ALIEN–COVENANT (2017) : Movie Review
ALIEN–COVENANT : Let me preface this brief review by reminding you that I’m solidly in the “loved PROMETHEUS” camp. But also remember that I’ve admired the ALIEN series pretty much throughout for its daring and its refusal to conform to audience expectations. For four “real” series entries, you never got the same movie twice–and yes, I respected the dark vision of ALIEN 3 more than I would have an attempt to simply rehash ALIENS; and I then went on to thoroughly enjoy the surreal ALIEN RESURRECTION as a continuation of the fantasy worlds of DELICATESSEN and CITY OF LOST CHILDREN. Meanwhile, the AvP movies don’t count in my book. At the very most, they’re alternate universe fan fictions that play beastly hell with the continuity of the series. (Besides, no movie unimaginative enough to include a pizza boy being bullied in the first fifteen minutes can aspire to awe and majesty… )
PROMETHEUS raised continuity questions of its own (particularly in the final glimpse of the creature, but Ridley Scott wasn’t quite through setting up the origins of the pre-Ripley universe as it gradually evolves. And now with COVENANT, we learn even more about the evolution of the xenomorph as we know it and the ‘artificial person’ that led to the likes of Ash and Bishop. And “Walter” (Michael Fassbender), a new and improved model of “David” from PROMETHEUS, is the synthetic in charge of the care and safekeeping of the crew of the title vessel (a colonization mission in hypersleep). But he is powerless to stop a freak accident from wreaking havoc on the vessel and causing serious casualties. And of course the perfectly habitable planet that just HAPPENS to be in range is simply too good to be true. David himself has flagged the distressed ship down… oh yes, it’s a trial run for what transpired in the original ALIEN, but there’s a lot more to be said than that–for instance, one scarcely need stick his face into a mysterious egg to pick up a lethal parasite.
But merely recapping the story does ALIEN: COVENANT a disservice. While we do have our crew of humans doing their best to survive the ordeal, the keys remain firmly in the hands of the synthetics (read: Fassbender in a mesmerizing dual role). David’s been extremely busy during the intervening years, and he has so much to teach Walter as the two share poetry, music and philosophy… all juxtaposed to brutal, blistering horror as the local fauna has at the hapless humans.
Yes, there is a measure of familiarity and predictability. In fact, there are forgone and unavoidable conclusions just based on this story’s place on the timeline (ROGUE ONE was married to its own ending for the same reason), but even though Ridley Scott has now helmed three out of six (so far), not even he has made the same movie twice. ALIEN: COVENANT is another shocking, provocative and visually splendid reward for long-time fans.