Alien Covenant could just really be called Covenant, since that’s the name of the spaceship in this movie, like the previous one’s Prometheus… which was just called Prometheus, and not Alien Prometheus… not that it particularly matters because in this eighth (by my count) xenomorph-based movie, it delivers a lot of the sort of thing you’ve seen before, and it’s just as entertaining as the majority of the previous ones.
Yes, Alien Resurrection had issues, and there are times when Alien 3 is a bit of a mess, but on the whole it’s a lot better than people give it credit for. I also rewatched Prometheus last night prior to seeing this, so I hoped it carried on directly from that.. well, almost, as at the end, Elizabeth had to get from A to B in order to find out where we all come from, but where was B? Anyhoo, her journey started on January 1st, 2094. Since Alien takes place in 2122, I wondered when we were now…
Dec 5th, 2104 is the answer, and we’re aboard the Covenant, a colonisation vessel, with 15 crew, plus 2000 people to form part of the new colony, as well as 1000 embryos to come to fruition later. But problems kick in early as the ship is hit by a shockwave, leading to a change in the Captain – now Oram (Billy Crudup), who no-one likes because he’s a God-botherer, and because he’s a bit of a Panicky Pete – as well as all the crew being woken out of cryosleep.
Their destination is Origae-6, a planet lead science office officer Daniels (Fantastic Beasts‘ Katherine Waterston) they’ve spent ten years studying and investigating and is their best chance for homosapien life to continue, but they get distracted by a beacon from a closer planet. Going down to this signal’s source would take weeks, whereas it’s seven years to get back on track to their original destination, and they don’t want to get back in a cryosleep tube any time soon. Since this ‘side mission’ place has earth-like vegetation and water, everything seems fine and dandy, but then we also see the last movie’s periodic holograms and other elements… so we know it’s all about to hit the fan soon.
(click on the image for the full-size version)
Alien Covenant harks back to how things followed on from Prometheus, with a 2094 scene after Elizabeth and David arrived at their destination, so it fills in all the gaps in due course, and it includes a dual role for Michael Fassbender as both David and Walter, the latter being the Covenant’s robot, but also with a scene whre David has let his hair grow, so looks more like Iggy Pop! They even have a scene together where Fassbender effectively teaches himself to play the flute, which must’ve required some clever CGI (and I couldn’t spot the joins) with both of them holding it more than once, while the camera swung round between them. I presume it was done in a similar to Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One, where the ‘face’ was applied to the body of an actor of similar stature.
Oh, and the other memorable moment from that scene comes when David tells Walter to blow into the flute and “I’ll do the fingering”. Oo-er, missus!
Like all the previous entries in the series, it starts off like a slow-builder before the action kicks in proper, but it also has a welcome pre-credits – and pre-Prometheus – scene with a seemingly newly-born David (albeit in adult form) with Guy Pearce in an uncredited cameo as Prometheus’ Peter Weyland, at a middle-age… er… age.
As before, we know that Weyland created David, but the question is – who created mankind?
I will say that after Prometheus, I was dying to know what happened next… and now after Alien Covenant… I’m dying to know what happens next!!
I’ve avoided saying too much in this review, but if you’re an Alien fan, you’ll love Alien Covenant also. One thing I have to say is below, but I’ve put a spoiler heading around it for reasons you’ll see… but if you don’t want anything spoiler, DON’T READ IT!!!
As I’ve confirmed below, the film is presented in a theatrical ratio of 2.35:1, but I couldn’t get confirmation of that beforehand. Why did I think anything different? Because Prometheus was 1.90:1 in IMAX 3D, but 2.35:1 on a regular screen. Plus, the trailers for this movie have been one or the other, to the point that IMDB listed both, but after a while, it changed to 2.35:1 only.
Hence, as Vue have a selection of 2.35:1 and 1.85:1 screens, I didn’t want to get to the former and find it’s in 1.90:1. That happened when I saw Tomorrowland: A World Beyond at the Odeon – it was billed as 1.90:1 for IMAX only, but all clips on TV and online were 2.35:1. Alas, it was 1.90:1 and since I was watching it on a 2.35:1 screen, the screen stayed static as if it was showing a 1.85:1 film, meaning we were watching a windowboxed image which was damn annoying – especially since there was nothing urgently necessary top and bottom that couldn’t be excised.
But on another point – how come this isn’t in 3D? Prometheus was the first time Ridley Scott had shot on digital film, and he showed superb use of filming in 3D, even in the brief moments when you see the underground map being ‘drawn’ early on.
It’s been speculated that 3D is on the wane once again, which is a shame since I love it when it’s done well. Plus, since most 3D films aren’t actually shot in 3D, with the effect being applied in post-production, I read one comment suggesting that since 20th Century Fox didn’t splash out for a 3D version of either Deadpool or Logan, it’s their R-rated (or usually 15-cert in the UK) films which are no longer worth the cash spent on this process for the returns they’d get. 🙁
Now, onto my end credit adventures. For the third time in three weeks I’ve seen a film at 11.10am on a Friday, although while the first two were in screen 3, the latest was in screen 1. But… while for two weeks ago, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 saw the end credit lights only rose to the same pre-film trailer/adverts level of 30%, but for both Unlocked and today, it was the more usual 50%. I’m still not getting a response from Head Office about that and I’m struggling to understand why. It’s like the customer experience doesn’t seem to matter to them.
Book tickets for Alien Covenant at Vue Cinemas.
Running time: 122 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Cinema: Vue, Lowry, Salford Quays
Format: 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW)
Released: May 12th 2017
Director: Ridley Scott
Producers: David Giler, Walter Hill, Mark Huffam, Michael Schaefer and Ridley Scott
Screenplay: John Logan and Dante Harper (based on story by Jack Paglen and Michael Green, and characters by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett)
Music: Jed Kurzel
David / Walter: Michael Fassbender
Daniels: Katherine Waterston
Oram: Billy Crudup
Tennessee: Danny McBride
Lope: Demián Bichir
Karine: Carmen Ejogo
Ricks: Jussie Smollett
Upworth: Callie Hernandez
Faris: Amy Seimetz
Hallett: Nathaniel Dean
Ankor: Alexander England
Ledward: Benjamin Rigby
Cole: Uli Latukefu
Rosenthal: Tess Haubrich
Voice of ‘Mother’: Lorelei King
Xenomorph / Neomorph: Goran D Kleut
Neomorph: Andrew Crawford
Branson: James Franco (uncredited)
Peter Weyland: Guy Pearce (uncredited)
Elizabeth Shaw: Noomi Rapace (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.