This sequel to the prequel of the popular franchise should appease die-hard fans, despite a few shortcomings.
When Prometheus came out a few years ago, I was a little confused. I didn’t know the film was a prequel to Alien, which made watching it the first time painful. By the third time I gave it a go (mostly at the behest of my fellow nerd friends) the light bulb came on, and I found myself accepting what I’d watched. It wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of enjoyment, but it was certainly an interesting way to kill time.
Here we are again, this time with Alien: Covenant. Starring Michael Fassbender (NOT Peter Fassbender, you guys!), Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Carmen Ejogo, and Demián Bichir, the film follows the crew of a ship that lands on an uncharted planet before making a terrifying discovery. Anyone who knows the Alien series well knows that terrifying discovery is going to include face huggers and chest bursters, as well as Neomorphs or a Xenomorph.
Per the norm, the movie is based on the characters’ bad or ‘forced’ choices (depending on how you look at it) and discoveries for “the good of science.” Usually, the lead-up to the first encounter with the creatures is pretty exciting, but I didn’t find that this time around. If you’re like me and you’re looking for alien action-a-plenty, pace yourself, because it’s going to be a bit of a wait. When the face huggers and the chest bursters hit, though, I found the wait was somewhat worth it.
What really made up for the lack of aliens were the questions of humanity and technology, and how the two are intertwined. The ‘creator’ and ‘created’ ideas thrown around in this film are refreshing, and will make you stop and think. Inadvertently, this became a movie of thought for me, which was unexpected. Much of this thinking was prompted by the performances of Michael Fassbender and Katherine Waterston. Don’t expect anything existential, though: this movie is still as goofy as some of the other ones in the franchise we’ve come to love, gory aliens and all.
I’ve alluded to my favourite characters in Michael Fassbender, who takes turns at both David and Walter. Fassbender plays both hero and villain so eloquently, it’s hard not to like him. Also offering a solid nod to Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is Katherine Waterson as Daniels. She’s not the exact same character Ripley would have been – she gets pushed around a little and goes through some struggles that set the character back a touch – but she holds her own in this film. Also a warning: all the Daniels theories that are out there…it’s a rabbit hole, and you’re going to get sucked into it big time if you search her “Daniels” along with “Ellen Ripley.” Another actor to surprise me: Danny McBride, who was both fun and easy to take seriously. As for the rest of the acting…not really much to write home about.
Alien: Covenant is definitely the next contender to try and take down Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, which has had a strong running in its first few weeks at the box office. I don’t see it happening, but there’s a slight chance it could if tons of fans show up.
As for me, I’m glad I had the chance to see this ahead, but I also wouldn’t have been super disappointed had I missed out. Personally, it’s tough to beat the original Alien in my books, and I’m still in love with that film as I was the day I first finished watching it.
Despite a few writing holes, some mediocre acting and not enough of the titular creature, Alien: Covenant is a respectable effort. I’m giving it a solid 3.5 out of 5.