Alien: Covenant offers scares aplenty but very little substance

Alien: Covenant offers scares aplenty but very little substance

Alien: Covenant offers scares aplenty but very little substance

The film opens with a freshly minted David, bright eyed and barefoot, meeting his creator, Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce).

The new film, set a decade after Prometheus and again directed by Scott, begins aboard the colonization ship Covenant as it makes its way across the universe to a habitable planet designated Origae-6. Fassbender's work in these two roles is an understated wonder to behold; he creates two distinct characters that often interact with each other, and he manages to infuse each synthetic creation with unique personality traits. After being told by "Mother" to deploy the ship's energy shields, a rogue stellar ignition erupts and collides with the ship, wreaking havoc on the electrical systems. Everyone else is in the midst of a cryogenic hyper sleep, but Walter has to awaken the crew when a freak accident plunges the ship into emergency mode. It is mentioned two or three times that he's a man of faith, but that fact never becomes relevant (one assumes there are deleted scenes). He's got kind of a youthful teenage energy about all the gore. While doing so, he picks up a mysterious communication from something that sounds human. And you can't really blame them. "I decided I better nail this one, so I did". But as soon as they land on the seemingly peaceful planet, all hell breaks loose and the crew soon find they're in for the fight of their lives when they discover the sinister truth about why things are so quiet on what was surely once a habitable planet. Ridley Scott's "Alien: Covenant" might not have as much to say as his 2012 predecessor, "Prometheus", but it bridges the gap between monster movie and navel-gazing thumb-sucker.

Alien: Covenant is not necessarily a bad film; if you're simply looking for an enjoyable night out, you could do a lot worse, that said, Alien: Covenant is a bad Alien film. Indeed, of all the post-1979 Alien installments, this feels like the one most determined to mimic its formula even beyond the premature awakening of the crew: landing party, face-huggers, questions of quarantine procedure, tough female protagonist (Katherine Waterston as second-in-command Daniels), ineffectual captain (Billy Crudup) and an enigmatic android (Fassbender turning in a typically superb performance).

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And it's story where this film scores highest. But like the classic films, there's still plenty of blood and human mutilation to go around. I truly enjoyed seeing his inner workings, and his interactions with the other characters were always entertaining. Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir and Carmen Ejogo all show up, but nobody makes an impact. There are definitely a series of emotional checks and balances that Scott plays with.

"The scene that they released in the trailer - 'The Last Supper - that was actually just written for marketing", McBride clarifies.

"Alien: Covenant" is set between the events of "Prometheus" and "Alien" and is directly informed by the events of "Prometheus", which took place only 10 years earlier.

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