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'Alien: Covenant' a satisfying, if somewhat predictable, franchise addition

20 Mai 2017

"I went to film school and studied there to be a director", the North Carolina School of the Arts alum says. You would be wrong. That, I suppose, was the logic that spawned Alien: Covenant, another franchise film that buys into the current trend that every villain needs an empathetic origin story. That being said, I'm a Michael Fassbender fan, I think the world would be a disgusting place without Charlize Theron and Noomi Rapace will always be "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", so I mentally and willingly signed on for that ride. Her only friend is Walter (Fassbender), another robot copy of Prometheus' David, and she clashes with the leader of the ship (Billy Crudup replacing Charlize Theron). He is a next generation character that is immortal and he meets his brother, David, in the unknown planet.

"Covenant" takes place ten years after the events of "Prometheus", with a spaceship carrying a crew and a couple thousand deep-sleeping passengers. Android Walter (Mr. Fassbender, in a dual role) peacefully tends to the ship's functions, and all is well until a routine recharging process goes awry. "Letting someone else (like a stuntwoman) tell your character's story seemed insane to me". Roused from sleep, the crew deals with the emergency and picks up a mysterious transmission seeming to emanate from a nearby earthlike planet. Do xenomorphs enjoy gestating in unassuming dudes' stomachs?

But there isn't a way for Waterston's Daniels to exist without Ripley. Not only does it not need a backstory, a backstory can only serve to make it less compelling because explaining it unavoidably takes it away from being a horrifying abstract embodiment of cosmic phobia and makes it just another movie monster.

We're at the point with CGI now that it's all pretty seamless unless it's really done badly; maybe people in the industry can spot flaws and be irritated by them, but for most of us, the question is really whether it's effective and appropriate for the film.

But no performance eclipses that of Michael Fassbender, who played the android David in "Prometheus" and here plays a later model of the same droid, Walter. Imagine, if you will, Michael Fassbender playing both parts in the scene of To Have and Have Not where Lauren Bacall asks Humphrey Bogart "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve?" Hey, being chased across the galaxy by a freaky-stomach-splatting, acid-spitting creature that just seems to have it out for you would drive anyone to momentary lapses of fear. And that's before Covenant's exclusively gay moment. The movie takes place in 2104, which - like Prometheus before it - paints an nearly depressingly optimistic portrait of our near-future spacefaring capabilities. His talent aside, the problem is twofold. Visiting a new land with hateful alien beings is disturbing; having one's creator actively turn against them is downright horrifying.

Combining elements of those two films may sound intriguing, but it works less in execution than in theory.

A genuine prologue to Alien: Covenant, "The Last Supper" is a scene prominently used in several of the trailers. The fact that the movie was so full of plot holes and flat-out stupid behavior by its characters, and, most importantly, didn't have Ripley, or anyone near Ripley's charisma, strength and smarts, made me anxious for the future of the franchise. No doubt, there's a way to make another good Alien movie. It's imperative the mothership rescue them quickly as soon there will be no one left to save. There are gorgeous visuals to check out, particularly an elegant early sequence that shows the Covenant unfurling a shimmering set of golden sails to aid in its recharging process, and alien architecture that provides continuity while expanding upon HR Giger's iconic original vision.

'Alien: Covenant' a satisfying, if somewhat predictable, franchise addition