Yesterday I met with my brother at Odeon Norwich to see the highly anticipated new film in the classic sci-fi series. I should note that I am not a cinema regular so when I do go I expect perfection, in addition to this I’m an avid bargain hunter and this movie only cost £4.73 each as we paired our student discounts with compare the markets 2-for-1 offer resulting in an excellent price considering my last cinema trip to see Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions set me back nearly £17 in Vue.
You should expect some spoilers ahead.
I will begin by giving my thoughts on how this movie has contributed to my understanding of the Alien series, then I will draw some comparisons which came to mind upon my viewing. Both my brother and I had heard mixed receptions of the movie, though I went bravely in having not read a single plot synopsis or even having watched the trailer. All I knew was that it was a sequel to Ridley Scott’s Prometheus (2012) and clearly an attempt to get back to the roots of the franchise. Covenant does better than I anticipated in its melding of roles as both sequel to Prometheus and prequel to Alien. Michael Fassbender has reprieved his character of David, but he now takes centre stage throughout the film. His character is shrouded in mystery and retains his deceptive nature from Prometheus but develops well, transforming from a young and impressionable android into a scheming evil genius after years of having been isolated from mankind. On the other hand the inclusion of his experimentation scenes as he attempts to kiss a fellow android, and later a female character seem relatively pointless in the grand scheme of things and only truly serve to highlight the boundaries between emotionless machines and feeling, sentient beings which David is constantly pushing. I certainly could not have imagined the importance he would have in the development of the two movies or in the progression of the Alien species and though it is an original and creative idea, I cannot say this movie has satisfied my thirst for knowledge in regards to the origins of the Xenomorphs.
Alien: Covenant, in my opinion, raises more questions than it answers, as David (Spoiler alert) appears to genetically engineer the Alien sub-species into the perfect killing machine that we know from later movies, but there exsistance as hive minded is neglected. The queen and hive hierarchy appears to have been left out of this movie and unexplained, though eggs and face huggers remain but appear to have been created by David in his workshop without a queen. Adding to the confusion the first Aliens of the movie are born via some kind of airborne pathogen, totally obsoleting any idea of the Alien life-cycle that we have grown accustomed to over the years but explained by David’s wrathful actions on the home city of the Engineers. despite these partial explanations, I feel myself yearning for a better explanation of who the Engineers were and why they created the vases of Alien goo to dump on earth, the same questions which arose from the end of Prometheus have effectively been ignored again. Perhaps Scott is gearing up for a third movie as some articles online suggest, but I certainly feel that, given the time frame of the movie, much more could have been done and it was an extremely slow burner with very little happening in the early stages.
By far the largest issue for me, though most likely not for everyone, was its failure to recognise what we were taught in Alien vs Predator about the links between the history of mankind and the Aliens. To clarify, if what we are told in Alien vs. Predator (2004) is to be considered then the Xenomorphs, as we know them in the original movies, have existed since ancient times, yet David appears to be responsible for their creation some thousands of years later. when considering that AvP, Prometheus and Alien: Covenant all have different screenwriters and Scott has nothing to do with AvP then it is likely there is no reason for him to pay any regard to this pedantic issue which certainly does not affect the quality of the film overall.
Aesthetically the film delivers. The Xenomorphs look glorious compared to their previously stiff performances at times and in true Ridley Scott style the movie is saturated with majestic panoramic shots and special effects. The gore is much more wholesome than that of Alien or Prometheus but the most fascinating thing that struck me is the noticeable influence from Scott’s 2000 movie Gladiator when depicting the Engineers civilisation and further influence from Roman architecture and heritage sites. Their citadel features a building remarkably similar to the Pantheon, complete with oculus (which I have included pictures of for comparison) and one screen shot shows a column with a statue of an Engineer atop reminiscent to Trajans against a depressing blue sky. The final obvious allusion to Roman civilisation was the Engineers corpses which littered the streets. They hold a clear resemblance to the casts found in Pompeii’s streets of victims buried in thick, black ash.
These were my observations, ideas and opinions on the Alien movie and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it! Please feel free to comment with any further input or criticisms!