There may be spoilers ahead for any number of films in the Alien franchise, primiarly Covenant, but potentially any of them. You were warned.
I may be stupid. Actually, strike the “may.” I am stupid.
I believed, you see. I hoped. I clung tenaciously to the small part of me that was utterly in love with Alien, thought Aliens was fairly decent, and actually didn’t mind Alien 3.
But that part had been beaten and brusied. From watching a half(?)-human xenomorph try to say “Mama” before getting sucked out an airlock due to the actions of a half-xeno clone of Ripley, to squid-baby abortions, to egg-vomiting into pregnant women to establish a hive in 10 seconds, the part that thought there could be a chance for another great movie.
That part of me is dead, now. After sitting through the bloody mess that is Covenant, I think they could make twenty more Alien movies, and every one of them could be amazing, and I wouldn’t even be capable of caring.
Where to start? Well, the acting is atrocious. Pretty much every character is there for no purpose except to be eaten by aliens; individual characterizations or plot hooks are briefly mentioned and cast aside. There’s only one real winner in the bunch, though he counts as two: Fassbender as Walter and David. They serve to be interesting, have character arcs – though, for David’s, you have to have been paying attention during Prometheus and make some interesting logic leaps – but even that is dulled somewhat by the knowledge that neither is actually in any real danger from the aliens.
The plot is another source of idiocy. I mean, the skeleton’s fine; David and Shaw reach Engineer planet, nuke Engineer planet, David looses his shit and starts playing god, unleashing all manner of horrors which our new intrepid heroes have to deal with. But there’s no logic to it. None. We’re to assume David created the xenos from his experiments… but when he carpet bombs the Engineers, they start turning into neomorphs almost immediately. Then either the environment or David’s curiousity leads to it making the black goo into an airborne virus that, rather than changing the host, creates something else inside the host, that then pops out and makes a mess. Then, again either due to environment, experiment, or combination thereof, they turn into eggs, which hatch into facehuggers, that then have to attack someone, so it can implant a xeno, so it can repeat the cycle. If the plot is David going nuts trying to play god and create a “perfect organism,” I think he’s working backwards.
Further, while on the perfect organism train, seems to me like the neomorphs were pretty good to start with. They seem more resistant to damage than their xeno cousins, they breed faster and without as many opportunities to interrupt their life cycle, they grow faster, and don’t start out as tiny little snakes that – while fast, mean and deadly – can be squished – comparitively – easily; they pop out ready to rock and roll. Why is he making xenomorphs, again…?
We’re just gonna press “SKIP” with a CinemaSins esque “ding” sound effect when the first “real” xeno is born and it basically takes a bow while vocalizing something that might as well be “dada.”
Oh, and that whole thing with the trilobite, the dead Engineer and the Deacon? Nowhere to be seen. Nothing to reference. Just “Huh? What? Nah, nah, you didn’t see that.” I’m guessing that’s because they were originally essentially fan service and as the “big twist” revelaing that Prometheus was in fact a pseudo-prequel to Alien, but still. You can’t just do that and then forget about it. And further, why does the Deacon look and behave more like a “classic” xenomorph than the neomorphs that we see in Covenant?
Biggest problems, though? Twofold. One, the Engineer’s temples and art showcases what are very clearly xenomorphs, and not the half-ass dancing puppet we see in Covenant. They’re the biomechanical monstrosities – including facehuggers and chestbursters, from what I can tell – that are in the films in the later chronological narrative. They are very clearly not neomorphs, or even Deacons. So if the xenos are the result of David playing with the black goo, how the hell did the Engineers have cave murals of the buggardly things for thousands of years? If he’s recreating or rebirthing an existing species, then what the hell is up with the neomorphs, and why does nothing imply the Engineers were aware of them, when it seems to be the “basic” result of exposure to black goo?
That leads naturally to Big Problem #2; Prometheus takes place roughly 30 years before Alien. Covenant is about ten years later (thus 20 before Alien, give or take.) So, somehow, over the course of twenty years, David is going to perfect the xenomorph as we know it, crash a Juggernaut on LV426, ensure said Juggernaut is loaded with either a Queen (which we have no evidence for at this time) or several thousand eggs (which opens up a whole new can of worms of “where’d they come from”) and then somehow make it look like a several-thousand-year-old derelict, just in time for Dallas and co. to find it and kick off the events of the rest of the franchise.
No. Just no. Logic has completely left, and no amount of Fassbendering can save it. Essentially, all that’s left of Covenant providing any worth is the special effects, and those aren’t worth sitting through the two+ hour runtime for, when you can just YouTube “Covenant death scenes” and get what you want. I quit.
Overall? 2/5. Mainly for special effects and Walter/David. If it was a standalone film and existed in a world where Alien didn’t, it would be more like 3/5; that that continuity destruction hurt it pretty badly in the standings. Wouldn’t waste the time and money, unless you’re a completionist, or able to hold out hope a lot better than I ever can.