Met with scepticism from devout fans of earlier episodes, ‘Alien: Covenant’ divided audiences after it was unleashed onto the chopping block for worldwide cinema release. Many viewers claimed that an ‘Alien’ installment without Ripley was just another Sci-Fi rehash with Xenomorphs, along with the speculation that ‘Covenant’ left unanswered questions circling the conception of the deadly alien species and the Engineers that posed a real threat of shaky continuity. Dissecting all the conflict, JUMPCUT can hopefully shed some light on these dubieties.
‘Alien: Covenant’ joins officers Oram (Billy Crudup) and Daniels (Katherine Waterston) with their crew on-board the titular vessel as it journeys to an uncharted planet that promises sustainability for their colonial mission. Disguised as an idyllic ‘paradise’, the newly discovered planet reveals a dark infestation that threatens to compromise the mission’s success.
As much as Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley will forever be noticeably missing from the line-up, as ‘Covenant’s’ events occur before the Nostromo mission, Ridley Scott has had success in finding fairly equal momentum and survival instinct mentality in his ‘Prometheus’ crew that Ripley carried fearlessly in the first four films. Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw showed promise of conserving the push of self-preservation in the first prequel, showing strength in progression and the ability to propel the story forward to face greater threats in the future, before Katherine Waterston’s Daniels and her Ezra Miller inspired locks from ‘Fantastic Beasts’ undoubtedly failed to deliver the same values.
Ridley’s third outer space squad provided some fresh energy from Danny McBride’s Tennessee that offered distinct likeability to bestow faith in, however the rest of the crew appeared to serve no purpose other than tasty bait for far superior predators and a healthy extension to the franchises kill count. Leads Daniels and Oram spent most of the film dick-measuring, giving two capable actors incredibly stale roles that overruled any impressive leadership qualities. A vacant on-screen relationship between Waterston and Crudup fractured any connection the head officers were meant to possess, meanwhile Daniels and Tennessee’s relationship bellowed charisma that failed to get a glimmer of attention until the conclusion which by then was too little, too late. James Franco’s anticipated cameo as captain was cut short to the bewilderment of viewers, annihilating a component which could have supplied another dynamic addition to this weary feature.
On a higher note, an integral part of ‘Covenant’s’ storyline is refined droid Walter and his encounter with ‘Prometheus’ survivor David, Walter’s predecessor cyborg. The preordained plot takes a detour during their meeting as we learn what David has been involved in during the ten years between the two films and to what lengths he has gone to for answers. David’s detective work advanced the franchise to greater heights as it side-lined the accustomed action in the foreground to address the deeper question of creation. Who created the Xenomorphs and for what purpose? ‘Covenant’ also introduces a new breed of Xenomorph named Neomorphs, a livelier form of alien that further aids the mystery behind the Engineers.
Despite Scott wasting no time in establishing his classic oppressive ambience against a stunning display of Australian scenery that stimulates the films tension, a series of predictable outcomes and a rather shaky final showdown were both the fatal acid poured onto a once unique hypothesis. ‘Covenant’ and its big question of creation is ultimately the influence that could have lifted this second prequel into the Sci-Fi hall of fame, but instead this opportunity to delve deeper was flooded with time-wasting characters and a lot of infuriating faffing about. Scott sets emphasis on the two droids whose morals become the key fascination to the narrative, but is diluted by a sense of desperation to churn out violent sequences to keep audiences engaged.
For die-hard fans of the franchise, like myself, ‘Alien: Covenant’ provided a solid fix of Xenomorph action whilst addressing a biblical subtext that added an intriguing continuation to Ridley Scott’s original concept, but fell short at supporting this development by focusing on a rudimentary storyboard. With Scott slipping the title of his next Alien film ‘Awakening’ in an interview with Fandango, stating: “It will go ‘Prometheus’, ‘Awakening’, ‘Covenant’ [and] “If [Covenant] is successful, and then [Awakening], then there will definitely be three more.”, we can guarantee that one of the greatest loved Sci-Fi chain’s will be delivering exciting space chases for years to come, providing ‘Awakening’ has audiences running back for more at light speed.
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, Carmen Ejogo