Warning: Mild spoilers for the movie below.
Director Ridley Scott kept us in suspense with his last “Alien” movie, 2012’s “Prometheus,” with an ending that saw sole survivor Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Repace) flying away from the distant moon she and her crew thought would have answers about the creators of humanity, only to find a species that wanted to destroy them.
With the bodiless android David (Michael Fassbender) as her guide, Shaw set out to find why the beings she calls “Engineers” want to end the human race.
“Alien: Convenant” (opening in theatres May 19) picks up the story 10 years later. No one has heard from Shaw and we are now following the crew of Covenant as they travel to a remote planet to colonize it. But after getting a faint broadcast from what may be a human on a planet that seems to be perfect to colonize and is conveniently closer than the one they were originally planning to go to, they change course.
And if you’ve ever seen any of the “Alien” movies, you know anything too good to be true is just that.
Michael Fassbender plays the android on Covenant, Walter, and accompanies Daniels (Katherine Waterston), Oram (Billy Crudup), and Faris (Amy Seimetz) as they land on the planet in search of the “ghost” who sent the transmission. Like in “Prometheus” (well, pretty much every “Alien” movie), someone does something stupid to begin the domino effect that leads to an alien bursting out of someone’s body and terrorizing the rest of the crew.
Scott has pretty much mastered the execution of building suspense in the sci-fi thriller genre, and the first half-hour of “Alien: Covenant” is some of the best work in the franchise.
But the movie hits a speed bump when David (Fassbender) comes out of nowhere to save the group on the planet from aliens. Yes, we get some needed answers about what was left unexplained at the end of “Prometheus,” but I have to admit, they’re kind of a letdown.
And then there are the strange interactions between David and Walter that fill up a lot of the middle of the movie. That’s right — Fassbender talking to Fassbender (in fact, at one point they kiss).
David has always taken his fascination with the human race a little too far, as we saw in “Prometheus,” and this movie shows he’s moved from an obsession with how humans operate to having a god complex and doing some creature building of his own. (You can thank David for the legendary pods from the first “Alien” movie.)
Back up on the Covenant, Danny McBride’s Tennessee character is the movie’s secret weapon. Showing some impressive dramatic chops and heroic moves, Tennessee is the character you assume will be the first to die, and you will be pleasantly shocked how things turn out for him.
There are a few surprising moments in the movie that are best not to mention for ultimate viewing enjoyment, but if you were hoping for some finality to this prequel portion of the “Alien” franchise, you don’t get that here. Seeing as how Scott has a few more “Alien” movies coming down the pike, with this one you get some great thrills, but you’re pretty much strung along, which is extremely frustrating.
One major tip: Before going to see the movie, definitely check out the teaser videos 20th Century Fox has released on the web in the last few months. The “Last Supper” and “The Crossing” prologues will really bring some clarity to a few plot points in the movie.
Though the thrills in “Alien: Covenant” live up to the franchise, and Waterston gives a worthy, badass performance in the vein of Sigourney Weaver in the early movies, it would have been nice to see Scott stray from beats similar to the “Prometheus” plot (not to mention other “Alien” movies).
I guess there’s always the next “Alien” movie.
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