Back in 2012 Ridley Scott ventured back into his Alien world with what was meant to be a prequel to the Alien franchise and left us feeling a little underwhelmed, five years on Scott is back at the helm with Alien: Covenant, a sequel to the aforementioned prequel which still falls before the first Alien film, injecting a much-needed intensity with the déjà vu factor and just a tad of tediousness thrown in for good measure.
Set ten years after Prometheus, The crew of the colonist ship Covenant, reminiscent of the recent Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence outing, Passengers are all snuggled up in their sleep inducing pods as they fly through space over a number of years on a mission to a planet that has been identified as human compatible until they are rudely awakened by an electrical storm causing major irreparable damage with the loss of the life of a vital crew member.
All the crew members are made up of couples who are joined by the android Walter – Prometheus’s more advanced brother to David. Oram (Billy Crudup) even though not a favourite amongst the Covenant crew, has been promoted to captain with the Ripley lookalike Daniels (Katherine Waterstone) and cowboy hat wearing Tennessee (Danny McBride) his second and third in command with the rest of the crew just making up the numbers for the Alien’s to pick off one by gut-wrenchingly one. When a signal comes in from what seems to be a habitable planet only a matter of weeks away instead of the 7 years travelling time from their intended destination, Oram gives the green light to alter their mission to investigate, which proves to have devastating consequences for all.
Michael Fassbender in dual roles as David and Walter is truly captivating in his performance, while initially, Walter is a more advanced android than David, David proves he has truly evolved while marooned on this planet full of the fang-toothed, acid spitting horrific creatures spawning from egg type pods as an air born virus which enters the body in an itch-inducing fashion. David and Walter may be a mirror image of each other but there are subtle differences which only a seasoned actor like Fassbender can recreate in a rigid yet nuanced approach which keeps you guessing and raises major trust issues. Whilst Waterstone gives a worthy performance as the tomboy Sigourney Weaver inspired Daniels in a strong female role, she isn’t the lead here.
It’s thin on the ground, but there does come a break from the gruesome body shattering images in the form of deadpan delivered humour, again from Fassbender. Walter and David spend some quality bro time together in which David teaches Walter to play the recorder and states “Watch me, I’ll do the fingering” raising a titter or two.
It’s a stellar outing from Ridley, with a plot and feels that returns to the franchise roots, feeling closer to the first Alien outing in 1979 than Prometheus could ever reach, technically more advanced, the scenes in which the ship glides through space have a striking resemblance to a classic Star Trek movie. However, with the highs of the brutal human battering and creeping intensity comes the lows of losing its ability to constantly maintain the momentum, dipping in and out of monotony making Alien: Covenant feel longer than it actually is.
Alien: Covenant is out in cinemas May 12