Alternative Title: David is a Giant Asshole
I am definitely not as big of an Alien franchise fan as my partner-in-crime, Allen. But, when a good friend (Geeks Who Eat) does one of their awesome movie-inspired recipes and ticket giveaways for the latest film in the franchise, Alien: Covenant, you enter! Allen jumped on top of entering too. And he won!
Upon arrival, the screening theater was PACKED. We had reserved seating outside the roped are – but practically everywhere was roped off. It was nuts! This was definitely one of the most popular screens I had been to. We ended up having to get a pair of sets up front, but in the end the movie was interesting enough that we were able to enjoy it despite our strained necks.
Alien: Covenant‘s story was disjointed, and it was difficult to follow unless you had previously seen Prometheus. For a person walking in blind – I wouldn’t recommend it without a Prometheus watch.
The first half the movie was much more cohesive than the second half; once a mysterious character appears, it seemed like the movie just threw so much at you. It reminded me of how Sunshine unraveled after its slower paced first half.
One of the bonuses is that it does clearly explain what happened after Prometheus ended. The acting was fine, the crew felt very natural and like long-time working pals. The crew still made dumb decisions, but in other parts they acted very realistically (when everything starts going to shit they freak out the way I would have freaked out). Lots of disturbing parts. Very tense, I was on edge the whole movie.
I have some friends who just want the nitty gritty details. Well, here you go! (I’m doing this from memory, please bear with me.)
The Covenant in Alien: Covenant is on a colonization mission and everyone is still in hyper-sleep. They have seven years left to reach their future home planet. Walter, a newer model of David-Fassbender-Bot from the Prometheus film, oversees operations while the crew and colonists sleep. Long story short, there’s an accident when the ship attempts to do a solar refuel and one of the crew dies horrifically in their sleep pod due to a fire. (RIP James Franco, you never stood a chance.) The crew puts out the fire, is sad a bit, then proceeds to fix the solar issue. During the repair they discover a rogue transmission of Shaw from the first movie from a nearby planet. The new captain (previous captain died in the sleep pod fire) is like “Hey, instead of going back into cryo, let’s check the new planet out! It looks habitable and we can save some time going to our original destination AND discover the source of the transmission on the planet.”
Lead heroine Daniels (Katherine Waterson) is like “oRrrrrrrRRRrrr how about we just stick to the original mission?” and of course nobody listens to the lead woman, so we know they’re all going to die from this point on.
Most of the crew lands, and they adventure over to the rogue signal. They split up, so… we know stuff is going to go wrong soon. Team 1 and Team 2. Two members of the traversing crew from each team activate spores from the black-goo-infected plants (that black-goo from the previous film that made it into this planet). Because, this is where Shaw and David landed after they scuttled off in Prometheus, of course. And the black-goo followed.
Team 2 discovers the alien vessel that’s the source of the signal, they have their “oh wow, this is cool” moment, and they realize the rogue signal was from Shaw (who was totally losing it). They know about Shaw because it’s common knowledge in the Weyland space world that the crew disappeared on their mission a decade ago. Also, they find her name tag.
The black-goo eventually starts to do its stuff. Team 1 makes it back to the shuttle that took them to the planet, but a dude in Team 1 is very sick and convulsing and ends up being that guy in the trailer that the lady was locked in with. Everything is terrible as the alien BURSTS OUT OF THE DUDE’S DAMN BACK and it’s super nasty and a lady ends up trying to kill it by shooting it and setting everything on fire. (Which, to be fair, is what I do when I find a big spider).
Long story short, those three people die. (To the alien exploding out, to the alien baby feasting, and to the untimely fire explosion, which also totally destroys the shuttle.)
The other crew witnesses this, and they’re like “Oh no!” but they have bigger fish to fry as one of their dudes also convulses and has a black-goo alien pop out of him. The two alien babies run around the grass around them like tiny terrifying velociraptors, and after putting up a brave (but kind of crappy) fight, a mysterious caped and hooded figure swoops down to spark a flare to distract the alien babies and save them.
They follow their mysterious savior, through a giant graveyard of dead Engineers (this is answered in a little bit), and find out that it’s David from Prometheus.
And the audience collectively sighs because we know David is simply awful and homicidal and they’re all going to die and we can’t warn them so we just gotta sit back and be frustrated.
They tell David why they’re there (including Walter, who is David 2.0 and has more of a stick up his ass), and he’s like “Oh, you have 2000 colonists on a ship, that’s so cool.” And the audience sighs again because we’re like “Oh God, why did you tell David that.”
Daniels, this whole time is like “I told you everything would go horribly wrong” but she doesn’t say it because it’s too late for that crap.
It’s hard to type from here on, because the movie becomes a weird mess after David appears and honestly, it blurs together. Long story short, after Prometheus, David set off a catastrophic black-goo drop on allllllll of the Engineers and killed them all. He then spent a long time (a decade?) watching the black-goo aliens destroy all life on the planet. He does it because he’s bored and has a god complex that is shoved down our throats through poetry the whole dang second half of the movie. He also goddess-worships Shaw for her part in dying and helping bring the black-goo/aliens here. He becomes this weird-hot-maternal-God-figure who wants to rebel against his creator by spitting in humanity’s face by creating new aliens from the corpses and flesh of theirs.
There’s also a lot of weird existential David-on-Walter moments, which I’m not sure were for fan service or to test Fassbender’s acting limits. There are some awkward extended Fassbender-on-Fassbender scenes where we’re half positive he’s gonna do himself.
David waits patiently for the crew to signal the Covenant to find a way to yank them out of that shitty planet (there’s a violent storm that complicates things), and then David starts picking off the crew with his alien babies.
Daniels starts to piece stuff together. They all FINALLY figure out David caused the planet to die and killed Shaw. David seems to have the upper hand, so Walter shows that he’s a badass and tries to stop him because he has protocols to not be a total dick like David. Walter is cool. He runs out in time to escape with them.
Blah blah blah, an alien that popped out of the captain (WHO WALKED INTO A ROOM FULL OF ALIEN EGGS EGGS BECAUSE DAVID PINKY SWORE THAT IT WAS SAFE) grows comically fast and attacks the crew trying to escape, but the survivors get away anyway.
Eventually they make it back to the Covenant, but SURPRISE! One of the survivors was infected by David, the alien comes out and kills some people in the shower in a pointless shower-death-tropey scene, and Walter helps Daniels and Whats-His-Face corral and kill it by jettisoning it into space….
… but then…
SURPRISE! Walter didn’t make it off the planet after all! It was David disguised as Walter! (Not. A. Surprise. At. All.). This reveal happens when all seems safe and sound after killing that “last” alien that snuck onto the ship. Daniels is falling back into hypersleep, makes eye contact, and realizes David snuck back up with them. She freaks out as she is locked in the cryo pod, but it’s too late.
David has access to a shitload of colonists and colonist embryos and the movie ends on a dark note as he smirks and plots his next awful series of events.
World Building & Cinematography
I really appreciated the layered world-building design. Crew costumes. monster designs. David’s lair. The half-dead planet they discovered. Everything feels incredibly well-crafted, and there is a lot of visual geek porn.
And while I’m not a huge fan of gore, Alien: Covenant definitely delivered on the aliens bursting out of the poor human characters.
The cinematography was also gorgeous and worked well with the pacing to keep me on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t think of a scene that failed visually Everything was really beautiful and desolate.
The movie didn’t really know what themes it wanted to stick with. It doesn’t really explain how the main crew are all couples, the way the trailer does! They also throw in David’s obsessive god complex (if I hear “Ozymandias” mentioned ONE MORE TIME… I swear to Jeebus), then a possible awesome “Walter might discover his humanity and might also turn evil” thread that goes nowhere… they should have kept one and stuck with it cohesively.
A Tale of Two Man-Bots: David and Walter
Michael Fassbender was, hands down, the highlight of Alien: Covenant. He had some really creepy scenes that, for some reason, folded into fan fiction material. There is an extended scene where David helps Walter with “fingering” his flute. (Actual quote from the movie had us all giggling like 12-year-olds.) And a scene where David leans down to kiss Walter in possibly the less-sexy-self-gay-kiss I have ever seen in a film. Come on, David. You had 10 years in exile and no time to practice?
Either way, Fassbender did a great job playing two distinctive man-bots. At the end of the movie, we, as an audience, had a great time trying to figure out which Fassbender-bot had survived.
Okay, the movie was a hot mess in terms of the Alien lore and ret-conning, but I still enjoyed it a lot as a guilty pleasure fic. I recommend watching it with friends, some parts are much too hilarious and tropey to experience alone.
I give it 3.5/5 stars.
For a refresher, here’s the trailer for Alien: Covenant