Alien: Covenant (2017)

A brutal, modernized return to the Horror/Sci-Fi roots of the franchise, Covenant gets the Alien prequels back on track, albeit not expanding any new ways. 7.6/10.

Set in 2106 aboard a colonization mission searching space for a habitable planet for humanity, Alien: Covenant follows a group of space explorers that come across what they think is an uncharted paradise. However, while scouting it, they meet David (Michael Fassbender), a synthetic survivor of the wayward Prometheus mission. The mysterious world soon turns hostile as a hostile alien life-form hunts the crew in a fight for survival.

*Possible spoilers ahead*

The new Alien movie had heavy expectations put on its shoulders. After director Ridley Scott and his crew promised a return to the Horror/Sci-Fi roots of the Alien franchise after the divisive and different Prometheus, fans put a lot of stock into this movie, myself included.

Well, the return to Alien roots is certainly accomplished in the film, adding great things and some flaws as well. Let’s talk about the good: First of all, the Xenomorphs. Alien: Covenant is the most brutal Alien movie to date hands down in my opinion, and much of that is due to the Xenomorphs, who are resurrected with impeccable top-notch CGI to be extremely life-like and terrifying in appearance. They also move a lot quicker and wilder in the new movie, adding to the sense of terror in how builogically perfected these organisms are in killing humans and really making you believe that as a viewer. There is also heavy blood and gory scenes, like the hatchling scene on board the ship, which definitely warrant a hard R rating.

The horror (~slasher) scenes in the movie are also well-crafted and visually striking, like my favorite and the most memorable moment in the film for me: the shower scene when the Xenomorph puts his tail in between the two lovers and brutally slashes them with the water still running (reminiscent of Psycho, but modernized and put in a new light). The performances in the film are also good overall, but Michael Fassbender’s performance is phenomenal.

Terrifying in how you truly get the vibe of how much he despises humans and idolizes the Xenomorphs, funny in his quips about humanity and things like the Egg chamber where he lures the captain to his death by getting close to an egg and telling him that it’s “safe to look inside” so that a facehugger can latch onto him. I also love how they added a backstory and character development by showing David’s creation, the interactions of David and Walter by Fassbender playing two different roles at the SAME time, and the final twist at the end where David has pretended to be Walter so that he can board the ship and kill all the crewmembers with freshly hatching Xenomorphs.

I absolutely LOVE the idea that David is the one who created the Xenomorphs as we see them in the original Alien. As a Biology student, I can extremely appreciate the biological element of things like them showing David’s laboratory experiments as he took the black goo the Engineers had constructed but were scared to use because of its powers and created the ‘perfect organism’ in what he called Xenomorphs. I also enjoy the pettiness of David creating the being to end all humans out of spite for his father Mr. Weyland.

Now, the flaws, and there were certainly some present. For one, the plot is far too familiar, in that it plays like a simply modernized version of the original. I understand that they wanted to return to the true roots of the franchise, but a script and story that was at least a little more different and less formulaic to the exact originals and their best elements would have been nice.

Also, the characters were a little one-dimensional and uninvestable in. Of course, the point of an Alien movie is not the lambs waiting to be Xenomorph-food, but in each of the past ones in the series, heck even Prometheus which I hated, had characters I actually cared about, Ripley, Shaw, etc., etc. It would have been nice to develop the characters more and not have so many sharing the screen simultaneously. Finally, the ending was good and I like the dark finale shocker in David tricking them all into basically having 2,000 test runs to perfect his Xenomorphs before the original Alien, but it was something I saw coming a mile away, I have to admit. Must have been a better way

In the end, Alien: Covenant has many pros and is definitely a more conventional return to what made Alien famous in the first place in a horror sci-fi film about monsters picking off space explorers instead of the mildly boring and slow, overly existential Prometheus. It ends in the positive 3rd slot of my favorite Alien movies (behind the original and near flawless Alien and Aliens, of course) and is still a deeply satisfying chapter that delivers about all you could want/ expect from an Alien movie and continues the epic saga for a new generation.

Overall Score: 7.6/10