Ridley Scott (aged 79) is still at it, as the new instalment in the ‘Alien’ universe has been released. Alien Covenant is a prequel, which falls between fellow prequel Prometheus (2012) and the original Alien movie (1979) in this action-horror timeline. With all these prequels and sequels, Alien is starting to reach the Star Wars level of confusing.
Colony ship ‘Covenant’ is embarking on a journey to reach an inhabitable planet across the galaxy, when they intercept a human radio transmission as they pass an unknown planet. As they look further, they see that this planet could potentially be inhabitable, so they land in order to investigate. Things start to go downhill from here for the crew, and each of them is killed off by the notorious alien species, whether it be by infection, or straight up mutilation. They stumble across robot David (Michael Fassbender) from the Prometheus movie, who becomes their apparent saviour until his motivation is realised.
This movie is disturbingly gruesome, a step worse than Prometheus, which most considered gory enough to start with. The increase in gory detail has been matched by a corresponding decrease in quality of the plot. Prometheus was new and exciting, it took the plot in a different direction, and provided a good explanation of how Alien came to be, however Alien Covenant does not have this excuse. It takes quite a while to get going and when it finally does, the whole plot seems a bit unnecessary; it doesn’t improve your understanding of the series at all.
Throughout the film, you’re always waiting for the action heroine to reveal herself and save the day, as has become traditional in this series, but no-one will come close to Sigourney Weaver. Michael Fassbender gives a chillingly calculated performance as he plays 2 robots, a new and old model, with very different intentions.
The stomach-turning special effects and the suspense which makes your palms sweat, show the exquisite quality of the film-making. Alien Covenant would be best appreciated by those who have seen the other Alien instalments and it leaves the opportunity for other prequels to be made. Hopefully they’ll take the plot in a more exciting direction however.
First published in Marketplace Magazine, Bourne.