The 1979 Ridley Scott classic “Alien” spawned an entire universe. Its successor, 1986 “Aliens” is a renowned sci-fi masterpiece. The despite its lukewarm reception, “Alien 3” retains a cult following. “Alien: Resurrection” entered as a low point until usurped by “Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem.” “Alien vs. Predator” is a middle of the road sci-fi flick, with “Prometheus” as the best film since James Cameron’s “Aliens.” 2017’s “Alien: Covenant” is pure well-done sci-fi. It’s got excellent use of CG, a compelling narrative, and distinct ties to its “Alien” forefathers. While it’s not as masterful as previous entries, “Alien: Covenant” remains a strong genre flick.
Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) chats with newly-created and activated android David (Michael Fassbender). Weyland explains to David that they will one day seek out mankind’s creator, which could be interpreted as seeking out new life and new civiliztion. Flash forward to the year 2104 and a colonization
Flash forward to the year 2104 and a colonization ship named Covenant is destined for a remote planet, Origae-6. Onboard are two thousand colonists and one thousand embryos. Covenant is maintianed by android Walter (Fassbender) while the crew is in stasis. The ship notices a neutrion burst and sustains damage in the form of a destructive shockwave. This kills several colonists as well as ship captain Jacob Branson (James Franco). During repairs, the crew pick up a transmission from an unknown planet. Newly-appointed captain Oram (Billy Crudup) opts to investigate against the protestations of Branson’s wife Daniels (Katherine Waterston).
Like the alien-human hybrid in “Alien: Resurrection,” “Alien: Covenant” is a fusion of two distinct entities: “Alien” and “Prometheus.” “Covenant” bears significant similarities to both franchise entries. It’s not as heavy handedly a retelling as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is to “A New Hope.” Still, it’s an incredibly similar premise to the 1979 Ridley Scott masterpiece: the crew awakens from stasis, recieves a transmission, and ignores the warnings of a crew member which ultimately causes catastrophe.
Furthermore, Daniels mimics Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley. She’s a badass, and remains logical in her decisions. Just as Ripley warned against breaking quarantine protocol in “Alien,” so too does Dany admonish the decision to investigate the mysterious signal.
“Prometheus” similarities derive from the film’s relation to 2012 Ridley Scott sci-fi flick. Fassbender reprises his role as David. Additionally, “Covenant” feels interconnected with the entire “Alien” world as it’s one part “Alien” origin story with a helping of “Prometheus” postscript. In fact, Ridley Scott even admitted that fan reactions to “Prometheus” ultimately shaped “Alien: Covenant.”
Like “Prometheus,” “Covenant” employs exquisite use of CG. Rather than pulling a Michael Bay with a CGI clusterfuck, “Covenant” instead uses CG to paint a backdrop. It’s largely slow moving, but nowhere near boring. Instead, it’s a taut thriller which gradually builds in intensity until an epic crescendo that unites “Prometheus” and “Alien.”
While I apppreciate “Covenant” and its atmosphere, a bit too much is answered. I liked the vague poetry of “Prometheus” which emulated the minamilism of “Alien.” That’s sort of present in “Covenant,” but it definitely offers explainations where “Prometheus” fostered more questions.
Still, not everything is fully elucidated. Instead, most of what’s allowed occurs through context clues or brief flashbacks. While “Alien: Covenant” is certainly a good film, it’s not great. Admittedly, “Covenant” lacks the originality of “Alien,” hellish atmosphere of “Aliens,” or sense of awe and wonder from “Prometheus.” It’s a rock solid sci-fi entry, but not nearly as innovative as its “Alien” forefathers.