Directed by Ridley Scott
Having been a fan of the Alien movies since I saw the very first one in theaters – I was too young to get in to an R-rated movie, but that didn’t stop me from sneaking in – I was naturally eager to see the latest installment, Alien: Covenant. It picks up shortly after Prometheus left off and is directed by sci-fi sultan and Alien-originator Ridley Scott. Michael Fassbender returns as android David and begins a new role as an upgraded version called Walter.
Let me preface this by saying I didn’t hate Prometheus (though I did have some issues with the script) and that I am not a hardline uberfan and I don’t mind some tweaks to the mythology (apparently, the oxygen on the planet is inconsistent from film-to-film… whatever!).
Are you still reading? Okay. Here’s the basic premise. The married/paired crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted wonderland… it’s much closer, only three weeks’ journey as opposed to seven years. While Oran (Crudup) the newly-anointed Captain, thinks it’s a great opportunity to colonize there, his crew is suspicious. It seems too good to be true.
Of course, the promise was only a lure, and waiting on the planet is not paradise, but pure evil. When the Covenant’s assembly of astronauts uncovers a threat beyond their imagination, they attempt a harrowing escape that costs more than just their lives.
While Prometheus was cold and airy, Alien: Covenant is cruel and scary – it’s a hard R, and the suspense levels are off the charts. The monsters, while computer-generated, are believable and terrifying. In depicting its life-span from facehugger to chestburster to full-grown predator, the artists never once hit a false note. It’s a wet, gooey movie, too – slick saliva, bloody barrage, and skin singed by caustic acid are only a few of the agonies suffered by the hapless fodder.
Crewing the Covenant with couples adds dimension to the story, as it raises the stakes when one or more are in peril, and it all makes perfect sense since they are sent out to colonize (in addition to themselves, there are several embryos on board).
As ever, Scott casts each actor to perfection, no matter how small the role, and each is given his or her own fully-realized personality. Crew members include several TV actors – Danny McBride from “Eastbound and Down,” Demián Bichir from “The Bridge,” and Jussie Smollett from “Empire.” Taking center stage is, of course, Fassbender in two excellent roles. Android Walter is more human, while David has become more inhuman than anyone could ever have predicted. Katherine Waterston is ostensibly the “Ripley” of the story, but she makes her own waves as Daniels. When we meet Daniels, she’s a heartbroken widow. When we last see her, she’s a hardhearted alien-killer.
What’s more, Scott fans will enjoy a few Alien Easter eggs… and even a wink at Blade Runner.
Alien: Covenant is a true return to the horror roots of the franchise. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and you should too!