It’s been 38 years since Alien terrified us, and 20 years since we last saw Sigourney Weaver in an Alien movie. Many moviegoers will probably wonder if Alien: Covenant starring Michael Fassbender, Kathleen Waterson, and Billy Crudup can make up for some of the miscues of Prometheus. In short, it does; but in other aspects, it muddies the waters so much more.
The movie starts off with the android David (Fassbender) having an existential talk with his creator, Peter Weyland shortly before the events in Prometheus. This existential conversation is key as it sets the tone for everything that happens in Alien: Covenant, taking place 10 years after the events in Prometheus.
The colony ship Covenant is seven years away from its destination and under the care of a new synthetic named Walter (also played by Fassbender) when a cataclysmic storm damages the ship and waking some members of the crew. When the captain (a cameo by James Franco no less) is killed, it’s up to newly minted Captain Oram (Billy Crudup) to oversee the repairs needed to still get them safely on their way. As the repairs are being done, a mysterious signal that is human in origin causes the crew to debate forgoing seven years in cryosleep and settling down on a planet which they believe is ripe for colonizing. Second in command, Daniels (Waterson) objects to investigating but she is over ruled by Oram and thus, the story is underway.
The cast is pretty strong, Fassbender’s take on David/Walter is equally fascinating and creepy. Billy Crudup is around long enough to get the movie going and Kathleen Waterson is good in her own right as Daniels. While she had some Ripley-like moments, Sigourney Weaver still owns the “bad ass role” for the entire series. Beyond the main three protagonists, the other member that stood out most was Danny McBride as Tennessee. Many of us are so used to seeing him in smaller comedic roles so it was a nice change to see him here. Empire fans will be pleased to see Jussie Smollet in a small role as Ricks as well as Carmen Ejogo who was most recently in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Selma.
Cinematographically speaking, the movie is breathtaking in many scenes similar to Prometheus. I enjoyed watching the EVA scenes as one can get a sense of how massive this colony ship really is. I am sure that those who go to see it in IMAX 3D may probably require a bit of Dramamine to get past through it. In a way however, it’s still sadly amazing that for a 2nd straight movie, humans find an alien world but yet there is nothing alien feeling about it. No weird fauna, no exotic new animals, just another walk through a creepy alien forest. However, there seems to be a pattern of these explorers going right into storms to explore strange new worlds and meeting the aliens willing to kill them.
This is where audiences will probably be split on how they feel about this movie. As far as the pacing of Aliens: Covenant goes, it doesn’t feel as slow and plodding as Prometheus was. It’s fairly linear and to the point as to what will happen. However, the biggest problem is, like its predecessor, once the movie really gets going, there are times when the crew members make questionable decisions that will make audiences want to scream at the screen. It seems like that there are protocols that they are willing to overlook and it always comes back to bite them…literally. There aren’t as many of those moments in this movie, but enough to make people question the storytelling. In so many ways, watching the plot develop makes this movie feel like a Ridley Scott’s Greatest Hits flick, because a lot of the plot devices doesn’t add anything new to the series. The movie still feels like we are just waiting around for the xenomorphs to show up so that all hell breaks loose. Thankfully, it doesn’t take long. What is fairly interesting to watch is what happens when the crew discovers David and slowly find out what David has been doing with his time. David has been taking his conversation with Weyland to heart and deciding the fate of humanity. What should have been a great reveal, does nothing more than muddy the waters of the entire franchise. While many questions may feel like they have been answered, more have opened up. What’s really problematic is that these revelations have ramifications on earlier movies such as, believe it or not, Predator I and II as well as the Aliens vs. Predator films. Please note that Scott states that he did not see the AvP films.
In conclusion, enjoyment of this movie may depend on how one feels about some of the revelations in the movie in lieu of other films related to this series. While it’s faster paced than Prometheus, in many places, the characters make questionable decisions that will make audiences feel like they have seen it all before. On its own, Aliens: Covenant is not a bad movie but when weighted with the rest of the series although it’ a step up from Prometheus, it’s not a big enough step to truly stand out.
2 Face Huggers out of 5