Alien: Covenant (2017)
Directed by: Ridley Scott Runtime: 2 hr 3 min Rated: R
Studio: 20th Century Fox Screenwriters: John Logan, Dante Harper
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, Billy Crudup
Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant is the follow-up to his 2012 Prometheus prequel of his Alien franchise. Set ten years later, in 2104, Covenant follows a crew of 15 onboard a Weyland Group colonization vessel bound for a planet still several years away.
Micheal Fassbender reprises his role as a ship android, this time named Walter. He and “mother” the ship’s computer, watch over the crew and 3,100 colonist and embryos asleep in stasis pods. Things in space movies never go as planned, and Covenant is no different. Walter is forced to wake the crew early to deal with the instigating event.
The Covenant characters’ dynamic is much different from Prometheus; right after waking up, they all work to fix problems. This cohesion was not in the previous film, nor was any semblance of rank, security protocols, or notion that anyone had ever been in space before. Right away, I appreciate these things because whether a mission is from a company or military group, things happen in space, and there needs to be guidelines and structure.
It’s obvious that this crew has worked together before, and there is history. It is a colonization journey, so I can let go of the fact that almost the entire crew is paired off already with someone. I think of the Netflix show Lost in Space, and I know that dynamic can be done well. This isn’t as good as that, but it’s not terrible. That history, understanding, is what gets the crew off course from their intended destination. After spending a decade researching and verifying a planet can be colonized, I find it ridiculously unbelievable a crew would abandon that on a whim. They still have a job to do. This isn’t Star Trek.
Still, the characters are performed well, considering the interaction and story you get with some in a thriller movie like this. Katherine Waterston plays Daniels, second in command of the Covenant. Waterston’s character reminds me of Sigourney Weavers Ridley from the original Alien films. She has a strong presence, good leadership, and the right mix of ‘I can handle this and be scared at the same time.’
The film’s pace is better than the last, and the scenes flow well from one to the next. Scene transition gets really important in the latter part of the film when Fassbender and Waterston’s characters learn more about the planet they are exploring.
While Ridley Scott answers the question of what brings the Covenant to this planet with sound logic and justification, that’s where it ends. The backstory provided only serves to raise more questions and frustrations stemming from Prometheus’s introduction to the “Engineers.” Don’t worry though Covenant brings out the egg-pods, the face-huggers, xenomorphs, blood, gore, and running like its founders. The film has the suspense and thriller aspect closer to the originals than Prometheus, so fans shouldn’t be too disappointed.
There are many unanswered questions between these first two prequels that I wish Ridley Scott had done more to answer in this film. The cliffhanger those unanswered questions leave- lingers too much after two films. Scott’s master plan was to have three prequel films to connect the Alien’s origins with the original franchise. The third film may never be made. Covenant’s box office sales were disappointing. Then, Disney acquired the Alien franchise in 2019, and 2020 obliterated the film industry. I hope the film gets made and that Ridley Scott finally answers the questions he has raised so far. The fans deserve closure.
Despite all those issues and unanswered questions, Alien: Covenant is a good if under-appreciated film worthy of being put on your watch list.
—a pen lady