Following on the heels of Prometheus, Ridley Scott brings us this second film in what is to be a trilogy of films that are slated to serve as prequels to the original Alien movie of 1979.
Following a prologue in which Peter Weyland speaks with the synthetic crewmember of the Prometheus, who promises that one day they will search for mankind’s creator together. The film moves on to a colonization ship called Covenant with over two thousand colonists and a thousand embryos aboard, all in stasis. They are bound for a remote planet known as Origae-6. All is proceeding as planned when Walter, the synthetic assigned to Covenant detects that she ship has been hit by a neutrino burst damaging the ship and killing some of the colonists. Walter orders the ship’s computer to wake the crew from stasis. During the awakening process, the captain’s stasis pod malfunctions killing him and leaving the first officer, Oram in charge.
While the crew makes repairs to the ship, a radio communication is picked up from a nearby planet. Against the protests of Daniels, the original captain’s widow, Captain Oram decides to investigate.
Leaving the Covenant, a team takes a lander down to the surface where they trace the radio transmission to an Engineer ship. While on the surface, two members of the team are infected with alien spores and become sick. Those two are then quarantined in the lander’s medical bay. It isn’t long before a creature, a Neomorph, bursts from one of the infected crew’s back and kills another member of the crew. Another crewmember attempts to shoot the Neomorph but misses and hits a tank of volatile gas causing an explosion that destroys the lander. The Neomorph survives the explosion and escapes to the planet’s surface while the other infected crewman has another such creature burst from his body.
Together, the Neomorphs attack the remaining crew of the lander and kill yet another member of the crew. The rest continue to fight until David, who has survived the failed Prometheus mission, arrives on the scene and rescues what is left of the lander’s crew. He leads them to a city full of Engineer corpses. David then explains that when he and Dr. Shaw from the Prometheus arrived in the Engineer ship they had commandeered, the black liquid bio weapon was accidentally released killing the native population, David further claimed that Shaw died when the ship crashed.
As the remaining crew tries to contact the Covenant, the remaining Neomorph attacks, killing another member of the crew. David tries to communicate with the creature and is appalled when Oram kills it. Oram then turns his weapon on David and forces him to explain that the aliens are actually the result of experiments he has been performing with the black liquid bio weapon to create a new species. David then takes Oram into an incubation chamber and tricks him into being grabbed by a facehugger and implanting an embryo in Oram. It isn’t long before a Xenomorph erupts from Oram’s chest.
While the remaining members of the lander’s crew go in search of Oram, Walter confronts David after learning that David had deliberately released the bio weapon on the Engineers. David tries to justify his actions by explaining that humans are an inferior race that should not be allowed to colonize the galaxy. Walter disagrees so David disables him and then captures crewmember Daniels and reveals that Shaw didn’t actually die from a crash, but was used by David as a test subject for his experiments. Walter manages to reactivate himself and engages David in combat while Daniels escapes and another member of the crew is attacked by a facehugger. Daniels, Walter, and the infected crewmember are rescued by another lander, but not before yet another crewmember is killed by the Xenomorph.
The crew of the second lander manages to kill the Xenomorph before they dock with the Covenant, but yet another Xenomorph bursts out of the chest of the infected crew member and kills two more crew. With Walter’s help, the ship’s pilot and Daniels corner the Xenomorph in the ship’s airlock and flush it into space.
The Covenant resumes its original course to Origae-6 and the remaining crew go back into stasis. As Walter is putting Daniels back under, she realizes that Walter is actually David, but falls asleep before she can do anything about it. David then regurgitates two alien embryos and places them in stasis with the human embryos. Then, in Walter’s name, he records a log entry stating that all members of the crew, save Daniels and the ship’s pilot, were killed by the neutrino blast.
On the downside, I found the film wholly predictable. There was really nothing new to this film and it might fit into a “this has all been done before;” same song, different verse. I knew as soon as the members of the crew headed for the planet that most of them would die, save one or two survivors, and one of those survivors would be infected with a Xenomorph embryo that would threaten the remaining crew of the Covenant itself. Later in the film, when the two artificial lifeforms came face to face, I also knew that Walter would be replaced by David which would be revealed at the very end of the film. It is pretty much the same trope that has taken place in all of the films in the franchise.
However, that is not to say that the film is not entertaining and worth a watch, if not in the theater, at least when it comes out on BluRay. I enjoyed the film because of the performances turned in by the main characters, especially those of Michael Fassbender as David/Walter and Katherine Waterston in her Ripley-like role as Daniels “Dany” Branson.
It is no secret that the synthetic people on missions in the Alien franchise have been somewhat problematic, mostly because they had some agenda that the humans were not aware of. In the original Alien films, it was known that the corporation wanted the Xenomorphs for their value as weapons. The ship’s computer (known usually as Mother) and the synthetic worked hard to try to make sure that a creature was captured to be returned to Earth for exploitation. Failing that, the corporation sent a human in Aliens. In the case of David, I am not positive on what his motivation is. Was he programmed by the corporation to look for dangerous life, or is it a project he took on because he could? David was quite advanced and it is mentioned in the film that Walter has been dumbed down a bit. So we have two identical appearing characters with different behaviors. This would be a challenge for any actor; be the same, but different. Fassbender pulls it off quite well. Along with that, he becomes increasingly more sinister as the film unspools.
In this franchise, any strong female character is going to be compared to Ellen Ripley. So far, we have Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, the extremely tough character from Prometheus, and now Daniels Branson, the terraforming expert aboard the Covenant. Dany Daniels is another intelligent, tough, and driven character that deserves as much respect as Ripley, but they are not the same, they are indeed their own characters.
So, while there is really not a lot new in this film, I would recommend seeing it anyway, it does answer a few questions raised in Prometheus, and raises a few more questions that I hope will be answered in the next film in this long-lived franchise. Despite the predictability of the story, it is a very good Sci-Fi Thriller and will give you a scare every now and then.
Well, there it is…
Edited By Benjamin Arrowood
Edited By Benjamin Arrowood