Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudrup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Amy Seimetz, and Nathaniel Dean
It's one of the most iconic surprises and images in genre film history, a gory scene of violence when an alien came bursting out of human's body in director Ridley Scott's space horror film "Alien". If you are brave enough to watch that scene again, I know genre fans will be, watch the reactions of the cast standing in the room as actor John Hurt begins to writhe in pain. The moment the alien appears you'll notice that all the actors in the room have looks of utter terror on their faces. That's because Mr. Scott didn't tell the crew what was going to happen or how intense it was going to be.
"Alien: Covenant" takes the theme of terror found in the original film and works to recreate the experience, building a film that works to erase the mythology and world building of Mr. Scott's last outing with this material in "Prometheus". Unfortunately in the effort to create a film that seems to be aimed for pure fan service, the interesting bits that "Prometheus" introduced are overlooked to compose a new film that takes a little bit of everything the "Alien" saga has crafted over its near 40 years of existence and mashes it together.
A crew of colonists are en route to a remote planet, an expedition that seems to encompass both an aspect of discovery and desperation. While in deep hyper sleep an accident occurs that forces the crew to awaken earlier than expected, an accident that takes the life of their captain. A choice is proposed to the team, continue on the path to the original planet or venture into unknown territory to explore another planet that shows positive signs of habitation. Of course things don't go as expected and the Covenant crew comes face to face with an alien force.
"Alien: Covenant" honors the brand that has brought the franchise this far. Instead of moving in the direction of "Prometheus", which was to explain the origins of the aliens and discover the role of the "engineers" that played a predominant background role throughout much of the "Alien" mythos, this film film simply provides the alien design fans are familiar with and adds a bigger dose of mayhem.
Mr. Scott has crafted more of a horror film this time around, with aliens stalking victims who consistently make the worst decisions characters in slasher horror films can make. It seems unnecessary to critique the lapses in logic and gaps in cohesiveness seen in "Covenant" mostly because it's clear that this film is operating as merely a loose link to connect "Prometheus" to something that can connect to the 1979 "Alien" film. Who cares that the Covenant crew has a military team that doesn't operate with any kind of military mindset? Who cares that you land on a new planet and just start stomping around without any care of danger or risk? When you've got aliens who cares, right?
If you can get past the glaring flaws in character motivation and storytelling, there is a really good performance from Michael Fassbender who keeps every scene that he is in completely intriguing. There is genuinely a good story brewing with his character, one that touches on the interestingmythology, focuses on the critical flaws of humanity that have shaped the world in this film, and maybe even a little commentary about imperialism. It's all given to Mr. Fassbender through the use of two robot characters, one we've seen before named David and an upgraded model named Walter. His performance and character will repeatedly keep your interest in the film.
Mr. Scott is a confident and skillful filmmaker who crafts beautiful worlds. Look no further than "Blade Runner" or "Gladiator" for examples. His undeniable touch is seen throughout "Covenant", the long corridors of the ship harken back to the horror atmosphere found in "Alien" and the action set pieces move with the anticipation and intensity seen in many of his films. In small pieces throughout there are some really good things. While these elements offer a few moments of fun while you are watching the film, you'll soon remember that many of things you like about this film have already been done, sometimes better, in other "Alien" films.
2.25 out of 5.00