Twentieth Century Fox 2 hours, 2 minutes R
Alien fans are clamoring to see this film set 10 years after the Promotheus prequel. It's expected to be a box office power house. Is Ridley Scott going to explain what happened in space in between Prometheus and Alien? That is the big question. First he did Alien and then went back in time to Prometheus. Scott was not involved in the rest of the series.
This film is creative but somewhat predictable, based on what you’ve seen in the others. You know there are bloody attacks from within coming. But it’s how Director Scott develops intensity step by step and pulls the trigger at just the right moment that makes an impact. Maybe we’re used to blood being splattered as gory, gooey monsters burst through bodies seen in the original.
Having worked with the director before, the production crew says they know to try and anticipate what Scott might come up with on the fly. It’s the task of trying to read Scott’s mind so he can change direction and improvise. He apparently likes to keep the crew on their toes.
The space ship, Covenant, addressed as “Mother” by the crew, is on a couples mission, carrying 2,000 people, to colonize a planet on the other side of the universe. Scott creates incredible visuals and likes to build big sets to make it as real as possible for the actors so they can get totally involved. He doesn’t always like to use CGI (special effects) for aliens like the Xenomorphs. They are those incredibly scary, vile creatures that come out of nowhere. You’ll jump out of your seat and want to turn away, but you probably won’t. He used to put someone in a monstrous suit for the scary scenes but uses high tech now.
Katherine Waterston plays Daniels. She gets to show a lot of emotion and does it very well. Right from the get go, she loses her husband, Captain Branson (James Franco) in a gruesome, fiery scene aboard ship due to a power surge. She is one tough cookie becoming the updated Ripley, right down to the gray tank top like that worn by Sigourney Weaver who made the role and movie iconic. Waterston described being terrorized by her brother when he made her watch the original Alien as a kid. She refused to see it until she was 25 years old, but then became obsessed with the franchise!
Crudup plays Oram, who becomes the authoritative and argumentative captain when Waterston’s husband dies. He plays brave in this film but even he says seeing the original film at the age of 11 practically scarred him for life. The actor is now cured. Crudup says he literally had to kill an alien in this film in order to overcome it.
Danny McBride, who plays Tennessee, was also horrified when he saw the original film. He says he got freaked out seeing a creature burst forward out of a crew member’s chest. Here he takes a turn from comedy to drama doing a credible but not great job. Demián Bichir plays Lope, Carmen Ejogo is Karine, Jussie Smollett is Ricks, Callie Hernandez is Upworth, and Amy Seimetz is Faris. That rounds out the crew. Will they all make it to the end of this saga?
The film opens so calmly with Michael Fassbender as Android David making a very gentlemanly comeback after he was left, head detached in a bag, in Prometheus. Now he has a twin. Both created by “Father,” human scientist Weyland (Guy Pearce). Walter is an updated remake who has android sibling rivalry going. Fassbender is an amazing android…actually two androids in this film. It is strange to see him as both on screen at the same time with different demeanors and personalities. You never know what he’ll say or do next. The actor says that for Prometheus, he studied Hal from 2001;A Space Odyssey, David Bowie and Peter O’Toole as Lawrence from Lawrence of Arabia for his characterization.
The ship is damaged in space and there is tension as they go outside the ship to fix it. Fixed, they hear a signal from another planet they deem close enough to go to and decide to take a little detour. Bad move.
What they discover, is a planet with breathable atmosphere (no space suits or helmets necessary) with edible vegetation in abundance. But Daniels remarks that there are no signs or sounds of wildlife, yet.
Investigating dark caves, they poke and arouse some pretty weird creatures which leads to bloody mayhem. Written by Dan O’Bannon, with the screenplay by John Logan and Dante Harper, it’s based on characters created by Ronald Shusett and Jack Pagan. Michael Green came up with the original story. The look of the scary, razor sharp fanged monsters is taken from drawings in the original comic book created by H. R. Giger. He’s been with the series from the beginning and passed away before he could see this one.
Daniels (Waterston) not only shows the most emotion, but she gets caught, like Ripley, playing cat and mouse with the alien. She even chains herself to the top of the shuttle trying to get away from the blood thirsty beast and dangles above and below being bounced around like a yo yo. The way these are shot looks totally implausible.
There’s also a gratuitous shower sex scene with crew members that ends bloody badly. We don’t think it needed it be in there.
This film pales compared to the original. Still, it is another adventure for Alien fans to go for. Scott has reportedly signed up to do more of these prequels. Seeing the original to refresh our memory, we thought the special effects, without the tools of today, were amazing for 1979. Very effective. Alien: Covenant may not be for you, nor the best of the series, but it should keep the hard-core fans screaming.