By Cynthia Ayala
“The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.”
Alien: Covenant does its predecessors proud…for the most part. While the film was overly amazing, at the end of it, it’s clear that it suffers from some continuity issues. But I’ll get to that in a minute because overall, they don’t affect the enjoyment of this film at all.
Taking place sometime after Prometheus, a new crew with a different mission has taken a detour to an unknown planet where treachery awaits them. What works so well is that even while the audience is expecting the Aliens to pop out of nowhere, the tension and suspense is still there because of the excellent writing and way the film maneuvers around new characters and new and familiar elements. David is still here, but now he has a foil, Walter, both played by the magnificent Michael Fassbender. Fassbender is already a magnificent actor who is able to give the film another antagonist other than the Alien. Although personally I think there needed to be just a little more screen time with the beloved and dangerous Xenomorph.
As always the xenomorph’s are the selling point here, everyone wants to see them and the havoc and terror they ensue. But the challenge is not rehashing what has already been done, it’s doing something fresh with an idea that has already been done repeatedly. With new characters and an additional antagonist (David), the film accomplishes that. But the creators here also decided to explore the xenomorph anatomy. Enter the Neomorphs that offered up something fresh in the movie. While not seen too much in the film, in the short bursts they have, they are terrifying and amazing at the same time. And they are different, unique to the franchise as a whole.
The casting was also amazing. Of course, no one can ever replace Sigourney Weaver, and yes there are many similarities between Daniels and Ripley, but Daniels has her own spunk to her. Katherine Waterston was amazing in her role. She had the strength needed to drive the film and the capabilities to carry the film on her shoulders. She was the hero and used her ingenuity to fight off the xenomorphs to protect what she needed to protect and survive on her own. She deserves a sequel, if only because her dynamic with Fassbender was amazing. Their dynamic has turned this franchise into more than just a horror film, now it’s also about good versus evil, about humans versus synthetics. There is an added element there that makes the film worthy of standing on its own to lead to its own franchise. You know, before bleeding into the original franchise.
Now, let’s go back and have that chat about continuity.
(Word of warning, there are spoilers ahead.)
If one looks at the film and puts it alongside the rest of the films in the series, AvP included, then there exactly did the Aliens come from? Prometheus established that they came from the goo created from the Engineers. And if you look at the Engineers and the Aliens in this franchise, well, they tend to bear a strong resemblance, especially the Neomorphs.
I’m probably asking too many questions and thinking too much into it but the ending of Prometheus saw the birth of a xenomorph and here we have David who experimented with the goo, with the “black stuff” that came from that creepy cave with the xenomorph skeletal structure carved into the wall. Maybe these continuity issues have always been here, maybe I’m just not looking for the answers in the right place, but whatever is going on leaves one thing wrong here: why is the film suddenly giving David all the credit for giving birth to the xenomorph as we know them through his macabre experimenting with Elizabeth Shaw and the “goo”? As far as issues go, this is both the biggest issue and the smallest issue only because it doesn’t affect the film or the enjoyment of the film, until the end when you think about the series and find that the pieces don’t quite match up.
While it’s true that the history and origin of the xenomorphs have never been established, the films are offering too many variables, too many variations to establish a beginning to the xenomorph’s themselves. Where they engineered or are they a form of evolution from a planet in the dead of space?
Questions aside, the film is amazing. It is not a film with cheap thrills, it’s a film that captures what made the originals so good, but adds something different to it. It’s a worthy film to have that Alien in the title. (★★★☆ | A)
Directed by Ridley Scott
Distributed by 20th Century Fox