Like many, I found myself somewhat frustrated when leaving the cinema following Prometheus, with there being a lot of unanswered questions and strange decisions in this prequel. Since then, however, the 2012 film has somewhat grown on me, with the way it plays into the Alien mythos leaving me more than a little curious about how the Xenomorphs came to be, and why the Builders wanted to destroy humanity. Fast forward five years and Alien: Covenant starts to answer some of these questions, with this latest entry of the legendary franchise acting as an enticing sequel to the divisive Prometheus, whilst giving us a fresh new narrative that brings us closer to the events of the original 1979 movie.
Ridley Scott once again returns to the director’s chair, with this marking his third outing with the franchise. Having admittedly taken on board the criticisms that fans had with Prometheus, Scott takes this tale in a much more recognisable direction, with there being a lot of familiar elements involved in the product we see on screen. What impresses me most about the way Covenant unfolds, however, is the way that Scott along with screenwriters John Logan and Dante Harper (from a story by Michael Green and Jack Paglen) manage to mix these familiar elements with the new direction taken in Prometheus. That said, I did feel that the pacing of the movie was a little off, with the suspense and horror factor not always being utilised perfectly.
Much like Prometheus, it is the performance of Michael Fassbender that steals the show, with his cold, calculating portrayal of not one, but two synthetic androids being truly magnificent. Reprising his role as the morally questionable David (one of the two survivors of the Prometheus), as well as Covenant’s newer android, Walter, Fassbender continues to prove his raw talent as an actor, with the differences between the two characters being simply stunning. It is, however, the development of the former that entices most, with the time David’s spent on the planet and his opinion on humanity being both captivating and chilling. Factor in the way this plays into the Xenomorph origins, as well as the answers it gives regarding the nagging questions Prometheus gave us, and I can honestly say I look forward to seeing more of Fassbender in these movies.
As for the crew of the Covenant, I have to say that they were generally well cast. Whether it was the powerful transition Katherine Waterston makes from terraforming expert, Daniels, to the heroine of the film, the ambitious, yet awkward leadership of Billy Crudup as the Covenant’s captain, Christopher Oram, or the charming quips from Danny McBride as chief pilot, Tennessee, each cast member manage to bring a unique tone to this colony ship. Add to this some solid, albeit forgettable, acting from the rest of the cast and we’re left with a movie that has more than enough characters to let the newer creatures show their vicious side.
Alien: Covenant may not deliver the same level of suspense or terror as the original, but it certainly takes the franchise in an interesting new direction. Answering a lot of the frustrating questions that Prometheus posed, whilst also giving us an enthralling origin for the Xenomorph, Covenant more than does the franchise justice, and is sure to leave viewers excited for whatever comes next.
(7 / 10)