With the looming release of #AlienCovenant, many longtime fans can't help but feel a sense of dread. After the release of #AlienvsPredator in 2004, the series has dealt its fanbase one disappointment after another, with its lifeblood of video games and comic books turning out many failures and the much anticipated release of #Prometheus proving a very polarizing film. For around 12 years now, there have been few causes for fans to be excited, which is why many are skeptical that Alien: Covenant will deliver on its promise to bring the series back to its glory days.
Alien: Covenant will be #RidleyScott's third time directing one of these films, his other credits being the original #Alien and the highly polarizing Prometheus. Many were skeptical of Scott after his last entry, but the recent success of #TheMartian proved he does still have skills as a director. Is it possible for him to save Alien? The answer is yes, but will he? We won't know for sure until next year, but many of the film's details have been made public.
The plot of Alien: Covenant is well known as of now, and it does sound intriguing. The story concerns the crew of the Covenant, a colony vessel that finds a mysterious world while scouting the darkest reaches of space. Initially, they believe the world is a paradise. It is wrought with wonder and beauty — a perfect place to make a home. Soon though, they find it holds a dark secret; they're not alone.
They find the planet is inhabited by David, an android and lone survivor of the Prometheus mission. The discovery of David is just the beginning, for soon the crew of the Covenant finds their paradise is a death trap. It hides within it unspeakable horrors, the same horrors that first burst onto the screen in 1979. The crew of the Covenant finds themselves not in a paradise, but in that place in the universe where no one can hear you scream.
This setup is promising to say the least. It has an almost Lovecraftian vibe, which seems very much in the spirit of the original 1979 masterpiece. It recalls the original film in other ways too, where the entire story hinges on the crew simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Alien universe is a harsh, unfriendly wilderness where humanity is alone and vulnerable. That's where it worked best — not when humanity was at the center of things, but when we were no more significant than a fly hitting a windshield. This premise sounds very good on paper, but it's a long way from working on paper to working onscreen.
From its inception, the Alien series has always attracted great talent, and Alien: Covenant is no exception. The film will not only feature the return of #MichaelFassbender, but also includes such talents as Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir and Billy Crudup. Between them they hold such impressive credits as #InherentVice, #TropicThunder, #TheHatefulEight, and #PrincessMononoke. These are some noteworthy names, but what will they mean for the series?
The casting of comedian Danny McBride has given some people pause, but worry in this case may be ill placed. Comedians have proven very capable of blending into the science fiction/horror aesthetic of this series. The most notable example is Paul Reiser, who had a surprising turn as Burke in #Aliens. If anything, that's the reason we should be cautious of McBride — he may turn out to be as big a backstabber as Burke.
Michael Fassbender's involvement is one of the more interesting aspects of the film, as he's not playing one role, but two. As stated in this previous article, Fassbender will not only be playing the android David, but also another android named Walter who works on the Covenant. This recalls earlier entries in the series, namely where Lance Henriksen played two roles — that of the heroic android Bishop as well as the sinister Weyland. The white-blooded androids have always been a staple of the series since the original film, and it will be interesting to see just what they'll do with these characters.
It is not known for sure if Noomi Rapace will reprise her role as Dr. Shaw from Prometheus, leaving many fans to speculate on her involvement in the film. She may appear in a surprise cameo, have died in between films, or not even be mentioned. While her character was one of the stronger elements of Prometheus, I think having her die in between movies would be a good opener for the film, as it would create an immediate sense of dread, just what an Alien movie needs. Of course, if there's a way to bring her back that works, her presence would be most welcome.
But as history tells us, a good cast will only carry a movie so far. You can have the best lineup in the history of the movies, but if the movie isn't well made, it will just be a bunch of pretty faces.
It's A Horror Movie
It has been a long time since Alien was a pure horror story, but it looks like director Ridley Scott is working to bring the series back to its roots. The series has dabbled in action with Aliens, and attempted to be more of a thinker's series with Prometheus, but at its heart, its a monster story, and monsters are supposed to be scary. Actor Michael Fassbender was recently interviewed, and he spoke much on this upcoming film's status as a horror movie:
"I’m very excited to see it and everybody in the film was saying this is a film that we all want to see. It’s much scarier than 'Prometheus' but it’s got the same sort of scope of 'Prometheus.' It’s kind of got more of the sort of thriller, imminent disaster feel that 'Alien' had, so it’s kind of a beautiful meeting of both of those films. I’m really excited to see it, I think it’s gonna be super scary number one and then again with the massive scope of 'Prometheus'… Once it starts and the ball starts rolling, it doesn’t let up. It’s really gonna bring chills to the cinema."
This is excellent news. Since the release of Aliens (which is a great film in its own right), the series has deviated greatly from the original classic, often resembling something much closer to #StarshipTroopers. The original film was a highly uncomfortable film to endure, which makes perfect sense given it was an allegory for rape. Ridley Scott understood that, which may be one of the reasons he's going this route with the next film.
The Alien series had tried to branch out into the action and thriller genres to varying success, but its return to horror seems to be an emerging trend. After the crushing failure of #AliensColonialMarines, #Sega revamped their Alien license and released #AlienIsolation, which went back to the first film's claustrophobia and tension. It was a rousing success with fans, proving horror in this series still holds great appeal. Hopefully Alien: Covenant will enjoy the same reception as Isolation.
The Monsters Are Back, But May Have Changed
The presence of the titular creatures was sorely missed by fans in Prometheus, but it looks like the famous #Xenomorphs will be making a comeback. Leaked set photos show some all too familiar alien eggs lurking around the props department, meaning our favorite space horrors will be featured in at least some capacity. Still, some rumors indicate these may be a slightly different breed of monster.
(WARNING: There may be some minor spoilers ahead about the nature of these beasts, so keep that in mind.)
The most famous scene in the series is the notorious "chestburster" scene where the creature erupts from the body of a crew member. It has been a staple of the series ever since, but the power of the original movie was never equalled. Perhaps this is why the makers of Alien: Covenant sought to experiment. According to some sources, the creatures will infect the bodies of their hosts like the original film, but will exit by other means. Some are described as exiting from the throat, while one is listed as breaking out of a crew member's back — a "backburster" as it has come to be nicknamed.
In spite of their birthing method, it is very likely we will see creatures resembling the dark and beautiful work of #HRGiger returning to the screen. Early concept art and on set notes speak of the tall, slender creatures making a comeback, though they too will likely be changed. Experimentation is always welcome to keep a series fresh, and as long as these beasts make audiences squirm in their chairs, fans of the series will be smiling between the screams. Still, people come to movies like this to see the monsters they love. You change them too much and they'll be unrecognizable. To take the Alien out of Alien would be the ultimate sin.
The series has been in steady decline for just over a decade, with only a few entries in that time worthy to carry the title of this series. It is unlikely Alien will ever be shelved, its popularity matching such films as #StarWars and #StarTrek. That means fans will have to endure until the next worthy title in the series comes along. It could be many years from now, or it could be just around the corner. Time will tell if Alien: Covenant is the answer sought by science fiction's most frustrated fan base. If not, we'll have to keep playing the waiting game.
Until then, relive some of the most terrifying moments from space with some of the most iconic quotes from Alien:
Are you looking forward to Alien: Covenant? Let us know below!