Movie Review: Alien Covenant
Rating 1 and 1/2 Stars
Android Covenant, excuse me Alien Covenant, has everything a great science fiction film about humans fighting killer aliens in space needs. First off, there’s aliens, and they do all the things you’d expect like mutilating humans.
There’s a strong female lead in Katherine Waterston, who plays the Sigourney Weaver role as convincing as possible.
There’s also a sinister plot where the humans aboard the Covenant, a human colony ship, are doomed from the get go.
So where does Alien Covenant go wrong? There’s two main problems Covenant falls into. I mentioned the first already.
- Androids lack the entertainment value aliens have.
Plain and simple. The thought of a higher evolution of mankind through synthetic being is a fun discussion that can be had in another sci-fi flick. When a single android becomes the center of the film, the threat of horror and action are taken away. This brings me to the second problem.
2. Aliens are far more frightening when the threat of them exists and not when they’re battling for screen time.
This is the classic horror formula, an evil entity is scarier the less you see of it, which was what the first Alien film was built on. But Alien Covenant is not to be compared to the first Alien, because Covenant isn’t a horror film by my measure. If it is to be called a horror film, Covenant isn’t very good at it. I speak as someone who gets scared quite easily. I found myself tense and uneasy twice, and the payoff was minimal. By the end I found myself wanting to be frightened at least once.
Alien Covenant is an action-adventure film built on a science fiction premise.
The film begins with an android named David (Michael Fassbender), who realizes that his creator is pretty much helpless if David starts thinking for himself. Foreshadowing occurs and it’s quickly understood that David has sinister potential.
The Covenant is a colony ship on a mission to populate a distant planet, but the ship is crippled by a space wave and the captain is burned alive in his sleeping pod. The second in command, Oram (Billy Crudup), isn’t very well liked by the crew for his shrewdness and lack of empathy. Oram realizes this and is peer pressured to land on a nearby planet when a distress signal is discovered and the planet appears habitable for life. Daniels (Katherine Waterston) warns Oram that this could be a grave mistake, but Oram unwisely doesn’t listen.
Daniels befriends the android aboard their ship, Walter (also Fassbender), as Daniels’ husband, is now deceased. Another important crew member is Tennessee, played by an affable Danny McBride, who plays secondary hero to Daniels.
The crew takes a small ship to the planet and explores the crash site of the same ship from the first Alien film. There’s likely some Prometheus ties throughout as well, but I must admit I never watched the film.
There’s some plant life that spits out black particles that inject themselves inside two of the crew members and that means you know it’s time for shit to get real.
A short while later one alien bursts out of a guys back and another is thrown up. People commence dying, the landing ship is blown up, and Walter loses his hand before a hooded figure shoots a flare into the air dispersing a newborn raging alien.
The cloaked figure is David. David takes the crew to his sanctuary and begins his inevitable takeover of the film attempting to turn Walter on his fellow humans. If you couldn’t tell by now, I wasn’t too interested in this plotline, but alas I tried to get into it. The conclusion I came to was that David’s attempts to play God were uninspiring.
Before long, the alien returns to start wrecking shop again and Tennessee, still aboard the Covenant, makes a trip to the planet to extract only three survivors including Daniels, Walter, and crew member #12. I’d be remiss to skip over the facehuggers, the valiant death of Oram, and the fight between David and Walter, but only one scene really caught my attention in this middle sequence of the film.
After a facehugger attaches itself to Oram, Oram wakes up and becomes the third victim of an alien bursting out of his insides. David looks on as a classical tune roars and the baby alien and David lift their hands up in triumph. I chuckled. The scene went over the borderline of ridiculous.
Speaking of music, the score was fairly lackluster as it battled between trying to build suspense and fulfill the classical tastes of David.
The best scene of the film was on Tennessee’s cargo extraction ship. The alien joins for the ride, much to the chagrin of Daniels, who went full James Bond meets Indiana Jones by fighting the alien on the ship’s outside deck. If there’s any scene worth watching or rewatching, Daniels versus the alien on the cargo ship would be my call.
The finale of the film plays out back on the Covenant where the fourth and final alien pops out of that one extra guy who had been caught briefly with a facehugger when he was on the planet. The film whittles its cast down to Tennessee, Daniels, Walter, and a new alien.
In one final swift climactic action sequence Daniels and Tennessee blow the alien off the cargo hold airlock. Obvious spoiler incoming.
Before Daniels and Tennessee lie down for a final time, Daniels realizes the android on board isn’t really Walter but it’s David, who happened to cut his hand off to impersonate his android brother. It’s the plot twist seen from a million lightyears away. My friend whispered to me, “That’s David,” long before the ending reveal that I was dreading. No gasps from the packed theater, not even murmuring.
The ending was Split level disappointing for me. I thought to myself, Daniels doesn’t deserve this after all the shit she’s put up with.
Director Ridley Scott is known as a hit or miss director. Scott swung for the fences and missed badly, while also throwing his bat into the stands and hitting a couple innocent bystanders with Alien Covenant.