Alien Covenant : Ridley Scott redeems himself
The director gives a 'bloody' good nostalgia trip
If your earliest (and perhaps gooily bloodiest) memories of life from outer space were more Alien (of Alien fame) than ET, then what I'm about to say next will make sense to you.
Ridley Scott strikes again. The stain of Prometheus has finally been washed off his filmography.
Him and Michael Fassbender both.
If there was one single redeeming quality about Prometheus it was Fassbender's stoic, yet creepy manifestation of the synthetic android David. And so it just made a lot of sense to have Fassbender and David as a focal point of the second of the Alien prequel series. Alien: Covenant is a film that does plenty for fans of the forty-something franchise and is a much more fulfilling watch when compared to Prometheus, perhaps even a couple of the original movies.
Confused much? The original Alien movies were bloody, costume and terror-infused gore fests that you couldn't help but love. Most pictures of aliens you probably have today are potentially shaped by images of Scott's original creations — the ones with the skulls dragging back till they taper into point, mean eyes, generally high levels of slime and sharp talons attached to a long tail. This series of prequels explain how those grotesque creatures which need humans to spawn more xenophobes (Yes, they have a name. Take that George Lucas) were created in the first place.
The Covenant is a ship loaded with over 2000 humans in cryosleep and a crew, heading for an inhabitable world far, far away. They're hit by a solar flare, lose their captain and effectively lose all hope of finding their way until they hear a strange message from a planet nearby that has suspiciously earth-like conditions. What happens when they get there? In a nutshell (or a jelly filled sac if you want to stay with the Alien theme) Michael Fassbender happens. Playing the dual roles of androids David and Walter it's all him from that point in. While it's not particularly layered cinema, it is an engaging film — one that is laced with nostalgia — as you see spindly little aliens transform into the mammoth creatures they eventually end up as, there's a dash of familiarity that will hit you.
Ridley Scott has never been one for sacrificing his elaborate plot lines and those moments of cinematic indulgence — a garbled transmission where someone is singing John Denver's Country Roads, a humanoid who quotes Lord Byron and enjoys the discovery of musical notation, genetic even — but he has used a larger sense of restraint here, something that Prometheus sorely lacked in. So there are no long silences, protracted displays of emotion or undue symbolism marring the flow.
There are a few very obvious plot points. You know they're coming. You have a gazillion alternate theories about how it could have panned out. But no. Scott goes simple. And he takes the win. Until the next bloody, alien encounter then.