And you thought Prometheus made no sense.
Let’s face it, as it pertains to the Alien franchise, the first two films are the holy grail. Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic Alien popularized the sci-fi genre and still holds up as one of the most horrifying films of all time. The sequel, James Cameron’s 1986 Aliens, was a prime example of how to do a sequel correctly and is one of the best sci-fi horror/ action films ever made. Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection, however, are the epitome of studio blockbusters made to cash in and failed. The less said of Alien Vs. Predator/ AVP the better, and AVP: Requiem never happened, okay? After over 30 years and six Alien films, one might have thought the franchise was dead. Director Ridley Scott, however, decided he wanted more money and made the 2012 prequel to Alien, Prometheus. Five years later, we have yet another prequel to Alien but also a sequel to Prometheus, Alien: Covenant.
In Covenant, a crew made up of couples carrying embryos sets off for an adventure into space on a ship called the covenant in an effort to colonize the remote planet Origae-6 in the year 2104. Along the way, they discover a radio transmission from an unknown planet, which they discover to be even more habitable than Origae-6. Against the wishes of terraforming expert Daniels Branson (Katherine Waterson), acting captain Christopher Oram (Billy Crudup) orders the crew to go explore the planet, only to find that terror awaits them.
While many have their complaints about Prometheus, one thing you cannot deny the film for was the film’s character development. The characters in Alien: Covenant are about as dimensional as a plank of wood and commit even dumber acts than the scientists in Prometheus. Considering the capable cast assembled, including Danny McBride, Academy-Award nominee Demián Bichir, and Carmen Ejogo, it’s odd that you couldn’t care less about these characters. We briefly learn that Billy Crudup’s Oram is a man of faith, but that isn’t explored any further. Also, Katherine Waterson appears to be in the film only because she resembles Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, but that’s it. It’s not that the cast isn’t doing a good job, it’s just that they’re given nothing to do. The only vaguely interesting character in the entire movie is the always stellar Michael Fassbender’s Walter, a synthetic android created much in the vain as Fassbender’s David 8 in Prometheus but without the humanoid free-will David 8 possessed.
The best quality of Alien: Covenant is the production value. Ridley Scott has made a career off of making grandiose blockbusters, and Covenant is his latest achievement. The sets are nothing short of stunning, outer space looks epic but terrifying at the same time, and the planet the crew explores feels real, not like a green screen. Of course, the once practical Alien costume is tossed out for CGI incarnations of the beasts, but they do look frightening and even more impossible to kill than the ones that came before them. This makes for some impressive and epic action, including some homages to the first two Alien films. The other aspect of the film that must be mentioned is the question of our lives: who created us? The film connects to and seems to answer that question in order to continue the story-line started by Prometheus, but drops the ball by not exploring this question much further than that.
However, the fatal flaw of Alien: Covenant and all of these prequels is the fact that it’s supposed to connect to Alien eventually. The ending of the film leaves you asking how? How in the world is this supposed to connect to Alien? The answer is nobody knows how. 20th Century Fox is just winging it in hopes that you’ll spend your cash and two hours of your life to see another prequel to a classic. If you must, the visual spectacle of the film is enough to warrant a trip to the theater, but you’re better off watching Alien or Aliens instead.
Rating: 2/4 Stars. High Rental.