Alien: Covenant (R) ★★½

Katherine Waterston stars in Alien: Covenant.
Image credit: 20th Century Fox

Alien: Covenant < Prometheus. Yeah, I said it.

I was thoroughly frustrated by Alien: Covenant and was actually mad when I left the theater. Aside from Michael Fassbender in dual roles and the cast itself, there was absolutely nothing new about this sixth installment (and second prequel) of the nearly forty-year-old Alien franchise. I am usually one of those people who never sees a film’s twists coming. With Alien: Covenant, I not only predicted every single thing that was going to happen, but I was also bored out of my mind.

A cool prologue involving trillionaire CEO Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) and the synthetic from Prometheus, David (Fassbender), gave me hope at the very beginning that Ridley Scott was going to pull off an Alien trifecta (Covenant is the third film he’s directed after the original two). But it was not to be.

We flash forward to ten years after the events of Prometheus and are aboard the Covenant, whose crewmembers are all deep-dozing in pods as they travel on a years-long mission to colonize a distant planet. But their on-board upgraded synthetic, Walter (also Fassbender), gives them a harsh wake-up call after the ship’s systems start going haywire. The captain is killed during this emergency, and the moment we find out who the captain was, I was immediately taken out of the film. All I’ll say is that it’s a well-known, goofy actor whose presence in flashbacks was as a huge distraction and served no purpose other than making the new captain Oram (Billy Crudup) have a weak reason to constantly seem unsure of himself.

Now that the entire crew is awake, they decide to investigate a human transmission coming from a nearby planet and see if that planet is a better bet for colonization than the one they were supposed to reach in seven more years. Spoiler alert: IT’S NOT.

The planet is, of course, the same planet that David and Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) headed for at the end of Prometheus, believed to be the home of humanity’s forerunners, the “Engineers.” At one point in Covenant there is a brief flashback that shows what happened to the Engineers, but all it did was make me wish we had gotten a movie about that instead. Unfortunately, once the Covenant crew touches down, they start being very, very predictably picked off one by one. These are supposed to be really smart people. But yet when they are on a new planet and a few of their crewmates quickly get mauled and killed by violent, fast-as-lightning aliens, MORE THAN ONE of them decide that it would be a good idea to wander off alone to, like, go pee or shower. Really?

Needless to say, I was often rooting for the aliens.

We do find out what happened to Dr. Shaw, and David—being the non-human that he is—is still “alive,” so it’s great fun to see the ways that Fassbender differentiates the lookalike synthetics and plays them off of one another. That is by far the biggest thing Covenant has going for it. The rest of the cast gives it their all as well—especially Katherine Waterston as a Ripley-esque (down to the tank top and cropped haircut) heroine—but it’s not enough. Because it’s still just death after death after death and aliens popping out of everywhere and smart people doing ridiculous things. Strong performances can’t outweigh the weak script by John Logan and Dante Harper. Even the film’s final “twist” will shock no one. What a disappointment.


The Bottom-Line? Say what you will about Prometheus, but I would take a film that makes me think over a bunch of CGI’d cat-and-mouse chase horror sequences and an uninspired plot any day. If you don’t feel strongly about the Alien franchise, definitely skip this one. However, if you have always been a fan, then you are probably going to like it more than I did, and will want to at least check it out on DVD at some point before the next prequel comes out (production on it begins next year).


Cast: Michael Fassbender (David / Walter), Katherine Waterston (Daniels), Billy Crudup (Oram), Danny McBride (Tennessee), Carmen Ejogo (Karine Oram), Amy Seimetz (Faris), Jussie Smollett (Ricks), Callie Hernandez (Upworth)

Credits: Directed by Ridley Scott. Written by John Logan and Dante Harper.

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Run Time: 2 hours 3 minutes


Erika Olson © May 19, 2017