Ten years after of the disappearance of the science vessel ‘Prometheus’, the crew of the colonisation ship ‘Covenant’ is bound for deep space. That is, until they receive a mysterious radio message from an nearby planet…
Nobody does science-fi quite like Ridley Scott. Responsible for such classics as ‘Blade Runner’ and the original ‘Alien’, his work has unquestioningly defined a genre. With a visual eye only matched by his consuming attention to detail, his movies have depth. He clearly cares about what he’s creating and ‘Alien: Covenant’ is no different.
…’Alien: Covenant’ is the faster sibling to ‘Prometheus’.
Again embracing a huge scale and the twin operatic themes of existence and survival, ‘Alien: Covenant’ is the faster sibling to ‘Prometheus’. Where ‘Prometheus’ focussed on the story and its characters, ‘Alien: Covenant’ is all about action – and this might be a problem for some – because in its sixth instalment, the Alien franchise has mutated almost as much as its titular character.
From its claustrophobic, character-driven origins to the inventive war movie sequel that followed it, the emphasis between character and horror has always been a shifting plane in ‘Alien’ movies. Seen in comparison with the best of the franchise, the characters in ‘Alien: Covenant’ can feel too light, almost underwritten. However for those who relish the action and horror of an ‘Alien’ movie, ‘Alien: Covenant’ will feel like a welcome return to form.
For whilst Katherine Waterston is no Ripley, (or for that matter the feisty Elizabeth Shaw as played by Noomi Rapace), it falls to Michael Fassbender to hold court in another bravura acting performance. His lines are the best and nothing is squandered in his thinly-veiled homage to Peter O’Toole as the movie’s central theme feeds on the rest of the cast.
This time round the alien is lithe and fast. The action is short and brutish. The cat and mouse tension of the original movie has been traded in for a terror that feels unstoppable in its speed – and so depending on your expectations that could be a problem or a relief.
The one thing that is not in any doubt is Scott’s commitment to the enterprise. From the score, to the visuals and the realisation of space travel, Ridley’s latest is still light years ahead of the rest. In this ‘Alien’, no one might be to hear you squabble, but they can certainly hear you scream.