Alien: Covenant is the sequel to 2012’s Prometheus and is the second film in the prequel trilogy to Alien. Covenant takes place ten years after the events of Prometheus and follows the crew of the colony ship Covenant as they explore a nearby planet after finding a strange distress signal.
Covenant is by no means a bad movie, but it really isn’t great either. There is a lot that this movie did very well, but there are equal parts bad as there are great.
The film has two stand out parts, that being the leads Katherine Waterston and Michael Fassbender. Katherine Waterston gave a strong performance, one which harkened back to Sigourney Weaver in the original two Alien films. She had good character development, great motivation, and handled the emotional scenes very well.
Michael Fassbender did a great job playing with the dual personalities of David and Walter, two characters who use their advanced intelligence to inquire on the purpose of life, a topic which creates an interesting theme that plays heavily into the plot of the film. Fassbender did fantastic, adding nuance to each character and made both of them very different and entertaining.
Speaking of good characters, let’s talk about a bad one. Billy Crudup was really annoying in the movie and kept on making stupid decisions. All though his character was dumb, it’s still unbelievable for the genius space colonists to do some of the stuff he does in the movie. None of this necessarily is the fault of his performance. All though there is much to be desired, the screen and character writing are really the main drawback. On the topic of writing, let’s talk about how awful some of the supporting characters are. Majority of them just get killed off without there name being even spoken, and there deaths are usually at the stake of a stupid decision. It’s annoying to see such a smart filmmaker sit back and rely on overused and stale horror tropes like these. Considering Ridley Scott helped pioneer this genre of film, I think it’s fair to hold him at higher standards.
Another problem I have with this film comes with its relation to Alien. The film takes place 18 years prior to that of the first, yet it seems like the aliens in this are more evolved than in the original. The creature that comes out of the chestburster is more capable of defense and grows at an exponential rate when compared to the original. It’s small continuity errors like these that smudge the believability of a film.
My final nitpick of this film was with the Xenomorph and the Neomorphs. As I have stated countless times before, practical effects look much better than CGI in most cases, and so many times in this film I thought the aliens looked unbelievable and cheesy. I understand the reliance on CG, especially in more demanding action sequences, but it’s still disappointing for this film to take the action approach and over show the xenomorph. What made the first film so terrifying was the lack of clarity on the appearance of the alien. When it was fully shown on screen, it is cast entirely in shadow and only has quick strobe lights illuminating it. In Covenant, the alien is overshown to the point where it just looks stupid.
Overall, Alien: Covenant is, if anything else, entertaining and an enjoyable film with some really strong performances by the leads. The film has interesting and thought-provoking comments on creation and evolution, which helps to keep the film seem faster than it actually is. With some strange continuity errors, a few choppy performances, stupid decisions, and a massive amount of CGI, I was left with a slight sour taste in my mouth.