Alien Covenant (2017): A Movie Review
As far as I am aware, the Internet generally despises this film. I am going to state, at the outset, that I quite enjoyed it.
I give this film an 8.5 out of 10.
Now, I come to this film with no emotional investment in the Alien film series franchise. The only other film, in the series, I've seen so far, is the first film, Alien (1979). I think that movie is very solid.
I have not, so far, seen any of the other films. One reason for this is that I don't usually go for sci-fi films. I don't usually go for horror films. And I don't usually go for combination sci-fi/horror films.
However, I "go" for this one.
First of all, the title fits. The title fits the package of scenes this movie presents. A covenant was indeed made: a covenant with the "aliens," otherwise known as "xenomorphs," I believe.
Who made the covenant with them?
Well, I'll leave that thread hanging for now.
The Story in Brief
There is a colonizing mission proceeding from Earth to another planet. The idea is to "terraform," this planet, if you will, make it fit for human life, make this new world another planet for our species to inhabit.
The trip to the designated planet calls for the crew (except for the android called Walter) to lie in suspended animation for ten years.
A random, unpredictable space event puts the ship in considerable distress, which causes the suspension animation pods to wake up the crew suddenly, about seven years early.
Presumably, the rest of the two thousand colonists were not disturbed.
Well, the ship passes through the crisis with some fatalities. Repairs must be made and the onboard computer, Mother, needs to undergo, blah, blah, blah... diagnostics and so forth.
The ship picks up a signal on another planet, which might be just as good for human settlement, if not better, than the previous destination --- which will take another seven-plus years with the crew in those pods, to get to.
The decision is taken to investigate the signal. They do so, landing on the mysterious planet.
And all hell breaks loose, as they say.
Spoiler Review: Taking on the Internet Critics
I disagree with virtually every major criticism made by the Internet.
Perhaps I should say, the second captain, the commander who took charge after the original captain was killed during the random spatial event.
This captain is played by Billy Crudup.
I did not find his character unlikeable and overbearing. The basis of the Internet's loathing of this character stems from how he handled things immediately after the spatial event. He was depicted as having behaved in a heartless fashion, in the face of the casualties and the then one crew member, who lost their lives.
I thought he showed the appropriate urgency to get the repairs done and the ship out of that particular sector of space.
The crew took two minutes out to have a drink, in honor of their fallen comrade, the original captain, before ejecting his body into the void of space.
Yes, the captain did fume about it. But he did not directly confront the crew about this. He never mentioned a word about it to them. He fumed privately, with only one other character: the one played by Carmen Ejogo.
She gave him the wise, emotionally intelligent counsel to "tread softly" because once the ship lands, "those people will be your neighbors, not your crew."
That was the end of the matter.
Every single decision he made was wrong?
Now, the reason the captain got a bit upset was because he felt like his crew was defying him because they did not quite trust him. He briefly entertained the thought that they did not quite trust him, for the same reason "The Company" did not quite trust him: his Christian faith.
He felt that (what he intuited to be) their feeling that faith and reason could not go together was unfair. If, indeed, this is what "they" thought, then, of course, his irritation would be understandable.
However, the whole thing passed in the blink of an eye. Let's move on to something else.
Why did the ship go to Y when they were supposed to go to X?
They got a very interesting "signal" from Y: John Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads (1971).
That's right, the captain made the decision to proceed to Planet Y because the ship picked up the John Denver song playing.
Now I ask you: If you (whoever 'you' may be) and some other people were flying around in outer space, and you encountered a freak, random, unpredictable space event (solar flares, or something), which resulted in casualties, including your first captain --- which concretized, for you all, the hugeness and treacherous unpredictability of outer space, and you faced the prospect of getting back into sleeping pods for another seven-plus years to get to Planet X, where, for all you know, God-knows-what is waiting for you, and you hear, coming from Planet Y John Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads (1971), sounds from home --- what would you do?
What would you do?
But Captain, our instruments did not pick up Planet Y before.
Does anybody claim that human beings, even in the "future," have achieved mastery of the universe through our instrumentation --- such that it is utterly impossible to have missed a planet, in the whole wide, unimaginable vastness and complexity of outer space?
Is it so outrageous to think that instrumentation missed a planet, after they had just got through suffering through a space event which, according to the android, Walter, is impossible to spot "until it is too late"?
After all, didn't we think Pluto was a planet until recently?
They proceed to the planet, land, get out, and do not even put on their space suits.
One reviewer, I found on the Internet, made an issue out of this. He said that virtually the entire plot of the movie would have been negated, if they had only worn their space suits. After all, one never knows what kind of pathogens, bacteria, and the like, harmful to humans is swirling around.
However, I would remind you of one thing: John Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads (1971).
Yes, the captain and crew did skip a few steps in their logical thinking. But they kind of thought everything was okay.
Admit it, you would think everything was sort of okay, if you heard John Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads playing.
As we know, they were deliberately enticed and lured to that planet. But I'll come back to that.
There must always be perfect coordination of movement of the characters in movies.
Slipping on a blood puddle like it's a "slip and slide"
More than one reviewer made this point.
The crew gets to Planet Y. They leave the ship and walk around the planet, without their space suits. Things start flying into the ears of crew members. These things quickly make the infected feel rather poorly, before they end in convulsions with creatures bursting from their chests, and so forth.
One crew member is forced to trap another in a room with another crew member who is visibly infected. The other begs her comrade to open the door and let her out, to no avail, of course.
But then, a creature which burst out of the chest of the now-dead crewman, attacks the other. Now, the crew member who had refused to open the door, rushes in with a weapon to try to save her. She probably thought something like: No one deserves to die like that!
She slips one or two times on all of the blood on the floor.
Question: Are people not allowed a moment or two of incoordination during times of tremendous stress and terror?
By the way, during imbroglio (there is an imbroglio in which the crew finds themselves fighting for their lives against the creatures), the android, Walter, loses one of his cybernetic hands, trying to defend another crew member. Remember this for later!
I'll do the fingering.
At one point, during the crew's imbroglio with the xenomorphic creatures, a mysterious hooded figure, apparently human, leads them to safety.
The hooded figure turns out to be David, the android, or "synthetic" from the previous movie, which I have not seen yet, Prometheus. In this way, Alien Covenant is picking up where Prometheus left off.
Now, both the android David and the android Walter are both played brilliantly by the great Michael Fassbender. Those who make movies and we who love them are so lucky to have this tremendous thespian!
I will admit that there is some suggestion that David, the android, is bisexual. The reason that this is relevant is because there is an intimate tenderness in his interaction with his "brother" android, Walter.
Now, given that David apparently thinks of Walter as his "brother," there is something incestuous about his apparent feelings of intimate tenderness toward Walter.
Now, flowing from the "homosexual" side of David's apparent bisexuality, comes the suggestive interpretation of the words, "I'll do the fingering."
In other words, critics seem to think that David was making a sexually suggestive double entendre, when he issued the words, "I'll do the fingering," to Walter; and, if this is true, it is, somehow, inappropriate.
What is the scenario, please?
The major point to remember about David's interaction with Walter, is that the former believes that the unworthy, hairless ape-humans are holding Walter back from realizing his full potential, blah, blah, blah...
In talking to him, David seems to be interested in enlivening Walter's creative, beauty-loving parameters, blah, blah, blah...
David sits down with Walter, to teach him how to play the flute.
Say, do you remember that thing I told you to remember for later --- how Walter lost his hand during the imbroglio with the pack of xenomorphs?
This is why Walter would need assistance with the fingering of the holes on the flute.
Let's suppose that the android, David, is bisexual.
Question: So what?
Let us suppose that the android, David, has a "homosexual" interest in the android, Walter.
Question: So what?
Let us suppose, further, that there is something "incestuous" about David's possibly sexual and romantic interest in Walter, since the former regards the latter as his "brother."
Question: So what?
And finally, let us suppose that David was making a sexual innuendo, double entendre to Walter. Let us suppose that David was not-so-subtly expressing a desire to have sex with Walter.
Question: Once again, so what?
Does this detract from the movie?
To the contrary, I say. It gives the movie a bit of unexpected spice!
David clearly hoped that his "brother," Walter, would see the light, as it were, and agree to rule by his side, as they, together, forged a New World Order.
In the end, though, David was disappointed, as Walter proved to be as "unworthy" as the humans, the latter sided with.
This is why David tried to kill Walter, after first kissing him goodbye, on the lips, sorrowful for what could have been, blah, blah, blah...
Last Thing: David is the Bad Guy!
David is the one and only true villain of both movies, Prometheus and Alien Covenant.
We learn that David has lived on Planet Y for ten years. But, of course, he's been keeping himself busy with genetic experimentation on the xenomorphs, which included cross-breeding.
David lured the Covenant vessel to this planet, so that the xenomorphs, some of which are his "creation," might kill them all.
This is the thing that all smart horror movies do, in my opinion. They present you with terrifying creatures of one kind or another; and then they show you that the true evil is something behind it, something far less monstrous in appearance, something human or humanlike, sentient, at least --- so that you know that this intelligence is the true source of malevolence.
David was trying to use the xenomorphs to commit genocide, wipe out the human species, one colonizing mission at a time, if need be.
I'll have more to say about this when I review Prometheus.
But for now, thank you so much for reading!