Alien: Covenant Is Nothing But Horror Movie Schlock


Daniels Branson (Katherine Waterston) Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Manuel Ramirez, Movie Critic

You know how the first movie in a Horror franchise turns out to be the best of the bunch while everything else goes down the drain. Just look at the countless sequels and reimaginings of Jaws, Friday the 13th, Halloween, and A Nightmare on Elm Street to name a few; they never live up what made the original work. Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror Alien (1979) is somewhat of an exception with James Cameron’s action-packed sequel Aliens (1986). Alas, the streak ended there as success wasn’t repeated in David Fincher’s Alien 3 (1992) with its behind-the-scenes troubled production that Fincher has publicly disowned the film.  Even though it ended on a dud of a downer ending it managed to conclude the storyline as clunky as it was until came Alien Resurrection (1997). Repulsive, unnecessary and downright ludicrous to the levels of Batman & Robin it is by far the worst in the film series. (I hear Alien vs. Predator gives it a run for its money but I decided to pass on them until I get to the Predator films and its scheduled reboot in 2018).

In an effort to re-energize the franchise, Ridley Scott returned to the Alien universe with Prometheus (2012) taking place before the events of the original explaining the origins on where the iconic xenomorphs came from. While gorgeous on a technical standpoint with its visuals and practical sets, it hearkens to the worst of the franchise instead of what made the Alien films great. It tries to be intellectual and philosophical with its imposing questions on belief and the origins of humanity only for it to go out the window in the last act. I’m all for asking the big questions in sci-fi even if the premise gets a tad silly but having them in this series was not my first choice.  

Now we have the next in Scott’s Alien prequels, Alien: Covenant.  Set ten years after the events of Prometheus, we follow the crew of the Covenant (hence the film’s title) a colonization ship sent to populate a new planet but when a strange signal is picked up on an unknown planet they decide to investigate only to have a close encounter of the grisly kind. If that plot sounds oddly familiar of the first film, it gets better. And when I mean better, of course I mean worse. Like Prometheus, Alien: Covenant is nothing more than your generic horror movie with the tiresome clichés of forgettable and idiotic characters who are there just to die, over-the-top gore that comes off as nasty than scary making it a dull and predictable picture. Questions that were left hanging in Prometheus are once again chucked out the window and never brought up again, making everything that was at stake in that movie utterly pointless. The only question that is answered is how the xenomorphs came to be but honestly was anyone that desperate to know of their origins. The execution is dull and uninteresting that I was ready to take a nap. The original movies have their slow moments but it was engaging and never boring.

While on the subject of Prometheus, Michael Fassbender returns as David the android who was aboard the Prometheus (though his introduction to the Covenant group in a cape bears resemblance to his Assassin’s Creed role is puzzling considering the film’s negative reception) and in a dual role as Walter, the android that accompanies the Covenant crew. The interaction between them is among the interesting highlights of the movie. 

Among the recycled elements that Covenant takes is fighting an alien with a machine (done in Aliens), trapping it in the corridors (Alien 3), accidental funny moments and gruesome images that are hard to stomach (Alien Resurrection and Prometheus).  The movie even opens with the tradition opening that Scott did in his first Alien film but doesn’t leave the chilling impact the second time around. At least Cameron took a different approach when he did the sequel’s opening logo.

Was there anything I liked? Like any Ridley Scott movie it looks amazing but I found Prometheus more better looking than Covenant. In what is the hundredth failed time of replicating Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley character, Katherine Waterston as Daniels Branson is one of the better female characters but still not memorable. Danny McBride as Tennessee, the Covenant’s pilot was another great character along with Fassbender’s Walter carrying shades of Lance Henricksen’s Bishop from Aliens. A couple of fights between the aliens are cool but the best brawl involved Walter and another adversary being the movie’s best moment. 

Unless you really love the franchise and horror films general, you might enjoy it otherwise just stick to the first two films.