Alright you Space Jockeys, are you ready to get back on the Xenomorph horse and reach for the skies once more? Some 38 years after #RidleyScott left us gasping for air in #Alien, the acclaimed director is back (again) to pick up where he left off in 2012 with Prometheus. Just like #MichaelFassbender's return performance as David the android, this year's #AlienCovenant is a clean and calculating affair that swaps out the the pitch black of Scott's 1979 original for a more muted shade of grey. Part Garden of Eden, part #horror in space, Covenant promises a mixed-bag affair that will divide critics even more than its prequel did.
Warning: This article is on a collision course with spoilers for Alien: Covenant, you have been warned!
Planet Of The Scrapes
Firstly, we set the scene on the colony ship Covenant, where Fassbender swaps his golden locks and the stiff-Brit accent of David the android from Prometheus for an altogether more likable character. This time it is Walter, the kindly American who services the crew and steers the ship toward their proposed destination of Origae-6. Sadly, the course hits a snag and it is a particularly early send off for James Franco's Captain Branson. For those who watched the prologue clip "The Last Supper" it will all make sense, for everyone else, it is just the world's worst BBQ.
News takes a turn for the better, while the crew comes across a close and more inhabitable planet just a stone's throw away. It is suicide mission ahoy as Scott takes us into James Cameron's Aliens territory and plonks our hardened cast on the surface of a strange new world. #KatherineWaterston's Daniels quickly becomes the film's heroine, and just like #SigourneyWeaver's Ellen Ripley, she always keeps a level head screwed onto those tank top shoulders. She may not top Weaver in the Xeno-kicking stakes, but she is a vast improvement on #NoomiRapace's Dr. Elizabeth Shaw as a final girl.
Elsewhere, we get "that guy from Pineapple Express" with #DannyMcBride as piloting cowboy Tennessee, Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen, and some other people who we don't expect to get to know too well. There are some literally arse-clenching moments the crew slowly fall victim to mysterious spores and "don't touch that" decisions. Jed Kurzel's music is a stellar accompaniment to the horror, and we return to classic Alien scares. Even out of the confines of a tin can spaceship, Scott can still deliver horror on the desolate plains of the isolated planet.
Particular kudos to the scene where we watch Tennessee's wife Farris seal characters Ledward and Karine in the hold of the transport ship. Seeing a newly introduced backburster is truly awe-inspiring and a nostalgia-laced reinvention of 1979's original movie. It comes in the midst of easily the film's best sequence and the bloody endgame that sees the crew's transport off-planet blown to smithereens. This is exactly what you come to see Alien films for!
Just when all hope seems lost and the crew has dwindled in numbers, Fassbender returns for his dual role as David. In dire need of some hair dye and a personality transplant, it seems that all these years alone may have fried David's circuits. As our mechanical menace lumbers around in his cave of wonders, Covenant reaches its most divisive point. For those who want a straight-up #scifi horror, skip to the end, for those who want a philosophical creation story, stay tuned.
We get a bomb dropped on us (literally) midway, revealing that David eradicated the entire Engineer race by releasing that deadly black pathogen from Prometheus onto them from above. Our resident robotic psychopath then began experimenting as his own Young Frankenstein to populate the planet with various oogly booglies — enter the film's newest addition, the sunlight-lacking Neomorph. Arguably a more terrifying version than your classic alien, the albino Neomorphs are sadly dispatched in quick succession and we aren't sure if they will be back for the sequels.
The film takes somewhat of a midway slump as a few more nameless grunts perish in the bowels of Casa del David, before we dive headlong into a nest of mythology and expanded Alien lore. We finally meet the creator of everything, and despite Peter Weyland being the early contender, then the Engineers, it is the machine who created the monster.
David being the main antagonist would've been a wonderful twist, if it hadn't fallen victim to the film's overzealous marketing campaign. Pretty much nothing was left to the imagination thanks to Fox ramming various teasers and clips in every orifice for the past few months; however, us spoiler hounds are victim to our own curiosity.
Eggs For Breakfast
Speaking of curiosity, it was exactly that which killed the cat — or should we say doctor? — as we finally realize the miserable fate of Rapace's Elizabeth Shaw. We had always predicted a grisly demise for the good doctor, but did anyone expect that she was Patient Zero? Xenomorphs may be hermaphrodites, but Shaw inadvertently becomes the franchise's very own Alien Queen. The Shaw situation neatly leads us onto the lil' mouth poppers themselves.
We see the origins of the Xenomorph baby when bursting out of Billy Crudup's Oram and doing a little Baby Groot dance. One of the many criticisms of Prometheus was that we didn't see those creepy egg pods that had made the main series so famous — thankfully, Scott rightly corrected this.
The only problem is, when we finally see the chest bursting Xeno fetus. You would expect it to be this grand moment akin to John Hurt in Alien, however, it isn't. After a mercifully short bout with the facehugger, Oram wakes up and quickly has his ribcage ripped open with only David to witness. Being such a pivotal part of the entire Alien lore, we certainly expected more.
Annoyingly, you may find yourself asking, "Is Covenant anything more than a filler film?" Charting some grand star map that Scott has in his head, it cleverly leads to a cliffhanger ending of sorts. There are already persistent rumors that the next film could actually be placed between Prometheus and Covenant, begging more questions of "Why?" and f*cking with the timeline more than Barry Allen himself. Covenant is well-paced in parts, but it feels that it simply leads to that final scene rather than being a film about the Xenomorphs.
The Future's Grim
A climactic finale, which sees David take control of the 2,000 souls in colony sleep, is something that was always inevitable. Anyone who didn't see the Walter/David switch is surely more blind than Daniels herself, and those calling it a "brilliant twist" clearly need to expand their movie collection — The Usual Suspects, this is not!
However, beautifully sent off to Wagner's "Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla," the film's close is pure poetry and gives us just enough of a tease to continuing milking the acid blood from our newly born terrors. Just like the fate of Dr. Shaw, things don't look good for Daniels and Tennessee, meaning that we could have another Prometheus and Alien3 predicament where our main stars are killed off in transit between films
Seen as a positive or a negative, Covenant is a faithful rehash of the original Alien, but with a trip to The Lost World: Jurassic Park in the middle. As the Neomorph stalked our crew through the wheat field earlier on, it wouldn't have seemed out of the ordinary for someone to shout, "Don't go into the long grass!" In terms of the Alien comparisons, they are glaringly obvious but certainly welcome. The ship's computer MU-TH-UR is back, there is a bearded rogue named after a place in America (Tennessee/Dallas), some sinister synthetic is the overarching villain, and the titular alien gets blasted out the back of the ship at the end.
For those who wanted some Cameron-esque team of memorable mugs to be picked off one by one, you will be left sorely disappointed. Out of the 15+ characters, I can probably name about five of them. However, as an improvement from Prometheus, and continuing Scott's Alienverse, Covenant is an artistic marvel, which at times terrifies while giving those tiny-mouthed bastards some much needed CPR. Learning from the mistakes of the past, God/David only knows what the future of the franchise holds, but you can bet your bottom dollar that you're going to need to pack a spare change of space underwear wherever we end up.
Check out the terrifying "Let Me Out" clip and don't forget our poll below!