Title: Alien: Covenant
Country: UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Director: Ridley Scott
Music: Jed Kurzel
Cinematography: Daruisz Wolski
It is fairly reasonable for audience to expect something less derivative from a beloved Sci-Fi franchise rolling out its sixth enterprise, but dejectedly, ALIEN: COVENANT doesn’t cut the mustard because the newly assembled human cast will by rote tread the same sorry path of their ill-fated predecessors at the behest of similarly unsound decisions, a foreshadowed payoff where foot soldiers are expected to come in for grisly dispatches perpetrated by the slimy, fleet-footed and ferocious alien predators (whether it is a xenomorph, a neomorph or a facehugger), whereas the breathing beings (including those who are haloed with “protagonist nimbus”) will make the same mistake all over again (rule of thumb no. 1, stop rescuing those injured ones, they will never be cured, putting them out of their misery on the spot is the most merciful and sensible action), let the scourge imperils the next chapter.
ALIEN: COVENANT is a sequel set in roughly a decade after what happens in PROMETHEUS (2012), many must rack their brains to recall any particulars happened in the less-than-satisfactory prequel, other than that the only survivors of Prometheus are Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) and a severed head of android David (Fassbender). Here, the crew of Covenant, equipped with David’s doppelgänger Walter (an improved model manufactured with more observance to his calling), meets a monumental setback in the onset, their captain perishes in the malfunction of his cyro-sleep pod (a cameo from an exuberant James Franco), which instantly precipitates some lingering questions? Is there something iffy of the unlucky accident? Which the film refuses to elucidate.
Under the helm of the new captain Chris Oram (Crudup), a man of faith and very disinclined to disabuse his opportunistic inclination that an untapped nearby planet might serve a better home for the ship’s colonization mission when they receive a mysterious radio transmission promising human existence therein, the chipper landing party fetches up with a very Earth-like environment (they are even blithe enough to discard oxygen helmets before going out of their lander to breathe the air), but soon the invitation turns out to be a siren’s call when body counts surge due to the infection of some vicious parasites (again, without the protection of helmets conveniently eases the process). The plot thickens when we are meet David again, this planet is actually where Prometheus eventually crash-landed, and David, living in solitude after the demise of Dr. Shaw, has conspired a sinister plan to supersede his mortality-bounded and despised creator and become a creator himself, a perpetual dread over the revolt of artificial intelligence takes the centre stage where Mr. Fassbender can exercise his Manichean dueling with compelling gusto (a narcissistic android kiss lets on how lonely and desperate he wants a companion rivaled to his ambition, prowess and immortality).
Another real trouper here is Katherine Waterston’s Janet “Danny” Daniels, who is grief-stricken after the death of her hubby, the said perished captain, but never flinch in the action after his fellow crew members are being picked off one by one in the gore-fest, her mettle is an incandescent homage to the franchise’s first heroine Ellen Ripley, still there is a nagging plot-hole when she seems to be unfazed by Walter’s wound stitching (and even offers her assistance) after they escape from that plagued planet, as she supposedly should know that Walter has an advanced ability to heal himself (which is demonstrated earlier before the Walter Vs. David face-off), and this leaves the not-so-shocking twist in the end quite stilted because logically she should have known better than blurting out the “cabin on the lake” question after being immobilized inside the pod.
Fairly speaking, ALIEN: COVENANT takes a leap forward from its nearest predecessor in terms of its holistic coherence and ideological purview (a mankind’s colonial expenditure almost scuppered by an android’s creationist fanaticism, yet, it is human’s inveterate caprice of risks answers the latter’s invitation to begin with, and the tale is nowhere near its finishing line), still it is a baby step, reckoning its dwindling revenue, chances are this revered horror brand is in a creativity predicament, and with all due respect to Mr. Ridley Scott, it might be wiser to delegate his money spinner to a new helmer so as to drip-feed some fresh vision into its formulaic structure and outlook, and Neill Blomkamp might not be a bad candidate.
referential points: Scott’s ALIEN (1979, 8.5/10), ALIENS (1986, 8.4/10), PROMETHEUS (2012, 6.4/10); Neill Blomkamp’s ELYSIUM (2013, 6.6/10) and DISTRICT 9 (2009, 7.3/10); DANIEL ESPINOSA’s LIFE (2017, 5.6/10).