How the Androids Took Over the Alien Franchise – New Republic

Posted: May 23, 2017 at 11:07 pm

As Walter and David dance around one another, the ship with beautiful golden sails hovers in space. A covenant is a promise, and the word here recalls the Ark of the Covenant, the wooden chest containing the Ten Commandments tablets. By shifting the intellectual focus of the movie away from the human and towards the machinethereby redefining the very idea of monsterAlien: Covenant breaks with the franchises tradition of leaning towards the female lead as its center. Why?

Alien: Covenant marks the sixth movie in the franchise, and a return to tradition after some strange (though valuable) sideways wanderings. Aliens (1986) was just as good as the original Alien (1979), but Alien 3 (1992) was a little ropey and Alien: Resurrection (1997) may as well have been from a totally different universe, though it was fun. Prometheus, helmed by original director Ridley Scott, was meant to restart the Alien engine, replacing the dynamo of Ellen Ripley with a newer, firmer mythology but keeping many of the same beloved hallmarks. Many viewers found Prometheus over-elaborate and beset by throat-clearing. It took too long for us to see Noomi Rapace rip a squid out of her own abdomen, some critics felt. The film was too much about history, not enough about abdomen squids.

Many traditions are revived in Alien: Covenant. Torsos are busted, a character named Tennessee wears a hat, an alien gets squished by a bit of factory equipment. But this movie marks a shift away from the human. The motifs of the movie further clarify this new focus. We see moss on rocks, and think of geological time. We see a planet full of green leaves and water, but silent of birdsong and totally without animals. Alien: Covenant contains multiple apocalypses within its narrativesome in the past, some in the present, some in the futureand each is about the extinction of a race or civilization.

This is a movie, in other words, about climate change, the anthropocene, and the posthuman. The ravaged planet that hosts the crew of the Covenant looks so much like our own, and yet it has violence and death lingering on its surface. Because it is a prequel, Alien: Covenant does some fascinating things with time. Without the earth to orient these human stories in history, where does the era of human supremacy begin, and where might it end? Has it ended already? The androids live for so long and the aliens are so pervasively murderous that the human lifespan seems to lose all its meaning. How do you feel? Peter Weyland asks his creation, at the start of this new film. Alive, David replies.

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How the Androids Took Over the Alien Franchise – New Republic

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