Director: Ridley Scott
The crew of the Covenant are in deep hyper sleep when they are prematurely awoken by Walter (Michael Fassbender), the ships synthetic crew member, who alerts them to an emergency situation that requires their immediate attention. The Covenant was headed to Origae-6 on a terraforming mission with over 2000 colonists on board and lives had already been lost during the emergency incident including that of the life of the ship’s captain. Whilst carrying out repairs the ship intercepts a distress signal and despite some resistance newly promoted Captain Oram (Billy Crudup) decides to investigate, especially as the source of the signal was from a planet that seemed to offer better colonising options than that of their original destination. Once down on the planet they make some startling discoveries and it becomes a story of survival for the whole ship and it’s crew.
The cast is not filled with household names for the most part. Of course, we know all about Michael Fassbender and he updates to the role of Walter from that of David in Prometheus in particularly artificial fashion. A much colder character than that of Ash or Bishop, in Alien and Aliens respectively, perhaps showing that personality was something the synthetics would develop at a later stage. Comparisons to Ripley are going to be very hard to avoid for Katherine Waterston as Daniels but I felt she did really well and coped with that burden in strong fashion. A gritty and loyal crew member she showed Daniels was not a character to be trifled with. I was a little concerned at the casting of Danny McBride. I just wasn’t sure with his comedy background he was quite the right choice but as Tennessee he really impressed me. Just like Daniels, Tennessee was a fiercely loyal character not afraid to take a chance to save his fellow crew members even if it meant bending the rules a little. Finally there’s Billy Crudup, an underrated actor in my opinion. Playing the post disaster ships captain, Crudup’s character reminded me very much of Dallas from the first Alien movie played by Tom Skerritt. A thoughtful character who struggles with his new-found promotion as he feels he doesn’t command the respect of his subordinates.
I’ve already made many comparisons to films from the original saga and from Prometheus. This is unavoidable. The original films are so iconic and influential any subsequent movies are always going to have the standards those original movies set to live up to. Ever since the Star Wars prequels debacle I’ve met prequels with such an apprehension it’s almost made me not actually want to see the prequels that have been released. As Ridley Scott directed both this and it’s predecessor I carried more hope for both this and Prometheus. I enjoyed Prometheus but it received mixed reviews and Scott has admitted he may have gotten it wrong, I’d disagree to some extend though but it would explain how Covenant came across. For me, it felt like a mash-up of Prometheus, Alien and Aliens. On paper that sounds like a great mix, on-screen not so much. It combines the exploration elements of Prometheus with the crew under siege mentality of Alien and the action of Aliens if that makes sense. Still sounds good doesn’t it? Well, it is enjoyable don’t get me wrong but it’s just a little bit messy and where Scott takes the xenomorph’s evolution doesn’t quite sit right with me especially as there’s a huge question mark over one character left unanswered after if feels like a scene explaining it has been completely omitted! The action is good but the tension isn’t really there that we’ve come to expect. The xenomorph itself did not seem as authentic which is perhaps down to the CGI effects. It reminded me of the joke about the shark looking fake in Jaws, the alien seemed really artificial and didn’t strike the same sort of fear as it previously did.
The verdict: 3/5 Stars: Worse than Alien 3 better than Resurrection.