Director Ridley Scott returns to the ‘Alien’ universe for his follow-up to the prequel ‘Prometheus’.
Set ten years after ‘Prometheus’, ‘Alien: Covenant’ focuses on a ship filled with over 2,000 sleeping humans who will colonise a new planet. The small crew is awoken by the ship’s android Walter (Michael Fassbender) when disaster strikes. After regathering themselves, the crew stumble on a message beamed from a nearby planet. Realising the planet could be habitable, the crew decide to investigate, and consider colonising it instead of the planned destination. What the crew learn upon landing is there are more sinister forces at work, and aliens to pick them off one by one.
‘Prometheus’ introduced great ideas to the franchise: humans aren’t alone in the universe, and are the product of a higher creator. The conclusion of ‘Prometheus’ seemed to promise Dr Shaw (Noomi Rapace) going to find these higher beings and understand where humanity came from. ‘Alien: Covenant’ completely brushes this aside, with a few reveals on how that mission went tragically wrong. It’s a massive disappointment there weren’t answers for anything in ‘Prometheus’, making it feel like there’s a whole film missing between the two.
One area where ‘Alien: Covenant’ improves on its predecessor is its thrills. With a bigger focus on the killer alien creatures, there is a lot more of the gore of the original films. Adrenaline rushes as chests burst, claws tear at flesh and crew members are ripped to shreds. There is even an emotional element with the crew being made up of couples; when one person dies, you can see how their significant other is affected by it. The only time a kill seems out of character is when an alien attacks a couple getting freaky in a shower, coming across as slightly silly like a cheap '80s slasher film.
The highlight of ‘Prometheus’ was Michael Fassbender, now pulling double-duties in ‘Alien: Covenant’ where he plays both the new android Walter and the previous film’s David. Walter comes across as a blank slate like his fellow crew members, but Fassbender is electric as David. A big change since the last film is David becoming conflicted with humans, even despising them. David has spent his isolation experimenting with the aliens, studying their habits and engineering them until they reach his idea of perfection, like classic super-villain Dr Moreau.
Fassbender’s turn as a sinister super-villain is fascinating to watch, although his interactions with Walter do toe the line into the silly territory when they fight and even share a kiss.
‘Alien: Covenant’ isn’t the ‘Prometheus’ sequel I was hoping for. Its violence and terror are just as great as any of the other films in the franchise, but it disappoints in its dismissal of the events leading up to it and inclusion of some laughably dumb moments. Hopefully the classic horror film conclusion to ‘Alien: Covenant’ leads to something as great as that.
2.5 out of 5 kissing Michael Fassbenders.
'Alien: Covenant' is in cinemas now.