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Alien: Covenant (2017) Review

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Alien Covenant Poster

The result of man’s curiosity

Creation, a gift bestowed upon life to pursue the stream of existence yet within that pursuit, the perception of divinity and the desire for perfection taints the stream, distorting the gift towards understanding into a curse beckoning death. It is that perversion and ignorance of consequence that led to creation of the Xenomorph and its variants that we’ve come to know, fear and strangely love.

Following on from Prometheus where the question ‘where did we come from?’ was posed, Covenant delves into a more core concept of life, the concept of creation and how life strives towards “perfection”. In particular, the focus is on David, who in Prometheus becomes obsessed with the creations of the Engineers/Pre-Humans (assuming the black product was their creation). The introduction to Covenant establishes the basis behind David’s fascination and substantiates the rationale behind David’s actions that places human beings as secondary to his own curiosity.

David was made to imitate and serve humans yet his own form restricted him from experiencing the very essence of what it is to be human – to create life. From the beauty of music that captures the soul of the individual to the depth of art that reflects back the spirit of the creator, David became fascinated by the concept of life and the ability to create. From that fascination a desire to mimic humanity and perfect life was born. The catalyst towards his perversion of the stream of life took the form of the Engineers/Pre-Humans creations. Through the mysterious black compound that operated as a parasite that utilised living organisms to grow and evolve, David found possibility in his impossible dream. With that compound, David was successfully able to create a life from a human base and unknowingly indirectly evolve that creation into a Xenomorph with the base of an Engineer/Pre-Human. This occurred during the events in Prometheus and while David may not have realised the true outcomes of his effort, he had an idea that with the black compound, he could birth a whole new life. Such ecstasy in delving into the realms of divinity twisted David into who we see him as in Covenant.

Michael Fassbender is spectacular as David again and through the new model Android, Walter, whom Fassbender also portrays, we are able to experience the depth and versatility Fassbender has as an actor. The majority of my favourite scenes from the film involved the interactions between David and Walter. His performance was nothing short of reverting and spine-tingling. While both are androids and developed by humans, they each have differing driving directives. David was meant to represent more of the human element and Walter, the updated model, was meant to represent more the tool used for human support. Fassbender portrays the variance between the two characters outstandingly and you can feel the differing level of emotions underlying David and Walter. Fassbender’s performance was by far the most memorable aspect of the film for me. And even now, I find myself appreciating his performance even more as I analyse the relevance and importance the characters he portrayed have within the overall story of the Alien franchise.

As I understand more about the world of Alien, I find myself becoming more engrossed with the relevance and intention of David, who is now driving the franchise through these prequels. He does not represent your typical hero archetype as he is a character who is more concerned with exploring life than saving it. Regardless of the consequences, David is driven by a purpose that he has decided on which has now become his reason for existence. What started initially as curiosity in Prometheus has now evolved into an obsession that he is reflecting through his “creations”. This evolution in David becomes distinctively apparent through the contrast between Walter during their conversations and interactions, particularly during the scene where David was teaching Walter about the “life” of music.

Alien Covenant Ship

The scenery during the exploration portion of the film of an uninhabited planet did successfully convey an eerily foreboding atmosphere

In regards to the other characters, there is not much to say about them, they are characters who are driven to make stupid decisions to serve their purpose whether inducing horror or being the base for the twist. Even the main female lead, Daniels, isn’t very memorable beyond being the main female lead. David and the Xenomorphs steal the show and continue to add an element of mystery to the overall prequel story. It is a shame that we won’t be getting a modern Ripley, but David is fascinating in his own twisted way, so I still find myself intrigued by the franchise.

Prometheus laid the foundation for how the Aliens were birthed and Covenant seeks to build on that with detailing how the Aliens we’ve come to know from the original films were evolved into such forms from their current state. The origins of the Aliens existence stems from the black liquid the Engineers/Pre-Humans developed to serve as a weapon. That in turn was utilised to create the Aliens we now see in Covenant and the eggs that spawn the “facehuggers”.

Given that the events in Covenant take place on the Engineers/Pre-Human home world, we will have to wait until the third prequel movie, currently titled Alien: Awakening, which will be the prequel to Covenant, to find out what exactly happened on the planet and during the trip to the planet with Elizabeth and David. Not much is explained regarding what happened with Elizabeth after Prometheus and exactly where all the Aliens disappeared to. It is a weird way of developing the story but I am intrigued as to how the prequels will be connected and presented.

As interesting as Covenant is and as spectacular as Michael Fassbender portrayed David and Walter, the film really needed more clarity and memorable supporting characters. Certain characters died “just because horror” rather than having their deaths carry meaning and result from a logical flow-on effect. Before the audience even began caring for the characters, they were disposed off. This seemingly haphazard manner in handling the characters and their role has the unfortunate effect of restricting the desire to care about any of them. Beyond the hollow pit of wasted potential, their wasn’t any payoff in the end for caring about the supporting characters. This is where Covenant falls behind Prometheus in terms of characters and crafting memorable moments. Deaths in Prometheus while largely silly had purpose. There were many times during this film that I was baffled at the characters decisions in the moment. Is that what someone would really do in that situation? The focus on the Aliens and David unfortunately came at the expense of the supporting characters yet fortunately that focus was successful in fleshing out David and the evolution of the Aliens.

Enjoyment level: 6/10

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