the positive reviewers are not without their share of criticisms.

Also, the ones who dislike the film really seem to dislike it causing viewers that have to wait until May 19 to see it to wonder, why the ire?

It seems most of the positive reviews at this point are willing to give Alien: Covenant the benefit of the doubt for being well-made, having a couple of solid characterizations, and delivering enough of the creepy goods to make it a worthy, though not superior, successor to the original.

The negatives, however, seem to be attacking one point — it’s too low-key.

For a case study in how critics are reviewing Alien: Covenant, it’s worth looking at Gizmodo‘s write-up as well as the one from the horror aficionados at Bloody-Disgusting.

First, to Gizmodo. reviewer Germain Lussier seems to have really disliked the film, titling the review, “Alien: Covenant May Be the Biggest Disappointment of the Summer.”

“And while the characters might realize they made a mistake relatively quickly, the film is not quick in getting to that point,” Lussier writes. “Alien: Covenant is criminally backloaded, with almost an hour going by before the crew lands on the planet and another half-hour or so after that before the thrills start to really kick in. In that long slog of exposition, you spend a lot of time with the new characters but still manage not to learn much about them.”

Now flip it to Bloody-Disgusting, which hails Alien: Covenant as “an intensely crafted nightmare.”

Reviewer Jimmy Champane beams “I’m relieved to say that, while not without its flaws, Alien: Covenant is nothing short of the film we wanted, and I’m even more excited for the series’ future after watching it.”

Champane further explains that the film has “almost more than enough tension and gore here to satisfy fans of the franchise who felt let down by Scott’s previous entry [Prometheus],” adding that the aliens in the film “are downright disturbing, and the CGI is minimal in relation to both.”

“The practical effects are downright disgusting, and watching people get torn apart is just as juicy as we all hoped it would be,” he adds.

If you haven’t seen the film, the overall positives, the reservations, and, yes, the disappointments, are likely to do nothing to assuage your curiosities before opening day.

From the positive side, what it sounds like is that Alien: Covenant is an old-fashioned monster movie. It is easy in this modern age of on-demand this-and-that and instant gratification to forget that the original Alien very much followed the template Lussier complains about.

The alien sightings in director Ridley Scott’s original are hidden in shadows for the most part, and the creature doesn’t make its first appearance until quite a ways into the film.

The original Alien followed a long-running and effective monster movie template, where the creatures stay in darkness until the final 25-33 percent of the film. Scott, who also directs Alien: Covenant, cut his teeth on these types of films and appears to be making a more modernized version of that old school formula.

Whether it plays well to today’s audiences or not will depend squarely on the actors, their characters, and whether the story holds enough intrigue to bridge the gap between an ominous opening and the bloodletting that riddles the final act.

What do you think, movie lovers? Do you prefer creature features like Alien: Covenant that take their time bringing in the gory goods? Sound off in the comments section below.

[Featured Image by Fox]