The year 2104, nearly eleven years after the Prometheus mission to LV-223, and the spaceship Covenant is headed to a remote planet, with plans to colonise it. With 2000 colonists on-board, and watched over by David (Michael Fassbender – Assassin’s Creed, The Light Between Oceans), there is a freak accident leaving the executive officer in charge, and faced with a decision of whether to investigate a transmission from a nearby planet that might be a hope for colonisation, or to continue to their original destination.
Being a film in the Alien franchise, it is not long before the entire crew are in danger, encountering vicious extra-terrestrial life-forms, and fighting for their lives.
This latest incarnation sadly does lack the tension of the earlier in the Alien series, bringing some more insight into the Engineers than Prometheus, while adding more tension, and leaving a least a bit of the story to the imagination. After so many movies, there isn’t much that would surprise, but there is an attempt to bring back the mystery and unknown of being hunted to an unknown creature.
The spaceship settings feel nearly as vast as the original Nostromo and its towed oil refinery, and while many years have passed since the first film, the Covenant still has enough hints to show it is part of the same universe, while being a modern ship, with a lot of cinematic detail.
Moving on from the ship, the world is nowhere near as claustrophobic as a spaceship, colony, or cave setting, with much of the strife to be encountered from each other, rather than the actual aliens themselves.
For anyone who has followed the series over the years, this is certainly a must-see. For that matter, anyone who enjoys science fiction on any level. However, there is a little something missing, apart from the fear and tension. Granted, Covenant is streaks ahead of Prometheus, but a debate remains as to whether it reaches the heights of belonging to the originals, in the eyes of fans.
An enjoyable scare, an interesting ride, Alien: Covenant is a film that many will enjoy, yet might disappoint too many fans, perhaps by trying too hard.
Overall, the disc is of a decent technical quality. While there are not many bonus features, this is pretty much the norm on a DVD, saving space to keep the main feature, and in this case, the short film bonus feature too, at a high video bitrate.
Motion menus have been avoided, most likely to save on storage space for the main feature too, allowing for a higher bitrate.
The main feature is a pretty good film too, expanding on the world of Alien, and adding several new aspects to the long running story.
Alien: Covenant is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.
Video for the main feature is encoded at a high average bitrate, with no visible artefacts on-screen. There is no visible colour bleed. Details in the darker scenes (of which there are many) is maintained. The same goes for video of the Phobos bonus feature.
Viewers with the relevant hardware or software, could scale up to a larger, or higher resolution screen, should they wish.
Audio on the main feature is encoded at a high average bitrate, and presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.
Dialogue is clear via the centre channel, with much use made of the surround channels, both to expand the on-screen world, and further draw the viewer into the story, and also for atmospheric and environmental sounds, adding to the tension of the story.
The audio on the Phobos bonus feature is also presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, as apposed to the standard 2.0 that is all too common with DVD extras.
The main menu, after a sci-fi type transition as the disc loads, has buttons to play the main feature, setup, scenes, and extras. The main menu has a static background, as do all the sub-menus, but is the only menu with accompanying music.
The menu system is simple, and easy to follow, with text options for each item or sub-menu.
The setup sub-menu allows for selection of the desired audio soundtrack, with a further sub-menu to select subtitle language if desired.
The scenes sub-menus each contain four large, colour, static thumbnails, for a total of twenty four chapters.
The extras sub-menu lists the few bonus features in a text list.
Deleted and Extended Scenes: A text sub-menu listing five extended scenes, and six deleted scenes. These can be played individually, or all in order via a playlist option. The options are spread over two menus.
Phobos: A short film of the characters at the recruit stage of the Covenant Mission, as they are going through selection. Each character interview serves well to provide background into each one’s past and personality.
A feature with rather top production value, interesting to watch, and a great addition to the film. It keeps to the style and feel of the main feature.
Director Commentary by Ridley Scott: A very interesting, and informative commentary by director Ridley Scott. He provides much insight into the story, world and filming process for Alien: Covenant. One can certainly grasp the love of filmmaking he must possess, and the passion behind this project.
A very interesting addition that is sure to be of interesting to fans, viewers, and filmmakers alike.