Of all the countless films I’ve seen over the years, none have captivated me more than Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece, Alien. From the lonely atmospheric environment, to the fantastic H. R. Giger design work, all the pieces fell perfectly into place to create a one of a kind science fiction beauty.
The 1986 sequel Aliens, directed by James Cameron and once again starring Sigourney Weaver, also enthralled me, in a completely different way. Aliens didn’t try to recreate what made Alien perfect, it was its own entity, full of science fiction action and awesome one-liners.
My love for the first two Alien films runs deep, and they deserve a respectable prequel film. So, going into Alien: Covenant, I knew that I’d be judging it far more critically than most films. And for the most part, after viewing the picture, I felt this was a worthy prequel to my favorite movies of all time.
The plot, taking place some years after Prometheus, centers in on the crew of the spaceship Covenant, who are on their way to a distant planet to colonize. Leading this crew is now first mate Christopher Oram (Billy Oram), who takes over after damage to the ship leads to the captain being killed.
Christopher decides to end the spaceship’s voyage early by landing on a nearby remote planet, with the belief that it may have intelligent life. But when things go awry for our protagonists (as they always do in these movies), they must enlist in the help of an android named David (Michael Fassbender), who may not be the man he appears to be.
There were many moments in Alien: Covenant that felt like a complete retread of Alien. In fact, some were almost identical. We have the crew of a ship woken up from cryo-sleep, we have our characters investigating an unknown planet, followed by a bunch of unfortunate events that result in our surviving crew fighting an alien. So instead of getting a new sci-fi adventure, we get a rehashed version of the original. Despite this issue, I still enjoyed Alien: Covenant more than something like Prometheus. Yet I commend Prometheus for at least trying something new with the series, which is more than I can say for this.
The acting and dialogue kept me entertained, and I enjoyed the various different character personalities we’re introduced to. At times, certain conversations or line deliveries would get hokey and too melodramatic for my taste, but for the most part the characters interacted in an appealing way. I especially loved any scene with Michael Fassbender, as his character of David is both mysterious and brilliant in all the right ways.
The environment created for this film is visually impressive, and expands upon the vast lore previously established by the franchise. I’ve always been fascinated by clever sci-fi gadgets and landscapes, and Alien: Covenant really delivered in that department.
Unfortunately, along with the retreading plot, the worst aspect about this film is that many points and ideas just don’t add up. For example, Alien: Covenant suggests that it was David who created the Xenomorph, through extensive years of breeding. However, if this is true, then how did we already see imagery of the Xenomorph in Prometheus? If you’re just the casual moviegoer with low stakes in something like Alien, then I’m sure this won’t bother you. As for a die-hard fan like myself, major inconsistencies like these tend to get on my nerves.
Overall, Alien: Covenant doesn’t even come close to comparing to Alien or Aliens, but I’d be surprised to hear if anyone thought it would. And honestly, it didn’t have to! Alien: Covenant stands pretty strong as its own piece in the series. It gave just enough back story to the inception of the Xenomorph (as well as other minor aspects) without spelling out every detail of Alien for the audience. Alien: Covenant is a film that respects its source material, and is full great science fiction scenery and technology. I’d recommend Alien fans and other science fiction fans to go ahead and check it out, as I believe the film is a pretty enjoyable experience.
I feel as though some individuals will be disappointed with Alien: Covenant, in the same way they were disappointed with Prometheus. In that, the audience still really doesn’t get any answers. There is no direct link made to any of the Alien films, other than partially furthering the lore along, which makes this flick feel very inconsequential. And if that’s the conclusion you come to after watching this, I would completely understand.
The Verdict: B-