I Wrote my First Movie Review While Giving Birth to a Camera. It has followed me ever since. Please don't mind the Mess.
Watching the excellent prequel that’s really a sequel but really a prequel Alien Covenant, you get the feeling that the real reason that 79-year old director Ridley Scott (The Martian, Gladiator) actually did Covenant was as an apology to fans of the Alien franchise and fans of film everywhere for Prometheus.
Apology accepted. Now if only Scott would make up for that Moses movie or that Christopher Columbus movie or Body of Lies or that stillborn Robin Hood movie from 2010. I know, one thing at a time.
I liked most of Prometheus, except when it went off the rails in the 3rd act and characters started acting like they were in a bad Blumhouse horror movie amidst all the empty existential psychobabble about where we come from blah, blah, blah. At its worst, Prometheus felt like the stupider parts of those insipid Matrix sequels. At its best, you understood why Scott revisited the franchise he helped create in 1979.
Covenant opens 10 years after the events of Prometheus and about 20 years before the events of Alien and 12 minutes after a cop last shot a black motorist and 5,400 years after a good DCEU film and 4 minutes before Dwayne Johnson comes out with another movie.
We’re on board the good ship Covenant. It’s mission: to bring about 2,000 colonists to a new inhabitable planet, preferably not one populated by aliens that burst out of your chest. Good luck with that. Everyone is in cryo-sleep and because Chris Pratt is super horny and wants to have sex with Jennifer Lawrence, the crew of the Covenant is forced awake.
Let’s meet them, knowing full well that this is an Alien film and most of these people will end up dead. Don’t act so surprised.
Oram (Billy Crudup)- He just got promoted to Captain because (see above). He’s only allowed 1 character trait: He’s a “man of faith”. And he’s serving everybody Kool-Aid. Odds of death: probable
Daniels (Katherine Waterston)- Her relationship status recently changed from “Married” to “Single” because her husband just got burned. She’s also now second in command. She’s also got a weird haircut. Odds of death: Ripley
Walter (Michael Fassbender)- Walter is a robot. He’s an upgrade from Prometheus’ David, but with fewer human attributes as that kind of freaked everyone out the last time. It’s not surprising that in an Alien movie the robot character is better written than any of the humans. Odds of death: Nonexistent, but like prostitute at a truck stop, it does down every Friday.
Lope (Damian Bechir) – Damian Bechir is an Oscar Nominee. I had to look up his character name because I don’t remember it being in the movie, so his odds of death are pretty Fass-bending high.
Tennessee (Danny McBride)- WTF is Danny McBride doing in an Alien movie? Odds of Death: WTF is Danny McBride doing in an Alien movie?
The Covenant crew has to make repairs before they go back to Cryo-sleep as they have about 7 years before they reach their destination.
Meanwhile, they detect a faint signal that sounds like…music. Which means it’s being sent by a person. The music emanates from a planet that seems compatible to human life and new Captain Oram wants to send a landing party to check it out. Might as well, since Covenant needs repairs
Everyone in the audience is screaming “No, you #$%!! Aliens are thurr!!!”
This new planet seems perfect for humans. There’s wheat, clean air, potable water. But why wasn’t it found before, since this sector of the galaxy was scanned before the Covenant went on its expedition?
Oh well. It seems fine. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? And then you realize you’re looking at the planet from the final 10 minutes of Prometheus, so yeah, lots and lots and lots of thing can go wrong. Like (spoiler) aliens.
What Works With Alien: Covenant, Alien 5, or really Alien 2?
- The ubiquitous Michael Fassbender shines as the benign Walter and the shifty David from Prometheus. Using a slight accent change and barely differentiated hair color, Fassbender creates 2 distinct characters easily discernible…until they aren’t. A nice rebound for Fassbender after a lackluster 2016 (The limp X-Men Apocalypse, the dull Assassin’s Creed, and The Light at the End of the Ocean, which sounds like a film I’ve said I’ve seen but really haven’t because it sounds too pretentious and something I’d be forced to watch with hipsters).
- BTW- I saw The Light at the End of the Ocean. It was so good when you saw that light. At the end. Of the ocean.
- Aliens!!!- You know why you paid your money. You want to see the Aliens kill the 1-dimensional characters in gory facehuggery fashion. Ridley Scott makes sure you get your money’s worth. While having sex in the shower, no one can hear you scream.
- Katherine Waterston makes a nice Ripley substitute, even if that haircut is really distracting. Is there a Xenomorph in her hair?
- Ridley Scott- Where Prometheus was bloated, Covenant is lean and (very) mean. Thanks to Scott’s efficient direction, there are no wasted minutes and even the perfunctory nods to Prometheus don’t weigh down the production.
What Doesn’t Work With Alien Covenant
- A final twist that everyone, I mean everyone sees coming.
Covenant is the best Alien movie since James Cameron’s Aliens. Not that the bar was set very high for that distinction. It only took 31 years so in 2048 we’ll be getting Damien Chazelle Jr’s Alien Snapchat. Covenant will fill you with so much joy that it will burst out of your chest and all over your neighbor’s face. Watch it with someone you love. Game over man. Game over.