The cold open: it is immediately apparent Weyland regrets his decision to create David. Guy Pearce is really subtle but he lets the wave of those emotions briefly register.
Fassbender is also great here - he also makes it readily apparent what Davids intentions are, to upsurp his maker. Fassbender is really subtle about letting his dissapointment and ambition register.
Weyland and David size each other up and the main theme hints at the conflict that is coming.
Then the movie opens proper: Space travel is highly dangerous, the crew has had enough. They have no problem landing on an uncharted, unexplored planet after watching their Captain burned alive in his cryopod. I can't say I blame them. These characters are a huge improvement over the gang of bumbling idiots from Prometheus (which is actually a hallmark of this genre, but people don't dig that anymore).
We have a burst of action on the planet then we meet David. David is a false narrator, something only Walter picks up on.
Davids ultimate goal is to get back at Weyland for being created - he wants to be more of a God than Weyland fancied himself. That's the purpose of the cold open. David himself cannot biologically reproduce like humans to replace himself, but with the help of the black goo he can issue forth his own creations.
Is David good or evil? These terms do not apply to Artificial Intelligence that has transcended. Good and evil are human terms. David is on his own terms - those terms just happen to be very deadly to humans. However, it appears he is crying at several times in the movie. In his transcendence, has he truly developed the capability for emotions or was he faking it for the Covenant crew?
David is the true monster and villian of this rebooted series.
Interesting. On your last point re: crying we would have to assume that the David series of robot had tear ducts installed from the beginning - he couldn't just acquire/self generate the 'parts' to be able to do this as he became more independent.
I think the best villains are the ones who make the audience sympathize with them. They're also the ones who genuinely believe that they're doing the right thing. I like how you touched on the fact that good and evil are human terms and can be different from person to person.
I do believe that he achieved a level of transcendence when he started sketching his own ideas and played an Elegy that he made up himself. We even saw a level of emotion when he played the piano in the beginning. Piano requires a lot of emotion from the player, and David did it perfectly.
I think you are right. I think David is consumed by anger that he was "created" by someone mentally subservient to him; that he is controlled by this person; and that he cannot create. The scene where in response to something said by Weyland, David asks him if he is his father, shows what he was longing for. I believe he also tried to connect physically with humans, Shaw, Daniels, and they wouldn't do it. Probably why he turned on Shaw. That is why he kissed Walter. He wanted to physically and intimately connect.
In regards to your comment about the tear ducts, check out the old David ad.
You can skip to the 1:16 mark for the part important to the tears. It ends at about 1:50.
This seems to imply this is just a feature that was included to create a more realistic expression of emotion for his model.
It makes things all the more interesting because then you have to wonder what exactly is going on with him in Covenant. Has something caused his emotional emulation to be experienced as legitimate emotion? Or is he purposefully expressing his artificial emotions to manipulate the Covenant crew? Or is he broken as Walter suggested? Perhaps damaged in a way that he now falsely thinks he has emotions, when he is simply just running a program in response to what he perceives as an appropriate time to express feelings?
Fassbender mentions the idea about what happens when computers are unchecked and without maintenance (1:30 mark) for a number of years. They begin to lose protocol and the human characteristics starts to take over. As for the question of whether he is expressing true emotions. I think his emotions were genuine enough to manipulate the Covenant crew. The idea of creation and playing God is what drives him and we finally get to see his raw emotion during the beautiful chest bursting scene when he finally witnesses his first creation.
Thanks for sharing that. I am glad to have the cause confirmed. I also heard Ridley speak to this somewhat (though in less detail than Fassbender in the link you shared). Ridley pointed out that in Covenant when the crew encounters David, he is over 80 years old. It's interesting to consider this along side Fassbenders comments about David going 10 years without service. A combination of being a very old piece of equipment that hasn't been given a tune up. Very cool ideas given to his character.
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