Covenant begins with a familiar ‘Alien’ storyline. A ship travels through space. Somewhere along the journey, they come upon something undiscovered. They go out to explore and all hell breaks loose. However, I’m probably underselling the plot. This is only how it begins. There is a lot going on in this movie. Unfortunately or fortunately (as you like it) most of it happens in the unsaid or unseen area.
The movie tries to balance the act of being both a sequel to Prometheus (a movie big on ideas) and on the Alien franchise (horror/thriller genre). The result is that you get a movie that just doesn’t sway in either direction and you receive only bits of both. Prometheus raised the audience’s curiosity and even ended on a note that implied a closure (in a future film) in the form of answers. But Covenant instead keeps raising questions. There are a few spooks and thrills akin to the original ‘Alien’. But there is not enough anticipation in the bang or simply the bangs are all too familiar.
Now that we are done with the grimy parts lets come to the most interesting part of this movie – the character, David. Actually, No, it’s the actor Michael Fassbender. Fassbender breathes life into this movie. He reprises – David, a recurring character from Prometheus who is an android. He also plays another android accompanying the new crew, Walter. The ease with which Fassbender switches between the two physically identical yet ideologically contradicting androids is disturbingly beautiful. It is the actions of David that get the story and the action going. The malicious smirk on his face and the glint of evil in his eyes remain unmissed by the audiences but are easily unnoticed by his human counterparts who (idiotically sometimes) fall for his traps.
There is a subliminal idea that is at play here that incites curiosity. The idea revolves around the creation of life itself. Why did the engineers create humans? Why did the Humans create the Android? Why does the Android dream of creating the perfect being? The fascinating questions itself can be the answer but these are not pondered over in the movie and are left to the fantasies of the audiences.
There is something amiss here too because you don’t know how this ‘curiously evil’ robot you saw from the earlier movie has now transformed into an ‘evil mad scientist’. This is a transformation you might want to see but like I said this is left to your imagination.
Another issue is with the rest of the actors. As it is with Alien movies, most of them have to die towards the end of the movie. But the audience is not emotionally invested with any character so whoever lives or dies, the audience stays indifferent. The Alien franchise has always had women in leading roles. But this time it doesn’t work out very well. I am not saying Katherine Waterston is bad. But she isn’t exactly ‘Bad-ass’. Mind you she does most of the heavy lifting here but her expressions and her body language or her dialogue don’t exactly correlate. Like for this one scene she sees a huge Alien coming out of the door and it looks like she is terrified but she says ‘Let’s kill this bastard’ instead. The ending too was unimaginative and predictable.
Overall I did enjoy the movie. The visuals were stunning. The music was mostly borrowed from previous films but still remained amazing. There were some good spooks and some great ideas and above all, there was Fassbender’s villainy. I would not be surprised if I start liking this more with repeated viewing.