Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Michael Fassbender, James Franco, Katherine Waterston, Noomi Rapace, Guy Pearce, Billy Crudup
Running Time: 122 mins
Release Date: 12/05/2017
In space no one can hear you scream, but you can hear that all too familiar slithering screech of an Alien as it bursts through the abdomen of another unlucky victim.
You would have thought after nearly forty years and several ALIEN films later we would be more accustomed to these horrible creatures. But no, that round elongated skull, long scraggly claws and sharp vicious fangs are just as horrifying, if not more gruesome now, than they were in 1979 and we have Ridley Scott and CGI to thank for that.
A much anticipated return to the ALIEN franchise after the lacklustre prequel PROMETHEUS, you can’t help but feel some nerves of anticipation. But Scott has managed to turn things around.
ALIEN: COVENANT is set ten years after the events of PROMETHEUS. Whilst en route with 2000 other colonists, the crew intend to build a new plantation on Origae-6. Their plans are quickly changed when the crew are drawn into a rogue transmission from a different planet. Enticed by the planet’s close proximity and the promise to sustain life, they ignore the concerns of officer Daniels (Katherine Waterson, FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM) and make the rash decision to set up camp on the untested planet, rather than Origae-6 their original, researched plan.
Daniel’s is your new Ellen Ripley/ Elizabeth Shaw type of character; she doesn’t offer anything new or outstanding in COVENANT. But rather it feels like she’s there to fill the Sigourney Weaver sized hole.
Most of the crew members are couples wanting to start a new life together but they’re easily forgotten in comparison to Michael Fassbender’s Walter. A synthetic android created by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation who helps with the running of Covenant.
Once landed, COVENANT breaks away from the confines of the spacecraft as the crew explore the new planet. The air is breathable, there is wheat, there are no animals and the crew aren’t wearing helmets (why are they not wearing helmets). Our sharped tooth little friends make a rather intense appearance as they creep unknowingly into the nose and ears of their victims.
Scott hasn’t held back; it gets gruesome, there’s a lot of blood and breaking of bones – it’s disgusting but it’s great. You could argue that we’ve seen it all before but that doesn’t stop COVENANT from being a genuinely good horror sci-fi movie. Scott uses the franchise to his advantage, the audience expects to see some gory deaths and it just wouldn’t be an ALIEN film without a face hugger.
Whilst on the planet they discover the uncanny looking android David, also played by Michael Fassbender. Both David and Walter are obviously identical but they’re skilfully set apart by Fassbender. He makes slight changes to his voice and movement to differentiate the two androids and the result is eerily fascinating.
David is the only inhabitant on the planet and when he meets Walter (the upgraded version of himself) the two interact in a weird flute playing scene. David’s fascination about high art and poetry is first shown in the opening sequence. Scott uses a wide angle shot to show clinical brightness of the room which looks out onto a panoramic view of some mountains – it’s all very picturesque.
David is sitting at a grand piano whilst a young Peter Wyland (Guy Pierce) talks about creation, he asks David to play Entry Of The Gods Into Valhalla on the piano. There’s nothing in Covenant that quite matches this sterile scene, but it gives Scott the opportunity to indulge his interest in creation, robots and playing God. Where ALIEN and ALIENS are your slasher horror films, PROMETHEUS and COVENANT give us more to think about in terms of religion and the power given to androids and in particular David.
Fassbender’s portrayal is disturbing but excellent, Scott uses him to his advantage and puts him at the centre of COVENANT. It’s a shame that the rest of the crew are dwarfed by the overarching philosophical themes that come with having an android as your main character. But what COVENANT really delivers on is nostalgia, gore and thrills.