Alien Covenant -- A Review

Most of my friends seem to have hated the new film Alien Covenant. It is director Ridley Scott's follow-on to the baffling Alien "prequel," Prometheus, and it fills in many gaps in the narrative.
Friends commented on the stupid actions by the characters being pursued and devoured by the aliens, but they are an underpaid crew ferrying colonists in space, not scientists on exploration, and "first contact" was the last thing they expected.
The film contains serious debates about artificial intelligence/robots and the ethics thereof; the question, from Frankenstein, of whether the creation should have contempt for its physically frail creator; it quotes from Wagner's Ring Cycle both musically and in ideas; it evokes and quotes Milton, and Shelley's "Ozymandias."
Alien Covenant includes a necropolis city it will be impossible to forget, one aspect of which is lifted directly from Arnold Bocklin's painting, "The Isle of the Dead." It plays on twins/doppelgangers. And it advances the Alien story-line continuum with a new agency, many twists of the created turning against the creators. It suggests that species are not kind to one another, and that mutual annihilation might be out there in the stars as well as on earth.
The weak part of the script is that the only intellectual characters are robots, and the humans bumble around, trying to substitute bravery for brains. But that too, is part of the message throughout these films: a safe world is safe for the not-so-bright, too. We don't get close to any of the characters to bond with them the way we did with Sigourney Weaver in Alien/Aliens/Alien3, and that is too bad. It is too easy to forget that the Earth culture of the Alien series, toward which this episode is building, is a dystopia in which free-thinking individuals seem to have been pushed aside in favor of desperate workers who want to obey orders and get their next paycheck. And going into space does not appear to be a plum job.

If you have seen the previous films and thought about them, you need to see this one too, and then go home and think about it. And then don't go near anything even remotely shaped like an egg.


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