Alien: Covenant (2017)
May 21, 2017 1:28 PM - Subscribe

Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, the crew (Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup) of the colony ship Covenant discover what they think to be an uncharted paradise. While there, they meet David (Michael Fassbender), the synthetic survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition. The mysterious world soon turns dark and dangerous when a hostile alien life-form forces the crew into a deadly fight for survival.
posted by Sangermaine (44 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was surprised this didn't already have a discussion thread. I was wondering what other people thought about it because to me it repeated all the mistakes of Prometheus: a muddled plot, characters that had to act stupid solely to drive the story along, and unclear motivations. The movie had some beautiful visuals but was otherwise another disappointment.

I also miss the grimy, gritty, "lived in" feel of the ships and universe of the original two films. I know this is supposed to be a brand-new colony ship, but everything was too generically gleaming and shiny. Even the run-down world they find looked too new and clean.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:32 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


I liked the movie overall. Despite having nothing on the original, it gave me my fix of classic Alien suspense. Like Prometheus it tries too hard to ask "big questions", but it does a much better job of not leaving them as loose ends.

I was annoyed, however, that it's been almost 20 years since he made Hannibal and Ridley Scott is still using homophobic tropes in his movies.
posted by volt4ire at 3:26 PM on May 21


I was annoyed, however, that it's been almost 20 years since he made Hannibal and Ridley Scott is still using homophobic tropes in his movies.

Out of all the bajillions of complaints I have about this movie - I am not getting this comment. The husband guy didn't deliberately infect himself with spores - he just kind of poked it, which is standard bad sciencing for these films..... I thought it was nice that they just plopped a gay couple in there like it was no big.

Unless you're referring to androids.... who in my opinion are just androids.....
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 4:15 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


I wish I had something insightful to say but I saw it like 52 hours ago and can scarcely remember it. Nice production design.

No, about my only impression was that despite six movies in the franchise, only two of them to date have managed to sketch out the characters who later get dead. This one in particular seemed to overestimate the audience's (or at least my) ability to identify the people offscreen by name. No small amount of dialogue referencing Cole being missing or trying to get Hallett to respond on the intercom, while I struggled to recall who I was supposed to be concerned about.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:31 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


in a colonisation mission, where the main purpose would be to ensure genetic diversity and multiple viable and sustainable generations, I could not see a defensible reason to include a homosexual couple no matter how well it would play to the audience watching.
posted by alchemist at 6:09 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


I've been thinking of this movie as Alien: Midichlorians because, while it's significantly better written, acted and produced than The Phantom Menance, it just does as much damage to the core concept of the movies as that film did.

I mean, the series is called "Alien." But now it turns out that the xenomorph was actually created, indirectly, by humanity, and the Engineers are barely more advanced than we are. The whole concept of a universe that holds wonder and terror in equal parts has been wiped out and replaced with a psychotic android.

This one in particular seemed to overestimate the audience's (or at least my) ability to identify the people offscreen by name.

Based on the io9 review from a few weeks back, it seems like the final cut of the movie excised a lot of scenes on the Covenant itself, which presumably took away a lot of the backstory fleshing out characters beyond Daniels and Tennessee.

It seems like I'm trashing the movie pretty strongly but I didn't hate it on its own terms (it's really, really pretty). I just don't want to think of it as part of the Alien series as a whole.
posted by thecaddy at 7:27 AM on May 22 [5 favorites]


In the beginning, right before the ion storm damaged the ship, they show Walter going about his rounds on the ship. He goes to the colonist area, opens the embryo storage, and moves an embryo into a small container. Then the storm hits, the alarm goes off, and he runs to the bridge leaving the container, which is never mentioned or seen again.

Did they ever explain what he was doing with this?
posted by Sangermaine at 8:04 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


After the shitshow that was Prometheus, I went in with incredibly low expectations and was still appalled at the rote, amateurish execution. Fassbender was great, though.

I love, love, love Cameron's Aliens, but I'm coming around to the view that really didn't need to be a sequel to the original. Every sequel takes away some more of the mystery and horror, retroactively hurting the original film, which in the words of Ash was "[the] perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility."
posted by entropicamericana at 8:11 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


in a colonisation mission, where the main purpose would be to ensure genetic diversity and multiple viable and sustainable generations, I could not see a defensible reason to include a homosexual couple no matter how well it would play to the audience watching.

Given that they seem to have developed technology at least at the level of mid-20th century Earth, I world assume that people wouldnt actually need to have sex with a woman in order for her to use their sperm.

Also, the vast of the passengers are in embryo form. There's plenty of genetic diversity.

Seriously, there's no need for the movie to kowtow to the homophobia of early 21st century Americans, even if they cloak their objections in pseudoscienctific evolutionary bullshit.
posted by happyroach at 9:04 AM on May 22 [19 favorites]


Did they ever explain what he was doing with this?

My reading was that he inspected the embryos, saw one that was damaged somehow and removed it...Presumably part of his regular routine while everyone else is in cryo-sleep.

As soon as they said that the new David is named Walter, I thought, "Oh like David Giler and Walter Hill (who've had producing credits on all of the Alien movies)! Now will there be someone named Dan to represent Dan O'Bannon (the original's credited writer)?" And sure enough: Katherine Waterston is Daniels.

Maybe next time Ronald Shusett (story credit on the original) will inspire a character name.
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:57 AM on May 22


Seriously, there's no need for the movie to kowtow to the homophobia of early 21st century Americans, even if they cloak their objections in pseudoscienctific evolutionary bullshit.

Not only that, but a crew of fifteen implies someone wasn't paired up at all. I think it was the captain.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:05 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


I know the movie was forgettable but they made kind of a big deal about Daniels being married to the Captain. I'm guessing the fifteenth was Walter.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:20 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


I know the movie was forgettable but they made kind of a big deal about Daniels being married to the Captain. I'm guessing the fifteenth was Walter.

I meant the replacement captain, but Walter would definitely be it, if they counted him as part of the crew.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:58 AM on May 22


Looked good on the IMAX screen, but was just as stupid as Prometheus.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:54 PM on May 22


Oram (Cruddup) replaced Branson (Franco) as the captain. They were both coupled: Branson w/ Daniels & Oram w/ Karine Oram (Ejogo). There were a bunch of characters like the security guys that didn't even register because they were gristle for the mill and also¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I don't remember who was gay or remember seeing any homophobia because the beginning almost made me fall asleep then I almost walked out twice watching the crew make decisions I wouldn’t have made when I was 10 years old, but in the end the movie was mostly forgettable anyway.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:11 PM on May 22


I liked that they burned James Franco to death before I even realised he was in it.

Not only that, but a crew of fifteen implies someone wasn't paired up at all.

A trio?
posted by biffa at 2:50 PM on May 22 [7 favorites]


Yeah, the best review of it I've seen suggests that if you watch this back to back with Prometheus it sort of tries to wrap up some of the loose ends from Prometheus, but at a cost that doesn't really help the franchise. I agree. I wasn't invested in anyone, I was annoyed at the lack of xenomorphs, the plot only moved by people being actively stupid, and you could see the ending coming from the moment David showed up on the screen AND YET they did nothing to really amp up that side of the story ("Oh god YOU did this you MONSTER!" etc and so forth), just weird moments of David being strange and the crew going "you're weird man this is weird, let's get off the planet hey I know I'm gonna wash off in this creepy-ass basin without anyone standing guard lol".
posted by Kyol at 2:55 PM on May 22


Kyol, it can be very difficult for people to face up to a life changing event, no one wants to be the one to say, 'Hey everyone something horrible has happened... David from the first movie has become a goth.'
posted by biffa at 3:21 PM on May 22 [3 favorites]


Half the crew gets killed they just decide to sit down for a breather. No questions. Let's just chill out in this citadel with thousands of horrific petrified giants outside in the courtyard. It's cool. "We're safe here, right?" "Perfectly." Got it synthetic dude that is obviously the same model as ours, but somehow is impossibly stranded on this uncharted planet light years away from any other known destination for humans. Not to mention no one was like "Why are you broadcasting a looped recording of a dead crew member singing a John Denver song using crashed alien ship tech?"
Why would David create a parasitic being that grows at tremendous rate simply through insufflating atomized particles and yet there is a whole queen/worker/egg layer stratum to this species?
posted by P.o.B. at 3:21 PM on May 22 [8 favorites]


I liked Covenant mostly because David was awesome and creepy as shit, but I pretty much consider it and Prometheus both as being in a continuity separate from Alien. Alien is beautiful and must be protected from misguided attempts to demystify its mythology and fix it so that the Alien makes no sense as an organism. Is the Alien even really an alien if it was made by some bored robot from earth? I think we all know the answer to that, and that answer is not satisfactory.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:53 PM on May 22 [4 favorites]


I think the story's use of a colony ship as the setting instead of an exploration vessel kind of made me question the suspension of disbelief a little bit. Because, if you have 2000 people in cryo-freeze that you can wake up in minutes (as seen when the neutrino pulse struck the ship in the beginning), shouldn't there be a B-group crew of understudies prepped & ready just before you send off most of the existing command structure to an unknown planet? And shouldn't they have thawed out at least the colonial governor, the security director, and/or the public health officer before going on a weird planet that hasn't really been properly vetted, because deciding on another planet is kind of a big deal and the 2000 currently asleep probably have an opinion on where they want to live as well?

I hate to say it, but a company man like Burke would have been exactly the type to be nagging the captain to wake up the higher-ups so that they know what's going on.
posted by FJT at 9:05 AM on May 23 [7 favorites]


shouldn't there be a B-group crew

I think the problem was that this was more a 'B' Ark.
posted by biffa at 3:28 PM on May 23 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I don't even mind the traditional Aliens sequels' attempts at showing Weyland Yutani's efforts to weaponize/control the xenomorph, but the whole Prometheus/Covenant retcon isn't that interesting.
posted by Kyol at 6:12 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


That was a silly movie.

I must admit I did like when David got to Homeworld and was all FUCK THIS PLANET IN PARTICULAR.

Or maybe he was oprah_bees.gif . YOU get a virus! And YOU get a virus! Everyone gets a virus!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:32 PM on May 23 [11 favorites]


I liked that they burned James Franco to death before I even realised he was in it.

I was shocked when he got killed right off the bat because in the prologue movie "The Last Supper" Capt. Branson is shown having some kind of malaise prior to the crew going into cryosleep. I figured that meant he'd already been infected with the alien bug.

Maybe next time Ronald Shusett (story credit on the original) will inspire a character name.

Next time? What would be the point? Would Weyland-Yutani send yet another ship to take on the one David has commandeered? Would Fassbender get to play three roles?
posted by fuse theorem at 6:50 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Next time? What would be the point? Would Weyland-Yutani send yet another ship to take on the one David has commandeered?

There's still the space jockey. I had kinda thought this was going to end with the colony ship crashed on Engineerworld and The Last Survivor taking off in David's or another commandeered juggernaut, not knowing (s)he was infected or even that the ship was carrying David's little buddies.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:43 PM on May 23


I was shocked when he got killed right off the bat because in the prologue movie "The Last Supper yt "

I am pretty sure this is some of the cut footage (which the movie direly needed for the audience to better understand the characters) repackaged as a teaser. I wonder how Franco felt about being in the finished movie for four seconds before dying in a fire.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:55 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Next time? What would be the point? Would Weyland-Yutani send yet another ship to take on the one David has commandeered?

Next time Weyland-Yutani will send a bunch of horny teenagers to a camp on an alien planet. Then David's ship will crash land in the lake next door...
posted by happyroach at 11:12 PM on May 23 [8 favorites]


true story: ripley scott was originally going to call his 1979 film "bioweapon designed by android with daddy issues" but the studio felt the title was a little too unwieldy and confusing
posted by entropicamericana at 7:43 AM on May 24 [4 favorites]


"Let's make xenomorphs airborne! Whee!"
posted by Pronoiac at 7:47 PM on May 24


We saw this last night. All I could think was: if a landing party found a strange disease then regulations would require that the current commander of the colony ship of 2000+ just leave them to die and take the ship away. Because why the hell would you risk bringing up a new flu-level illness much less one that kills you gruesomely in hours?

Anyway, it felt like it held together better than Prometheus but very much marred by "why would you even do that?!" moments. And of course Fassbender is enjoyable to watch doing the which one is Data/Lor?
posted by R343L at 10:24 AM on May 28 [3 favorites]


Pretty much hated everything about it the second I realized what they did to Shaw.

And then they go and setup the same thing for Daniels.

Man, I miss Ripley burning shit down.
posted by M Edward at 5:24 PM on June 1 [3 favorites]


Saw this with my cousin who loves the franchise and man was I the wrong audience. I tried so hard to give this movie slack because it's a horror movie; you have to expect some level of "let's all split up and look for the killer!" but nothing anyone does in this mess of a film makes any sense. Fassbender is great, but frankly by the end I was on his side re: humanity being obsolete, because every human in the movie is an idiot. Were there any decisions made by any character that weren't unbelievably stupid? I counted two: Daniels' initial protest and her quick thinking in the final fight. Everything else was sticking a fork in an electrical outlet dumb.
posted by Wretch729 at 4:58 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Well I enjoyed that but I wondered why there where all these expendable straight people in my gay robot gothic horror movie.
posted by The Whelk at 9:07 PM on June 4 [6 favorites]


I like Alien:Covenant a lot, despite some flaws. I've been a little surprised by how much hate it has gotten.

I saw the original Alien in its initial theatrical run in 1979. I was 17 and didn't know anything about it other than the teaser TV commercials. It was fantastic and so scary I think I watched it mostly through my fingers. I've now seen it dozens of times. It's among my favorite movies.

When Aliens came out, despite it being very well-done as an action movie, I felt it kinda ruined the Alien mystique for me when I first saw it. Hundreds of creatures somehow seemed less scary than just one in a confined space. I have since come to accept Aliens for what it is, and it is a great movie.

Alien3 was also a disappointment in the theatrical release, but I since grown to love the "assembly cut." Alien: Resurrection seemed to play more like a standard monster movie to me, but hey, aliens swimming in water sure looked great! (I don't consider the AVP movies part of the canon, and have not watched them.)

I really liked Prometheus. It got some of the same bad rap as Alien: Covenant, specifically the old "why do people do stupid things in scary movies?" criticism. But that has happened to some extent in all of the Alien movies. People do stupid things in real life as well.

So now we have Alien: Covenant. It may be my second-favorite of the films, or possibly tied with Aliens. I think it definitely helped that I re-watched Prometheus the day before seeing it. I don't have any interest in convincing people who didn't like it to change their minds. People like what they like. There are some things I would change about it, but nobody consulted me.
posted by The Deej at 8:40 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


Ten minutes into Alien: Covenant and I can offer the following observations:

- The beginning is boring and nobody cares or has ever cared or ever will;

- Junior Magneto-bot says his name is David and in the next scene his name is Wallace or something;

- No Ridley, you don't get to appeal to our nostalgia with that title sequence;

- The ship Covenant has approximately 28 engines to push it through space with a cargo of 2000 humans (about 150 tons);

- The Nostromo required three primary and four secondary engines to tow 20 MILLION tons of mineral ore, PLUS THE REFINERY;

- This is why the Covenant requires a solar collector about 5 square kilometres in size to recharge, because it is under constant thrust from 28 engines;

- The reason everything goes wrong is because the solar collector is deployed and then gets destroyed by (visible) neutrino bursts;

- It would need less engines or a smaller sail if every colonist wasn't allowed to bring, by my estimation, 300 kilograms of personal effects with them;

- One of those personal effects appears to be a replica nail from The Passion Of The Christ and is even on a leather necklace exactly like what happened in Curb Your Enthusiasm;

- Everything about this movie is shit and Ridley Scott is a hack fuck well past dotage;

- This movie retroactively makes the original Alien movie shit;

- This means Aliens is now also shit because it is so tightly connected to the original;

- This means that Alien 3 is the one true Alien movie because it effectively "resets" everything;

- This means that Alien: Resurrection is the Aliens to Alien 3's Alien which means that Alien: Covenant has retroactively made Alien: Resurrection a better movie than Aliens;

- I can't wait for the new Blade Runner because presumably the flying police cars will now have five times as many lights as they did in the original;

- I will continue to hate-watch.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:09 AM on July 5 [6 favorites]


I wish a filmmaker still in their prime was entrusted to play with this size of sandbox, because the sheer scale of what Scott can afford to do here glosses over some of the flaws in the script.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:15 AM on July 9


Basically what I am saying is, I agree with many of the complaints here, but $100MM USD of work from some of the finest support staff in the filmic universe still gives a good-sized grab bag of stuff to enjoy.

I wish they'd let Blomkamp make his Alien movie.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:19 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I'm going to make a sci-fi short film someday where intrepid explorers make it to a world that has terrific atmosphere and gravity and cheerfully take their helmets off only to do immediately when a burst of some alien pollen drifts by to which humans are deadly allergic.

Basically, it will be a PSA to lazy screenwriters to stop letting human characters on alien planets take off their life support prematurely.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:24 AM on July 9


I just read an article the other day about how NASA sterilizes the heck out of their equipment that lands on Mars because they don't want to contaminate any possible findings. But, I guess forward thinking writers assume about ninety years from now those guidelines would change enough to the point that crew will stop off on a planet just to check it out and then urinate in the local flora.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:34 PM on July 9 [3 favorites]


This was dumber and less coherent than Sharknado.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:29 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Nice to see I'm not the only one to finally watch it and return here to this thread. I completely agree with Burhanistan.

Dumb, terrible and forgettable on so many levels. Almost every level. Not sure how much of the blame to put on old man Scott, and how much to put on John Logan, Dante Harper, Jack Paglen, and Michael Green for their terrible story and screenplay.

Every single film in this ongoing Alien/Prometheus franchise has been worse than the preceding film. I wish there was just the one wonderful, magical, horrific classic that scared me witless back in the day.
posted by Auden at 2:17 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Eeeh, I enjoyed it! Better than the mess that was Prometheus, anyways. Mostly for Fassbinder and Waterston. And also, I must confess, because the Alien films do the "Men ignore women and die messily as a result"-trope better than any other universe out there. [petty]And I kind of need that this year, sorry. [/petty] I do hope they don't kill off Daniels in the third movie, though. I would love to see her give David his comeuppance.
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:32 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I love the Aliens universe and thought Prometheus had some nice bits despite being quite dumb and having lots of shit in it that I refuse to accept as canon. I feel basically precisely the same about Covenant fresh off finally watching it. Give me a couple films that are entirely about David and Walter.

Why would David create a parasitic being that grows at tremendous rate simply through insufflating atomized particles and yet there is a whole queen/worker/egg layer stratum to this species?

So one wanky argument I'll make: what if there is no queen? If we declare these films to be prequels to Alien, and only Alien, then there's no Cameronian addition of a queen in the narrative. Eggs and huggers and xenos as a bootstrapped organic chain.
posted by cortex at 10:06 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


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