The Alien franchise has been through a lot. Whether sequels, prequels or spin-offs – Hollywood has always found ways to milk the sci-fi classic. The first film in the series found its way onto the screen in 1979. The then still unknown Ridley Scott directed a film with a courageous concept and a modest budget. The result was a claustrophobic nightmare on celluloid.
Sigourney Weaver spielte mit Officer Ellen Ripley die Rolle ihres Lebens und das vom Schweizer H.R. Giger designte, später ‘Xenomorph’ getaufte Alien ist bis heute eines der bekanntesten Film-Monster. In 1986, Terminator director James Cameron showed that the horror-filled alien myth also works in the guise of a hard-hitting action movie. Parts 3 and 4 followed with decreasing success and the two ‚Alien vs Predator‘ movies finally buried the franchise completely in the trash swamp of the early 2000s. A few years later it seemed to be time again to wrestle a few million out of line. Scott’s return to the director’s chair gave fans hope and indeed, with ‚Prometheus‘ 2012 he managed to create a decent, modern prequel to his first film.
„Alien: Covenant,“ finally, is a sequel to „Prometheus. Viewers follow a new crew of space cowboys through the endless expanses of space. Viewers follow a new crew of space cowboys through the endless expanses of space. Actually the journey should last another 7 years, but a solar storm hits the spaceship and the crew is forced out of their cold sleep. A malfunction leads to the death of the captain, leaving his wife Dany (Katherine Waterstone) in mourning and the inexperienced officer Oram (Billy Crudup) as his deputy. Shortly thereafter, the ship receives a signal from a previously unknown planet. A scan shows that this has ideal conditions for colonization. Although Dany expresses her concerns, the new captain decides to follow the signal. It comes as no great surprise that the mission is not going as planned and Dany and her colleagues will soon have to face dangers that will not leave everyone alive.
There are many things that the film does right. The acting is flawless. Especially Michael Fassbender is convincing in a double role in which he plays two different androids. His character David has an extraordinary connection to the titular monster, which often makes you shudder, especially in the last third of the movie. Katherine Waterstone gives a decent performance as terraforming expert Dany Branson, even though her role seems to limit her somewhat. Nevertheless, she works well with what she is given and goes through an interesting character development, driven at different times by sadness, anger, fear and loyalty.
It is also nice to see that it is still possible today to be so wacky for a heavily advertised, mainstream Hollywood movie. The FSK allows anyone over 16 to see it, but an 18 rating would have been quite understandable. The audience is well sprayed with blood while Scott finds new ways to sic his aliens on often defenseless humans. The story is at least as over-the-top as the action. There are a few head-shaking moments, but on the whole it is refreshing to follow a story where you don’t see every twist and turn coming for miles – a problem that too many modern blockbusters seem to have. The film skilfully avoids this mistake, with a few exceptions.
Any hope that ‚Covenant‘ could match the grandeur of the original, however, is disappointed. Too often the film feels simplified for the mass audience. Too seldom we build up a real connection with the characters. Some of them show potential for interesting moments, but are slaughtered too quickly, others never develop beyond the role of expendable supporting characters.
Conclusion: ‚Alien: Covenant‘ is a decent sci-fi/horror movie, which however will always stand in the shadow of the original. If you don’t expect a masterpiece and can switch off your brain every now and then, you will have a lot of fun at the cinema.