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Alien: Covenant

  • Directed by Ridley Scott
  • Starring Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup
  • Rated R
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Cov·e·nant: n, an agreement, usually formal, between two or more persons to do or not do something specified.

In other words, it’s a cool-sounding word that has nothing to do with the movie it is subtitling. If anything, the “covenant” could be referring to the agreement made between filmmaker and audience in the first four movies, which this film (and Prometheus before it) casually breaks. Everyone knows that aliens are made when a facehugger orally impregnates a human, or sometimes dog, followed by the chest-bursting birth of said alien. What this movie presupposes is: maybe they can come from spores?

In the ill-wrought vein of Prometheus, Alien: Covenant picks up the mantle of injecting half-baked pseudo-philosophy into what used to be a pretty damn good series of space monster movies. And it would’ve worked too, if it hadn’t been for those pesky writers! See, Covenant is the name of the colony ship making its way through space to colonize a well-vetted and well-studied habitable planet. When the emergency repair crew is woken early, they discover a transmission beaming from an unknown planet in which Danny McBride’s lazily named Tennessee can just barely make out the dulcet tones of John Denver. So, naturally, they change the course of the Covenant, which still harbors thousands of future colonists in cryosleep, and go check it out. Next thing, they’re traipsing through the gorgeous jungle mountains of a completely alien world without any sort of protective masks or space suits (remember the spores?), splitting up willy-nilly, just asking for it.

The film looks amazing, but don’t be fooled. Ridley Scott can still make $100 million shine on screen; he just doesn’t know how (or care) to make sense from it anymore. Katherine Waterston, probably good in other films, fills the obligatory role of a Ripley replacement in brunette-boy-cut only. Danny McBride is annoyingly not annoying enough. Billy Crudup’s character is only there to be the idiotic driving force behind the plot who leads everyone, footloose and fancy-free, into danger—or, as the film sees it, action. But the real standout fail of Alien: Covenant involves Michael Fassbender’s paranoid android. Fassbender is characteristically great, a monumental feat given what his character is tasked to say and do (especially do). But like every character in this beautiful stinker, his motivations are baffling at best and lead to some of the weirdest and craziest scenes in the franchise.

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