By Chris Campo
Ridley Scott's semi-Prometheus sequel and semi-Alien prequel, Alien: Covenant has been set loose into cinemas worldwide. As I am DCM's resident super-fan of the Alien franchise (and because I've already seen it twice), I thought I should try my best at discussing all the moment's I think are worth diving deeper into with no restraint on spoilers. It also should be said that I loved the film, which is very different from Jack's initial review, as he didn't love it as much, or at all. I have issues with it, some of which will be discussed here, but this isn't a typical review, I wont go into performances, effects, and all that, rather just the plot and reveals in chronological order. Plus, I'll dive into my theory of the Xenomorphs, too. Also, I have seen several videos and articles providing believable evidence towards the fact that this film softly connects to Blade Runner, but as I have sadly not yet seen Blade Runner, I'll ignore that theory for now. (JACK NOTE: You're fired)
Covenant opens with Guy Pearce reprising his role as Peter Weyland, and we see the first moments of David's (Michael Fassbender) existence. While this scene is brilliant, especially upon a second viewing, I will skip it for now. It ties into revelations that happen later on in the film, which will be discussed shortly. After we see the title come on in the same way it did in 1979, we are introduced to Walter (also Fassbender) as he is checking on the ship's crew currently in hypersleep. After a freak accident, the ship malfunctions, waking the crew of the ship up 7 years before they were supposed to, and this is where we get our first death of the film, James Franco's.
What the fuck was Franco doing in this movie? He literally just dies. No dialogue, other than a video message we see later. I don't hate how we jump right into the dark and tragic nature of these movies, I actually liked that, but why did they need to cast such a big named actor? Despite my utter confusion of Franco's casting, I think his death effectively sets up the crew deciding to land on a new planet. It makes sense that the crew wouldn't want to enter hypersleep after that, plus killing off the captain and having Billy Crudup's character suddenly be given such a huge responsibility effectively sets up the plot. Some people knock this film for having characters dumb enough to make this decision, but I like it. It checks out to me.
Once we get to the planet, it's not long before we are introduced to the new species of aliens created for this film, the Neomorph. I must admit, the idea of the spores in the air entering the body wasn't the coolest way to introduce the creature, but once that thing flops out of the guy's back, I fell in love with it. The whole scene with the back-bursting Neomorph was as intense as you would expect from the franchise, and the little guy was quite scary, especially the noise it made. When the second Neomorph bursts from the other crew member's throat, it was sickening and I loved it. This whole 15 minute-or-so introduction was incredibly thrilling and a great appetiser for the eventual Xenomorph killing spree Alien fans knew was coming.
Unfortunately, shortly after this scene we see the Neomorph fully grown. I say unfortuatley because it came off as just a lazy rip off of the Xenomorph, and it wasn't scary. It did, however, probably have the goriest kill in the whole film. That poor woman... Right before we are introduced to the adult Neo, we meet up with David again. Here, we learn that the planet we're on is the home planet pf the engineers, a flashback depicting how David killed all of them with the black goo from Prometheus. This scene was cool and all, but it went by so fast. I wish the movie was more about this and less about the Covenant. I liked the Covenant stuff, but I also adore Prometheus, so I would have liked to see more. Not to mention this film pulls an Alien 3 and kills a character between movies. I get that Elizebeth Shaw's fate is meant to shock and disturb (and it did), but I would have rather seen David kill her. Imagine that movie.
Speaking of David, his character is revealed to be a full on antagonist. His more sinister actions in Prometheus could be blamed on natural curiosity, whereas his actions here are full on evil. He wants to wipe out humans. In his eyes, they're imperfect, especially after the opening scene, in which he discovers he'll outlive his creator. So what does David do to combat the imperfect? He breeds the perfect organism. Yes, Alien: Covenant's big twist is that David was the creator of the Xenomophs we have all come to know, love and fear. While this was a full on right hook that knocked me out at first, ultimately, I'm fully on board with the direction. I understand complaints saying this ruins the mystery of the species the first film perfected, but in terms of this whole God complex arc that was introduced in Prometheus, it makes complete sense and I loved it.
The scene where David softly coaxes Billy Crudup to looking into the Xenomorph egg was brilliant. It's somehow simultaneously terrifying and hilarious. Moments after, we get the expected chestburster scene... which is the one thing I really disliked. The chestburster is one of the most iconic aspects of the franchise, yet Scott and company decide to change it up. What was once terrifying body horror is now goofy. Instead of a worm-like baby, what bursts from Crudup's chest is a fully formed Xenomorph. Legs, arms, two mouths, only it is very very tiny. This took me out of the scene completely, reminding me of Baby Groot, I half expected it to start dancing. While I don't think I'll ever like this scene, I do have a theory on why this scene is the way it is, and I'll discuss it in a little while.
Okay, so the baby Xenomorph emerges and we have what fans have wanted for twenty years now... the return of the Xenomorph! And it was... enough. I am okay with the amount of screen time the 2 Xenomorphs get. Although I don't think they should have been in any of the marketing, I was expecting A LOT more time with them. They're the most iconic movie monster of all time, and their presence alone was enthralling. What I am disappointed with also ties into my theory, which I'm getting to eventually, and that is that the Xenos in this movie barley do anything. We do see the return of the Xenomorph's vision from Alien 3, which was cool. Not counting the chestbursters, the Xenos kill three people. Sure, the shower death where the Xeno's second mouth bursts through the guys head and out his mouth is probably the coolest death in the franchise, but it wasn't enough to make me believe these are the Xenomorphs I know. They don't wreck nearly as much havoc as they should, and both of them get taken out rather easily.
Before delving into my Xenomorph theory, let's discuss that ending. First, we all knew Katherine Waterston was going to survive because this is an Alien movie and cute brunettes fare pretty well in these movies. But I really liked that Danny McBride survives. He was a highlight of the film and I hope he returns alive and well before David can fuck him up. The rest of the ending is predictable in the sense that David survived his battle with Walter, but the real twist is the film's very dark final moments. Pretty much, David smuggled Facehugger embryos on board and puts them in an incubator, along with several thousand human embryos, properly screwing over all humans aboard. David also gives one last f-u to Peter Weyland, as the song he listens to while doing this is the same song Peter requested him to play in the film's opening. It's a haunting ending and I love it. A perfect sour note to end the film on.
So, here's my theory about the film, particularly the Xenomorphs. These are not Xenomorphs. Okay, yes, they technically are, they're even credited as so in the credits, but these are not the fully evolved Xenomorphs that eventually make Ellen Ripley's life a living hell. What first tipped me off to this idea was their accelerated growth rate, explaining why the chestburster was a fully formed baby Xenomorph. Much like David branched out from his original intended purpose, so will these Xenomorphs. Everything will come full circle and the creation will destroy the creator. I feel the next film will show David attempting to colonize the Xenomorphs on this new planet, but, Planet of the Apes style, the aliens will evolve to create a more natural life cycle, involving the queen and a more natural growth rate. It will be the true awakening of the Xenomorphs, hence the title of the next film, Alien: Awakening. I also feel that we will eventually get the Rogue One effect in the future, having a film leading directly into Alien and here's how...
Once the xenomorphs have their own planet, Weyland-Yutani will catch word of this. Knowing that their own creation led to the birth of a new species, they develop the Ash model, tasked with retrieving the species at any cost, which is exactly the mission of Ash in the original Alien. Plus, let's say there's a sole-surviving Engineer from David's attack in Alien: Covenant. My theory on this is that the one Engineer goes on a mission to get revenge on David and comes across the new Xenomorph home planet, it gets face hugged and escapes upon waking up. Of course he will be in the famous Derelict ship, and while flying away, a queen chestburster emerges from his chest and he crashes the Derelict on to the closest planet... LV-426.
I truly apologize if all this came off as mumbo-jumbo, but Alien: Covenant is all I can think about and all I will think about for some time. I had a hard time putting my theory into words, so again, sorry if it makes little sense. I truly love Alien: Covenant. It's a step in a weird new direction for the franchise and I do believe that we will get the Xenomorphs in full effect in future films. This film, overall, is probably on par with Prometheus for me, but the mere inclusion of the Xenomorphs gives this film the slight edge, making it my third favorite Alien movie to date. I'll stop rumbling on about this silly space flick now... I need a nap.
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