It’s a fine Summer evening as the Screening Room crew gathers at the KFHS Radio Studio. DJ TV has returned and is wearing a sort of bird mask and a robe, he’s also brought a box of matches and is arranging a number of candles. Mad Mike is constructing a hat made of tin foil, the radar dish he assembled before the previous show hums to life. Foxx Jackson has officially entered a relationship with his headset (specifically headset #4), they seem very happy. As 6:30 rolls around, the crew prepares to explore new worlds as they review Ridley Scott’s “Alien: Covenant.”
“Alien: Covenant,” the follow-up to Scott’s “Prometheus,” takes place a little over a decade after the events of the previous film. The crew of the colonization ship, the Covenant, are awakened from cryosleep early during a neutrino storm that kills their captain and number of the several thousand colonists also in cryosleep in the hold of the ship. After receiving a strange transmission from a nearby planet, the crew and their newly elected captain decide to change course and investigate. As one might expect, chaos ensues.
This review is SPOILER heavy.
“The first thing we’re gonna hit on is… this movie has a stupid plot,” states DJ Mad Mike, and as sad as it may sound, he’s not wrong. The first thing you will notice about “Covenant” is that it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. “Divert our colony ship off course to some random planet we haven’t checked out yet emitting a strange signal, and chaos ensues, who would have guessed?” says co-host Foxx Jackson. The crew of the colonization vessel Covenant is supposedly scientists, who are not only supposed to be incredibly intelligent but also have survival and military training. Yet none of the decisions they make seem to reflect this. The only redeeming crew member is Daniels (Katherine Waterson). While Daniels doesn’t quite live up to a replacement for Ripley, she does seem to be the only human character written with some shred of intelligence. Michael Fassbender delivers the most interesting performance as the android Walter and reprising his role as the android David. Not only is Fassbender’s performance excellent, his character is by far the most intriguing and best written. Unfortunately, “best written” in this context isn’t exactly a compliment and while Waterson and Fassbender give it their best, a poor script will always be a poor script.
“Covenant” also seems to be a little confused about what type of film it wants to be. The Alien series has traditionally contained themes about fear of the unknown and the insignificance of man in the universe. Prometheus introduced deeper sci-fi themes about creation and the origin of life, “Covenant” attempts to pursue these ideas through David’s journey, but ultimately fails by turning the alien into a classic 80’s slasher villain. “When I think of Alien… I don’t think of creation” says DJ TV “It would have been much better without the alien, why not focus on David’s story and the Engineers?” This isn’t to say, however, that the inclusion of the Alien is all bad. Foxx Jackson states “I couldn’t help but cheer for the new Alien as he worked his way through the remaining crew members… it really felt like the 80s again for just a short moment.” Mad Mike also agrees “The new CGI Alien looks absolutely awesome, it moves fast and is pretty terrifying.”
“Alien: Covenant” attempts to venture into questions presented by its predecessor “Prometheus,” however many fans and critics find that due to poor scripting and forced inclusion of the classic Alien the film is ultimately a predictable sci-fi trope. “Covenant” does look gorgeous, the landscapes of the Engineer homeworld are both beautiful and haunting. Michael Fassbender and Katherine Waterson both deliver excellent performances that are only hindered by the mediocre writing of their companions. Some fans may find the android David’s journey to be a redeeming token as it is genuinely interesting and perhaps the best part of the movie.
The Screening Room rates films on a scale of:
“Alien: Covenant” is Screening Room certified as Watch it. Votes from all co-hosts included 1 pass, 1 watch it, and 1 buy it.
With Tiger Media Network, I’m Chris Jacobs.