The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt an escape.
Intercepting a signal from the doomed Prometheus expedition, the crew of the colony ship Covenant discover an uncharted planet that could prove to be paradise but instead becomes hell.
Alien Covenant arrives bearing the brunt of Prometheus’s polarizing entry into the Alien franchise in 2012, and it’s gone great lengths to look more like an Alien prequel than a Prometheus sequel in its marketing. Being someone who is still traumatized by his experiences with Prometheus (“I don’t want to talk about it, please it’s too painful…I’m gonna talk about later”), I approached Alien: Covenant with the slight cynicism that Ridley was going to fan-service Prometheus out of my memory.
We join the crew of the colony ship Covenant on it’s journey to a remote planet in which they plan to begin a new life for humanity. A signal from a not-too-distant and potentially habitable planet draws the crew into contact with – not only the cunning synthetic David (Micheal Fassbender) – but the continuously evolving pathogen that wreaked havoc in Prometheus.
What’s interesting about Alien: Covenant is that it’s first 2 acts is still very much a Prometheus sequel but a more coherent, well paced and engaging take on the same pseudo-themes of existence, humanity and creation. There is still, however, some of the pompous elements that turned people off Prometheus in Covenant. Recitations of Byron and Breaking Bad fave Ozymandias are peppered in to remind you this is high pedigree sci-fi horror and not Species 4: The Awakening!
Covenant’s cast is made up of competent actors and some familiar faces; Katherine Waterston is our Coke Zero Ripley in the form of Daniels, Billy Crudup seems oddly wasted in the role as the ship’s captain Oram and Danny McBride is, well, Danny McBride in space. Unfortunately, none of these characters is the least bit interesting, which is no fault of the actors but mainly due to a busy and unfocused script. They also have to contend with Micheal Fassbender who completely anchors the film with his dual roles as original synthetic David and synthetic upgrade Walter. Alien: Covenant provides moments that sometimes look and sound like erotic Fassbender fan fiction involving flutes.
It’s Fassbender’s David that gives Alien: Covenant its biggest issue: it’s got an identity crisis. It feels like it’s two films; a film about aliens and a film about crafty androids. Only in the last third do you get an Alien movie, but not a scary one. The Alien films have always been essentially a slasher film in space, the Xenomorph is Micheal Myers, and Ripley is Laurie Strode. They’ve always been horror-sci-fi, not sci-fi-horror and, in dumping some of Prometheus’s existential ponderings, it feels like Alien: Covenant is attempting to return the franchise to its stalk ‘n’ slash origins, which is only a good thing but there remains some way to go.
Ultimately Alien: Covenant makes a fairly neat side-step from Prometheus nonsensical ambitions and delivers a visually engaging, competent and entertaining installment. It’s a shrug in the right direction of a franchise desperately trying to find it’s way home. If you only see it for one thing, see it for Micheal Fassbender and his flute.