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Sequel to 2012’s Prometheus, Alien: Covenant is the second chapter to the Alien prequel series and the sixth film in the franchise overall, (discounting the non-canon abysmal Alien v Predator spin-offs). Written by John Logan who penned the last two James Bond films and helmed once again by the legendary Ridley Scott – responsible for both the original and Prometheus.
Michael Fassbender returns as the sole survivor from the last film, now in a dual role as two separate characters, leading an ensemble cast that includes Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride and Demián Bichir. An intense space horror spectacle with stunning visuals and a cool premise returning to the terrifying roots of what began the franchise, this will get your blood pumping and heart racing as horrifying discoveries and gore galore make for a bloody good time in outer space.
In the year 2104, the crew of the colony ship Covenant are bound for the remote planet Origae-6 on the far side of the galaxy. On a colonisation mission set out to sustain human life on another inhabitable planet, their ship carries on board two-thousand colonists and one thousand embryos, all monitored by upgraded synthetic android Walter (Fassbender).
When a neutrino shockwave badly damages the ship, the crew is awoken from stasis to commence repairs and suddenly receive a human radio transmission intercepted from a nearby unknown planet. Against the objection of first-mate Daniels (Waterston), Captain Oram (Crudup) decides to investigate what appears to be uncharted paradise perfect for colonisation.
A decision proving ill-informed, the crew stumble upon the crash site of lost ship Prometheus – which went missing ten years earlier – and soon find themselves stranded in the middle of an extra-terrestrial breeding ground crawling with bloodthirsty killer aliens. Uncovering dark secrets beyond imagination and being hunted by the horrifying queen Xenomorph, the Covenant’s crew desperately attempt to make it back to the ship with their chances of survival deteriorating by the minute.
Reminding you straight away you’re watching an Alien film by way of the late Jerry Goldsmith’s iconic score playing over the specifically welcomed title animation, this is by all accounts a big science-fiction blockbuster intended for fans of its established franchise but also benefits from having a stand-alone structural narrative.
Not relying too heavy on the film that came half a decade ago in Prometheus, mentioning only where it has to, the film does well in telling its own story with a new set of characters, offering up just enough intrigue into what’s come before to entice any first time viewer in catching up on the missed action after they’ve seen this one.
As the only returning cast member of that film, Fassbender relishes the chance of once again portraying David, earlier made prototype android created by the Weyland Corporation and former crew member of the destroyed Prometheus, while also getting to ham it up as newer model Walter, assisting the crew aboard the Covenant.
Waterston continues the series’ run of strong female leads with a role undeniably inspired by Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in the original run of films, however still brings her own brand of bad-assery as a no-nonsense terraforming expert at the centre of all the torment.The hilarious Danny McBride is great going against his norm and branching out as the Covenant’s pilot Tennessee, his first dramatic role in a film that doesn’t have time for comic relief.
Filmed in both Australia and New Zealand, most specifically Fox Studios in Sydney and the beautiful Milford Sound in New Zealand’s South Island (judged the world’s top travel destination many years over and sometimes described as the eighth wonder of the world), the filming locations chosen to look like alien terrain blended well with the dazzling special effects and incredibly detailed creature design make this another gorgeous film from the mind of Scott, each frame an aesthetically pleasing gift to look upon.
While some fans may argue that the film does take time to find its feet, starting a little slow and perhaps not including as much isolation as they were hoping for, the film is definitely a return to the horror genre that made the series such a hit. Admittedly following the same formula seen before by not particularly offering up anything new, the high intensity of uncertain stakes in the deep of space make for a riveting action-packed space epic. Often scary with plenty of jumps and a lot of blood, Alien: Covenant remains a pretty excellent film about interesting characters on an interesting mission and finds time to ask the big question – where did we come from?
Worth a watch alone for a scene involving Michael Fassbender one on one fight himself, you’ll be bursting at the chest to see this one.