Film Review: ALIEN: COVENANT
Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
Ridley Scott is returning to his grassroots of gory, chest bursting mayhem with his latest sci-fi endeavour (and new series kickstarter) “Alien: Covenant.” Fans who are choosing to stick around this time will find themselves quite relieved from the events of 2012’s “Prometheus,” which featured hardy any of the classic creatures from hell, because Scott has given us a full dose of some new fresh-face carnage.
Of course, creative on-screen mutilations and trippy visual effects can only amount to so much, “Covenant” would be less interesting if it wasn’t so well maintained. And Scott, who is the granddaddy of this genre, has given the fans a nice rendition of the best moments we remember when Ripley stood toe to toe with the “xenomorph” back in the day.
But the “Alien” series would be nothing without it’s human element, and fans should know this is a strict prequel to the events of the first “Alien,” and a semi-sequel to “Prometheus.” “Covenant” is an origin story that provides crucial details on the creation of the Alien species. The film delves into the colony ship Covenant, as it is traveling across space with more than 2,000 colonists asleep on board. Everything is proceeding like normal, until a solar flare strikes the ship causing major damage, and forcing the crew awake seven years premature of their destination. They now have to decide whether to continue the trek towards their current stop (a planet that has been mapped and approved for colonization) or seek shelter on a new planet where they have received a strange transmission.
The film then offers a slow build up as the crew, led by Billy Crudup’s religious Captain Oram and accompanied by their own android named Walter (Michael Fassbender), decide to ascend on what looks like a civilized planet. It’s here where the fun actually begins.
The film is a direct blood relative of 2012’s “Prometheus” which becomes more obvious as we encounter David (also played by Fassbender) who has been marooned on the planet for 10 years. And this installment greatly benefits from his character(s), as Scott is doing his best to wipe away any confusions and questions fans had after the 2012 prequel. The film seems to jolt to life every second Fassbender graces the screen, it’s almost like we are being spoiled getting to watch him work this much. The “Steve Jobs” Oscar nominee really steals the show.
And the entire cast made up around him also seem to be having fun, some of the performers include Katherine Waterston as Daniels, which is a suitable replacement for Sigourney Weaver's Ripley. Danny McBride also proves he is no stranger to serious acting as Tennessee, a pilot who gets thrown in the middle of the chaos. Their are other characters, but none of them have any depth, you mine as well call some of them “Crew Member #6.” But, you can’t have an “Alien” movie without some mindless characters to get the bloody axe when it’s their calling. Because, without them, we wouldn’t have any of the really gooey fun. And with too many good deaths, it would be a shame to spoil; just be forewarned if you have a queasy stomach, this movie is not for you.
But it’s really Scotts attention to detail and his ability as a storyteller that help “Covenant” stand out (and Fassbender too) as he is able to fill in some plot gaps that left me wondering, like many others, certain mechanics of how this species was created. Most of it is fascinating, if not borderline predictable. Yet, after six films, you would think a sci-fi franchise like this would be outdated and ready to throw in the towel, but “Covenant” is the freshest I’ve seen the series since it’s sequel ”Aliens”. Further proving that Scott is still king, facehuggers and all. B+