There will be blood- but not a huge amount of anything else. Alien- Covenant offers very few surprises in what often seems like an Alien movie for people who’ve never seen an Alien movie. Those that have will either be satisfied or disappointed depending on their expectations. Those who found Prometheus somewhat lacking in those familiar xenomorphs will certainly find much to please them here in the neomorphs which are similar and just as lethal. In what at times seems like a `greatest hits` package there is evisceration and gut busting aplenty as this slightly different but still recognisable breed of creature fillets a selection of largely anonymous crew in a variety of different ways.
Ridley Scott directs the slaughter with customary aplomb and plenty of zippy edits make for a number of tense sequences,. Whether in the brightly lit environs of the spaceship from which the film takes its name or the darker caverns of an ancient city on the planet the crew visit, the aliens are as scarily dangerous as you’d want. However it does seem as if the film is determined to follow the route we expect. There’s a scene where someone looks into an alien egg and you think- maybe this time it won’t burst open into camera. It does. There’s a male captain who is indecisive and unsure. Will he find his way and lead them to a win? Nope, he won’t and it will be the Ripleyesque female lead who ends up going face to face with the even larger creature who turns up for the finale. It all seems rather predictable. It also makes you wonder why they bothered to make Prometheus as the references here to that ship would suffice.
What narrative core there is revolves around the android David from Prometheus and the next generation model Walter. As Michael Fassbender is in almost every film nowadays Covenant goes a step further and casts him in both roles. The interaction between the two is technically flawless while also providing a more interesting alternative to the cat and mouse game playing out elsewhere. Having been stranded on this planet for a decade, David has evolved into something of a poetry quoting, secret lab experimenting villain who can even face an alien and not be attacked as he is effectively their creator. In his head he has become God-like despatching his own logic to gruesome effect. In what proves to be the film’s best conceit we are shown his involvement in the genetic development of the aliens.
By contrast Walter is more amenable and the actor does a good job in drawing these distinctions. Theirs is a climax where we’re not sure which android has survived and despite the fact you sort of know all along, it’s still set up quite well. The android aspect of the plot makes the film worthwhile positing that to all intents and purposes the aliens were created by us or at least an android humans made by us.
The rest of the ensemble have little time to make their mark amidst the action before they are brutally erased leaving you noting more the ingenuity of the deaths rather than missing the people themselves. It is a gory film with buckets of blood. Covenant is definitely a more worthy and interesting prequel than its predecessor but its hard to avoid the feeling that this franchise is being stretched out rather too thinly.