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Alien: Covenant (2017)

DVD Cover (Twentieth Century Fox)
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Overall Rating 64%
Overall Rating
Ranked #517
...out of 14,052 movies
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Connections: Alien

In 2104, almost eleven years after the disastrous expedition to the distant moon, LV-223, in Prometheus, the deep-space colonization vessel, USCSS Covenant, is on course for the remote planet, Origae-6, with more than 2,000 colonists in cryogenic hibernation to build a new world. Instead, a rogue transmission entices the crew to a nearby habitable planet which resembles Earth. As a result, the unsuspecting crewmembers of the Covenant will have to cope with biological foes beyond human comprehension. Now, what started as a peaceful exploratory mission, will soon turn into a desperate rescue operation in uncharted space. Is there an escape from the treacherous, mysterious planet? --IMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: June 12, 2017
Despite its undeniable position as a classic movie monster, the xenomorphs of the Alien franchise haven't had a good movie since its second entry, way back in 1986. Lately, the brain of the original movie, Ridley Scott, has begun something of a spin-off franchise dealing with the origins of the beast; five years after starting that tale with Prometheus we get the next chapter.

Ten years after the tragic mission of Prometheus, a ship called the Covenant is making its way to Origae 6, a planet that's been chosen for terraforming for a new colony. In the middle of its voyage, the ship is hit by a sudden solar flare that causes some considerable damage. It's severe enough to prompt the ship's synth, Walter (an updated version based on the same model of David that was on the Prometheus), to pull the essential personnel out of hypersleep to deal with the problem. Unfortunately, Captain Branson is killed when his pod catches fire, but amidst their grief they're able to make the repairs. While they're doing this, the crew picks up a strange transmission from a nearby planet that might actually provide a better option for their colony. As they're investigating, they quickly realize that this seemingly idealic planet is home to a deadly strain of spores that cause killer aliens to form inside their hosts. As the monsters have our explorers cornered, they're saved by the sudden appearance of David. He leads them to the safety of a nearby ghost town but he has some secrets of his own.

Now, if you'll remember I was a bit underwhelmed with Prometheus. It offered more questions than answers and served more as a way of setting the table than as a stand-alone entry. Well, Alien: Covenant is very much Prometheus 2 and it has a lot of the same problems: chief among them is how unapologetically pretentious Scott is. When he made Prometheus, he was laboring under the assumption that wasn't any fan interest in Giger's monster; after that blew up in his face, he apologized and vowed to correct the mistake in his next movie. Admittedly, this movie does offer more creature horror but they're still playing second fiddle to the film's true villain, David. One again surrounded in philosophical motives, we've got another two hours of the synthetic waxing messianic over his obsession with the Engineer's viral weapon and his role in the destiny of mankind. Scott has long had an obsession with evil robots that he simply can't avoid and he's made it the forefront of this prequel story. While I'm not sure if my apathy towards the creation of the alien species' is universal among the fan-base, I do feel comfortable saying that it in no way merits an entire trilogy. As it stands, each two-hour movie gives us a small piece of the story: Prometheus didn't give us anything and just set up the Engineers' tendency towards bio-weapons, Covenant explained their final evolution towards the creatures we've known and loved for almost forty years (even it did include an incredibly irksome scene where a fully-formed miniature warrior emerges from a host, skipping the chestburster stage), and I'm guessing that Awakening will explain why an Engineer ship full of eggs is on LV-426. He would have been much better served just making a single movie about the creature's origins and stripping away all the superfluous nonsense.

For all my griping about Scott making the android the main villain of the story, there's no denying that Michael Fassbender was absolutely amazing in the role. There's a malice in his calm demeanor that is absolutely terrifying and he single-handedly gave Covenant legs to stand on. Factoring in his dual-role as the benevolent Walter only adds to the strength he provided. While the rest of cast wasn't nearly as instrumental in carrying the movie they didn't slouch either. In the starring role, Katherine Waterston was able to provide a full emotional arc without being a complete Ellen Ripley clone. It would have been very easy to take this lazy route and kudos to all involved for avoiding it. Speaking of emotional arcs, Danny McBride holds his own in a transition from a juvenile clown to a much more somber role as casualties pile quite well. Billy Crudup gives one of the weaker performances as the newly appointed captain trying to maintain authority among his self-doubt. He's certainly not bad and he doesn't hurt the movie; he's just not up to his co-stars level.

Like its predecessor, Alien: Covenant isn't exactly painful to sit through but it's a plodding rendition of a story that I don't think anyone actually cares about. At least the poor reviews for Prometheus convinced Scott to reduce it from five movies to three; now we just gotta get through Alien: Awakening in a couple years. I'll likely never watch Covenant again except as a refresher when that sequel drops and after that I'll start hoping that we finally get a worthy sequel. 3.5/10.
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