The Alien saga is among the most engaging and well-remembered films of horror genre, largely because every feature, at least until recently, has been in the hands of various directors. There were several hits and misses, but it was the work of Ridley Scott that began the career of the entire film series. How did Alien: Covenant, the latest science-fiction horror of the saga, turn out?
Written by John Logan and Dante Harper, and again directed by Ridley Scott, the film revolves around new characters as well as the previous events, concatenate to the Prometheus‘ crew.
It has been ten years since the escape of David – an android – and Dr. Elizabeth Shaw from the aliens. Concurrently, the Covenant spaceship, with a crew of twelve and two thousand hibernated people, is headed for the planet Origae-6, which has been selected to become a new home for a new colony. Only a humanoid robot Walter (Michael Fassbender) controls the spaceship and the dormant passengers – the pace at the beginning of the film is as slow as a running snail and – honestly – not exciting at all. Unexpectedly, the ship runs into a huge electrical storm and serious spacecraft’s failures force the premature awakening of the crew. Disaster is ultimately avoided, and during the repair work, the Covenant receives a blurry signal from a nearby planet. Oram (Billy Crudup), the captain, decides on the rescue mission against Daniels’ judgement (Katherine Waterston) – she is the second in command – for whom ‘idyllic’ conditions on the unknown planet are sufficient reasons for suspicion. Upon arrival, her doubts are confirmed by a series of ferocious occurrences. It also turns out that the place the Covenant landed on is the same planet where Dr. Elizabeth Shaw and David arrived a decade before. Who will survive and who will die?
Unfortunately, Alien: Covenant is not at the highest level. The constant communication failures and ridiculous decisions made by some of the crew members – which ultimately fall into the trap of death – are so annoying that you wish the film ended already. With that, the audience does not need to wait long for the deformed monsters to attack. Although the crew did not glitter with genius, the viewers can distinguish a few characters that deserve the attention. Daniels, portrayed by Katherine Waterston – it is obvious that this character was created as the successor of Ripley – fits well into the narrative; she is determined and brave. The second violin is played by Oram (Billy Crudup) – a bit of a pussy cat and Tennessee (Danny McBride). These characters fell into my memory during the screening, sadly the rest of the crew is forgettable. Having said that, I cannot omit Michael Fassbender and his genius performance as David and Walter (David was an android stationed on the Prometheus, while Walter was on the ship of the Covenant). Although it seems like playing the nearly emotionless robot is a pretty much straightforward thing, Michael Fassbender did a great job in creating two dissimilar characters. The audience might notice that David and Walter are carrying most of the film and with a few nonsensical yet funny dialogues, they keep the viewers somewhat entertained.
When everything seems to lead to a decent, gory ‘chaos’, Ridley Scott abruptly abandons the convention of the classic horror film and brings philosophical ideas into the story of a conflict between a maker and its making. The unexpected inhabitant of the planet is a pretext to push at the boundaries between creation and madness – particularly David’s madness – along with the difference between subjectivity and objectivity, obedience and free will. Despite the scriptwriters’ and director’s good intentions, that part of the film falls into an abyss of abstraction and even brings forth an unexpected, slight giggle in the cinema…. you will even see Fassbender playing a flute, priceless!
I really enjoyed only the last 15 minutes of Alien: Covenant. Ridley Scott’s new work is full of philosophical balderdash, including poor acting by some of the actors, an average CGI and a lack of engaging narrative. Alien: Covenant is a good cinematic experience for those unfamiliar with the Alien series (probably just a handful viewers), but the film itself has nothing fresh to offer to the fans of the saga. There is only one word that can sum up my opinion on this film: DISAPPOINTING.
Written by Maggie Gogler
Edited by Sanja Struna
All photos © 20th Century Fox