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Alien: Covenant




Alien: Covenant (R)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

05/25/17
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



Humans headed out to colonize a new world make some bad life choices in Alien: Covenant.

“Let’s follow that strange transmission to the uncharted planet and then explore it without any equipment that could protect us from contamination!” — that collection of iffy decisions sums up what the crew of the Covenant does after it is awakened some seven years too soon while on a trip to start a human colony a new planet. 
Unlike in Passengers, which also starts this way, some crew members die horribly right away, including the husband of Daniels (Katherine Waterston). He was the ship’s captain, a responsibility that now falls to Oram (Billy Crudup), whose wife  Karine (Carmen Ejogo) is also a part of the crew. Also awake and looking to get the ship repaired and back on track are married couples Tennessee (Danny McBride) and Faris (Amy Seimetz), Lope (Demian Bichir) and Hallett (Nathaniel Dean), and Ricks (Jussie Smollett) and Upworth (Callie Hernandez). And then there’s Walter (Michael Fassbender), who, like David (also Fassbender) before him in Prometheus (and who we see, or at least see some version of, in the movie’s opening scene), is an android who had been running the ship while the humans slept. 
When Tennessee encounters a fragment of a strange transmission while making repairs outside the ship, Oram decides that they should check out the promising-looking planet from which it emanates.
Once they get to this planet, which is covered in storms that interfere with signals and is notable for the appearance of wheat and the lack of animal noise, the humans don’t have to bumble around for long before people start to get infected with alienitis. Symptoms? Slime-covered stage  prop bursting from your internal organs shortly after exposure. Prognosis? Not great.
I’ll admit that I have no dog in this particular franchise-revival fight. I didn’t come in to the Alien movies until the end of the original run and have not had the will to go back and revisit with more than a casual viewing of the original few movies that won so much acclaim. Faced with such eye-roll-y fare as Alien: Resurrection and Prometheus, I find myself thinking rather fondly of Alien Vs. Predator. I know, I know, I’ll get around to the 1979 original some day. But this movie is not making that desire to catch up any stronger.
Even without having seen the first two movies, I know exactly what is going to happen at all points in this movie. From its opening scene of David talking with his creator/Weyland corporation founder Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) through the world’s most obvious reveal in its final moments, this movie doesn’t veer from a well-worn path. Age down the crew by 15 to 20 years and replace “space ship” with “an old fishing cabin in the woods” and this movie becomes indistinguishable from, like, 50 percent of horror movies. And, sure, this is because Alien is a formative horror film from which so many films take direction. But this Alien movie doesn’t do anything new with the genre, with the continuing story or with the general form. And sure, one could probably make a similar argument about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, another continuation of a 1970s sci-fi property.  But my counter would be that at least that movie is, on its own merits, a fun adventure with moments of both levity and nifty action. I can judge Alien: Covenant pretty much only on its own merits — and it really doesn’t have many of those. C
Rated R for sci-fi violence, bloody images, language and some sexuality/nudity. Directed by Ridley Scott with a screenplay by John Logan and Dante Harper, Alien: Covenant is two hours and two minutes long and distributed by 20th Century Fox. 





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