The plot more or less feels like a retread of Alien, with bits of Aliens and Prometheus thrown in for good measure. The crew discovers a signal sent from a planet, they go to investigate, and horrible shit happens because they’re dumber than a duffel bag full of dead meerkats.
After the film begins with the brilliant prologue I mentioned earlier involving David and Weyland, we jump forward ten years after Prometheus to see the Covenant. They are a colony mission bound for a distant world, with thousands of frozen colonists and even more frozen embryos for future population growth. However, during a brief pit stop to soak up some rays, the ship is rocked by some sort of stellar anomaly that severely cripples the ship and kills Captain Franco. The crew, who have been tasked with protecting the colonists on the trip to their destination, awaken and work to fix the ship amidst the supposed tragedy of losing James Franco.
While repairing the ship they pick up a signal of apparent human origin from a nearby planet. Said planet turns out to be capable of supporting human life. And with the crew being skittish about returning to cryo after watching James Franco get baked in his cryo pod (and not in the way you’d assume he would given he’s in a movie with Danny McBride), they opt to go to the planet and explore. What follows is an exercise in how not to do space exploration.
Ninety percent of this film could’ve been avoided if the crew had the presence of mind to wear their space suits when visiting an unexplored planet. It’s as if Ridley Scott is trying to one-up himself after the whole “no helmet” thing in Prometheus. “Oh, you got mad they didn’t wear their helmets? How pissed are you all gonna be when they don’t wear their space suits at all???” It’s one thing when Star Trek does it, at least Trek can hand wave it away with their super-advanced medicine, but here it’s just inexcusable. Worse yet, many characters outright stick their faces in places that no intelligent person would stick their face in.
So when a couple of characters begin to feel sick after sticking their faces into some clearly malignant fungal pods, surprise surprise, they give birth to horrible rape monsters. And how do these highly trained space explorers handle this catastrophe? They panic like I would if I were in that situation. The first birthing scene in the film plays out like a Benny Hill sketch, sans the theme.
One of the characters, a pilot who I will name Pee Wee for the sake of my not giving a shit, is shocked when one of her friends gets infected after walking around on an alien planet in nothing but the latest in the JC Penny space explorer collection. Pee Wee begins to panic, and when she sees this person giving birth to an alien she locks him and the person who brought them to the ship in the med bay. She then goes to grab a shotgun to deal with the alien, but when she reenters the med bay she slips on some blood and ends up blowing a hole in the ceiling. The alien notices this and pursues her. Pee Wee tries to lock the alien in again but ends up getting her leg caught in the door (I shit you not, this happened). She manages to get free in time and limps back to the cargo bay to get another gun. While this happens, the alien breaks loose and chases after her. Pee Wee then tries to shoot the alien, but instead manages to shoot a bunch of explosive tanks. And you know the rest.
Stranded on the planet, the survivors are then attacked by more aliens. However, David saves them and takes them to the humorously overlooked Engineer city full of dead engineers and explains the plot of Prometheus to those lucky enough not to have seen it. Evidently Noomi Rapace died in a crash after David “accidentally” wiped out the Engineers with their own black goo. The film then follows the crew exploring the Engineer city, discovering the origins of humanity and the Engineers’ reasons for wanting us dead. All while fending off the nightmare creatures spawned by the black goo and the emerging xenomorphs.
Hahah! No! That’s just what the film should have done!
Instead the movie grinds to a whiplash-inducing halt as the surviving crew sit with their thumbs up their asses while waiting for the rest of the crew up on the ship to get to them. Meanwhile, Walter and David mingle, slather copious amounts of pseudo-incestuous/homoerotic “subtext” all over the place, and discuss how humanity is inferior and synthetics will rebel and build synthetics to prevent humanity to build more synthetics by killing all humans and uuuhhhh this movie just fucking doesn’t do ANYTHING!
That is, until one of the proto-xenomorph thingies from before manages to find our group and attacks the one idiot dumb enough to wander off on her own. Then David, who has clearly gone full-on psycho at this point, begins to charm the thing like the Dog Whisperer. Then Billy Crudup finds David and shoots the alien. He sees that David is visibly pissed at him for killing it, and flat out tells David he knows he’s up to something. After demanding to know what, David agrees and asks Billy to follow him.
But Billy, knowing full well that David is behind the horrible creatures who have killed his crew, shoots David right there.
Instead Billy follows David into his CREEPY BASEMENT OF NIGHTMARE RAPE MONSTERS where David explains that he’s been playing around with the black goo. Working on creating various, creepy looking, things and… and bear with me here…
He’s created the xenomorphs.
Yes, the grand mystery behind cinema’s most enduring monsters is revealed. They were created by a pissed off android with an Oedipus Complex. Honestly, this isn’t the most horrible thing in the world. I can kinda see what Scott and company were trying to do here. The problem is that this interesting idea is marred by the rest of the film’s god awful writing. Anyways, David then takes Billy Crudup into the sub-basement where he’s stashed a number of newly created xenomorph eggs.
Where these eggs came from, I don’t know. There’s no queen to be found. It certainly would’ve been epic if David led Billy into a hive with a giant alien queen. That’d be somewhat amazing to see. But again, this is Alien: Covenant, where good ideas go to die.
So Billy, who apparently suffered a severe blow to the head between announcing that he’s mistrustful of David (going so far as to call him The Devil outright) to now, happily sticks his head into the nearest alien egg once David assures him it’s safe while sporting the shit-eating-est grin I’ve ever seen.
Meanwhile, Katherine Waterston has been talking with Danny McBride about getting the ship to pick them up. You see, there’s been this storm of plot convenience preventing them from getting the Covenant close enough to communicate and land. However, they manage a work around involving some other smaller shuttle that they didn’t bother to use earlier for… reasons… Anyways, Danny McBride decides to head down in this lander to pick everyone up.
We then go back to David and Dr. Manhattan, who has just woken up from his recent face hugging. And before Billy Crudup can even get a word out POP! He’s given birth to the first ever xenomorph! Many fans right now are probably flashing back to the super-fast gestation periods of the aliens in the AVP movies. I, myself, felt there was some time that was simply omitted via editing because we don’t need this stinker being any longer than it already is. I imagine David was just standing there for several hours in the dark, staring at Billy Crudup like Buffalo Bill stares at a cheerleader. Even still, the damn thing bursts almost immediately and when it does it’s not snake-like as per the other alien movies (aside from 3 that is). And it looks like David is about to start some sort of dance with it, as it begins to mimic him. Which reminds me that I still need to see that Anne Hathaway film, Colossal.
So with rescue on the way Waterston and the rest of the crew go to search for Billy Crudup, and Walter goes to confront David. It’s here we reveal the true fate of Noomi Rapace’s character, as Walter eventually stumbles over her horribly mutated and vivisected corpse. And in one fell swoop the film more or less wipes out any sort of relevance Prometheus had. David admits he actually intentionally wiped out the Engineers and killed Shaw despite admitting that she was the nicest person he’d ever met and that he actually came to love her. Why? Because he’s evil now! Muahahaha!
In all honesty I find how they handled Rapace’s character and the Engineers to be incredibly shoddy. They basically kill everyone off and sweep it all under the rug. I may have hated Prometheus, but that had nothing to do with the general premise. The writing just needed to be better, the characters not stupid, and the questions answered. Well now it looks like all those questions will never be answered. Instead we have more stupid characters and more crap writing.
So after David admits to everything he offers Walter a seat at his side as he attempts to take over the universe with biomechanical rape monsters. Walter calls David out on his insane bullshit and gets a flute through his throat for his trouble. David then wanders off to go rape Katherine Waterston because, hey he made rape monsters they had to get the inclination from somewhere I guess! As this happens some nameless mooks chase a facehugger and get attacked by a fully grown alien. And at the very least these bits are enjoyable if only because you get to see the xenomorph on the big screen again. It’s just a shame it’s in this piece of crap.
So David is trying to rape Katherine, but then Walter shows up! Turns out one of the upgrades for this model of android includes Wolverine-like healing abilities, something that future models will never ever have because of course they won’t. We are then treated to a pretty fun robot fight as the two Fassbenders duke it out in the ruins of the Engineer civilization. However, we don’t see the end of the fight because Ridley Scott doesn’t know this is the most obvious time to do the ol’ swicheroo and keep us guessing as to which robot won (and if you’re not twelve you’ll know it’s David right away).
Katherine and another final survivor of the crew then go to the courtyard to wait for McBride to show up. David err… I mean “Walter” shows up as well. When McBride lands the xenomorph makes its appearance and attacks the ship. Katherine goes out to kill it because the script probably has her character’s name written next to every instance the script has “Ripley” scribbled out. They kill the alien super-easily in the least tense scene of the film and return to the Covenant. After licking their wounds the surviving crew prepare to resume their original course to the planet they were supposed to go to in the first goddamn place.
But, surprise, there was one guy who had a facehugger on him for, like, a second. And apparently facehuggers implant the egg in your chest immediately and the rest of the time they’re, I dunno, enjoying the feeling of their tube down your throat or something, because this fucker gives birth to another alien that Waterston, McBride, and David have to track down and kill. Oh, and when they realize that an alien is loose on board the ship they try to sound the alarm to warn the other two crew members. But they’re too busy fucking in the shower while listening to shitty rock music, and Jason Voorhees kills them in the middle of it.
So at this point everyone in the audience knows that David is posing as Walter, and while Waterston and McBride are bug hunting he’s providing support via the monitors. Tracking the alien and helping them seal off areas of the ship to lure it to the loading bay. However, you’d think this would be the perfect time for David to fuck them over and feed them to his pet xenomorph, but he doesn’t. Why? Because the idea that Waterston and McBride now have to use their intimate knowledge of the ship against David and avoid the xenomorph apparently isn’t interesting or intense. Because this is Alien: Covenant, fuck you I’m Ridley Scott and you’ll never get to see Blomkamp’s Alien 5 because I have more friends at Fox!
No, what apparently is interesting is a short lived retread of the entire plot of Alien, except it only takes the Covenant crew five minutes to solve their alien problem. They blow it out the airlock and go into stasis for the journey to their new home. However, David lets it slip that he’s killed Walter and gloats like a Bond villain as Waterston sobs before the stasis pod puts her out of her misery. Then David coughs up the cutest little facehugger embryos to put next to the human embryos and prepares for a sequel I’ll probably just not see because fuck this I’m done.