Alien Covenant is the second film in the prequel Alien series and the 6th film considered to be a part of the original canon of Alien films. (This is a direct reference to the now defunct Alien vs Predator series which licenses the use of the Xenomorphs from the original films, I should also state that Aliens have also been in comic books and various other media ventures so the property itself has been very profitable.) The continuation of the series picks up after the events of Prometheus which saw the film return to its original suspense/mystery roots. This shift allowed for new questions to be asked and answered of the original series as well as make use of modern advances in film technology to build the world to be visually stunning. Prometheus did well at the box office setting up director Ridley Scott nicely for his plan to make multiple prequels and sequels. Alien Covenant picks up about 10 or 11 years after the events of Prometheus and follows the attempted colonization of the planet Origae-6. This film seeks to add further depth to the Alien Universe and continue telling the origin story of the Xenomorphs and their creators the “Engineers”.
A few words about Alien: Covenant:
- Characters are flat – There is not much character development at all in this installment of Alien. While the characters have an assumed backstory, exposition that is explicitly stated in the movie does little to provide depth to the characters themselves. It does not help that in many cases the characters are making stock horror movie decisions, such as always choosing to split up rather than work together. At one point in the movie, the idea of them continuously splitting up becomes a little comical as one character will be found dead, and the remaining characters still assign separate tasks for each other to complete. The setups for Alien carnage comes off a little convenient.
- Not many Xenomorphs – In this movie while the Xenomorphs (traditional Alien creatures from these films) are prominently displayed, at times their presence did not feel necessary. The central conflict involved them, however, they were not the central villain. This made seeing them feel a little empty or one note. In many cases, it seemed as if they only showed up to ratchet up the immediate tension rather than because they were a necessity to the story.
- Two much fassbender – It is not a spoiler to say that Michael Fassbender plays two roles in this movie. While his acting is solid and interesting to watch, at one point he’s doing scenes with both characters together. These scenes were at least a little bit overwrought. I found myself wondering what the ultimate purpose of these scenes were and don’t ever know that it was revealed. Seeing him “mentor” himself came off hokier than I believe it was intended to be.
- Not much real story development – Prometheus introduces the characters of the “engineer” or the beings that humans suspect created them. In Alien Covenant, the engineers have a brief moment but their story is not really expanded upon. The questions raised about them in Prometheus seemed to be discarded in order to create a different movie.
- Visually Appealing – Much like Prometheus the use of wide shots in this movie did much to establish the contrast between the small humans exploring the vast universe. Many of the shots are breathtaking on the big screen, which in this format does a great job of making the viewer feel small as well.
Overall, this movie did very many traditional “Alien” things. There are Xenomorphs, space tension, action, air locks, acid blood, running, screaming and dying. However, this film eventually ends up just being another installment of Xenomorphs killing humans. While the reasoning for the existence of Xenomorphs is a little clearer, the film ultimate does little to expand the mythology of the Alien universe. I would still love to see a movie that does more to expand this backstory, much like Prometheus began to do. This is a solid summer movie, but ultimately I left the theater feeling like something was missing. Do not bring your kids. 2.5 of 5 stars.