The new Alien: Covenant film is a tough nut (or egg, or ovomorph, if you will) to crack. This sixth, straight-up Alien movie transitions from themes of thought-provoking philosophy into head-on, hardcore horror faster than a face-hugger turns into a… well, you know the routine.
If you haven’t followed the flow of the Alien franchise, this latest effort by the original director, Ridley Scott, is technically the second prequel to the first film from 1979. Allegedly, there will be yet another prequel, which is good if you are waiting for answers to the questions spawned from the first movie… because they are not provided here.
I’m one of the few people who really enjoyed the last Alien film (2012’s Prometheus); and Alien: Covenant starts out in that more thoughtful, sci-fi vein, with ideas concerning God, creation and the origin of humanity; but, about a third of the way through the film, most of that heady stuff is jettisoned from the story, like the body of space-bound pioneer who just had his mind blown.
The crew of the “colony ship” Covenant encounters some sort of solar mishap while they are in hypersleep, and the Captain (played by James Franco – if you can believe it) dies in a sleep-chamber incident (that has nothing to do with Marijuana.)
The next man in charge, Oram (Billy Crudup), is a pretty flaky religious type who decides to alter Covenant’s destination in favor of checking out a closer planet, where a residual signal is being broadcast of an astronaut singing a John Denver song – and only good can come from that… right?
An exploration team, including the ships terra-former, Daniels (Katherine Waterston), and android servant, Walter (Michael Fassbender), head to the planet’s surface while the Covenant’s pilot, Tennessee (Danny McBride), stays behind to monitor the carnage – I mean expedition!
Alien craziness ensues with various degrees of suspense and edge-of-your-seat anxiety. Without revealing spoilers, like a futuristic bride of Frankenstein the film wears something old, something new and something borrowed; and the “something blue” might just be the shade of disappointment you’ll have at the end of the movie.
If all you are looking for is alien creatures on a rampage, then you are probably going to enjoy this film a lot more than the fan hankering for a brainy, science-fiction story. Some of this film works, some of it plain dull, and parts are just head-scratching dumb.
Despite having comedian Danny McBride play one of the film’s key characters, there is no humor in this movie at all. Zilch! (Missing Bill Paxton, bigly!)
This isn’t a bad movie, but it’s not great. It’s possible that, instead of sticking to his guns of originality, Ridley Scott has tried to please everyone with this film, and misfired by not just pleasing himself with an inventive story in the spirit of – not just a copy of – his first Alien effort. Grade: 6.5/10
Photos © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox