Alien Covenant would be a great stand-alone sci-fi film. It is a beautifully detailed romp through space in the vein of Alien, Bladerunner, and The Martian, that only Ridley Scott can deliver. The movie is fast paced and action packed, almost frenetically so. Unfortunately, Covenant has to rely on Alien and even worse Prometheus and that is where this film stumbles.
I enjoyed this film much more than Prometheus. Covenant is visually and technically stunning as I have come to expect from Scott. The acting was good, the plot and characters were stable. This film like many other recent Alien films, violates its own cannon, mainly in Alien gestation time. In the original Alien series, gestation took a day or two. Now it seems to take hours to minutes from contact to deadly alien punching its way out of some hapless human. This bothers me and maybe I am just being nit-picky.
I found the music most fun. I loved the heavy use of Goldsmith’s original score.
Spoilers – Spoilers – Spoilers – Spoilers YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
The movie is good, not great and the problem is that the poisonous vines of Prometheus strangle this film. I have nothing against Fassbender and I like him as Walter not so much as David who really does turn out to be the dark heart of this film. You see David wants to create life. And David will sacrifice anything, even an entire planet’s fauna, to fulfill his need to create a “perfect organism”.
When the crew of the Covenant is repairing damage to the ship they receive a random transmission from Elizabeth Shaw, the last human survivor of the Prometheus expedition, they locate the transmission source. A planet that appears to be a perfect candidate for colonization. The destination of the Covenant is 7 years away and this new planet is only a month or two distant. The crew decides to investigate the transmission and hey that planet is not 7 years out. BONUS!!!!
I need to state that the transmission is not a cry for help, just Shaw singing a few bars of Country Road, by John Denver. The Covenant arrives at the planet and they immediately send down a shuttle. Side rant here, Starship crews never spend any time studying a new planet. It seems that many interplanetary missions would be saved just by spending a week or so scanning and studying from the ship rather than everyone jumping on the short bus and taking a field trip as soon as they hit orbit. To specifically target Covenant, in this case, wait for the damn ion infused hurricane to dissipate before sending down the landing party!!!!
So the shuttle lands, in the storm. 8 miles from the transmission source. They set out splish-splash through the wet, 2 members of the landing party are infected, by spores. An hour or two later they get sick and proto-aliens force their way out of them. The shuttle craft is destroyed in the process of attempting to kill the aliens.
Remember the Ion storm mentioned above? yea they cannot contact Covenant. It does not seem to matter much since the Covenant is or well was equipped with a single shuttlecraft, more on this later.
A dark and stormy night falls upon the survivors of the landing party. There are also two proto/neo Aliens on the hunt. After losing a few more members of the party David shows up with a flare gun and well, scares the aliens away. He leads the survivors to a city built by the engineers from Prometheus. the engineers are dead from some apocalyptic event and their bodies are scattered all over the city.
David has a bonding session with Walter, the android assigned to the Covenant. David declares himself superior to Walter because he has the ability and drive to “create” Walter learns the horrifying truth that David purposely killed Dr. Shaw and every animal on the planet to create various forms of the Alien. Right before the android fight David ominously states that he needs just one more ingredient to perfect his lifeform.
During this time the survivors of the landing party were able to get a few scraps of information through the ion storm to the Covenant and request assistance. As mentioned before there was only one shuttle craft and it is now a smoking ruin on the surface. There is, however, a construction platform that is fragile but they decide it is an only option to retrieve the party.
David defeats Walter in the android fight and leads Oran, the acting captain of the Covenant deep into caves under the city. Inside the cave are the familiar eggs and David convinces Oran to “take a closer look, they are harmless” Of course the party favor goes off.
Hey, the construction platform has arrived. YAY! but wait, where is Captain Oran? He is found dead, his chest exploded, remember that gestation period thing I mentioned earlier. there is also another facehugger loose in the cave. The facehugger nearly gets another crew member, Lupe but it is killed moments after attaching itself. Lope gets a good splash of acid on his face but is otherwise fine.
Walter appears and takes out David, claiming that David may have been first but Walter has upgrades.
Everyone scrambles onto the construction platform, including the Alien birthed from Oran. An epic fight ensues with the “fragile” construction platform crashing into the ground a few times and even taking off the head of a stone statue. I think someone needs to look up the definition of the word fragile. The Alien is killed and the survivors make it up to Covenant.
Lope is put in the medical bay to repair the damage done to his face. After he is stabilized everyone goes about mourning the loss of their crew members and getting ready for the long 7-year voyage to their original destination. Mother, the ships’ computer calmly informs everyone that there is an unidentified life form on the ship. Lope is found dead in the medical bay. It seems that Aliens are pretty quick in all aspects of their lives. wink wink, nudge nudge.
Alien goes on killing spree, remaining crew kills Alien by wait for it, shoving it out the airlock, yawn. Two crew members and Walter are left, as they go back into hibernation it is revealed that Walter is actually David. David places two embryonic facehuggers in with the human embryos. The Covenant continues on its mission to colonize a planet.
I despise this creation story. The Alien is not a biological weapon that raged out of control but a calculated experiment performed by a psychotic android. What a letdown. In the end, I feel pretty MEH about this film. It certainly did not piss me off as much as Prometheus but it is not nearly the caliber of film as Alien or Aliens. Not as bad as Prometheus or Alien Resurrection.
Another side note, what was up with Oran’s Christian Persecution Complex? Oran whines “The crew distrusts me because I am a believer and not scientific” Oran is the only one who mentions this fact. and the distrust comes not from Oran’s beliefs but his ineffective and indecisive leadership. This could be an artifact left over from an undeveloped or removed plot line. Belief was a major plot line in Prometheus and I blame the previous film for the infection here in Covenant.