5 years ago, Ridley Scott released the divisive Prometheus, a movie meant to be a prequel to Alien and the franchise as a whole. What we ended up getting was something no one expected. Barely a horror movie and more a philosophical question to the creation of humanity, it split fans and casual audiences alike over those who did and didn’t enjoy it and was viewed as a black sheep in the franchise. Now in the present, Scott returns once again with Alien: Covenant, touted more as a return to form for the horror you’d expect and delving into what Prometheus failed to; the origins of the xenomorph.
Starring an ensemble cast led by Katherine Waterson as Daniels and Danny McBride as Tennessee, Alien: Covenant opens with the titular ship, Covenant, holding thousands of people in cryo-sleep headed to Oregai-6, a habitable planet similar to Earth, in the hopes of becoming the first settlers of a new colony outpost. Once struck by a accident, the head crew awakens to calm the situation, only to receive a human signal from a nearby planet that looks just as promising and habitable as their original destination. They head there and find something they never could have expected.
There are a couple of defining features that really set this movie apart as a true successor both as a prequel and sequel. Most importantly, this is a horror movie. Prometheus has a few tense moments, but you feel more like you’re watching a regular sci-fi movie over a horror one. Covenant is the opposite. From the moment they step on the planet, something seems off and the scares and stakes only escalate from there. The introduction of the new Neomorphs is a tense standoff moment and really shows the ferocity of the Aliens in a way never seen before. Michael Fassbender returns as David and has the best performance in this movie by far. He just exudes a aura of mystery and creepiness throughout and he is what holds this movie together; without him, this movie simply would not work. The reveal of the xenomorphs is one of the most oddly beautiful and terrifying sequences I’ve seen in any movie in a long time and I can’t express enough how impressed I was with the handling of it. Ridley Scott’s directing hadn’t lessened over the years either, with the beautiful panning shots and uniquely Alien practical set design.
Despite the praise given this far, this movie is hampered down by problems. While a few of the main crew is built upon, mainly Daniels and Tennessee, the majority of the cast is really there for xenomorph fodder. You just don’t care too much when they do bite the dust, because they have little to no exposition to make you care for them. Another problem is that a lot of the big questions left from Prometheus are either not answered or are just completely taken out of the equation in away that there simply can’t be answers. The ending, while being a very Alien ending and an interesting one, really makes you wonder how exactly this story will lead into the events of the first Alien movie, because it seems to go even further away from getting to that point.
Covenant ultimately succeeds where Prometheus fails, and comes closer to being a true prequel than the one before it. From its return to the franchise horror roots and finally answering the question of the origins of the xenomorphs we all know and love, Covenant is the true bridge into the events that will lead into the fateful encounter onboard the Nostromo. Despite being hampered by the ensemble problem it holds and the disregards in continuity for its sister movie, I found it an enjoyable movie that hopefully will lead into helping develop the franchise as a whole. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
3.5/5 Zombie Heads