It’s been over 10 years now since the Prometheus’ mission, unsuccessful as it was. For many the outing left a bitter taste in their mouth; not feeling it so much as an expansion of the Alien World as much as it was a separate entity. To this, I would have said there was no problem. I enjoyed Prometheus greatly, and had been looking forward to where it was heading next. However, being in the minority it is of no surprise to me that Ridley and his crack team of marketeers decided to title this release as an Alien movie, but believe you me, it’s Prometheus 2.
10 years after the disappearance of the Prometheus, a ragtag crew of colonists transporting 2000 souls to start life on a new planet are awoken years early from their hyper-sleep. It’s of course not long before a tragic accident occurs, resulting in an incompetent No 2. Officer diverting the course of their extremely long and incomprehensibly well planned mission, having heard a strange human signal on a very nearby planet. Yeah, we can see where this is going.
Act 2: Chaos ensues. Dun dun dunnn.
And there wouldn’t be any problem with that, had the chaos had any resounding effect on us as an audience. Covenant contains all the key ingredients from previous Alien/Prometheus movies that you’d expect to see and in great supply, but in this attempt to cover all bases, none of them had impact. We’ve got chest bursting, Xenomorphs, a multitude of crew members to die in any manner of sickening fashion, but we simply don’t care. Ridley has played it safe this time around, and by giving everyone what he thinks they want he’s in fact left us all rolling our eyes, laughing at the wrong moment or even worse – Not reacting at all.
The native equivalent of the Xenomorph introduced in this film look pretty cool. The incredibly menacing, more organic Xenomorph model shows a completely different nature of hunting to the Xenomorph we know so well. Not so much elegant and methodical as it is ferocious, wild and unhinged – Even human. This does offer variation to the way in which we witness the action and some great firefight scenes spawn from this. We are of course eventually introduced to the Xenomorph we know so well. Albeit it far too quickly, stripping back the suspense and tension that previous Alien movies had crafted so well. The biggest disappointment here is the overuse of CGI for the classic Xenomorph modelling; what was a hulking suit that you could just as much feel in the corner of your room with you as you could see it on the screen has been replaced with some very haphazard and uninspiring computer generated monsters. There’s one scene in particular where the Xenomorph is shown to climb down a ladder far too small for the size of its body. No fucks given. Check it out in the clip below around 9 seconds in.
It’s not all bad. Fassbender once again delights in not one, but two significant roles this time around – playing the original android David as well as a newer generation model named Walter with slightly more reigned in human emotions. Fassbender masterfully creates a distinct shift in personality between the two roles, both showing how similar they are and yet how misaligned in their outlook on the World. This leads to some fantastic dialogue, comedy and even somehow, dare I say a sexual tension between the two androids. Most importantly it’s these beautifully written scenes between David and Walter that begin to touch on the much bigger questions that the series is clearly moving towards answering. As with Prometheus, the exploration of Life and death – artificial or otherwise – is going to continue to be a focal point for those resilient enough to survive.
In the end, this is not a bad film. It tries its best to connect the worlds that both Alien and Prometheus have created, and it’s likely that Ridley was under a lot of pressure to do this since Prometheus’ not overly enthusiastic reception. Unfortunately in doing so, he’s left us feeling mostly unsatisfied, and no amount of chest bursting is going to make you feel differently. It’s worth watching, if only for a continuation of the creationism themed story that promises intriguing development, and for Fassbender’s truly cold yet emotive dialogues. However, you’re going to need a little faith to believe that Ridley Scott is really holding onto the reins of this franchise.