Alien : Covenant

 

 

 

He is turning 80 this year and has four Oscar nominations and some of the finest and most memorable films of modern times to his credit, but Ridley Scott shows no signs of slowing down with his new ALIEN : COVENANT.

 

This is the sixth installment in the series and is set 10 years after 2012’s highly convoluted and symbolic PROMETHEUS.

 

The colony ship Covenant is travelling through space carrying 2000 colonists and 1140 frozen embryos, bound for a new planet on the other side of the galaxy where they hope to begin another human society.  All passengers and crew are in deep cryosleep and the ship is managed by a ‘synthetic”, Walter (Michael Fassbender) whose opening discussion with his creator (Guy Pearce) sets the tone for the constant subtext running through this series from its inception in 1979, i.e. where did we come from?  Who are we as a species? A fierce space storm damages the ship’s gigantic sails and wakens the crew as well as causing the deaths of some members including the captain.  The unpopular Oram (Billy Crudup) steps up to take command and robotic Walter advises that there appears to be a planet only weeks away that has breathable atmosphere and resembles Earth.  It is decided that they should make their way there rather than return to cryosleep (the crew are very reluctant after seeing what happened to their captain.)

 

One lone voice demurs strongly.  Daniels (Katherine Waterston) counsels against this as the possible risks are unknown but she is outvoted and the Covenant sets off for the hopeful haven.  Fans of this series know perfectly well that they should have listened to her.  Oh yes they really should.  The planet is precisely where Prometheus crashed and only one soul remains alive there from that ship, the synthetic David (also played by Michael Fassbender).  David and Walter are identical physically but one speaks with a British accent, the other American.  David is a keen Noel Coward fan.  Walter specializes in Shelley, Byron and the Romantic poets.  But these elements are irrelevant compared to the major difference.  One is loyal to humanity and wants to save it, the other is committed to the monstrous Xenomorphs and seeks humanity’s destruction.

 

This $200 million dollar production is a technical marvel and a powerful viewing experience.  While Waterston’s game turn as Daniels may not top Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, it is a kick for girl power.  Fassbender basically dominates this with his dual roles and he is supremely good.  As ever with a Ridley Scott work, the beautiful and intricate art design and copybook editing are in evidence.  But this is not for the faint-hearted.  The ever escalating capacities of CGI have created some truly loathsome and repellent monsters, the gore factor is high and the occasional jump scares guaranteed to startle and shock.

 

It is part of a trilogy that is due to bring us precisely to the start of the original ALIEN from 1979 and I must admit I am looking forward to the next two installments if they retain this degree of slick and professional film making.  But remember, the tagline from that seminal film still applies…………..” In space no one can hear you scream”.

 

 

 

 





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