And Now For Something Completely The Same. Alien: Covenant (2017) Review

Alien: Covenant technically gives the fans of the franchise what they want, with the familiar plot and visuals and provides answers to the questions many audiences had at the end of Prometheus. While the film does have some good characters and original material, the recycled plot and certain revelations make it less than what it could’ve been.

A colony ship tracks a strange transmission to its source and discovers a rich, habitable world. There they find David, the android who served on the Prometheus. Suddenly, a hostile alien-lifeform appears and the colonization mission becomes a fight for survival.

Alien Covenant Pic
I call this my ‘positively neutral face’.

The premise is exactly the same as previous Alien films; crew lands on a planet, someone is impregnated, aliens are produced and everyone tries to survive. As expected, most of the crew are one-dimensional characterizations, as their sole purpose is to be cannon fodder so the aliens can showcase their aggression.

Daniels appears to be the main protagonist. As a character I thought she was a bit boring; she doesn’t do a lot in the story except try to survive and get everyone off the planet. Even though she has a desire, which is to colonize a world and settle down with her husband, its only mentioned occasionally hence it doesn’t really feel relevant.

One character who I found compelling was Christopher Oram, the assumed captain. Unlike Daniels he has weaknesses and vulnerabilities that are challenged and exploited in the plot. He is a first-time captain, having to take responsibility for thousands of lives, his wife is on the planet with him and he is a religious man, trying to maintain his faith in a horrific situation. My favourite character however has to be David. He is capable of both emotion and intellectual ambition, I thought he was a very conflicted character hence I found him the most attractive.

Covenant does provide some original content despite the recycled plot. The aliens in the film for example are significantly new. Rather than infecting the crew with the classic facehugger, these aliens enter their hosts as spores through their ears and nostrils, forming embryos deep inside their skulls. The dubbed ‘Neomorph’ erupts via the back or throat. These ‘birth’ scenes I thought were, quite honestly, more gruesome than the previous chestburster scenes.

Another example of Covenant’s original content is its continuation of the storyline established in Prometheus. The film does answer questions many had following Prometheus, whether or not I thought these answers were believable will require going into spoilers.

So for those who haven’t seen the film I will state my overall conclusion here, while those who have seen the film can read ahead to my spoiler thoughts.

Alien: Covenant recycles a lot of old plot points but the film does have some genuinely compelling characters (like Oram and David) and does tie up the loose ends left by Prometheus. It isn’t great but it’s certainly one of the most gruesome and philosophical Sci-Fi films out there right now so I recommend it.

I give Alien Covenant a worthy 7 out of 10.

 

Ok, spoiler talk.

I found the idea of David wiping out the engineers and creating the xenomorphs to be a bit far-fetched.

I know a lot of people didn’t like Prometheus, but I appreciated its originality, it didn’t rehash old ideas and characters like most prequels and reboots do. It was the start of an epic science fiction series that would comment on religion, God and the relationship between creation and creator. After watching Covenant I was a little sad because it seems apparent now that we’re not going to see that series.

However, David’s backstory of experimenting with the black liquid and desiring to create does seem to continue the themes of Prometheus. I thought it was an interesting notion, but I didn’t expect the film to show us where the xenomorph came from. I’d thought that’d be something we’d discover later in the series, not in the second film.

The last twenty minutes, once again, recycles plot points we’re all familiar with. The xenomorph goes on a rampage and then gets sucked out the airlock, just like in previous Alien films. I liked the cliff-hanger at the end with Walter being revealed as David, having full control of the ship and the thousands of embryos. It looks like he’s going to be a major character in the series, which I’m happy about.

While Covenant didn’t go where I hoped it would, there’re some things about this new course the series is on that I like and I’m going to keep watching to see where it goes.

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