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Beauty Disturbed: ‘The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant’ Review

After seeing Alien: Covenant opening night I couldn’t help but want to see it all over again simply because it looked so slick. It’s still in theaters so it’s easy to see it on the big screen again, but what about exploring the art and getting a behind the scenes look? Titan Books has released a book that offers just that and it’s a doozy.

The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant
Writer: Simon Ward
Publisher: Titan Books

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

This official companion book explores all the major environments, creatures and technology that feature in this exciting new movie. It explores the intricate technology of the eponymous colony ship and its auxiliary vehicles, designs of the crew’s uniforms and weaponry, artwork of key locations and breathtaking alien art imagery in amazing detail. Packed with fascinating sketches, blueprints, diagrams, full-color artwork, final film frames and behind-the-scenes shots from the set, Alien: Covenant – The Art of the Film is the ultimate literary companion to this highly anticipated movie event.

Check out our flip-through to get a taste of the book:

Why does this book matter?

If you’re an Alien fan, the recent movie–and subsequently this art book–is must see because it’s Ridley Scott’s first real foray into showing off the Xenomorph in all its glory since the original. If you’re interested in filmmaking and the process of filmmaking this book highlights how things were made, the logic behind making them, and insight into the actors’ approaches.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

Time to run!

In most art books like this, there’s very little that comes from the actors and most of the quotes and information is all about art and story design. Not so here. There are quotes from nearly every cast member, from their thoughts on the movie as a whole to specific scenes to their characters. It’s an element of this art book that really opens up the movie as it shows how these actors approached their roles, working with Ridley Scott, and the creatures too. It’s a great way to get a grounded look at the production since art designers and Ridley Scott can sometimes come off as all business. One example is how a quote from Michael Fassbender expresses how he approached acting as David and Walter, which reveals it’s easy, yet not so easy to play a robot that’s the same but different.

I may be getting ahead of myself, because this book definitely spoils most of the movie. If you haven’t seen the film or plan to, do not read this book (unless you love spoilers of course!). Major deaths aren’t revealed, and the ending isn’t either (though the last page does in a way), but how the movie flows and what happens are detailed extensively. So extensively there are actually details in this book that weren’t even revealed in the movie! That’s an element that will make fans of the movie really want this because quotes from the art team or Ridley himself do a good job fleshing out some of the more obtuse elements. It’s also worth noting every human character gets a chapter and these chapters are written in a way to not allude to who may die. They did a great job keeping the deaths a secret.

Say hello to my little friend!

A few highlights include what inspired the designs of the Xenomorph–including some interesting notes from Scott himself–and explanations as far as major changes to the Alien that don’t match the original film. There’s also great information on where they shot the film as well as symbolic storytelling that may have otherwise been lost if you weren’t looking closely.

You learn on this page last minute details (that took three days) were in order to make the lips on the Xenomorph look right.

The art in this book is rather extensive, breaking down into three main chapters with many subchapters. It opens with a foreword by Ridley Scott and then an introduction by Simon Ward that sets things up very well. It’s then organized via chapters titled “The Covenant,” followed by “The Expedition” and finally “Return to the Covenant.” These chapters give you an idea of what is explored. Much of this book is filled with photography, but there are paintings, computer animated vehicles and ships, as well as computer generated images with the actors inserted. Overall the book mixes in art you’re going to want to see with really no fat to speak of.

Pride may have been the real killer of the Engineers.

It can’t be perfect can it?

The fact that this book spoils much of the movie could be a negative for some, though why you’re reading a book like this without seeing the movie is anybody’s guess.

I was surprised there wasn’t more detail as far as the technology in the ship or weapons, which brings up a small gripe, but a bigger issue. In subchapters that use a photograph or two the visual content can feel light and less than exhaustive. Given, the book can’t be 1,000 pages, but in a page that hosts one image and maybe a caption, more could have been laid out to add to the visuals. This is, of course, coming from reading other art books for films, though this book is certainly not weak in the visual department–it just feels skimpy at times. If you do a Google search you can actually find art from the film that didn’t show up in this book.

Is It Good?

This might be the first art book that I actually read cover to cover including every single caption. Simon Ward has done a great job capturing the voice of the cast with great quotes giving the art book a decidedly human feel that many art books lack. The visuals are stunning and the information within will extend your knowledge of the film and ultimately your enjoyment of it.

The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant
Is it good?
This is a great art book that stands out from most as it has so many quotes and thoughts from the actors and art team. It has a decidedly human perspective that makes it a must read on top of a must see.
Way more quotes from the actors than most art books
A lot of varying types of visuals
Simon Ward opens and closes the book well
Covers everything seen in the film
Sometimes feels light on content, with a single photograph from set taking up an entire page.
It'll spoil the movie for the most part
Buy Now

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