In the year 2104, the starship Covenant is on its way to a remote planet to settle a new colony. While conducting repairs following a solar flare event, the crew picks up a signal seemingly of human origin, despite there being no records of any previous expeditions in their region of space. Changing course to investigate, they find a strange, hidden world full of life and perfect for human habitation. But they also find something else…something very dangerous. Featuring an ensemble cast including Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, and Michael Fassbender, Alien: Covenant is the sixth installment in the Alien franchise (if you include the two films that many fans pretend don’t exist). It is a direct sequel to 2012’s Prometheus, taking place ten years after the events of that film. Fassbender reprises his role as the android David, while simultaneously playing another android named Walter.
To get right to the chase, if you liked Prometheus, then you will like Covenant, and if you didn’t care for the last film that you likely won’t care for this one either. This film has all of the same strengths and the same weaknesses of its predecessor. On the positive side, the film is absolutely gorgeous, with cinematography, special effects, set design, and other visual aspects being out of this world (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun). The pace of the film is brisk, with the action kicking off early on rather than taking time to build suspense as is typical of films in the series. And the action is very-well done, particularly the extra-grisly alien kills, which are truly a sight to behold and probably the highlight of the film.
However, everything that people complained about regarding Prometheus is still present. Many of the characters still act really, really dumb. Which honestly doesn’t bother me that much considering that most real people don’t make great decisions under extreme pressure, but it does get frustrating watching characters in these movies make the same tired mistakes over and over again. Worse, the muddled philosophical concepts of the last film are back, because apparently Scott seems convinced that the Alien movies need to be about something more than unfortunate space farers being murdered by ravenous beasts. Whether or not these films should have a greater meaning is a topic for another day, but I will say that, if he wishes to go that route, Scott needs to write the philosophical bits better. Because he already made one movie featuring androids droning on about philosophy, and believe me it works much better in Blade Runner than in these films.
So basically, Alien: Covenant is more Prometheus, which by itself should tell you whether this movie is worth your time if you’ve seen that movie. For those unfamiliar with the franchise, the film is worth a watch if you can tolerate dumb characters and inane metaphysical babbling so you can get to the good stuff. I.e., aliens ripping said dumb people apart in delightfully creative ways. But then again, xenomorphs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.