The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant Shows Us How The Series Is Going Back to its Roots.
For as long as I can recall I have been an Alien fan. My first experience with the series was watching Aliens as a child with, of all people, my grandmother (with whom I also first watched Terminator, the Batman movies, and more). It wasn’t until I was older that I was allowed to see Alien but upon my first viewing, that film heightened my interest and appreciation for sci-fi and horror.
Naturally, there’s a lot that goes into making any movie. However, when it comes to the classics, books that focus on the “art and making” of various films are, in my opinion, priceless. So of course I was thrilled when the opportunity to review The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant by Simon Ward was presented to me.
Much like any book, The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant starts with introducing the characters as well as the actors that portray them. It should go without say that the book is very heavy in the spoiler area, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet it might be best to avoid breaking open the pages prior to a viewing. But, if you’ve seen it or, like me, don’t care all that much about spoilers, then the first thing you’ll notice is the gorgeous full page image of an unrecognizable alien. We’ll learn what this is later, but in case you haven’t seen the movie I don’t want to spoil anything.
We get it. Ridley Scott is amazing. Shut up already.
Because this is an art book, don’t expect much in terms of reading. Very little information about the actual production and design is divulged within these pages, and that was probably my biggest disappointment. Instead, you’ll be subjected to blurbs here and there touching on basic design ideas. There’s also a lot of quotes between members of the production team and cast that repeat more or less similar sentiments, and not one of them ever passes an opportunity to suck up to Ridley Scott.
That may seem harsh, but honestly, if a person is reading a book like this about any of the Alien movies, I think it’s fair to say we acknowledge him as being something of a creative genius. The audience doesn’t need to keep hearing it.
That aside, things get really interesting once you start seeing ship blueprints and floor layouts. The Covenant brings viewers back to the Nostromo in more ways than one. The bulky outer design, angular compartments, and the bringing back of the MU-TH-UR computer really strikes backward into the series in a manner true fans will appreciate. This, we learn, was by design because Alien: Covenant itself is supposed to be a horror movie, In truth, we’re getting back in touch with its roots from the original Alien decades earlier.
And then it’s Game Over, man.
The book proceeds much like the movie. We are first introduced to characters, then we are inside of the ship and seeing the components therein. We become accustomed to a change in command when tragedy strikes, and then we are off and exploring a planet. As is always the case in the Alien series, once the crew is planet-side, it’s game over.
Just like in the movie, this is also where the book starts to get really good. You’re made privy to the gore and design elements that go into the birthing process behind the new alien. This is made even more evident as the actors and crew talk about the construction process behind building fake body doubles and the copious amounts of blood they had to work with for imagery. Finally, the good stuff!
Turn a few more pages and we uncover what it was Elizabeth Shaw from Prometheus had originally set out herself to discover: the home planet of the Engineers.
It’s emphasized throughout that Alien: Covenant is meant to be a throwback to Alien, hence the horror elements are heavier here than they’ve been in any other Alien movie since. While that’s hard to convey in a “making of” book, the atmosphere that this Engineer city creates certainly feels as though it’s hitting the mark. Large, ominous, and haunting, this almost recreates the sense of dread and wonder first associated with seeing The Derelict from Alien. The only difference here is that instead of one body, there are several. Also, unlike in Alien, we now know what these creatures are.
It’s hard to get a feel for a movie through a “making of” book, but The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant does a pretty good job of communicating the scope of the film while not giving away the underlying wonder. Yes, there are spoilers, but that should go without saying. I’m also a little dismayed to report that I found a handful of typos as well.
Still, The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant is certainly a wonderful collector’s item. With 192 pages of full color high resolution images, blueprints, paintings, drawings and more, there’s so much to eyegasm over that one might hardly notice the few writing flaws the book possesses.
Alien fans can never have too much Alien in their life, and this will be another lovely piece of the evolutionary time capsule that grows the Xenomorph and fan base until we, too, are the perfect organism.
Final Verdict: 4/5
The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant by Simon Ward is published by Titan Books. It is available now. MSRP $39.95
Full Disclosure: This review is based on a copy of The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.