I went in hoping for some goddamn answers for the disaster that was Prometheus (other than where the Prometheus School of Running Away From Things is located so I can avoid it). I did not get any answers to those questions. Got some answers to other questions, like where the Alien we all know and fear came from, and answers to all the questions this movie brought up, but I got none of the answers from Prometheus and probably never will.
So this movie starts off with a the Covenant, a colonist ship on its way to a distant world, getting hit by a random energy wave in space and because of it finds a random signal from a nearby world. Going to investigate they find the remnants of a civilization and the records of Elizabeth Shaw, the only human survivor of the Prometheus. They also find the android David (Michael Fassbender, playing dual roles as David and the Covenant’s android). And while David was only an asshole following orders in Prometheus he seems to have embraced the darkness and has set himself up as the Lucifer and wants to destroy all of humanity, which he feels is inferior to him. And he has a new creation to do it. Enter the face-huggers and jet black alien Xenomorphs we all are so familiar with. There is also a weird Data/Lore vibe
The real problem I have with director Ridley Scott is there is seemingly no consistency in the themes of his work. The Counselor I still maintain was the worst movie ever made, in addition to being an existentialist screed on crack. Exodus, was a beautiful movie about the relationship between man and God. Prometheus seemed to take the exactly opposite view of man and god. Kingdom of Heaven (the director’s cut, we don’t ever talk about that travesty that was the theatrical version) wonderful film on the strength of personal ethics (a la Gladiator) and its interplay with religion, both good and bad. And here in Covenant we certainly have the Devil in the form of David, but really none of the questions of God that permeated the first one. If Ridley Scott thinks he has some kind of consistent message in his art, or even some underlying beliefs, I’ll be damned if I know what they are. These movies are so contradictory and inconsistent I have no idea how to judge any of it as a group. Thus. I must take Covenant as a movie unto itself with themes…and in that case this movie is not as much a mess as Prometheus. But it’s dark as hell. And I don’t mean Christopher Nolan dark, with a harsh look at humanity but still hope in every story. I mean full darkness.
Okay full spoiler mode starts now. Run away if you don’t want to know.
Want to know why?
So. any questions of what the motive of the creator of aliens was is gone because David killed them. Also gone is why they would have created the virus that begins to create the aliens in the first place is gone because of that. It becomes clear that from the beginning that David has always been a being of hubris, like Lucifer, and always seen himself as above everyone (it was unclear at best in Prometheus). He just killed them all, seemingly just because he felt he was better than them. It is implied that this is after he had already mutilated and killed Elizabeth Shaw (which makes her closing speech about searching for meaning all the more hopeless). And while quoting Milton’s Lucifer he shares more in common with a god of Lovecraft tale in not just wanting to rule but cause as much suffering to all those around him for the sake of only evil. And this is juxtaposed with Billy Cruddup’s captain who apparently is the only person who believes in God anymore (one of the few themes underdeveloped in this film) and the badass heroism of Katherine Watterson’s Dany Branson (a worthy heir to Ellen Ripley). All the heroism is for nothing as it is quickly undone by David’s evil for the sake of evil. Scott says he has more films in the franchise coming, but I have very little hope that this is going anywhere I will be comfortable with. This movie was more like the
meaninglessness of The Counselor than any of Scott’s actually good movies.
As to issues of terror and action, Alien is still the superior horror/thriller and Aliens is still the superior action film.