Alien: Covenant

Even though I am very fond of this film, what happens to spouses makes it unlikely that it will be shown at any couples’ retreat.

Alien CovenantI must admit from the outset that I find Director Ridley Scott’s exploration of the universe with his Alien films to be fascinating. His original Alien (1979) remains the cinematic standard bearer by which all similar films are compared.

The monster that he created remains as terrifying as the shark in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975). Even more significant, Sigourney Weaver’s performance as Ripley broke a barrier that had previously prevented actresses from taking a leading role in science fiction-oriented films.

Alien: Covenant follows on the heels of Prometheus (2012) as a prequel to the original film, and the viewer gradually learns how this cannibalistic monster emerged. In this case, a new space crew, all of whom are married to fellow travelers, are traveling to a distant planet with 2000 human embryos to establish life on a new world. The theme is similar to last year’s Passengers, though it tells a far darker story.

In this case, a communication is intercepted from another planet that leads our crew to exploring what is hopefully a hidden paradise. What they find is evil unleashed, and the only question looming over our horrified crew is which spouse will die first.

Though there are some very good performances from Billy Crudup, Danny McBride and Demián Bichir among others, this foreboding film belongs to Michael Fassbender and Katherine Waterston. Mr. Fassbender plays two synthetically created robots, each with different goals and attitudes. His character named David, a survivor of the Prometheus expedition, has emerged as a master of darkness, and his goal of becoming a creator has sinister  implications for everyone.

On the other hand, Walter, Mr. Fassbender’s second human-like droid, is a dedicated leader of the Covenant spacecraft with a goal to insure the safety of his human crew. A battle is looming centering on Fassbender versus Fassbender, and it will determine the fate of the expedition.

Ms. Waterston’s performance resembles that of the now legendary Sigourney Weaver, a woman who is forced to lead as others colleagues fall prey to David’s designs. She is an emerging actress of great strength, and her performance here rivals the emotional impact she made in last year’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

The real question posed by this recent Scott film is whether the alien monsters will be confined to this one planet or find a way to promulgate throughout the universe. While an answer is suggested at the end of the film, you are left expecting a gigantic battle to take place in the last expected installment of this space trilogy.