I don’t like scary movies.
Hate ’em as matter of fact.
Life has enough stress already without me subjecting myself to that.
I know, I’m a film critic, I should be made of sterner stuff. But when I realized director Ridley Scott would be returning to the mutant monster franchise he spawned with 1979’s Alien, well I had to see the results for myself. Or, at least peek at them from behind my chair.
Before we get into the guts of the new movie, an explanation is in order.
Alien: Covenant is sequel to a prequel. In 2012, Scott directed Prometheus, an ambitious film about space and the origin of the species that took place before the original Alien film. Alien: Covenant takes place 10 years after the events of Prometheus.
We begin with a new ship and a new crew on a colonization mission.
The ship called the Covenant is heading to their new home years away, but a deep space signal causes the crew to divert to a previously unexplored planet.
After harrowing ride down to the surface, the explorers and accompanying soldiers find what looks like an untouched slice of paradise. High, looming mountains, and a lush forest surround them.
Of course waiting in the foliage are spores of the familiar parasitic life form which is soon setting its sights on the crew. Which led me to wonder: How can these futuristic space rangers have interstellar space travel but such shockingly poor environmental and contamination protocols? How about a facemask? Or try testing the environment before you go stomping around?
Mild spoiler alert below
But while the crew are finding new and interesting ways to die, they also uncover Michael Fassbender who plays David, an android left over from the last film. This turns out to be a two-for-one deal since the crew brought an upgraded model named Walter. As the robot brothers, Fassbender is a joy, displaying a subtle range of a emotion and ambition.
Instead of being innovative Alien: Covenant feels as if Scott is rehashing his greatest hits. While in Prometheus, many complained about the lack of aliens, this time Scott over compensates, serving up a monstrous menagerie with all your favourite creepy-crawlies: the facehuggers, some bodily invasion and a final showdown with the big mean mama.
In the end for all my fears, the derivative nature of Alien: Covenant makes it a less-thrilling experience.
Sure there are jumps and shocking moments, but they are followed by a sense of recognition. Even the casting of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them star Katherine Waterston as the acting commander seems like a distant echo of the great alien tamer played by Sigourney Weaver.
Still, for those looking to get their scare on, come for the robot buddies and stay for the splatter-ific showdown.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 stars