Following on from the unjustifiably maligned Alien prequel Prometheus, Alien: Covenant sees another ship in deep space respond to an audio “echo” transmission and set down on a previously uncharted planet, where the crew encounter the remnants of a lost civilisation.
While Prometheus boasted a strong and diverse cast including Charlize Theron, Idris Elba and Noomi Rapace, it is just Michael Fassbender and Guy Pearce (returning) who lend any serious acting chops to this instalment.
Instead it is character and supporting actors providing the body count this time around, including Danny McBride, Katherine Waterston, and Billy Crudup, but it isn’t the humans I have come to see on the big screen, rather the terrifying creations of HR Geiger that have kept the franchise consistently in the scariest film lists since the 1979 original.
While the less you know about this film the better, an understanding of the “Alien Cinematic Universe” is helpful to get a grasp of the wider implications of the various events.
Because it is Fassbender, here playing two characters, both synthetics Walter and David, who contributes the greatest amount to the overall narrative of the who, what, when, where and why of the Alien films.
The events in Prometheus take place in 2093, with Alien: Covenant occurs several years later in 2104. It is 2122 when we meet up with The Nostromo in Alien, and 57 years after that we catch up with Ripley in Aliens and a few years later again in Aliens 3.
The origin of the Alien creatures and their method of distribution throughout the universe is one of the key questions posed by these prequels, and Alien: Covenant offers some interesting ideas that will benefit interested parties with repeat viewings.
The film grapples with the pertinent challenges that Artificial Intelligence poses for human beings over the coming generations, and it is this idea of who is in charge, the master or his creation that is at the heart and soul of Alien: Covenant.
I think it will be hard to ever reach the sheer terror of the 1979 original, or the charisma and intimacy of the cast and sets of that film, and while Prometheus delivered a film rich in story and performances, it is Alien: Covenant that is more likely to delight the long-time fans with it’s strikingly realised creatures.
3 & 1/2 Stars. “Delivers a Good Dose of Spine-Tingling Terror”