[PLEASE NOTE: THIS ARTICLE IS FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE SEEN ALIEN: COVENANT AND THUS WILL CONTAIN DETAILED SPOILERS! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED]

Firstly there is a lot of reading in this breakdown of the movie, so if you’d rather listen to my tired self mispronounce Covenant (because the movie made me stupider than normal) then you can watch the below video! (Some mild swearing)

We’ve already heard what Kervyn had to say about Alien: Covenant last week, but he’s rather shady so we don’t always trust him. Plus, he’s a bit too soft to talk about the movie in detail for fear of spoilers. So strap on your face huggers, things are going to get nasty!

I also watched Alien: Covenant last week and felt that it was rather damn stupid. It has about as much to do with Ridley Scott’s iconic 1979 film as Prometheus does, so very little. Much like the divisive Prometheus, Covenant tries to cover themes that are pretty far removed from the terrifying Xenomorph, only this time on a much smaller scale but with far reaching consequences. Say what you will about Prometheus but it wasn’t afraid to reach for the stars, which sadly led to it tripping under a falling spacecraft. But here all those lingering intriguing mysteries about the Engineers and why they did what they did are just swept away in a wave of black goo.

And what actually happened there? Did the goo that David dropped from his stolen spaceship just kill the Engineers or transform them? According to the explanations we got about how the bioweapon worked, it should be the latter, but then where did all the resultant thousands of Xenomorphs disappear to afterwards? Also, what happened to that huge Engineer ship David’s ship appeared to be docking with prior to the attack? Did the Engineers look out the window, decide ‘bugger that’ and zip off somewhere else?

What I will say though is that what Covenant does do well is offer a far more vicious version of the alien nightmare than Prometheus did, returning the franchise to its blood-splattered roots. Sadly this is set to the background of a robot going through an existential crisis where he quite literally spends much of the film talking to himself. And teaching himself how to play the flute in the most homo-erotic way possible.

Horror. In space. That was why I loved the original Alien so much. The nightmare was hidden behind bulkheads, above you, below you and bam! Possibly now IN you. You actually saw very little of the alien demon monstrosity and that plays on so many primal human instincts it’s no wonder people truly freaked out in the cinema. Even in the James Cameron directed sequel, Aliens, darkness is the cover of the beast. Covenant pulls back this extra dimension of terror and gives you aliens in… daytime. Both literally and figuratively as these prequels keep casting off the shroud of mystery to where the aliens came from, almost to the point of a science lesson.

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It really feels like Ridley Scott wanted to recreate the first two movies but needed to change things up, and adding a day sequence with aliens running around like they were extras on the Lord of the Rings set ticked his boxes. Don’t get me wrong though, Covenant introduces us to some new horrors that are truly scary. The brute force and gore that manifest around them are certainly shocking to watch and at times quite uncomfortable. I hesitate to use the term ‘gore-porn’ as it stops just short, but at times it certainly approached those posts yet never actually frightened me. Then again, when you care so little for the characters that can be expected.

It is a sadness when a cast as great as this is so under utilized, leaving the majority of the thespian lifting to be done by Michael Fassbender in dual roles as David and Walter. Katherine Waterston, as second in command, certainly does a fine job with what she has – and even gets to have her own Ripley moment in the movie’s rather lacklustre finale – and Danny McBride as Tennessee was surprisingly good too, but so much of what happens to them is reactionary and not internally driven. There are just hints at some character depth, like with newly promoted Captain Oram, played by Billy Crudup.

Oram’s personal struggle as new captain and with people dismissing his suggestions because he is religious is something I would have liked to have seen more of, but it’s just mentioned and forgotten. Instead he is awarded the ‘least likely to succeed at anything’ award by blindly following David into a cavern… Full of eggs… Which are apparently totally okay to look into… He believes this after seeing that David likes the aliens (he almost cries when Oram kills one of them) and not one alarm bell went off… Also a point: Where the fudge did the eggs come from? Where is the alien queen?! Sitting on a shelf next to Freddie’s Greatest Hits?

Sadly acclaimed performers like Demian Bichir and Amy Seimetz’s roles are also delegated to being meat bags. Of course movies like this need some cannon fodder, but Cameron managed to get away with creating memorable characters that have stayed with us decades later – at least we have Fassbender ‘times two’ though.

He is excellent (as usual), donning both an English accent and American in his roles. Sadly some of these scenes were so overtly camp they jarred from the whole experience and felt like they had no place in the film. That’s not to mention the Fassbender-on-Fassbender action (‘I’m a REAL bot!’). I also found the motivations of David very suspect, seeming to manifest as a plot driver more than any sort of judicious plan from Scott. Indeed his character does quite a bit of damage as far as removing mystery around the aliens themselves – in the end they’re nothing more than a high school science project from an android with a god complex.

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The first act of Covenant is really excellent though. Offering some of the original space elements we love so much, along with a sound score that is superb. It offers excellent horror in both the way its languid pace is broken and with nods to the audience of what is going to happen. However, even here a lot of the same is on offer. People waking from cryo-sleep? Check. Going to investigate a signal? Check. Shit gets real and people get their faces hugged and then gestate an alien in their bodies which bursts out of their chests? A big ol’ check.

The second act is where things take a Prometheus turn that leaves a lot of plot holes and bad genre trope choices – I think the only person in the cinema who wouldn’t see the David/Walter swap plot twist coming would be Helen Keller. Also, when David was pretending to be Walter, why did he help them kill the alien after literally crying like a baby when one was murdered by that meddling captain?

The movie also goes all Alien 3, as old lead character Elizabeth Shaw gets an undignified off-screen death that wasn’t even worthy of a flashback. In fact so much of Alien: Covenant literally contains the same elements that other movies in this franchise has offered – shower death scenes, flowering open alien eggs, Xenomorphs hitching rides on spaceships, knocking aliens out airlocks, etc – and this is why lets it down. I would go as far as saying this is a hybrid Alien/Aliens version 2.5 that ticks all the boxes but at the expense of creating something new and logical.

So that’s our long-winded, spoiler-filled take on Alien: Covenant. What did you think of the movie? Sound off in the comments below!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: May 23, 2017

Nick Reay

I have been an avid fan of movies ever since I discovered Santa Clause wasn’t real, a day marked in my memory by my first viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life, which wasn’t so wonderful that day. Since then I’ve watched thousands of movies and even fooled my parents into putting me through uni to get a degree in the subject. I first started writing as a journalist for The South African Newspaper before moving onto communications for an NGO trying to save the planet. Unfortunately my recommendations to the CEO that we should all don rings imbued with the powers of earth, fire, wind, water and HEART went unheard. Now I pretend the end isn’t nigh by hiding in movies.

  • So basically it sucks. Called it.

  • Weanerdog

    I remember sitting in the cinema watching Alien 3 thinking to myself this is the crock that gets produced when you run out of ideas and rehash for the sake of a buck. I think this cow needs to be put out of its misery.

  • Original Heretic

    Didn’t read much of this for fear of spoilers. Because, yes, even though the general view is that this is bad, I’m still going to watch.
    But from what I gather, they really should give Blomkamp the reins now and let him do his Alien movie. Preferably before Sigourney Weaver is too old.

  • MonsterCheddar

    Didn’t read or watch the Ginger Jockey’s Article and vid because I’m going to go watch this the weekend. I like to make up my own mind about movies. 😛

    Anyway, where is your significant other, Rince? I don’t see Deputy Brock anywhere.

    • If you didn’t watch the vid how do you know he isn’t there!?

      • MonsterCheddar

        I like did the FF thing and watched your mouth move like someone having a stroke.

  • SojournZA

    Hi, I rather enjoyed the film, not what i was expecting though as I was hopeing to learn about the engineers more, didnt expect it to be a continuation of Davids God complex from Prometheus though, quite enjoyed that aspect though.

    a few things you wrote I find incorrect:

    Firstly Ridley has said multiple times he wanted these prequels in the same universe but not the same type of movie. the Aliens franchise has taken a different approach to its stories now where it is more Sci-Fi and less Horror, going into the film expecting the old type of film will only lead onto dissappointment. He is trying to develop the lore here an grow the ideas behind things here which i applaud

    “According to the explanations we got about how the bioweapon worked, it
    should be the latter, but then where did all the resultant thousands of
    Xenomorphs disappear to afterwards?”

    did you watch Prometheus? at the start we see what happens what the goo does to the engineers, by him ingesting it and breaking his physical structure down, something pretty much happened here

    “when David was pretending to be Walter, why did he help them kill the
    alien after literally crying like a baby when one was murdered by that
    meddling captain?”

    I think he wanted to see what his creation would do to humans, seeing that it is the first time to experience this. he cried because it wasnt his creation that had died but the goo spores one from a human hybrid, ie it looked different and would be his first time he could communicate with it.

    I could be wrong but heck we can all have opinions
    id say 7/10
    cant wait for the next one

    • Thanks for the comment! Well this entire movie has been sold as a return to horror, just look at the awesome posters ‘run’. As for the goo. If you remember what happens to anyone who touches it in Prometheus I watched it on Sunday) they literally turn into something, and don’t just die. Look what happens to Elizabeth’s husband. They literally kill him as he is turning and he comes back looking like an Engineer. The goo that touches every human in Covenant, whether it be through their mouth or ear, impregnates them, again. Even David says that contact with the goo has different effects, which is why we have a few different looking aliens in Covenant. Also, in Prometheus they discover that some of the 2000 year old dead Engineer bodies had a chest bursters or ‘something dug its way out of it’. That means the goo affects the engineers in a similar way to humans (there are no eggs on the planet). As for David watching what the alien would do to them, 6 crew members had already been killed by them on the planet and the one he thought was communicating with had pulled the head off one another… All very odd! Glad you enjoyed it!

      • SojournZA

        thanks an yeh i did enjoy it, but not perfect. i can understand what you saying but just see it differently, if you really wanna go more deeply into its understanding of the goo, we know david had i think its 10 years of “maybe” altering it in his travels to the planet

        you have mentioned above that we know what happens to the humans when it interacts with them but again i am saying it reacts differently to the engineers as seen in prometheus, but then that also means that there could be different strains of the goo as it was discovered on a “presumably” military stationed planet in prometheus where the goo got out of hand

        prometheus was designed as more sci-fi and less horror an so was covenant although due to a sizeable fanbase of people not liking just that he incorporated more horror into this one

        Ridley loves the idea of Chariots of the Gods and is trying to build the mythology of the series on this, with this knowledge we need to step away from expecting the old alien type films going forward

        EDIT: please understand im not arguing, the issue is they arent very clear to many things in the film, an left for interpretation, so i could be very wrong, just my understanding

        • No, I know you are not arguing, I encourage active debate! It will be interesting to see how the eggs end up on the Engineer’s ship on LV-426 though…

          • SojournZA

            😉 I dont think that would be a issue, as I dont think David created the Eggs.

            evidence:

            prometheus had a mural with pictures depicting this and is before his “creations”. also his eggs where much larger then the normal version

  • Jim of the Banana

    But is it better than Alien 3….? This is the only question I need answered!

    • Ohhh, at least 3 had horror… Also, the reused the shower scene. No, not THAT one you sick boy!

      • Jim of the Banana

        lol, good video by the way!

        • You shut it. I know you were too busy protesting in the cafeteria to have seen it! Also, when are you coming over to make a video with Trev and I… I mean 0_O

  • Captain JJ

    Oh damn, now I have to hear and see you too. 😛

  • Magoo

    I think that you summed it up quite perfectly kind sir. I was not impressed. I felt like I went to have a cigarette and instead smoked a banana leaf, and now I just really want a cigarette even more.

  • Peet Luckhoff

    “Also, what happened to that huge Engineer ship David’s ship appeared to be docking with prior to the attack?”

    That wasn’t a ship, that was the dock

    • Peet Luckhoff

      “Also, when David was pretending to be Walter, why did he help them kill
      the alien after literally crying like a baby when one was murdered by
      that meddling captain?”

      Because David is a big picture kind of guy. Letting that xeno run amuck on the ship will probably mess it up, along with his 2000 new test subjects.

      • Peet Luckhoff

        I loved the movie btw!

  • Ocelotty1

    I was in Milford Sound when they were tearing down the lander set. It’s kind of hard to associate “Alien Planet” in your head when you recognize the scenery – other than that I’ve been watching Alien movies since 1979 – the first movie was spectacular and genuinely scary, and Covenant is what happens when you forget about suspense and just go for a dumb actioner & even the end twist was obvious to me – RS really needs to reevaluate his movie making process. Less is more. At no time during this movie did I feel a moment’s tension. Shakes head in sorrow. Ridley Scott is one of the Giants of cinema, but he now reminds me of John Carpenter after he lost his edge

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/651867cbb367ff0dabe0b4a2fd217f92b7f137cbfc628db3f354d89687ef6ee5.jpg

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