WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW! (But not that many, really.)
Alien: Covenant is great fun!
…as long as you don’t bring your brain into the theater with you. Scientists and logical folks (hereafter referred to as SALFs) will be nearly as horrified with this film as they were with Prometheus. I say nearly, because the crew in this film aren’t quite as stupid as in Prometheus (can anyone forget the supposed trained biologist facing a brand new, hissing, cobra-like life form and saying, “Oh, you beauty, let me see you”?). They die because they don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell, not because they’re freaking idiots.
Although we have a lot of idiocy as well. For instance: Armed Dude 1 says “I have to take a pee” and instead goes off to smoke a cigarette — on a brand new, pristine planet they’re considering for colonization, mind you — and then FLICKS HIS CIGARETTE BUTT INTO THE BUSHES.
I said, “That dude needs to die.”
He did, and quite spectacularly. I was pleased.
The second death wasn’t nearly as pleasing, because that poor person did (almost) everything right and was trying hard to save a life, but…did I mention the snowball’s chance in hell? And for the third death, we were rooting for the human to make it out alive, but see aforementioned snowball.
The general plot of the film is: A ship carrying 2,000 colonists in cryosleep, about 1,400 frozen embryos, and 15 crew members is lumbering through space on its multi-year journey to the planet they’ve targeted for colonizing. Android Walter is the only active crew member while everyone else sleeps, but when he deploys the solar sails for a power recharge, the ship is hit by a sudden neutrino burst that rips up the sails, damages the ship, and messes with the cryosleep tubes. Subtract one crew member: the captain, who burns alive in his tube. Ugh.
After repairing the sails, nobody is eager to go back into their tubes for the several years it would take to reach their destination, because if they did, the movie would be over. Instead they make the bad, bad decision to check out this neat little planet two weeks away. Because (and here is our first groaner for the SALFs) it makes much more sense to divert course and land on a planet they didn’t even know was there, rather than continue to the planet they spent 10 months studying and preparing to colonize.
So they go to said planet, tracking an intercepted communication, and then pull a repeat of one of the worst Prometheus groaners when they don’t fly a single reconnaissance orbit but instead send out the landing shuttle immediately. Brilliant! (All SALFs groan.)
Upon landing, the new captain sets foot on the promised land and 42 seconds later brightly says this would be a great spot to colonize. Never mind that they have no idea of weather patterns, or whether winters last for 12 years, or whether this area is prone to earthquakes or tornadoes or hurricanes — you know, like the one they had to fly through to land there?
But it doesn’t matter, because the moment these poor saps landed, they were doomed. Here There Be Monsters, and the worst one isn’t even the ugliest.
Honey, you forgot to let the dog back in.
The rest of the film involves Android Walter meeting Android David (from Prometheus) and having some nice, philosophical sibling chitchat while various crew members die around them. At one point the new captain demonstrates why he was not chosen to be the original captain when he follows a character he knows is evil down a dark flight of stairs and into a room with some large, mysterious-looking eggs…and somehow manages to miss every nuance of menace in such dialogue as, “They’re alive, they’re just waiting” (for you, dude!) and “Go ahead, look in, it shouldn’t be missed.” At that point I threw my hands in the air and said, “Okay, he deserves to die.”
There is the usual action sequence involving an orbital lander attempting to escape the monster and the usual heroine trying to kill the monster before they go back into orbit (and it is all kinds of awesome that in this series of films, I can say “the usual heroine”), and the usual “surprise” once they get back to orbit and their colony ship…so I can’t say this film involved anything unexpected. If you’ve seen Alien and Aliens, you know what’s going to happen.
But that isn’t the point. The point is, this movie is fun. The cinematography and special effects are glorious. I’d watch it again just for those. The dialogue between the two androids is spooky and fascinating and has a couple of deep pockets of thought. The heroine is awesome and tough as nails (literally, in one instance) and makes all the right decisions. The action sequences are edge-of-seat exciting and the poor crew members die really disgusting, awful deaths with rivers of blood, so…the usual Alien fare.
So leave your logical brain at home and go enjoy yourself, and remember: litterbugs die first.