'Alien: Covenant'


Ridley Scott directed a masterpiece in 1979.

The first "Alien" movie is still the standard for what is known as science fiction horror.

Scott returns to direct his third movie in the franchise.

"Alien: Covenant" tells the story of the colony ship, Covenant. Its crew members are on a mission to a planet to bring a group of 2,000 people, who will make up the population of a new planet.

The crew of 15 is awakened from their cryogenic sleep because of an accident to the ship. Walter (Michael Fassbender) is the android who watches over the ship on its long journey. It is Walter that awakens the crew to deal with the problem.

One of the crew members, the captain, dies in a fire in his cryogenic tube. This places Oram (Billy Crudup) as leader of the group.

While Tennessee (Danny McBride) is making the necessary repair, his communications system in his spacesuit picks up a signal. This signal leads the crew to discover a planet that was not on the maps before now.

Oram makes the decision to send the ship to this planet to see what the signal was and to see if it would be a good planet to colonize.

Daniels (Katherine Waterson), the widow of the original captain, protests this divergence from the mission. Oram hears this but dismisses it.

Arriving on the planet surface, the crew finds what looks to be an excellent place to colonize. The land looks fertile, there is lots of water and the air is breathable.

There is one huge problem: There are no other life forms on the planet. There is vegetation but no animals.

As they venture further onto the planet, they discover an abandoned ship. Within that ship is David (Michael Fassbender), the android from Scott's second Alien movie, "Prometheus."

David tells the story of having landed on the planet with the only survivor from "Prometheus," Elizabeth Shaw.

What unfolds from David is a story filled with lies and half-truths. What is discovered is that on this planet are beginnings of the alien referred to in the movie's title.

What Scott creates is a story about creation, but not as a beneficial act.

At the core of these movies is the question of God as creator. In the previous film, the crew of Prometheus is on a journey to find the beginnings of humanity. What they find is no creator, but rather death for all but one.

In this movie, the first scene is David's "birth." Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), who we met in "Prometheus," activates David for the first time. He is David's creator.

In the conversation that occurs, the question of who created Weyland comes to the fore. Weyland cannot give an answer, but he assures David that he is David's creator.

David sits at the piano and begins to play Wagner's "Das Rheingold." Weyland tells David that the piece he is playing loses much without the backing of the other instruments in the symphony.

The shame of his creator puts an imprint upon David, and it seems that David now exists to try and win the creator's favor, even after Weyland is no longer alive.

The question at the heart of this and Scott's other Alien movies is, "How can a creator bring about a creation that allows such horror that exists within it?"

What "Alien: Covenant" wants to show is that creation comes with all manner of horrors. Central to this is the attempt at perfection.

I loved this movie because of the ways it made me think about things other than what was taking place on the screen.

My belief is that good movies do that. They speak to us about things other than the events unfolding before our eyes.

Be warned. This is an R-rated horror movie. The rating speaks to the amount of carnage that is shown. It is not one for those that get squeamish at the sight of blood.

Michael Parnell is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married and has two boys. His love is for movies, and he can be found in a theater most Fridays.

MPAA Rating: R for sci-fi violence, bloody images, language and sexuality / nudity.

Director: Ridley Scott

Writers: Jack Logan and Dante Harper, based on a story by Jack Paglen and Michael Green, and based on characters created by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett.

Cast: Michael Fassbender (David/Walter), Katherine Waterson (Daniels), Billy Crudup (Oram), Danny McBride (Tennessee), Guy Pearce (Peter Weyland).

The film's website is here.

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