Alien: Covenant

 

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Ridley Scott returns on fine form with the sequel to the prequel of Alien

 

Alien: Covenant

Loving the Alien: Amy Seimetz

 

There’s still a lot of screaming going on in space. But it’s that damn alien that’s doing most of it, its piercing shriek just one arrow in its sensory arsenal. Much like Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s prequel to his original Alien of 1979, Covenant does not start promisingly. Guy Pearce, like Darth Vader and Kurt Russell before him, states categorically, “I am your father.” He is talking to David, played by Michael Fassbender, the android from Prometheus. Guy Pearce, as Peter Weyland, asks the android he has created what he would like to be called. In an improbably spacious white room, the kind you only find in science fiction movies, there is little else other than a grand piano and an imposing copy of Michelangelo’s statue ‘David.’ For a second there, our android could have been called Piano.

 

We then jump forward to 2104 and a crew of 15 is manning the colony ship Covenant, which is bound for the distant planet of Origae-6. On board are 2,000 colonists who, like the ship’s crew, are tucked up in deep sleep. In charge is an advanced model of David, called Walter (also Michael Fassbender). Following a random “molecular circumstance,” the Covenant takes an almighty battering and the crew members are thrown from their pods, with the captain burned alive in his own bed. This leaves Christopher Oram (Billy Crudup), the first mate, in charge, and it’s his idea to stop off at a nearby planet from which the crew have intercepted a snatch of John Denver’s ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads.’ Of course, for the poor explorers, the planet proves to be nothing like home at all...

 

Much like the original Alien, its successors and Daniel Espinosa’s recent sci-fi thriller Life, the formula remains the same. But Ridley Scott is unlike other filmmakers. In spite of the familiarity of the set-up, the look and feel of Covenant is entirely different. It really does feel like a whole new world, albeit filmed in New Zealand. And Scott always makes intelligent decisions. The human lead, the ‘terraforming' specialist Daniels, is played by Katherine Waterston. She previously starred opposite Fassbender in Steve Jobs, portraying the entrepreneur's ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan. The daughter of Oscar nominee Sam Waterston, she is not only a good actress, but, like Sigourney Weaver, looks like she can handle herself and a Thales F90 rifle. In fact, most of the actors blend in well with their surroundings, with Fassbender himself proving particularly creepy as David. The scene in which David kisses Walter on the mouth has to be a first – an actor kissing himself? And because Ridley Scott builds a world in which we can believe – and takes his time in establishing his characters – when the horror begins it is, well, all the more horrible. The underlying message about mankind’s creation can be brushed aside for now. What audiences really want is what they get: an Alien prequel worthy of the brand.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Amy Seimetz, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Tess Haubrich, Guy Pearce, James Franco.

 

Dir Ridley Scott, Pro Ridley Scott, Mark Huffam, Michael Schaefer, David Giler and Walter Hill, Screenplay John Logan and Dante Harper, Ph Dariusz Wolski, Pro Des Chris Seagers, Ed Pietro Scalia, Music Jed Kurzel, Costumes Janty Yates.

 

20th Century Fox/Scott Free Productions-20th Century Fox.

121 mins. USA/UK/New Zealand/Australia. 2017. Rel: 12 May 2017. Cert. 15.