Review by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Dariusz Wolski
WRITERS: John Logan, Michael Green
MUSIC: Jed Kurzel
Before I start this review, I must admit that I was actually one of the few people that enjoyed director Ridley Scott’s polarizing “Prometheus”. Yes, he didn’t really provide a lot of answers to the questions the film asked and only just before the credits rolled did we get a weird new version of the Xenomorph, the iconic monster in the “Alien” franchise. Yet, I liked the questions that the film asked and it was a visually striking film as well.
That said, I must admit that if you are not a fan of that film, then there is a good chance that you won’t like “Alien: Covenant”. This is the second of apparently three prequels to Scott’s original “Alien”. With “Covenant”, Scott really wants to continue the story he started in “Prometheus”, but he also seems to want to give fans a little bit more of what they want with the aliens.
The union between the two storylines is not smooth, but it is nonetheless an enjoyable ride. One reason that you may not like this film if you didn’t like “Prometheus” is due to the fact that Scott once again chooses not to give you definite answers to all of your burning questions from the previous film. He gives you hints that definitely allow you to draw your own conclusions, but overall Scott is more focused on telling you the story of the Covenant, a colonization ship that gets thrown off course.
Instead of waiting it out for another seven years to get to their designated planet, the crew decides to check out another planet that seems to have all the right markers for colonization. Once they arrive, they discover the Engineer’s ship that Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and David (Michael Fassbender) flew away in during the events of “Prometheus”. We soon learn that this planet is not entirely safe and that David may not be the best synthetic to ask for help.
I would say more but I don’t want to spoil anymore than that. From the moment the aliens start to show up, the movie’s entire focus is on the crew and their quest for survival. It’s also about David’s quest for creation, established in the first scene featuring David and his creator, Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce). The ultimate theme of the film is “creation”, something that is symbolized with David and it is ultimately this theme that makes the film interesting in its own right.
However, that’s not to say that there isn’t anything here for the “Alien” fans. For those whose major complaint was that “Prometheus” didn’t have any of the iconic H.R. Giger inspired creations, Scott makes up for that here. The action of the film is fast paced when compared to the slower moving “Prometheus” and the aliens once again prove to be a formidable, horrific, and very bloody threat.
The cast is also good and you do quickly care for the characters. The standout in the new cast is Katherine Waterston as Dany Branson, a character that will inevitably be compared to Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley. It’s not an unjustified comparison as Dany proves to be not only the voice of reason but also the only character that may be able to stand up to the alien.
Beyond the new cast, though, Fassbender returns as both David from “Prometheus” and Walter, the synthetic assigned to assist operations on the Covenant. Fassbender’s performance is brilliant as he captures the essence of David once again (essentially a walking android version of Hal 9000 from “2001: A Space Odyssey) and Walter, a much more sympathetic character that seems to genuinely care for the crew. Fassbender’s performance is enough by itself for me to watch the movie.
The movie tries to continue the story between “Prometheus” and “Alien”. We do get a couple of answers to some things, but there are still more questions lingering even after you see “Covenant”. I think think that Scott wants us to draw our own conclusions and we probably won’t get all of the answers even after he makes the next film in the “Alien” prequel series. Ultimately, I don’t mind having a horror film that actually makes me think from time to time.