Directed by: Ridley Scott – Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup,Danny McBride, Demián Bichir
Ridley Scott is back at the helm for this second prequel to his 1979 sci-fi horror smash, Alien. The franchise created not only an iconic monster in the form of the Alien of the title, but also gave us a kick-ass heroine, in the form of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley.
He’s obviously keen to continue this tradition. In the first prequel, 2012’s Prometheus, Naomi Rapace took on the role of Dr Elizabeth Shaw, who was the sole human survivor. In Alien Covenant, Katherine Waterston fills the role of the strong female hero, as Daniels. But Shaw isn’t forgotten, and we do find out what became of her, as this movie is set just 10 years after that tale.
Daniels is a crew member on the Covenant of the title. A colony ship, it houses thousands of humans in cryosleep, along with thousands of embryos, all headed for a remote planet they intend to populate.
After an energy surge forces the crew to wake up early, and kills several of their number, they follow an apparently human signal to another planet, in the hope that it will be a suitable new home for the colonists.
You can probably guess what comes next – they accidentally awaken alien spores that lodge themselves inside human incubators, until they’re ready to burst out!
If that’s not what you were expecting, then the rest of this review will probably make no sense to you, as Alien Covenant completely utilises all the Alien mythology that audiences are familiar with, while building on the origin’s tale.
Although you won’t be completely lost if you don’t know the basic premise of Alien, you may scratch your head a bit if you haven’t seen Prometheus, as this has numerous references to that story, and some of the characters also appear in both films.
Alien Covenant contains absolutely everything you’d expect from an Alien film – plenty of gore, sinister baddies, a strong female protagonist, fantastic special effects, and a plot-twist that you can pretty much see coming from – well – outer space. However, the reality is that no matter what I say, how good or bad you think this is will depend on your feelings towards the alien franchise, and sci-fi in general.
From a technical and critical standpoint, the script could do with some work. At the screening I attended, people were giggling in parts that I’m pretty sure weren’t meant to be funny.
There is one scene where Michael is Fassbender seems to be inadvertently performing foreplay on himself through the dialogue (honestly I cannot think of a better way to describe it). His performance is also somewhat panto villain-esque, and while it works on the whole, there is a sense that you should be shouting “he’s behind you” in parts.
Waterston, however, is brilliant, and while comparisons to Weaver are inevitable, she does manage to make her character distinct from Ripley. Billy Crudup is also great as the Captain, torn between his faith and his mission.
Alien Covenant looks amazing, and the CGI is first-class as you would expect. Despite the aforementioned questionable dialogue, the story works, and it follows on nicely from the world created in the earlier movie.
On the downside, we’ve seen these creatures so many times that the ‘shock’ factor is seriously lessened, and there isn’t much here that we haven’t seen before. There’s no doubt Scott has a total affection for the material, but he doesn’t really evolve it much beyond what we already know.
Not the greatest film in the franchise by a long shot (although far better than Prometheus) Alien Covenant manages to be old-school while utilising modern techniques, which is not an easy thing to pull off.
For fans of the franchise, Alien Covenant is a nice addition to the story. For sci-fi fans, there are enough effects, tech and alien encounters to satisfy, and for those just looking for something to excite their movie evening, this should have enough twists and turns to keep them engaged.
Alien Covenant is nothing new, but is a fun enough way to kill a couple of hours.
In Cinemas May 12th! See Trailer Below: