Alien: Covenant returns to its horror roots, but leaves questions unanswered

THV11 Movie critic Jonathan Nettles tells us about the movies in theaters this weekend

Before I break down Alien: Covenant, let’s take a look back at the Alien franchise:

Alien (1979)


Ridley Scott directed this iconic Sci-Fi Horror film. The crew of a mining ship in deep space are sent to investigate what sounds like a distress call from a (relatively) nearby planet. When they land on the planet, a member of the crew is attacked by a mysterious life-form and after reluctantly bringing him back on board, they learn quickly that the small organism is only the first step in something far more terrifying.

 

Aliens (1986)


James Cameron took the reins from Ridley Scott and departed from the Sci-Fi Horror genre to give us a more action focused film. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), the only survivor from the Nostromo disaster, has been adrift in space for nearly 60 years. When she is rescued, she learns that the planet on which they found the “Xenomorph” as it’s now called, has been colonized and there have been no sightings of the creature. That is until contact with the colony is lost. Ripley is sent back to the planet along with a unit of Colonial Marines to investigate the problem. Of course, we know what the problem is, the Xenomorphs have taken over. Cut off from returning to their ship, Ripley and the Marines must find a way to survive until help can arrive. 

 

Alien 3 (1992)


David Fincher directed this film with heavy influence from the studio. The studio so heavily influenced it that Fincher tried to have his name removed from the film. Ripley crashes on a prison planet and of course there’s a Xenomorph that crashes along with her. We also find out that Ripley has an alien growing inside of her. It gets back to the roots of horror but it’s not worth going into more than this or the time it would take for you to watch it.

 

Alien: Resurrection (1997)


This movie is awful. Ripley is a clone who has been crossed with Xenomorph DNA. I won’t dignify this film with a description.

Then there are the Alien vs. Predator films that we’ll skip over because they have little bearing on the rest of the franchise, other than bringing two iconic pop culture characters together. Ridley Scott hates the way the films were made and doesn’t include them as part of his Alien universe.

There’s a lot of universe that those films built. We have Ellen Ripley who is the ultimate, working class, reluctant heroine that really set the tone for tough women characters in action movies.

Wait? That didn’t take off? It’s taken how long to get a Wonder Woman movie? Interesting.

It also set up what was referred to in the films as “the company." Never really mentioned by name but it gave the Wayland-Yutani Corporation a sense of formidability. In the Alien universe, Wayland-Yutani has their hands in everything from mining to technology to terraforming to bio-engineering. The company values profit margins over everything else at the expense of people. Wayland-Yutani is at the center of everything that happens in the Alien franchise, often manipulating people and events. One of their primary goals throughout the franchise is to capture a Xenomorph and turn it into a weapon.

Circling back around to 2012’s Prometheus, in the beginning of the film, life on Earth is created by the “Engineers” when one of them drinks a black goo and his body is broken down on a molecular level and creates the basis for life on Earth. Fast forward several thousand years and a couple of archeologists discover paintings across the globe that depict powerful beings and 3 stars which they interpret to be an invitation. A few years later the spaceship, Prometheus, is nearing the coordinates depicted in the cave paintings.

David, the android is tasked with maintaining the crew and ship while they are in cryo-sleep. When they reach the planet, the Prometheus touches down and the expedition finds one of the ships belonging to the Engineers and discovers that they had created a bio-weapon with the intention of returning to Earth and wiping out all life on our planet. David also has a more dubious task as his creator, Peter Weyland, is secretly on-board and has given him secret instructions to investigate the Engineers’ bio-weapons. David not only learns how to use the bio-weapons (which he uses on the crew), he learns how to fly their ships, and discovers that one of the Engineers is alive in cryo-sleep.

David awakens Weyland and when the two of them awaken the sleeping Engineer, it becomes angry, kills Weyland, and rips David’s android head off of his body. Then it proceeds to launch the ship and resume the mission of destroying life on Earth. Prometheus’ crew stops the ship by crashing into it. The only survivors are a headless David and Dr. Elizabeth Shaw. The two of them find another Engineer spaceship and embark on another journey to find where the Engineers came from, why they created life on Earth, and why they wanted to destroy it.

That’s just a basic summary of Prometheus, it’s actually a little more philosophical than that. Its core is about finding God and man’s ascension from creation to being God-like in how (in the film) we are now able to create sentient beings in our own image.


 

Now to 2017’s Alien: Covenant, a group of colonists are in cryo-sleep on their way to settle a new planet. The android Walter, a newer model of David, takes care of the day-to-day operations of the ship while the crew and colonists are in stasis. When an unpredictable solar flare damages the ship, the crew is awakened to make repairs. They receive a signal that appears to be from a human. They change course to investigate and discover that the new planet meets all of their criteria for a new settlement. As they explore deeper, they find a crashed spacecraft which happens to be the source of the signal. This is where we learn that the ship is the one that Dr. Shaw and David had left in to find the Engineers. Two of the crew members are also infected by spores that begin to change their DNA and soon their chests burst open and you can probably guess where things go from here.
   
If Prometheus is about finding God, then Alien: Covenant is about finding Satan without being as philosophical about it.

What is Satan in Alien: Covenant? Is it the bio-weapon that the Engineers created to destroy life on Earth that has mutated into something much worse? Is it whomever controls the bio-weapon? Is it whomever created the bio-weapon? Is it someone who sees creating the perfect being the next step towards becoming God? 

The movie does turn the Alien franchise ship back towards its’ Sci-Fi Horror roots and tries to tie up all the loose ends from Prometheus and lead us back towards the story of the 1979 Alien. Even then, there’s a lot of questions and things that need to be explained in the next film. In fact, Ridley Scott has said that he made some mistakes in Prometheus and wants to take this current trilogy and back it right into the beginning of Alien.

There is plenty of action, scares, and gore to keep Alien fans interested. Of course, the stars are the Xenomorphs.

Also in theaters this week…

Based on the record-breaking book series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, the Heffley family’s road trip to Meemaw’s 90th birthday party goes hilariously off-course when Greg hatches a scheme to get to a video game convention. This entry in the franchise has an entirely new cast featuring Jason Drucker as Greg, Charlie Wright as Rodrick, with Alicia Silverstone and Tom Everett Scott as the parents.

In Everything, Everything, a teenage girl is unable to leave her home because she has an immunodeficiency that makes her allergic to almost everything. However, her life changes for the better when she begins to communicate with the boy next door. Everything, Everything is directed by Stella Meghie, and was adapted from the YA novel of the same name by Nicola Yoon. It stars Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson.

Norman is about a persistent wheeler-dealer named Norman who falls in with an Israeli politician. When the politician is elected prime minister, Norman rises in esteem with the New York Jewish community, even though his social connections might only be a sham. Norman stars Richard Gere, Lior Ashkenazi, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Steve Buscemi, and Michael Sheen.

 

New on DVD & Blu-Ray:
XXX: The Return of Xander Cage
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
The Space Between Us
Good Morning (Ohayo) (Criterion Collection)

New on Streaming:
 

New on Netflix:
Get Me Roger Stone
Mondhorn
Lovesong
Enemy of the State

 

New on FandangoNow:
Dead Ringer
Goodfellas
Key Largo
Logan
Tarantula
Now, Voyager
Compliance
LA 92
Papillon
Take This Waltz
Tracktown
Folk Hero & Funny Guy
Before I Fall
2 Days in New York
Fist Fight
The Shack

 

New on Hulu:
A Hologram for the King
He Got Game
As I Am

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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