Even after five years, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is just as polarizing as it ever was—it took the Alien franchise that Scott started back in 1979 and spun it in an entirely new direction, asking some big questions along the way: who created us and why? While I have always been a big supporter of Scott’s vision for Prometheus (and the film itself), it ultimately provided very little for the audience to grab a hold of; it asked some challenging questions that it barely bothered to answer (if at all). Which is why I think Alien: Covenant becomes a much better film when you start thinking of it as more of a sequel to Prometheus and less of a prequel to Alien—we not only get some answers this time, but it opens up the franchise in unexpected ways. In it, the crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.
I’m probably in the minority here, but I would much rather see Scott exploring the creator vs. creations theme of Prometheus, and now Covenant, than retreading to familiar grounds—Alien released in 1979, nearly 40 years ago, and spawned three more films that ranged from brilliant (Aliens) to actual trash (Resurrection)—and that’s if you don’t count whatever the Alien vs. Predator movies were—so instead of piling onto the diaper fire, Scott opted to bring something entirely new to the franchise. So because Covenant delves into those themes even further while adding a layer of viciousness to it that was sorely missed in Prometheus, I couldn’t help but enjoy the hell out of this movie.
It’s truly astonishing that this movie, a sci-fi horror film with a $100 million budget, straight-up doesn’t give a shit about the audience’s feelings—it’s so mean-spirited and bleak, and as dark of a summer blockbuster as you’ll ever see. At its most transparent, these movies are about how inferior and weak the human race is, which is why David hates them, and even more so because he has to serve them—that’s such a fascinating and deeply disturbing concept to me. So because of Covenant, Prometheus comes more into focus, further proof that David has been the protagonist all along. What happens when the creation wants to create?
But even beyond its existential themes, Covenant still delivers a lot more of what we all wanted from Prometheus—it’s gnarly and murderous, a bloodletting new Alien movie that introduces another terrifying species in the neomorph, and it’s one that will gladly tear you limb from limb. Even amongst the evisceration though, Covenant still manages to further explore the intrigue of Prometheus so that we can have our cake and eat it too. Look, it’s not perfect by any means—the xenos are a bit underwhelming, plot mechanisms feel very loose at times, and it’s becoming even more difficult to figure out how all of this ties into 1979’s Alien—and yet it’s still a gloriously weird, nihilistic slice of sci-fi horror that has expanded a decades-old franchise in ways we never expected.