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Alien Covenant Review (2017) | The Monstrosity Continues

Ridley Scott‘s Alien Covenant turns out exactly what we expected it to be. Filling in the shoes of a proper sequel Prometheus deserved. It is properly written in terms of story for the better half, then for the remaining half banks on mere cheap thrills to escape from what it aspires to be. Owing to that it ends up having a predictable story-line written to reach a certain end. And you see it coming from far away.

Ridley Scott does make great sci-fi and space movies. A wink at his last project The Martian of course. There’s no doubting him when there is the concept of space entailed. But it is that sense of complacency around this topic, I guess, that is making him a tad predictable. He has been overlooking a lot of things whilst doing so, and that’s not good news for his fans. For instance, he has tuned down considerably on horror. The concept of an alien on the ship is no longer giving us the chills. Why is that? Too much of it? I don’t know.

The Timeline of the Alien Franchise

Alien Covenant is on perfect lines of the Alien timeline which is appearing to be filling in all the right gaps. With the prequel Prometheus setting a new benchmark to pave a purpose, connecting everything has become a lot more fun. Alien Covenant answers a lot of questions and that makes delving into it an intriguing affair.

Here is the timeline we have so far:

93 AD – An Engineer sacrificing himself in a waterfall scene from Prometheus.

2023 AD – Weyland’s speech.

2089 AD – Discovering a star map in Scottish cave

2093 AD – Prometheus expedition.

2094 AD – Destruction of Prometheus. David and Elizabeth Shaw survive.

2104 AD – Alien Covenant film

2124 AD – Alien film

2183 AD – Aliens film

2184 AD – Aliens 3 film

2386 AD – Alien: Resurrection

Forgotten the previous parts? You can order the Alien Anthology from here:

Michael Fassbender as David: Case Study (Spoilers)

Michael Fassbender as David remains the heart and soul of the movie. Just like the prequel where he is the root of the evil, he imparts direction to the Covenant tale as well, showing up at just the right moment. Michael Fassbender also plays Walter who is an advanced android version of David, built to take care of the Covenant ship.

The conversation the duo has wherein David teaches Walter how to play a flute is deep in a way if you pay attention. David is trying to earn Walter’s trust, one of his own kind, at the same time trying to expand the dormant code in him. With Walter bound by his inabilities to channel creation, David helps him show that creation is possible for everyone.

It is poetic in a way if you realize that in real life too people are often convinced that they are not up for creation. But the truth of life is that creation is everything, and that’s what David intends to do. We can find him being mesmerized with the concept of creation when he helps a Facehugger incubate the captain.

The Crime of Our Species

David gets the primal truth behind it. The only setback is that he considers our species to be unworthy of existence. The poetic thing in this whole setup is that just like Engineers created us and then found us to be detrimental, they decided to kill us. In a similar fashion, we too created an android like David, and then by the end realized, his kind should be stopped too, like Walter trying to kill David on discovering about its deformities.

Michael Fassbender as David playing God in Alien Covenant movie

That’s the circle of life that keeps on going. It is befitting in a way as per Shelley‘s poem that David quotes:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.

The conversation David has with Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) in the prologue takes us back in time when David was created. With Weyland asking David to serve him and then asking him to join him in seeking answers about his creators has been beautifully presented. David chooses his own name by looking at the eponymous Michaelangelo’s statue. In a way, it depicts his power to be able to do wish for things the way he likes. He isn’t meant to serve, it’s clear from his gestures. His loathsome demeanour to be asked to serve him tea lets you feel how grand he wishes his life to be, and he hates being tied as a servant. He is quick to sense malevolence as well, and his reaction to it is well calculated.

Alien Covenant: The Plot Thickens

When you look at the plot of the movie it is in a way similar to that of the original Alien movie with a crew encountering a signal in space coming from a planet. In reality, they were headed towards Origae-6 as their mission to colonize a planet favourable for life. However, they encounter a radio transmission coming from a nearby planet that forces them to check it out since it promised an atmosphere resembling that of Earth.

On reaching there with a Lander to investigate, they find the crashed Prometheus ship (from the prequel) and discover that it was once piloted by Elizabeth Shaw. On their way back two of their team members get infected by alien spores. We are introduced to Neomorphs then who burst out from the infected people, and attack the rest of the crew. Their Lander gets destroyed in the process, Walter loses his hand trying to save Daniels (Katherine Waterston); that’s when David appears out of nowhere scaring the Neomorphs away.

They follow him to a temple like structure which used to be inhabited by Engineers on the planet. David claims that while arriving on the planet, one of the black goo containers accidentally dropped killing all the Engineers in the process. Also, that owing to the chaos, the ship had crashed and killed Shaw.

Neomorphs Return

One of the surviving Neomorphs attack one of the crew members, who is then later killed by Captain Oram (Billy Crudup) fuming David up. On demanding to know what was he doing on the planet, David takes Oram to a chamber of eggs where Facehuggers laid dormant. He reveals that he used black goo as a catalyst to experiment on wasps to create a Xenomorph the ones we used to see in all the Alien Movies.

He then coaxes Oram into taking a closer look, tacking him against a Facehugger that goes on to kill Oram and then later becoming a Protomorph – an advanced version of neomorph. Walter figures out David’s truth that it was him who had killed all the engineers on the planet by releasing the black goo, and Shaw too who had ended up being a mere sacrifice for his experiment.

Sensing danger David shuts Walter down and attacks Daniels. Walter being the advanced version of David, restarts himself and then confronts David, the fate of which we are deliberately not shown. (You think it was hard to guess?)

protomorph from alien covenant

Meanwhile, the Covenant arrives on the planet to extract the remaining crew with the help of some intermittent communication and a beacon that Daniels uses. The Protomorph follows them attacking the ship trying to make its way inside however is killed by Daniels who uses a crane arm to slay it.

Another Protomorph

There is a Protomorph loose inside the ship after the Covenant is inbound for Origae-6 once again. It had gestated in one of the crew members somehow and goes on to kill two more. With the help of Walter on the controls, Daniels manages to flush it out in space.

As the crew return to their pods for stasis once again, Walter is busy tucking them into sleep. With Daniels being the last one to go, she tells Walter about her dream to build a cabin on Origae-6. But when she realizes Walter doesn’t understand what she is talking about, she sees through him since she had confided about the cabin with Walter once. She realizes it was David all along!

David closes the stasis pod deliberately after which we find him planting two Facehugger embryos amongst the remaining human embryos as the curtain falls.

Major Drawbacks

I think in an attempt to meet what Alien had originally set out on achieving, Ridley Scott has lost focus from the primal question of our existence. While the reason to love Prometheus was to have that inquisitiveness in us to find out the true cause of our origin, with Alien Covenant that question has simply ended up becoming a riddle. While there was so much we could have done with how Shaw could have at least had a shot at knowing more about Engineers, Alien Covenant simply destroys everything in its wake. It doesn’t even let us have a good look at them, or to figure why did they make us in the first place. More importantly, if we were mere experiments like David, why were they bent on killing us?

Instead of answering or even venturing into that enclave Ridley chooses to thrill fans with cheap shots of a Protomorph attacking people in the bathroom, letting them bask in the gore of chestbusters and spinebusters, finding it important enough to show the cliched act of jettisoning, of deliberately keeping people alone to become bait meat and other such dispensable bits.

The predictable stuff that you see from miles away was David cutting his locks to look like Walter. And then Ridley Scott intentionally cutting off the frame to not show the fate, David and Walter were about to come across in their face off. It is almost like he thinks he is being clever but the whole world knows there was nothing subtle about it. You can see the movie being rushed towards its climax as if the only surprise Ridley wished to keep was David under the wraps. It would have been great if Daniels had seen through the android she was always around. But alas! she was too dumb to see through what we figured hours ago.

The Final Verdict

Alien Covenant is great when you have stories to connect. It sieves right in with the timeline it is successfully augmenting itself to. It feels great if you look at the plot from David’s perversion, he is on his way to become a creator himself after all. The flick almost makes you want to question, what if our creator is a monster akin to David?

The movie is great in terms of theatrics, gives you ample focus to focus on, and is well written. But at the same time, it banks on those age-old cheap thrills which are no longer as breathtaking if you have been following the franchise up closely. We are way past waiting for an alien to show up from behind to sneak attack us.

You can check out the trailer of Alien Covenant here:

Understanding Arrival Movie | Full Arrival Movie Explained with Spoilers

Finally got some time to write the explanation of one mind bender of a movie Arrival! Such a beautiful concept the movie has that it explodes you, when you figure it all out. It is a movie that teases you with its inklings until it drops the bomb at you. But the true nature of its beauty lies in its profound direction, of how the rest of the world interprets the word ‘alien’, and their incapability to understand the unexplained.

Without wasting any more time let’s dig into it. Also, if you haven’t seen Arrival movie yet, there was no point coming to this page. You should go first watch it, read our review maybe first,  and then proceed, coz it’s full of spoilers!

Arrival Movie Explained (Major Spoilers Ahead)

The best way to understand Arrival movie is via the fact that there is no definite order to things. There are no tenses. So if you are being shown a scene that looks like a memory it could very well not be.

  • We see what appears to be a flashback of memories, frames that show our protagonist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) playing with her daughter, raising her up all by herself. Then we see her grow up to be a beautiful teen, but unfortunately one day she passes away from a disease that looks like cancer.
  • We move on to gather the profession of Louise Banks. She is a linguist who teaches in a college. That’s when 12 Alien Spaceships appear all across the globe at different locations. Everybody freaks and leave as she too gets the day off and decides to hit home. She is least interested in what’s going on, as she speaks to her mother.
  • Forgetting about the huge repercussions of Alien ships, she goes to the university yet again to find it deserted. That’s when enters the U.S. Army Colonel Weber asking for her help. She is briefed on to help them understand why the Aliens are here, as she joins the team that comprises of Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner).

You can understand communication and still end up single.

Visiting a Spaceship

  • In Montana, they are brought in to check out one of the spacecrafts. On entering they find the spacecraft had its own strong gravity that explains how throwing something upwards rivets it to one side.

still of suited up scientists from Arrival movie

  • They follow the path to meet two huge aliens behind what appears like a protective glass. Ian names those heptapods Abbott and Costello in an effort to make them understand the concept of introduction.
  • It is there where they discover their language was, well, alien. Huge confusing circular symbols are drawn on the glass with a disappearing ink. With that begins ceaseless session of questions and answers in an attempt to understand what the hell the aliens were really trying to say.
  • Meanwhile, Louise Banks keeps getting visions of her daughter. Let’s not forget that! Till this point she thinks those were mere dreams. Also, Ian makes an allusion that Louise could be dreaming in a foreign language, the language of Heptapods.

The Huge Twist of Arrival

  • Then comes the huge twist. When Louise and Ian finally fixate and relate their letters to our letters, Louise asks a question about the nature of their visit. They answer with the word ‘Use Weapon’. Even though Louise is convinced that the word weapon is open to more than one interpretation, the rest of the world goes loco and opts to attack the pods instead.
  • Further communications are barred as Louise and Ian make one final attempt to understand what Abbott and Costello were trying to say. In the backdrop an explosive was put in the spaceship to knock it out of space. A series of complex messages are left by the Heptapods, to decipher in a hurry. But the bomb goes off, as Abbott saves their lives in process.
  • Ian and Louise wind up in military beds, and the spacecrafts go further up in the atmosphere for their safety. Ian deciphers the symbols that were left by the aliens to be pointing towards the concept of time. That it was nothing but one-twelfth of a gift they intended to give. Thus they figure out that the heptapods want all the nations where the 12 spaceships were present to cooperate with each other so that the intended gift can be utilized.
  • But it is too late. Chaos has ensued. Entropy of life has seeped in. All communications have failed, and the world is ready to attack the innocent ships that have come seeking our help and are hanging mid-air gawking at their certain sealed fate. That’s when a pod is sent for Louise by the heptapods.

Epic Revelation

  • It is here that we get to understand what is really happening. When she reaches the spaceship Costello communicates with her telling her that Abbott was on its deathbed.
  • When she asks the heptapod who was the girl she has been seeing, you realize that her daughter “Hannah” wasn’t actually born, and that it wasn’t a memory we were being constantly shown.
  • The heptapod explains to her that what she has been seeing (her dreams) the future all this time. That time is non-linear from their perspective.
  • 3000 years from now they would be needing humanity’s help, and that it is crucial for them to teach us how to use the gift which was nothing else but their language, something that gave us the ability to fathom time, its surreal non-linearity. If we understood that, using its help we could be helping them out in the near future somehow.

still of Louis and Ian in Arrival

Dodging off War | Arrival Ending Explained

  • When Louise returns with this epiphany, she envisions her distant future where she has managed to unite everybody, and written books on Heptapods and stuff. She is felicitated by General Shang in a United Nations meet saying that it was Louise who had changed Shang’s decision to suspend Chinese attack. To her surprise he even goes as far as to show her his personal no. that she had dialed in order to waive off the Chinese attack.
  • In the real world, China was about to attack the pods. This gives her the inkling to act quickly and so she runs for a SAT phone and calls the General on the no. from the vision. Now she doesn’t know what to say, so she scours for it in the future vision yet again, only to realize Shang telling her the exact words she said on the phone that did the trick. It was Shang’s dying wife’s last words,

“In war, there are no winners, only widows.”

  • It was the only thing that could have possibly changed Shang’s mind. With that intimate knowledge Shang calls of the strike, and the other nation’s follow suit, eventually cooperating to understand their language, the cardinal gift.
  • When the heptapods realize their job was done, they disappear.

Epilogue

We realize through plethora of allusions that the physicist she used to talk with her daughter about was none other than Ian. The following line then eventually gets delivered:

“If you could see your whole life laid out in front of you, would you change things?”

It gets responded immediately by Ian:

“Maybe I would say what I felt more often. I don’t know.”

Soon he adds,

“You know I’ve had my head tilted up to the stars for as long as I can remember. You know what surprised me the most? It wasn’t meeting them. It was meeting you.”

This confirms that it is Ian that she ends up marrying. That she conceives Hannah with Ian in the near future, and that her knowledge of Hannah dying, forces Ian to leave her. That’s why we see Louise alone raising her.

But the line about the future leaves it to viewer’s imagination as to whether or not Louise would do something different to change her doomed future. Because it is after all, what she gives the aliens to learn from.

Bottomline of Arrival Movie

The bottomline in Arrival is that aliens don’t know how to save themselves from their looming downfall, their imminent death in the future. So, they have come to learn to handle this from us. So when they tap in our understanding of freewill, they have a shot at it. That they are to benefit only when we unite to understand their language. As to what is that imminent threat, we don’t know. And I think it is not important either.

The moment we work on World Peace, they leave us, because time being non-linear their impending doom gets called off, by something some human did in the non-linear version of time.

Well, to put it bluntly as I have put it, might sound stupid to some, but the thing is the movie’s true strength lies in its concealed timeline. It tries to cloud your judgment by showing glimpses from a different juncture in time. But it also patiently waits with its titanic climax to reveal everything in the end. It leaves you intensely satisfied, and that’s what a good movie should do.

Arrival is simply a work of genius. The more you think about it, the more awesome it becomes. Let your thoughts shower in.

10 Cloverfield Lane Review (2016)

An invigorating joyride like you have never experienced before! Extraordinary thriller!
10 Cloverfield Lane lets you get into the shoes of the protagonist Michelle played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead to experience a nail-biting gut-wrenching thriller that doesn’t even lag a bit. With a superb editing to do it justice that is all over its beautiful pace, it keeps you on your toes whilst the excitement lasts.

DIRECTION AND STORY OF 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE

Dan Trachtenberg’s fully-fledged debut is an exceptional dig into a theory that starts off a bud, only to reveal itself into a bigger plot at play. The way it slowly opens in psychosis is similar to a crime flick, and will leave you wondering if that is all to the tale. But no, Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken’s story is brimming with enthralling twists strewn all across per se to keep you wondering about the veracity of the storyline. It is just that impossible to see through it.

SPOILERS AHEAD IN THE REMAINING LANES

The most exciting thing about 10 Cloverfield Lane is the way the story picks up. One moment you are wondering it is an abduction, but then suddenly you see an affected zombie-like person smiting at the door. You are forever thinking akin the character Michelle, which further makes the story very tangible. A possibility that reeks of both fantasy and palpability.

Howard played exceptionally well by John Goodman keeps things interesting as it is difficult to get a read on him. One moment things seem ugly, the other fine, and then the perversion returns. You will keep questioning yourself has the world really gone kaput or is that psychotic villain just feeding you a shitload of bull. That is what the 10 Cloverfield Lane thrives on. But the beauty lies in whether or not to believe Howard, a blemished soul with a twisted head, who will do anything to stay indoors and slap judgments.

PROBABLE DOWNSIDE OF 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE

The only problem with the movie is that it bashes into an unpredictable climax something which the spectators weren’t really prepared for. For me it was a welcome twist. But I realized some people got miffed in the theater. For some it was too much to handle.

Then things kind of start sprinting and the movie loses its focus. There is little time for Michelle to grab a breath, which makes her character harder to believe and relate to. If I would have been there I would have pissed my pants, or died would be your first thought. But no, Michelle is a ballsy player. When cornered she does everything in her hands, to survive. You could say the aforementioned but then Mary Elizabeth Winstead looked a little out of place to ace those cornered emotions.

We get to see that it is an alien film that finally sieves in place as all the psychosis ends. Yes, it stands against some elite alien films helmed till date.

THE FINAL VERDICT

Whatever that little put off might have been for you, you have to establish 10 Cloverfield Lane certainly had a unique concept, a very disparate way of showing it just like the movie Room, with an outrageous stunning plot and a mind-boggling twist in the end. It kept us forever rooted. Isn’t that what a good movie is supposed to do?