I went and saw Alien Covenant last night, and honestly I didn’t dislike it.
I’ve heard mixed reviews on the movie, but overall I found it quite enjoyable. Visually there were several stunning scenes, the characters were fine, Michael Fassbender knocked it out of the park, and there was definitely some amazing gore.
As the movie hit the midway mark though I started wondering: was this what Ridley Scott originally had in mind as he was making Prometheus?
For all it’s oddities, I enjoyed Prometheus. Sure there were a couple of notably dumb scientists, but over all I thought the movie was pretty great. The acting was amazing, that c-section scene couldn’t have been more perfect, and really the whole mythos surrounding the Engineers and humanity was an intriguing concept. I liked that it only had tenuous connections to the original Alien franchise, and I didn’t need more than that. I also thought that all 3 movies Ridley Scott had in mind were supposed to maintain that ‘distant’ connection.
Then comes Alien Covenant.
For the first half of the movie this was exactly what I thought we were getting. A Prometheus sequel, and not an Alien prequel, but…
…This movie felt like it tried to squeeze in both, and I really mean it when I say the word ‘squeeze’. The first half felt like the Prometheus sequel I wanted. The second half felt like a shoehorned prequel to the Alien franchise. The first half was tension and drama and a build up to something horrifying. The second half was action and blood and so many throw backs that just screamed, “SEE! SEE! I REALLY AM A PREQUEL TO ALIEN AFTER ALL!”
I feel like this movie might have been better as a 3rd in the installment, and the story only hinted at in flashbacks and background imagery would have been the perfect bridge between the two.
Now comes the REAL spoilers, so seriously turn back now if you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want anything ruined.
So Covenant picks up 10 years after Prometheus.
Elizabeth and David found the Engineers planet and apparently rash landed there. A lot of what David says in this movie is a lie, but damn would I have loved to see the truth. He committed genocide on the Engineers, but it’s never really clear why. Was it because of his hatred for Weyland and wanting to ruin humanity’s chance of ever getting our question of “where do I come from” answered? Was it just because he could? Was Elizabeth alive for it? Did she ask him to do it? Was he hellbent on creating something himself? Was he just curious?
I would have loved to watch David’s descent into ‘mad scientist,’ especially when taking some of his other bizarre actions into account. He clearly had some sort of weird affection for Elizabeth, but that didn’t stop him from killing her. Did she build him that new body? Did she die before he started his experimentations, or maybe she was infected and he couldn’t stop it. The fact that he kept a burial marker for her and a picture seems to tell me that there are feelings there of some sort. He also confessed to loving her, but maybe that was also a lie.
I wanted to see more of David’s story, so…
Here’s my take on how I would have liked the Prometheus sequel to play out:
Elizabeth and David travel through space on their alien vessel and bond as she rebuild’s his body and they search for the Engineer’s home world. Maybe they’ve found other planets and have gotten enough supplies to keep Elizabeth alive for at least a year or two while they travel. They’ve been through a lot together, but there’s always a level of mistrust on her part for the things that David did in Prometheus. However, he’s also the only person she has to talk to, and we humans are a social species. Whether she wants it or not, she has a sort of love for him, and because of her kindness, he for her.
I imagine at least one on screen, heavy philosophical debate about life and purpose in the first act of the movie. Elizabeth mentions something along the lines of the purpose of life revolving perhaps around the act of creation. Something unknown creates the Engineers. Engineers create humans. Humans create androids. She looks at David with a bit of wariness and curiosity and wonders aloud what he might create some day.
They find a planet then, but it isn’t the one from the movie Covenant, though it IS a home to some of the Engineer species. They use a dropship and leave the larger vessel in space. This could be a research planet, and after the two of them sneak in they come across some of the subjects. This could be another piece of the puzzle that fuels David’s future actions. He finds the monsters beautiful, but in a fit of rage and despair, Elizabeth kills them all. In her haste to destroy the things she’s captured, but David remains unseen.
As he follows after, they end up outside in time to see a ship similar to their own approach. All the citizens/scientists are overjoyed at the arrival as it should bring new species to experiment on and more supply of the ‘black goo.’ Elizabeth ends up being taken to a lab and is infected with the stuff.
David manages to rescue her, but it’s already too late: she’s doomed to die and birth some new horror. As they leave destruction in their wake (maybe making the facility explode or something by firing on it with their own vessel), he gets her to the ship. He watches as the canisters the new vessel brought destroy everything as it crashes.
At this point David puts Elizabeth into a cryosleep (like the bed that the Engineer they found in Prometheus used). Her last words to him are something profound, lamenting the disappointment she feels in her creators and what they do, and perhaps even conveying her sadness at not being able to see David’s first creation. Maybe she even assumes it would have to be something beautiful because he isn’t controlled by the same emotions she and the Engineers are.
David finds the next planet. This is the one that’s featured in Covenant. Because of what this species did to Elizabeth, this is why he immediately drops all those canisters down onto their heads as they’re rejoicing in the arrival of his craft, but they do get a single shot off on him, causing his ship to crash. The cryo-pod survives, and so David leaves Elizabeth there for a while as he explores the planet and the aftermath of his attack.
A few years later, after he has finally created something, he wakes Elizabeth to show her, but instead of the excitement he expected, she’s horrified. She ends up trying to get away from him as his monsters, and before he can get her back into the cryo-pod her own alien is born. She dies right in front of David, giving birth to that creature from the movie that he ended up ‘communicating’ with, better explaining his horror at its death, as well as his immediate ‘kill them all’ attitude versus the whole, ‘humans just aren’t worthy’ thing (though I think both would apply). The pale alien–Elizabeth’s child, in his eyes–flees, and David goes to collect Elizabeth’s body.
Fade to black and maybe come back to him saving the crew who are stranded on this word from the current Covenant movie. Then Covenant is actually the 3rd in the installment.
I dunno. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but that was the movie I think I was hoping for…