The following review contains spoilers
On course for an isolated world on the other side the galaxy, Captain Oram (Billy Crudup), Daniels (Katherine Waterston), Walter (Michael Fassbender), Tennessee (Danny McBride) and others of a colony vessel named Covenant find what they think is an uncharted utopia to start a new human colony. There, they meet David (Michael Fassbender), the last survivor of the failed Prometheus expedition. This strange new world soon turns dark, deadly and dangerous when a hostile creature pushes our crew into a chase of cat and mouse in a fight for survival. Quite simply, Ridley Scott’s latest addition to the Alien franchise is a matter of do or die.
Alien Covenant is pure horror, with plenty of thrills, frights and scares to make one stool yourself, let alone the monumental amount of blood, gore, violence and sneakiness of Michael Fassbender (Macbeth) reprising the shady, slimy, scaly synthetic David. It’s certainly not a monster movie, it’s Frankenstein in space with a dash of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Carrying two thousand bodies on a 22nd century spaceship, the Covenant’s crew descend on an unknown planet to investigate a distress beacon. They stumble on spores of some sort that spew into the ear avenues of the chosen. A leads to B leads to C and C leads to dead, dead, dead!
For those who live past the thirty-minute life expectancy of an Alien film, “help” comes at a convenient time from David (Fassbender). Set a decade after Prometheus, David has been stuck there since, maybe. From the last movie, we know David is up to no good and Fassbender returns again with a performance that will go down into legend, as he plays god by harvesting humanoids, face-huggers and god knows what else. He’s living, sleeping and friendly with corpses as well as other things and it’s intriguingly horrible. Playing two different characters, Michael Fassbender has shown us again why he is one of the most capable actors working in Hollywood today.
This is more Gothic horror than horror horror. In these films we’ve always had a seven-foot xenomorph with acid blood and an elongated cranium which has multiple mouths to kill its victims with. Typically, we have lots of action with this super-predator to feast on too. Action aside, the best bits is the religious undertone of man and creation and how Fassbender acts as god in his Garden of Eden. David may have surpassed Edwin Epps in my favourite Fassbender role. Whilst Prometheus is, in my view, a great film, Covenant is even better and leans into the Hammer Horror of the 1960s with Fassbender playing an even creepier version of Christopher Lee’s Dracula.
From Shelley to Byron to Stoker to Hannibal Lecter, there are references of these kinds everywhere. And that doesn’t take anything away from the aim of this film. It sheds more light on what occurred after Prometheus and also gives many a blood-oozing bubble bath. There are little critters ripping through chests, spines and necks that make John Hurt’s little accident look mild, whilst other characters slip on blood down corridors fleeing for their lives. Characters’ faces get burnt with acid with my favourite scene of the whole film being the chase from the planet back to the ship just before David shows up.
The film is talent-riddled, with the likes of Carmen Ejogo (Selma) and Danny McBride (Sausage Party) as well as Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts) and Michael Fassbender (12 Years A Slave) with Billy Crudup (Spotlight). The scene that introduces us to our characters is well-shot and well-crafted. They’re awoken from their cryogenic sleep only to have to send their captain into space when he’s burnt alive (James Franco). He happens to be Daniels’ other half and the fact that all the crew members are couples only adds more emotional weight to their plight when people’s bellies and skulls are being ripped in half in front of them.
Aside from Fassbender (x2), Waterston, McBride and Crudup, none of the other character really got any character development. But I don’t care as much as perhaps other people would because when you watch films like this you know 70% of the cast are going to become mince meat within the first hour. I also like how in these films that each of the female lead characters are imitations of Ripley: slim, can-do attitude, badass with short hair. Waterston gives a brilliant performance as Daniels. It was emotional but she was also interesting to watch, and I liked her scenes with Crudup. She didn’t have any issues in telling the captain when he was wrong.
The xenomorph continues to be my most-feared beasty in all of fiction. Covenant depicts this creature in all its glory, and gory methods in killing people. It just sucks that our heroes have to fight more than one, no thanks to the little alien farm factory they’ve found themselves in. Known by many film groups as simply, “Fassy”, I am beginning to ask the question whether Michael Fassbender is from the mortal world or if he was sent to Earth by Zeus. Michael Fassbender continues to own every role that comes his way. In this tale of gods and monsters, he has continued to exhibit that his acting range surpasses the world of mortal men.
From the production design to the acting to the pacing to the musical score, this film is the stuff nightmares are made of. Is Fassbender of this world? When are we getting more? This film answers many questions as it refers back the happenings at the end of Prometheus. But it also makes me ask more question. In all seriousness, I really enjoyed this film and I’m certainly going to check this film out again before it leaves the cinema.