Alien: Covenant

"OK! Let's go out there and get pregnant."

To watch the “Alien” prequels — “Prometheus” (2012) and now “Alien: Covenant” — is to marvel at the changes in astronaut-hiring practices that must have been implemented between the earlier chapters and the later ones. The characters in Ridley Scott’s 1979 original, set in 2124, are competent spacefarers who encounter difficult situations. But the people in “Prometheus” (set in 2093), and even more so in “Covenant” (set in 2104), are clumsy dumbasses who slip in puddles of blood, fire their weapons haphazardly, bend face-first into unknown organisms, ignore obvious warning signs, violate safety protocols, and are easily tricked by robots. Whatever reforms were made at the Weyland Corporation in the first couple decades of the 22nd century, they resulted in much smarter (and, I must say, charismatic) employees.

The new film, set 10 years after “Prometheus” and again directed by Scott, begins aboard the colonization ship Covenant as it makes its way across the universe to a habitable planet designated Origae-6. In cryogenic sleep are 2,000 colonists and 15 crew members, while Walter (Michael Fassbender) — a cyborg of the same design as David in “Prometheus” but upgraded to an American accent and a more opinionated personality — tends to the ship’s needs. A malfunction causes the crew to wake up seven years early, except for the captain, who burns alive in his pod and is jettisoned into space.

So! We’re off to a good start. (I’m won’t tell you which famous actor has a cameo as Capt. Crispy, but I can tell you you’ll laugh when you recognize him.) The new captain, Oram (Billy Crudup), is prickly and weak, uncertain of his authority. It is mentioned two or three times that he’s a man of faith, but that fact never becomes relevant (one assumes there are deleted scenes). Investigating a rogue transmission, Oram and company find a planet near their current location that seems to be even better for colonization than Origae-6. Wouldn’t hurt to send a landing party down there, see where the signal is coming from, check things out, get eaten by aliens, etc.

[Continue reading at Crooked Marquee.]

C (2 hrs., 2 min.; R, a lot of harsh profanity, some strong violence and gross sci-fi action, brief sensuality and partial nudity.)