Quick Hit: Awesome horror and gore gets lost a bit in the philosophical midst.
Ridley Scott began the Alien universe as a tense space thriller “Where no one can hear you scream”. But the franchise began to slide in a totally different direction – first with the action horror film Aliens, which I think is one of the best sequels ever, and then into all the others. Recently, Scott returned to the franchise with Prometheus which began a whole new type of movie - a deep discussion of philosophical questions of faith versus science, and creation of the species. It was… interesting, but very far from the things that made the first movie great. Alien: Covenant is a bit of a mix of the original film and the most recent prequel, and that leads to a mixed bag.
The movie starts off with a scene that occurs prior to Prometheus, and concerns the creation of David (Michael Fassbender), the first generation of android. After some really deep discussion (seriously), we flash forward to a newer generation of android, Walter (also Fassbender), as his ship plummets through space. After a tragic space event forces him to wake the crew, we eventually have events lead us to a planet that – you guessed it – contains the aliens we know a love.
Well, kind of. These aliens start as tiny microbes before bursting out of backs, chests, etc. The gore in this movie is off-the-charts, and it really heads back to some of the horror that the original in the franchise gave us. Scott shows us that he is truly a master of building tension when he wants to – giving us shots of running and chasing that many monster movies have aped but have rarely succeeded with. And the Neomorphs and Xenomorphs are still a wonder to look at – frantic and violent, with only pure desires to reproduce.
The cast, which we are introduced to quickly, are mostly alien fodder, are all quickly characterized. Some of them really stick out – like Danny McBride’s Tennessee, and Katherine Waterson’s Daniels. Waterson builds on Sigourney Weaver’s legacy of strong women by being by far the most interesting human of all. But, that’s an important distinction, because this is Fassbender’s show. He is terrific, both as David, the more refined, but slightly crazy android, and the rougher, American sounding android Walter. The best scenes are the ones that he shares with himself – and some of them get really odd, including probably the only homoerotic scene someone has ever shared with themselves containing a flute.
And therein lies the problem. A film that focused either on the aliens, or on Fassbender’s discussions of Vahalla would be a better film. But mixing the two leads to two unfinished ideas, and an unfinished film. It’s almost as if the film had another hour that was cut in order to not fall into some of the mistakes that Prometheus fell into. Focusing on one aspect of Scott’s ambition would have been better.
That’s really my only complaint, but it’s a big enough one to drop the grade to a “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"