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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Ridley Scott
Cast:
Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride
Writing Credits:
John Logan, Dante Harper

Synopsis:
The crew of a colony ship discovers an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination and must attempt a harrowing escape.

Box Office:
Budget
$97,000,000.
Opening Weekend
$36,160,621 on 3761 screens.
Domestic Gross
$74,228,655.

MPAA:
Rated R.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Descriptive Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Portuguese Dolby 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Danish
Finnish
Norwegian
Portuguese
Swedish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 122 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 8/15/2017

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Ridley Scott
• Deleted & Extended Scenes
• “USCSS Covenant” Featurettes
• “Sector 87 – Planet 4” Featurettes
• “Master Class: Ridley Scott” Featurettes
• Production Gallery
• Trailers
• DVD Copy


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-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


RELATED REVIEWS


Alien: Covenant [Blu-Ray] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 20, 2017)

With 2017’s Alien: Covenant, we get the first “formal” Alien movie since 1997’s Alien Resurrection. Why do I add the qualifier “formal”?

For one, 2004’s Alien Vs. Predator and 2007’s Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem offered spin-offs that used the “alien” characters. I don’t view these as part of the true Alien canon, but they certainly have a claim to the franchise’s universe.

In addition, we have 2012’s Prometheus. It marked Ridley Scott’s first Alien effort since the 1979 original and seemed to offer a prequel to that film.

However, Scott worked overtime to claim that Prometheus wasn’t supposed to function in that way. As I noted in my review, he’s right – in a nerdy, technical manner. Prometheus didn’t offer a formal lead-in to Alien but it still clearly existed in the same universe and pursued similar themes/goals.

Covenant offers more evidence that Prometheus really was a true prequel. Despite its title, it acts more as a sequel to Prometheus than as a continuation of the Alien franchise.

Indeed, Covenant began life as Prometheus 2, and I suspect the name change occurred because Prometheus underperformed at the box office. I’d bet the suits at Fox felt the series needed the extra PR zing that comes from the Alien name and forced Scott to add it.

This didn’t work, as Covenant fell far short of even the modest receipts claimed by Prometheus. Indeed, the mediocre box office performance of Covenant leaves the entire franchise’s future in doubt.

I love the Alien series enough that I hope it continues, but I can’t claim that Covenant inspires optimism in its future. While it comes with some good moments, the film doesn’t connect well as a whole.

Set in the year 2104, the vessel Covenant carries colonists to place human life on a planet far from Earth. On the way, however, a stellar explosion damages the Covenant and kills many onboard.

When the surviving crew gets a mysterious radio message, they descend to a nearby planet to investigate. There they find a threat to their survival.

Which comes as a shock to no one, as we know how the Alien films work. What does surprise me about Covenant, though, is the manner in which it emulates the original film – I won’t call it a true remake, but it comes closer than I’d like.

Really, Covenant feels like a mish-mash of Prometheus and the first two Alien films, as it borrows liberally from all three. This feels like a very conscious choice to allow Covenant to bridge those films – especially Prometheus and Alien - but it doesn’t work especially well.

That’s because too much of Covenant gives us a “been there, done that” feel. I appreciate the attempts to link the movies and make Covenant a stronger prequel than Prometheus, but I think the film could’ve given us a more creative exploration of these domains.

You’ll note that I didn’t name any of Covenant’s characters in my synopsis, and that’s not an accident, as most remain fairly anonymous. You’ll probably just call Katherine Waterston’s Daniels “new Ripley”, for that’s the role she serves. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s pretty close, as Daniels does little to become her own personality beyond the Ripley model.

The remaining humans remain one-dimensional as well, so androids Walter and David become the true leads here. Michael Fassbender plays both in a more than competent manner, but the script limits how much he can do with these “artificial lifeforms”. Covenant uses both Walter and David in predictable ways that don’t develop a lot of range or intrigue.

In particular, David’s presence a) feels convenient, and b) gums up the mythological works. To avoid spoilers, I won’t discuss the plot details, but I feel that Covenant works so hard to create a link between Prometheus and the later Alien flicks that it finds itself in George Lucas Land.

This means Covenant seems to retrofit elements and conceits for little purpose other than to create an “after the fact” mythology. Like the Star Wars prequels, it tends to ignore established elements when it wants, so clear inconsistencies develop.

Even with all these flaws, I can’t call Covenant a bad film. Derivative as it may be, it does muster a good level of action, and these elements carry it.

The sequence when the xenomorphs emerge about one-third of the way into the movie offers pretty solid excitement, and some subsequent sequences also manage a strong punch. Even with the more sluggish exposition pieces, Covenant gives us enough thrills to justify its existence.

Covenant remains a disappointment, though. I like it more than the self-serious Prometheus but wish it went its own way more than it does, as it too often feels like a conscious echo of prior films.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus B+

Alien: Covenant appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I felt impressed by this fine presentation.

At all times, sharpness delivered strong images. Virtually no signs of softness arose here, as the movie remained crisp and tight even in the widest shots. Jagged edges and moiré effects didn’t occur, and the movie lacked edge haloes or other distractions like print flaws, so it was always clean.

Expect a heavily teal palette here. A few oranges occasionally occurred but the chilly blues dominated. However one feels about those choices, the disc reproduced them in a positive fashion.

Blacks were tight and rich, and low-light shots offered smooth, well-defined elements. Everything here soared and gave us a terrific transfer.

We get ample pleasures from the thrilling DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Covenant. A sci-fi flick that didn’t skimp on action, the mix made vivid use of all available speakers to create an involving, immersive experience.

With lots of action and space components, the information popped up in logical places, meshed together smoothly and created a wonderful sense of the situations. The soundscape was consistently an active presence and really brought us into the story.

In addition, audio quality excelled. Speech was natural and distinctive, while music sounded robust and full.

Effects did the heavy lifting and added real punch to the package. With clean highs and deep lows, those elements sounded great. The soundtrack became a strong addition to the film.

As we head to the disc’s extras, we find an audio commentary from director Ridley Scott. He provides a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets, location and production design, music, effects and related domains.

When he starts, Scott tells us he didn’t formally prepare for the commentary. This seems evidence for a while, as the first parts of the chat tend to simply offer narration and few insights.

Happily, Scott digs into the film better as he warms up, so he manages to provide a good array of remarks about the movie, its production, and its connection of elements of Alien mythology. This never quite becomes a great chat, but after that slow start, it works pretty well.

12 Deleted/Extended Scenes run a total of 17 minutes, 37 seconds. These tend toward general exposition or additional character information. I like Daniels’ flashback because it features the major movie star whose theatrical version cameo barely registers, but the rest seem forgettable.

Under USCSS Covenant, we find three segments: “Meet Walter” (2:20), “Phobos” (9:09) and “The Last Supper” (4:37). These offer “mini-films” that offer additional information about characters.

“Walter” is actually an “advertisement” for the android, and “Phobos” shows tests for the crew. “Supper” comes closest to a deleted scene, as it shows the crew before they go into cryo-sleep. All are fun to see, though “Supper” fares best of the bunch.

Next comes Sector 87 – Planet 4 and its three components: “The Crossing” (2:34), “Advent” (6:41) and “David’s Illustrations”. The first two act as a bridge between Prometheus and Covenant, so they prove useful in that regard.

“Illustrations” provides what its title implies: stills that display the drawings created by the David character. It’s an extensive collection that adds value to the set.

Master Class: Ridley Scott splits into four more pieces: “Story” (11:17), “Characters” (15:46), “Setting” (13:42) and “Creatures” (14:54). In these segments, we hear from Scott, screenwriter John Logan and Dante Harper, producer Mark Huffam, stunt coordinator Kyle Gardiner, production designer Chris Seagers, special effects supervisor Neil Corbould, director of photography Dariusz Wolski, visual effects supervisor Charley Henley, set dec illustrators Dane Hallett and Matt Hatton, costume designer Janty Yates, creature design supervisor Conor O’Sullivan, creature effects supervisor Adam Johansen, and actors Callie Hernandez, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Amy Seimetz, James Franco, Benjamin Rigby, Michael Fassbender, Demian Bechir, Danny McBride, Uli Latukefu and Carmen Ejogo.

“Class” covers story/character areas and connections to Alien mythology, Scott’s planning and approach to the material, cast and performances, sets, locations and production design, various effects, creature design and execution. We learn a fair amount about the film here, and the ample use of footage from the set helps.

However, we also locate a lot of praise for Scott and others. “Class” musters more than enough informational value to deserve a look, but it’s less rich than I’d hoped it’d be.

By the way, could someone tell the cast and crew that “Giger” is pronounced “Gee-ger”, not “Guy-ger”? Almost all of them pronounce the name incorrectly. And let screenwriter Harper know Alien came out in 1979, not 1977!

In addition to two trailers, the disc finishes with a Production Gallery. This breaks into “Ridleygrams” (18 screens), “Conceptual Art” (197 across 10 domains), “Creatures” (40 across six domains) and “Logos and Patches” (34). Though the user interface isn’t great, I still like this collection of images.

A second disc offers a DVD copy of Covenant. It includes the commentary, “Phobos” and the deleted scenes but lacks the other Blu-ray extras.

With a slew of enticing action sequences, Alien: Covenant tops the sluggish Prometheus. However, it lacks much creative energy of its own, so it becomes a derivative entry in the franchise. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture and audio as well as a good collection of supplements. As an Alien fan, I’m glad I saw Covenant, but it doesn’t live up to expectations.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.6 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main