Screen Savor: Alien: Covenant

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The crew seals the deal in “Alien: Covenant” from 20th Century Fox

 After almost 40 years, if the Alien movie franchise has taught us anything, it’s that androids aren’t necessarily trustworthy. Beginning with Ash (Ian Holm) in the first “Alien” flick and continuing through David (Michael Fassbender reprising his role from Prometheus) in the latest installment “Alien: Covenant” (20th Century Fox), the droids’ loyalty to its creator is unwavering.

Sixth in the Alien series, and the second of the prequels, “Alien: Covenant” is set a little less than 100 years into the future. Once again, the insidious Weyland Corporation has sent another unsuspecting crew of researchers and space pioneers beyond the stars, this time aboard a vessel called Covenant. Almost immediately catastrophe strikes when a piece of equipment is damaged, leading to an abrupt end to the crew’s stasis and the horrible death of Captain Branson (James Franco).

The new captain, Oram (Billy Crudup) is a man of faith, set with the task of inspiring his shaken crew, including Branson’s widow Daniels (Katherine Waterston), Ricks (out actor Jussie Smollett), Tennessee (Danny McBride), Karine (Carmen Ejogo), Upworth (Callie Hernandez), Ledward (Benjamin Rigby), Rosenthal (Tess Haubrich), Faris (Amy Seimetz ), new and improved droid Walter (also Fassbender) and – wait for it – gay couple Lope (Demián Bichir) and Hallett (Nathaniel Dean), to mention a few. Covenant is also carrying several hundred fetuses intended to be reared on the new colony, in what amounts to a less than subtle “pro-life” message.

Lured to a planet of which they were previously unaware, the crew doesn’t realize that they are about to be sacrificed (as those before them in Prometheus were) in the name of alien resurrection. Before you can say, “surprise!”, suspicious spores enter ears and nostrils, gestate rapidly, and baby aliens bust out of human spines and mouths, attacking everything in sight. In a place where science trumps religion (sorry, Captain), even Oram falls victim to the old alien face-plant and chest-burst trick.

Ridley Scott, returning to the helm, keeps the action apace. But the sad fact is that Waterston’s Daniels can’t hold a candle (or a flame-throwing piece of artillery) to Sigourney Weaver’s raging Ripley. Fassbender’s David/Walter would probably be more interesting if he was naked. Because of this, the aliens, who have morphed beyond H.R. Giger’s original vision and version into uglier and more vicious creatures, are the stars of the show, and the galaxy. Rating: B

  


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