If you’re only there for the Xenomorphs, Alien: Covenant will satisfy. Otherwise …
Alien: Covenant Synopsis
While on route to Origae-6, the colony ship Covenant is damaged by a neutrino shockwave, forcing the crew to wake from stasis. Subsequently, the crew receives a human transmission from a nearby habitable planet, and on investigating, learns the ultimate fate of Dr. Elizabeth Shaw from the Prometheus mission years ago.
So I’ve been told, Alien (1979) was a winner because it so successfully, so creatively, combined different genres of fear. Claustrophobia, paranoia, and most of all, body horror.
Aliens (1986) then continued this formula with the introduction of a new motif, that of motherhood. Based on what I read, the famous slugfest at the end of Aliens wasn’t just one bitch against another. It was a desperate mother against a furious one. Both, metaphorically, embodied so much more than just survival.
These, from a production point of view, then set in place a slew of potent possibilities for future sequels. There were indeed many attempts thereafter, including one curious crossover. And then In the late 2000s, Ridley Scott and company decided not to go forward, but backward.
Rather than explore what happened beyond Ellen Ripley, they decided the juice would be in investigating the Xenomorphs’ origins. And with that, all associated planetary worldviews and philosophies.
Which isn’t a wholly bad idea per se, to be clear, except Alien is at its heart, a space horror franchise. It’s all about the horror, disgust, and gore. In a nutshell, the previous criticism rained on Prometheus is now applicable to Alien: Covenant in every way. The story simply does not have the capacity for the many lofty ideas tossed about.
In fact, the more the movie blabs about these ideas, with Byron and Shelly quotes, the more it distances from said main attraction i.e. that of Xenomorphs ambushing and tearing hapless humans apart.
This is salvaged to an extent in the second half, by the story dropping these concepts and the mystery of the Engineers, and reverting to grisly one-on-one combat. Unfortunately, the fun of the slaughter is already lost at this point.
Frankly speaking, the revealed purpose for the Xenomorphs came across as rather staid too. I would really have preferred for the movie to focus on uncovering the Engineers, or just killing Xenos one after another. Mixing the two just didn’t work in so many ways.
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