Just when you thought it was safe, Ridley Scott wakes up the sleeping giant that is the Alien franchise. The newest film in the storied franchise takes shape in a nuanced world somewhere between Prometheus and Director Scott’s original alien universe. Acting as the literal bridge between the original trilogy and the new series, Alien: Covenant shows love to both sides of the spectrum, and fans of the franchise both new and old can take something from the film. A couple of spoilers ahead, so strap up and check the shower stalls!
The breakout performance in the film most certainly comes from actor Michael Fassbender, playing both David 8 of Prometheus fame and Walter, a new-and-improved, upgraded version of the original David android/humanoid prototype, assigned to carry the crew of the Covenant colony ship. The movie opens up in a flashback scene with a “young” David in a barren, yet beautiful and expansive room with his creator, Peter Weyland. We get a small insight into what makes David tick in this scene and later in the movie it all makes such perfect sense. We’ll get to that though…
Covenant is a visually stunning film. From beginning to end, the landscapes and viewpoints truly immerse you in every moment. While this may be true, Covenant at times did appear to be a victim of it’s own beauty, as the story is somewhat muted by what is happening around the actual plot. I found myself losing interest in the story just because of how beautiful the set design was. Each scene was detailed perfectly, and the mesh between what we’ve grown accustomed to with the Alien franchise fused with Prometheus new spin on the story was done to perfection.
The story opens up with Peter Weyland and a “young” David in an empty, yet elegant room. Weyland on the piano alludes to a few things about David that we’ll later learn are much more sinister than we could have imagined. This sort of foreshadowing haunts this entire movie. Literally every death scene is telegraphed, and a lot of the overall plot is understood to be just what this movie is intended to be: a bridge between the new and old of the “Alien” universe.
Fans of Prometheus will appreciate the nods to the film from a few years back, while fans of the original Alien trilogy should still enjoy the subtle hints at what would be to come for Ellen Ripley and crew in the understood timeline. Katherine Waterston does an excellent job as Daniels “Dany” Branson in the film as well, though many will point to the obvious similarities between her and Sigourney Weaver’s classic Ripley portrayal. From the beginning of the film with her suggestion to interim Captain Oram to stay the course instead of veering off to investigate a signal(obvious point to the original Alien film), to the culminating battle between Branson and what must be the first ever Xenomorph in the understood timeline, the Dany and Ripley similarities are not-so-ironically apparent. It’s not a bad thing, just a very direct and pointedly obvious thing. It works though.
Ultimately the film serves as exactly what it was intended to be: a bond between two separate halves of the same object. At the very least if you can’t enjoy the cinematic beauty or gore of a film like, at the very least you can be happy knowing that this is a means to an end. Ridley Scott looks to be trying to move us quickly into where we’re all familiar with. Hopefully the next film takes a nice turn for a bleak and extremely dark tone. Now that the cats out of the bag and the Xenomorph has finally arrived, we can get to the meat and potatoes and that’s how in the hell did these things expand to taking over entire planets as alluded to in the original trilogy? Go see Alien: Covenant as it premieres tomorrow in theatres everywhere.