“All this, to start our new life,” says Daniels (Katherine Waterston) to Walter (Michael Fassbender) as she mourns the loss of one of the crew members aboard the spaceship Covenant in the 2017 installment of the Alien film franchise, Alien: Covenant.
Back on June 22, 1979, director Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking sci-fi horror film Alien hit theaters, leaving moviegoers terrified in their seats. A hideous, deadly alien lifeform burst onto the screen and went after the crew on board a merchant space vessel until it finally met its match going up against 3rd Officer Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver. The first film of the blockbuster franchise went on to win an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. In 2017, Ridley Scott continues the origin story he began with his film Prometheus while borrowing heavily from scenes from the original Alien.
Alien: Covenant begins 10 years after Shaw (Noomi Rapace) took off from the dead planet in search of the extraterrestrial engineers and planet that may be the missing links in man’s history. The spaceship Covenant and its crew are on a journey to a remote planet that will take seven years to reach in hopes of starting a colony (an Earth-2) populated by the 2,000 colonists currently on board in hibernation. After an accident that kills a crew member and inflicts serious damage to the ship, the crew receives a message that seems to be from an unknown human. They decide to deviate from their course and check it out, despite the protest of Daniels who believes they should remain on course.
The expedition party, led by new Captain Oram (Billy Crudup) and including the reluctant Daniels and their human-looking android Walter, investigate the planet and start to think that perhaps this new uncharted planet could be their new home. That opinion changes when they discover dark and awful truths about the planet, the life organisms on it, and the real intentions of the entity who created the message that brought them to this world.
Struggling to stay alive in this hostile environment, Daniels, Walter, Oram and the others must get in contact with the Covenant which won’t be easy due to a gigantic storm blocking their signal. It’s imperative the mothership rescue them quickly as soon there will be no one left to save.
Dark, uneven, and strikingly unoriginal, Alien: Covenant is a part Prometheus sequel and part Alien prequel that borrows liberally from scenes from the 1979 science fiction horror classic while failing to introduce any new ideas or original scares. The film has a solid cast led by Michael Fassbender as Walter, the loyal and helpful human android whose job on board the Covenant is to look after the crew and help keep the ship running. Fassbender’s performance in the film almost makes it worth sitting through as he shows how Walter actually has developed feelings for his crewmates, in particular Daniels who he’s grown protective of.
Katherine Waterston is effective as Daniels, the emotionally grieving widow whose hopes of making a new life for herself and her husband are dashed early in the film, prompting her to become the voice of caution and concern among the landing party. Billy Crudup delivers a surprisingly bland performance as Oram, the new captain of the ship who isn’t respected by his crew and is very unsure of himself. It’s a role that, unfortunately, doesn’t really offer much for Crudup to do.
What’s missing in this Alien installment besides any originality are strong performances from the cast in conveying true fear. Besides the expert direction of Ridley Scott and the great special effects and set design of the original film, what makes Alien a must-see horror film that still holds up today are the dynamic performances from the cast, especially Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, John Hurt, and Yaphet Kotto. They conveyed true terror as they went up against the giant, drooling, flesh-eating alien that lurked around the dark corners and waited patiently to snatch another victim. That sense of terror is completely missing in Alien: Covenant, resulting in a forgettable entry in the Alien franchise.
MPAA Rating: R for sci-fi violence, bloody images, language and some sexuality/nudity
Release Date: May 19, 2017
Running Time: 122 minutes