A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Alien: Covenant is the sequel to Prometheus and the sixth overall movie in the Alien series (or eighth. if you count the Alien vs. Predator movies). It's scary and violent: There's lots of blood and gore, aliens bursting from body cavities, a beheading, and someone being burned alive (charred remains are shown). Faces are burned with acid, characters vomit and spew blood, and there's fighting, kicking, and stabbing, as well as shooting and explosions. Language is also fairly strong, with multiple uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "t-ts," and more. There's one somewhat-graphic sex scene, with partial female nudity (a breast). Characters drink and smoke briefly. As has often been the case in the Alien series, one of the central characters is a strong, brave woman (here played by Katherine Waterston).
What's the story?
The story of ALIEN: COVENANT picks up after the events of 2012's Prometheus: A crew of 15 travels with hundreds of hibernating colonists, seeking to build a new life on a remote world. Then a sudden shockwave damages the ship, and android Walter (Michael Fassbender) prematurely wakes the crew (Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, etc.) from cryosleep. They discover a nearby planet with habitable conditions and decide to check it out. On the surface, one crew member steps in the wrong place and releases weird spores; before long, he's sick, and an alien pops out of his chest cavity. Other crew members die in quick succession, until they're suddenly rescued by David (Fassbender again), the android from Prometheus, who's been stranded on this planet for years. David knows all about the murderous creatures, but can they be stopped?
Is it any good?
While the story offers little new -- it seems patched together from Alien, Prometheus, and even Blade Runner -- director Ridley Scott's moody, thoughtful style makes this sequel worth seeing. Alien: Covenant, which is -- counting the two Alien vs. Predator movies -- the eighth in the Alien franchise, starts quite similarly to the original 1979 film. It has an unexpected wake-up call, an investigation, and the discovery of the horrid monster.
But even as Covenant moves into territory already covered by Scott's other sci-fi movies, it proves that Scott knows what he's doing here. He creates powerful, striking imagery right out of myth, from a doomed necropolis filled with blackened, statue-like bodies to David's years-old laboratory cave, filled with creepy specimens and papers flapping quietly in the chilling draft. And the slightly faster, noisier way that Scott handles the alien attacks -- they're not as spooky as they were in the original -- is easily forgiven after scenes between David and Walter arguing over the meaning of existence.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Alien: Covenant's violence. Did any of it feel unnecessary/over the top to you, or it is appropriate to the genre/story? How did it affect you? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
What's the appeal of the Alien movies? How does this one compare to others in the series?
- In theaters: May 19, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: August 15, 2017
- Cast: Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, Billy Crudup
- Director: Ridley Scott
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Space and aliens
- Run time: 123 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sci-fi violence, bloody images, language and some sexuality/nudity
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.