Prometheus wasn’t perfect but it was worthy of being in the Alien universe of movies regardless of its polarizing effect on fans. Alien: Covenant is the continuation of the “prequel” series and as its name suggest, is a more outwardly recognizable Alien movie.
I liked that Alien was not in the title for Prometheus as it was more than just an Alien movie that had already been made 4 times before (6 if you include the 2 Alien vs. Predator movies). That loose relationship with the Alien series turned back into a full-fledged predictable Alien story with Alien: Covenant.
The biggest flaw with Prometheus was the lack of characterization. That strategy of zero characterization continued downwards with Covenant. Besides the bad CG, the only thing that I noticed in the TV ads for Covenant that constantly aired during the NBA playoffs was Danny McBride. A cowboy hat wearing, unshaven, “normal guy” character was an immediate turn off. I audibly scoffed and cocked my head back like I had eaten an upper cut from Stipe Miocic in the theater when I heard the name of McBride’s character; Tennessee. Now that we know his name, guess what his biggest character trait is? He drinks Jack Daniels, whiskey made in Tennessee. Sadly that is the most interesting back story any character receives.
It might have been my impossibly low expectations going in, but I didn’t hate the character of Tennessee. He wasn’t great, but he didn’t ruin the movie like I predicted he would. I liken Tennessee to Shia LeBeouf’s character named “Bible” in the war tank movie Fury. Both are horrendous on paper and in the advertisements, but performed at a decent level in the actual movie.
The rest of the cast looks gnarly on paper featuring Katherine Waterson (Inherent Vice), Billy Crudup (whom I always confuse with Christian Camargo), Demian Bichir (The Hateful Eight), and of course Michael Fassbender. I am having trouble thinking of a movie where actors were needed less (maybe American Hustle). I didn’t care about any of the characters portrayed by the actors I just listed or the few hot chicks that only existed to be eaten whom weren’t listed.
The crew of the ship (which had a cool design) Covenant were on a mission going to planet Origae-6 in an effort to colonize the planet. On board were 2,000 colonist in stasis and 1,000 embryos awaiting arrival on their new home. During their journey, their ship gets damaged after absorbing a neutrino burst which kills several colonists and the captain of the ship named Branson (weirdly played by James Franco). The captain was married to Daniels (Katherine Waterson) continuing the idea of improbable space missions ran by a crew of married couples. In Prometheus only Shaw and Holloway were a couple but in Covenant, there are 5 married couples in the crew opening the door for more bad decisions fueled by conflicts of interest.
After Walter (Michael Fassbender) the AI of the Covenant made in the same likeness of David from Prometheus, wakes up the crew, they appoint Oram (Billy Crudup) to be the next captain as he is the next highest ranking crew member. This is where it is revealed that Oram is a man of faith. A man that believes in god is in charge of a highly scientific and agnostic type of mission. Just like in Prometheus, the revelation of a religious crew member is thrown onto the lap of the viewer like a dead fish and instead of cooking it into a delicious and interesting meal, it remained a dead nasty fish that slowly rotted. I don’t understand why a person of faith is crammed into these movies for no reason. Why introduce such a character trait and never expand upon it? Oram being religious didn’t affect the movie minus a few early minor conversations.
While repairing the ship, Tennessee receives a weird transmission. After analyzing the transmission, the crew learns that it was sent by a human from a nearby planet that is habitable. So instead of reporting the transmission and the existence of the planet to Earth and continuing on their own mission, Oram decides to go to the unknown planet and to investigate the transmission (they suspected it came from the Prometheus).
On the planet the crew finds a crashed Engineer ship, the one that Shaw and David flew off LV-223 in Prometheus. That’s the premises of Covenant, a predictable Alien movie with bad CG, miniscule characterization, and the continuation of the Prometheus plot jammed in it (the rest of the post contains spoilers).
As soon as I saw Walter and David interact I knew there was going to be a switcheroo between the two. I didn’t enjoy any aspect of the Walter/David relationship other than it was impressive for Fassbender to play two very similar characters who shared a lot of screen time. The fight and changing of places was extremely predictable and fell flat when shown. The character of David is expanded as Covenant shows his first interaction with Peter Weyland and him killing the entire home planet of Engineers. After being put back together by Shaw, David used her as a host for his breeding of Alien’s and then slowly began to kill and infiltrate the Covenant crew.
I still don’t fully understand why David is going on a killing spree with a conscious god complex despite being artificial. Why doesn’t he want humans to colonize the galaxy?
The alien killings are much more fitting of the alien movie series than Prometheus. Crew members get their faces melted, decapitated, chests bursted, and straight up mauled. These killings are gorey and horrific, but it was obvious Ridley Scott was just trying to make up for the lack of alien killings in Prometheus. The CG of the aliens looked mediocre at best as well. I watched Prometheus again the day after watching Covenant, and the 5 year old movie looked better.
Scientist not doing scientist things is the major cause of conflict in Covenant. First, deciding to go to the unknown planet in the first place was a risk that never should have been taken. Second, why the fuck do they not follow quarantine procedures? If a dude randomly got sick on the island just hours after arriving and started coughing up black blood, why would you let him on the ship? Third, after it has been established killer aliens are roaming around, why would you get close and look directly into an organic foreign capsule like Oram did?
Tennessee’s wife, Maggie Faris (Amy Seimetz) fucked up harder than I have ever seen a character fuck up in any movie. First she lets the clearly infected security dude onto their transport ship (their only way of getting on and off the planet). She and Oram’s wife, Karine (Carmen Ejogo) take the security gunman into the medical bay. The gunman goes into a seizure and an alien begins to burst out of his back. Faris panics and locks Karine in the medical bay with the alien birthing gunman. Faris freaks out, runs to the armory, grabs a shotgun and makes her way back to the medical bay. She sees the alien that burst out of the gunman attack Karine and opens the door. Faris immediately slips on blood and shoots the ceiling as the alien finished killing Karine. Faris panics again, flees the medical pod and attempts to shut the door but it gets stuck on her ankle, probably breaking it. Faris gets up, stumbling on her now bum leg as the alien escaped the pod chasing her. Faris frantically shot buck shot widely throughout the pod causing it to explode. Jesus fucking Christ.
The movie ended with David putting Daniels into stasis and placing alien embryos into the human colonization. He walked among the colonists with an overture of a Wagnerian opera playing. Super subtle. Ridley Scott has stated publicly that he wants to make another Alien movie which will fall between Prometheus and Covenant in the timeline and also suggested that another 3 movies could make up another trilogy in the Alien series in upcoming years.