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Laramie Movie Scope: Alien: Covenant

On the dark, dismal dawn of a deadly dystopia

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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May 25, 2017 -- As I pondered, weak and weary, on evil androids, monsters and dark, rain-soaked hopelessness in the face of death, I realized we have come full circle, and then some, in this joyless, dispiriting sci-fi horror saga.

Perhaps it is the times we live in: In a world where mad men have seized the reigns of power, where human caused climate change causes floods and famine, where terrorism, torture, starvation and the pitiless treatment of the poor and homeless, all in the name of religion, have become commonplace, where fears about the rapid rise of robots, artificial intelligence, genetic manipulation of animals and plants might inspire a movie like this.

When I saw the first Aliens movie in 1979, it was way too dark and gruesome for me. Over time, I got used to the dark tone and the gore, for there was plenty of that in similar movies that followed. The sequel, Aliens (1986) was a different animal, more of an adventure, and not quite as dark and dismal as the original film, hence, my favorite film in the series. None of the sequels or spinoffs after that were much good.

This new film follows on the heels of a previous prequel, “Prometheus” (2012). Like Alien: Covenant and the original film, Prometheus was directed by Ridley Scott. Prometheus concerns the origins of the original Alien story. Alien: Covenant, also takes place prior to the original film, even though the details of it don't really fit into the narrative of the original story. In tone, however, it is more like the original film, but even darker, with a much greater emphasis on despair and hopelessness.

In Alien: Covenant, a large colony ship, responding to a signal from an uncharted planet, goes to investigate. There they find a lone survivor of a crashed space ship, an android named David, who is identical in appearance to another android from the colony ship, Walter (both played by Michael Fassbender, who also played David in “Prometheus”).

Soon after the crew from the colony ship lands on this seeming eden of a world, ripe for colonization, people in the landing party begin to die horrible deaths, the kind where alien beings burst out of their bodies to attack other people. These aliens incubate and grow at incredible speeds, far too fast for any biological explanation. They have acid for blood, armored skin — you know the drill.

As deadly as these aliens are, a far worse fate awaits this landing party. An improbable combination of events prevents effective communications with the orbiting colony ship, or effective rescue, or any of the crew finding out what is really going on, or what the real threat is, until it is too late.

To a large extent, in this story it is a depressing depiction of kindness as weakness. When people care for each other, to try to help each other, to rescue those in trouble, those actions make them vulnerable to attack. I've always thought it was our love, compassion and mercy that is our strength as people, but times are changing. The virtue of selfishness is paramount. The virtues of Jesus, kindness, mercy, compassion and charity are scorned as the traits of losers. Greed is good, as Gordon Gekko so famously said. That is our new covenant with each other. This film rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2017 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)