Back in 2012, the movie Prometheus set out to reveal the origins of the nightmarish Xenomorphs seen in Alien (1979) but instead, polarized an entire fanbase with its flawed execution. Its follow up, Alien: Covenant, aims to redeem the Alien prequels with even more flaws and bullshit.
Alien: Covenant focuses on the titular colony ship Covenant as it journeys through space to find a new home planet for humanity. Woken up from cryosleep after an unexpected incident, the Covenant’s crew follows a distress signal to a mysterious planet, only to discover a cosmic terror that could kill them and threaten mankind.
The latest Alien movie had the challenging task of being a sequel to Prometheus and a prequel to Alien. Despite this heavy narrative task, Covenant not only avoids being an all-out clusterfuck, but somehow manages to still feel like a lazy, safe bet.
Resurrecting The Horror
If there’s something good about Covenant, it’s that it’s a return to form. Covenant is a horror movie through and through, and director Ridley Scott revisits his roots to deliver decent thrills for audiences to enjoy while shitting their pants once in a while.
Those who wanted a new Alien movie to be an honest horror romp with guts and gore flying all over the place will be more than satisfied. Covenant fulfills this blood lust and shows why the original Alien is often imitated but never surpassed. Ironically, Covenant copies the first film so much that it becomes a modern, multi-million Dollar retread of the movie that shot both Sigourney Weaver and a phallic alien to pop culture immortality.
For a movie that’s supposed to take place before Alien, the events that unfolded are similar beyond coincidence, right down to a crew of likable but stupidly helpless people that’s cut down to a single, strong-willed, black-haired woman who musters the courage to fight the carnivorous, walking penis that facially violated her friends to death. All new protagonist Daniels (Katherine Waterston) needed to be called called Ripley The Second was a fat cat and a flamethrower.
If Covenant was just an Alien prequel, this remake would be slightly forgivable since we already live in an age of unnecessary franchise revivals – a new Alien movie that feels outdated is as inevitable as the Filipino government doing something stupid. But Covenant was meant to build on the promises of Prometheus, and its failure to do so drags what was just a passable homage to the depths of mediocrity.
Even if Prometheus ended with some plot threads hanging, it still answered its own central existential questions regarding man’s origins. It was up to Covenant to tie up these loose ends while expanding the dark mythology behind humanity’s creators being murderous assholes. Instead, Covenant takes whatever questions were left unanswered from Prometheus and happily throws them out of the fucking window.
Seemingly uninterested in giving Alien veterans what they were expecting from a Prometheus sequel, Covenant poses even more god-damned, by the Jesus, fucking questions without a hint to the reveals that are obviously being saved for the sequels. What little Covenant bothers to answer (such as the Xenomorph’s creators) are annoyingly predictable and could be seen coming a mile away by anyone who’s seen a fucking movie before. The few things Covenant does unveil only undermine the threat and mystery of the Engineers and Xenomorphs, denying them of what made them intimidating in the first place.
Covenant also endlessly references Biblical passages and classical art, in its attempts to look and sound deeper than it really is. Since the movie is supposedly about mankind’s alien creators, this artistic choice may make sense. But Covenant is essentially a ride at the carnival ghost train with Percy Bysshe Shelley’s sonnet about Ozymandias’ useless gloating blasting out of the speakers. Unless you can only enjoy horror movies when some pretentious asshole randomly yells philosophy quotes amidst the slaughter, the tonal shifts of Covenant and its bloated self-importance are as jarring as I put it.
What made the first Alien iconic is how little is actually known about the primary antagonist, and yet the movie works perfectly as a tale of isolation and cosmic horror. Alien is a great example of simplicity devoid of pretense, and Covenant is the exact opposite. By attempting to explain everything yet revealing almost nothing relevant and acting smarter than it really is, Covenant brings the story back to where Prometheus ended – nowhere near a satisfying conclusion.
Space Faring Disappointment
As disappointing as Covenant was, I can’t bring myself to hate it because of how well-made the latest Alien entry is. Ridley Scott once again shows why he’s one of the most respected visual storytellers making movies today, thanks to Covenant’s haunting cinematography and an expertly crafted atmosphere that brings in the necessary dread and fear. If Covenant was your first Alien movie, it’s sure to be a fun way to burn two hours.
But for long-time fans like myself who were expecting answers and a good new Alien movie, Covenant leaves people blue balled and demanding something more conclusive than this glorified trailer for five more motherfucking Alien sequels/prequels. What should have been the redemption of Prometheus and the true continuation of the Alien saga is instead an exercise in wasted potential and a bad omen for the future of the Alien movies, which could become as needlessly dragged out as DC’s sad attempts to make a shared cinematic universe.
Rather than expand its interesting and unique lore to deliver a strong, stand-alone story, Covenant stagnates and ignores the very goals its immediate predecessor originally set out to achieve in favor of relieving the Alien glory days of decades past. Alien: Covenant may not be the worst prequel ever made, but it’s by far one of the most fucking frustrating experiences I’ve had with a movie outside of trying to bust a nut in Fifty Shades Darker.
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