Alien: Covenant Review


By: Haylee Fisher (@haylee_fisher)


When it comes to the Alien franchise, you know what you’re going to get: jump scares, blood and gore, death, and aliens. And that’s exactly the case with Alien: Covenant.

The film is a direct sequel to 2012’s Prometheus and follows a crew on the colony ship Covenant bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy to start a new life. En route, they receive some signal interference and an inaudible message, later discovering it’s coming from a previously undiscovered (to them) planet. They decide to investigate the planet that they think may be more hospitable than their original destination, Origae-6, but soon come to find out there are more nefarious goings-on in play and must escape this dangerous world or die trying.

So many themes in Alien: Covenant invoke literary motifs, like the evil twin archetype, or even biblical ones, as evoked by the title itself with a covenant. In the Bible, God made many covenants, or promises, with man, the most important believed to be his promise to never again destroy the earth, and that destruction is mirrored in a sequence in the film.

It also deals with the conflict of man vs. faith, with the man in question being Billy Crudup’s Captain Oram, who fulfills a similar role to Prometheus’ Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and who also struggled with opposing concepts of science and her convictions and the conflict therein. However, for a captain, Oram is kind of dumb. On the other hand, his actions could be defended and perhaps justified by interpreting them as having too much faith in people and his surroundings.

A crew that includes Jussie Smollett, Danny McBride, Michael Fassbender, and Katherine Waterston – whose role and look recall Sigourney Weaver’s in the original – join Crudup on board the Covenant. James Franco also makes a cameo, continuing his trend of appearing in every movie ever made. Though the movie is long, I wish there would have been more character development of the humans in the crew. I wanted to feel sad as they were offed, though maybe I’m too rational and knew that since this was an Alien movie, they weren’t all going to make it anyway. Even still, Waterston’s Daniels is the most levelheaded and resourceful, and I wouldn’t mind another movie of her fighting her way out of bad situations. The other crewmembers just felt under-developed and their actions predictable.

The film also explores what makes a man (or woman): is it faith? Bravery? A creator? That’s where Fassbender comes in, playing the dual roles of David and Walter. The first scene in the movie takes place before Prometheus chronologically, and shows how David, an android, came to be. We meet his creator and learn his motivations – he wants to make something eternal that has the potential to also create, and perhaps become a father to nations (there’s another biblical covenant – God’s to Abraham – coming into play). As the film goes on, we learn he is in fact a creator, just as Peter Weyland created him. And he is determined to create beings with his same desire for domination. But is Weyland a monster for creating him, or is David the monster for creating the things he does?

When David meets Walter, a later version of himself, it’s clear he wants Walter to join his mission: to create new life by melding aliens and humans, the latter of which he feels doesn’t deserve to live. But Walter is more empathetic to humans, reluctant to unite with David and his cause, and thus is his weakness. Though he was programmed to be more unemotional than David, he in fact has learned to care for his human companions. David and Walter are the most developed characters, though some of their time could have been cut, like the weird flute scene, though it did serve the purpose of showing Walter could create, too, despite how he had been programmed.

The movie is beautifully shot, with Ridley Scott at the helm yet again. It’s obvious he loves the franchise, and seeks to be more ambitious with each film. It’s a dark movie, both in color and in tone, and he gives the audience what they want when watching an Alien movie: intense action, blood (lots of blood), terrifying situations and imagery, and aliens bursting forth from their hosts’ chests.

Though perhaps only advancing the franchise from Point A to Point B – and a bit predictably at that – as opposed to Point A to Point C, Alien: Covenant is exactly what you want and what you expect it to be. Though the plot is a bit weak, it gets the job done of bridging the gap between Prometheus and Alien, and fans of the series won’t leave disappointed in the amount of horror in their favorite horror franchise.

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