The lingering issues in ‘Alien: Covenant’ (Spoiler Warning)

Published by: Anthony Wallace


xEMPIRE_AC_PAGE_70_CROP.jpg.pagespeed.ic.ssHt4qHtROHaving given my thoughts on ‘Alien: Covenant‘ in my review (click here) there was plenty to think about as credits rolled. I spoke fairly positive about the film as far as the acting by Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, and even Danny McBride. We also got to see amazing cinematography and production design with space and the eventual arrival on paradise (a.k.a. the Engineer’s home world). And lastly, the suspense and terror were coupled by a talented sound artist in Jed Kurtzel. Where the film struggles however is in its identity and where  Ridley Scott and the studio want to take the series next.

To begin the search we examine the moment when the Covenant ship arrives on the Engineer’s home planet. It’s here that we find a beautiful landscape that hides a dark and dangerous agenda by David. Once David makes his presence felt he then leads the surviving colonists to a safe haven where we they discover the terrible truths. The problem though is that the Engineers are hardly mentioned and the citadel where they live is barely searched. This was an opportunity to learn who, what, and why the Engineers decided to create humans as we learned in ‘Prometheus‘. By the end of the film it’s learned that the Engineers were to go back to earth and destroy their creation.

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It’s almost a tease to the fanbase who loved ‘Prometheus‘ that the Engineers would not play a bigger role in ‘Alien: Covenant‘ and were consequently non-essential. The second half of the film we are reintroduced to David who reveals his desire to create life and how humanity’s actions have led him to believe that the human race does not deserve a second chance. Thus he’s been experimenting with the ampules and the black goo we saw in Prometheus. It leads us to David needing living hosts to breed a pathogen that to him is considered the perfect organism. All is well when it comes to Michael Fassbender and his character’s intrigue and horrifying viewpoints of how he perceives his creators and his creations. My issue comes to how and why the Engineers were eradicated without even a mention of what he learned from them as he and Elizabeth Shaw journeyed to their home world.

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The next issue is in the discovery of where the Aliens originated. It becomes clear that David engineered the embryos and would then spawn blood-thirsty monsters. But the discovery is all too obvious and is almost eluded to in ‘Prometheus‘ because of David’s curiosity and a desire to become a god himself. In point, everything happens so fast and the revelation to the origins of the Alien are non-suspenseful. Had we seen some of the experimentations or the progression of his final product it would have been more fulfilling. But a quick explanation to Oram (Billy Crudup) devoids the mystery we’ve come to enjoy and almost feels like a cheap way of furthering the mythology in the Alien franchise.

It feels like much more can be developed when it comes to the Engineers and I certainly hope we’ll see more of them in the next installment. There are many elements to this film that are enjoyable but I would have preferred a more fleshed out script that didn’t feel like rushing through its big ideas and thus leaving behind what could have been. ‘Alien: Covenant‘ is enjoyable and is one of the more solidly made entries in the series.

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This leads me to my last point and that is the studio should not always react to the fanbase. After ‘Prometheus‘ left so many critics and audience goers divided than ever before the studio’s hand changed the direction in which Ridley Scott was going with the story. After watching ‘Alien: Covenant‘ it’s evident that the movie feels half of a ‘Prometheus‘ and ‘Alien‘ sequel. Because of that we get a movie that doesn’t know its true identity. In the end, it cheats itself from being a great ‘Alien‘ movie and thus resulting as an apology to the fanbase.

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