Directed by Ridley Scott
Film Review by Nicholas Haberling
There are classic moments in science-fiction movies such as the reveal of the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Luke Skywalker activating his father’s lightsaber for the first time, and the introduction of the Brachiosaurus in Jurassic Park. Then there is the horror of the Alien also known as a xenomorph. Across any genre it is impossible to name a more iconic and terrifying creature that hunts space truckers and Colonial Marines alike. It is no wonder that after accidentally watching Aliens with my older cousins that the xenomorph would arrive time and again to haunt my childhood nightmares. But like all things, with time the special effects of the classic Alien and Aliens aged, taking the horror aspect of the xenomorph with them. That is until Alien: Covenant.
Alien: Covenant follows a crew of married couples and their android Walter (Michael Fassbender) as they attempt to find the source of a signal that appears to be of human origin. Diverting from their initial colonization vector, the crew discovers a previously unknown planet that appears to be a suitable location for their new colony. Captain Oram (Billy Crudup) decides to send a team down to the surface and at first things appear to go well. But staying true to its predecessor films, creatures eventually start exploding from peoples’ backs and killing other crew members before David (Michael Fassbender) seemingly rescues the crew and takes the survivors to a deserted city. Soon it becomes apparent that David may have motivations of his own and from there the mayhem continues as neomorphs and xenomorphs attack, forcing Tennessee (Danny McBride) to take a shuttle down to the surface to save Daniels (Katherine Waterston) and the other survivors.
Throughout the film the motivation of the human characters is relatively simple: survival. Aside from that there isn’t much that can be said. There were no great standout performances among the human characters and there weren’t any that stood out in a negative way either. A solid performance all the way around. If there was one thing I would critique about the characters it’s their decision making. After reaching David’s shelter/laboratory the group of survivors begin to split up. Then when someone is missing they send only one person to go look for them. It seemed to defy logic which for a moment can take you out of the film. Hopefully in future installments Ridley Scott remembers why splitting up the crew in the first Alien worked so well. Ripley and the others had to split up out of necessity in order to grab supplies for their escape ship. Giving the characters a reason to split up adds another layer and even tension to the film. Otherwise it feels like a horror movie trope designed to pick off the group one by one.
However, the standout characters in Alien: Covenant are Walter and David. Michael Fassbender does an incredible job portraying the two androids with their dialogue being the most intriguing of the film. There isn’t anything else I can say about Walter and David without the risk of revealing spoilers.
Alien: Covenant is easily the third best entry into the four film spanning Alien franchise (Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection are dead to me). That may not sound great but when your competition is Alien and Aliens you probably don’t have a chance of going much higher in the ranks. So should you see this movie? If you like philosophical discussions about the created vs their creators this film has those in spades. If you like blood and gore, apparently during the production they used barrels of blood for different scenes. In short, I think this is the film Alien lovers have wanted for a long time.