Alien: Covenant

Set 10 years after Prometheus, Covenant is the name of the spaceship on a colony mission to a distant planet from Earth. A 7+ year long trip, the whole crew along with the 2,000 colonists are in cryo-sleep to make the journey (there is also a large collection of human embryos). Walter, an android, keeps the ship running along with Mother, Covenant’s computer. While recharging the ship’s batteries using solar sails, a cosmic event causes massive damage to the ship, forcing Walter to wake up the crew. While fixing the ship, they receive a mysterious communication from a planet that’s relatively close. It’s not part of the plan but the signal and planetary research that imply humans are there and it being a suitable new home make a compelling case to make a detour to check it out. That is a mistake.

Watching Alien: Covenant unfold, I couldn’t shake the thought that Ridley Scott’s main directive for this sequel was to directly address one of the loudest complaints of Prometheus:, that it wasn’t Alien enough. Covenant is stuffed with Xenomorphs which is equally bad and good.

First, the good. It’s a fun movie, much more so than Prometheus. When things go bad, the exploration turns into pandemonium and they do not shy away from the horror violence. It’s often a visually striking film with exterior shots on a different planet and the interior of the Covenant. It’s a cohesive and convincing trip off of planet Earth for two hours. The SFX are largely excellent and wild. The movie also stands on its own, you don’t need to see the previous one to know what’s going on as enough info is given when necessary to give context about who and what and why they find on this new planet. Michael Fassbender knocks it out of the park as David and he more or less holds the movie together by keeping the sinister vibe of the movie turned up every time he’s on screen.

Now for the bad. If you’ve seen any of the other movies in this franchise, you’ve pretty much seen this movie already. It does nothing new, is entirely predictable,  and is riddled with cliches. Communication between the crew is a problem the second they get on the planet. The whole crew can’t aim worth a damn. Blood is the most slippery substance in the universe. Characters wander off alone when known threats are literally scurrying about. Inherent trust is given to the guy they just met into the bowels of a place they have no knowledge of with little more than “follow me.” The heroine, Daniels, looks like Ripley so much that it’s distracting (Katherine Waterson is great though). The shower scene is shockingly lazy and so poorly staged it’s a joke. I can’t believe a film maker of Ridley Scott’s level would even film it.

I have mixed feelings about Covenant. As much as I liked the sum of its parts, a lot of the parts are bad. I guess I’m just disappointed. I was hoping for more but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see a sequel. A good chunk of Alien lore was laid down here and I’m interested to see where it’s taken next. Worth a rental on a rainy day.

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