On May 19, horror fan’s rejoiced when “Alien: Covenant” was unleashed upon the big screen. The newest installment in director Ridley Scott’s out of this world horror franchise stars Michael Fassbender, Billy Crudup, Katherine Waterston, and Danny McBride. Not since Scott’s original 1979 film “Alien” has a sci-fi thriller been so bloody.
Like most interstellar horror flicks these days, “Alien: Covenant” centers around a crew of scientists and over 2000 cryogenically frozen passengers aboard a spaceship bound for a new habitable planet. Plans change when the crew follows a distress call to an uncharted planet that, at first glance, proves to be the paradise they’d been searching for. When they encounter the planet’s hostile and hungry alien lifeforms, the team is suddenly thrust into a fight for survival against the creatures, as well as a much more sinister force.
Though it far surpasses its 2012 predecessor “Prometheus,” “Alien: Covenant” still pales in comparison to the films in Scott’s original trilogy. The film focuses more on sending a message than it does telling a story. There isn’t much in the way of character development, seeing as almost all of the characters meet a bloody demise in rapid succession. Not even the alien itself gets enough screen time; the classic xenomorph, the most recognizable of the malevolent creatures, doesn’t even make an appearance until very late in the film.
However, when the creatures do appear, they are just as terrifying as they’ve ever been. The most horrifying part of “Alien: Covenant” is the entrance that each alien makes: gestating inside and then bursting free from a human host. True to the original film, the alien births and human deaths are downright gory, stomach churning, and nightmare inducing, but are a big part of what makes the film worth seeing. This is not a movie for those with weak stomachs.
The other shining feature of the film is Fassbender’s dual performance as the android Walter and another surprise character. Fassbender’s portrayal of the helpful robot is so convincing that it is easy to forget that he’s actually a human being. It’s also stunning to see how well he acts against himself and how capable he is at playing two vastly different characters.
The fact that the team’s ship is named the Covenant (hence the title) is ironic and yet another clever little addition to the film. “Alien: Covenant” takes on a Frankenstein-like vibe when it is revealed that a certain character with a God complex has created these aliens and has unleashed them upon the unwitting crew. Just as a covenant was made between God and man and Frankenstein and his monster, an unholy alliance and unspoken agreement was forged between this individual and the aliens. This prominent theme is what makes the movie more of a science fiction piece and less of a thriller.
“Alien: Covenant” is ultimately a horrific message about the dangers of playing God and a flat-out gore fest. It takes the best parts of “Prometheus” and “Alien” and combines them into something not necessarily new, but most certainly enjoyable. It’s a must see for any horror fan or for those who enjoy the works of Ridley Scott. The film gets a 3/5.