Alien Covenant

Ridley Scott has followed “Prometheus” with the film that eschews the is it or isn’t it a prequel question by firmly establishing its ties to his landmark film “Alien”. The title of the film “Alien Covenant” leaves little doubt as to what franchise this film is connected to and does a very solid job of connecting elements of the franchise without being as nebulous, divisive, and confusing as its predecessor.

The film follows a colony ship named Covenant which is on an extended mission of colonization approximately 7 years away from their destination. A crew of 15 watches over approximately 2000 colonist and frozen embryos as they attempt to build a new life on a distant world. When an unexpected event jeopardizes the ship the crew was revived and forced into action to deal with the unexpected consequences that have arisen. The ship synthetic lifeform named Walter (Michael Fassbender), and crew quickly assess the damage and plot a course to repair the ship and continue on their journey.

During the course of the repairs a garbled transmission is discovered by the ship’s pilot Tennessee “Danny McBride”. What appears to be a human transmission only a relatively short distance away from the ship is too enticing to pass up for Captain Oram (Billy Crudup), even though ship’s officer Daniels (Katherine Waterston), believes that it is simply too good to be true and questions how a planet that seems to meet all of their needs alluded their initial scans. Undaunted, the ship set up to explore the mysterious planet and find a beautiful world that seems to be an ideal fit for colonization. Things take an unexpected change when a dangerous situation arises and before long the crew finds themselves facing an unexpected series of dangers of horrors and unable to evacuate thanks to a violent storm in the area.

They are eventually taken in by the android David (Michael Fassbender), who relays that he has been stranded on planet 10 years following the events of the Prometheus mission. David bonds with his “brother” Walter will the crew try to make sense of the situation as they believe there is much more to the story than they have been told.

When much larger dangers arise the crew must rally to survive against a nightmare situation that has the potential to threaten not only their ship and crew but perhaps all of humanity.
This time out director Ridley Scott has not shied away from giving fans deadly creatures and action that many felt was sadly missing from “Prometheus”. While the film certainly isn’t in the same caliber as “Alien” and “Aliens”, I did find it more enjoyable than the two subsequent films that followed and significantly more enjoyable than “Prometheus”. Yes there are still some nebulous elements to the story that will hopefully be addressed in the subsequent films and one could argue that a good portion of this film was basically a set up for the next film that his planned follow-up. However very strong performances by Fassbender, McBride, and Waterston, as well as the incredible visual effects and highly detailed sets really make this a fun and exciting adventure. While most of the cast does exist is little more than fodder for the various dangers in the film there is effort given to at least give them a little bit of back story and relate ability so you have some sympathy towards their outcome. The mixing of new and familiar creatures bodes very well for the future the franchise and the film was gripping from start to finish and certainly provided plenty of entertainment.

I really love the look of the ship and was intrigued by the potential that the film established as toward the direction of the series. While it does tread on some of the thematic elements of the previous films such as the whole nature of creation and existence, it is not as heavy handed and cerebral and finds a much better balance between horror, action, science fiction, and metaphysical questions.

From a fans perspective this is much more of the film that I was expecting when “Prometheus” was first announced and hopefully this is a very good omen for the direction that future films will follow since the intention has been established of linking the new films to the events of the original movie. If you are fan of the series you will definitely want to check this out as it has been my favorite film of the summer to date and I look forward to seeing it again soon.

4 stars out of 5