The career of Sir Ridley Scott has been one of the exceptional highs and a few misses. With the release of The Martian, he continues to prove that he is an exceptional talent within the industry. The original Alien is considered a classic and the benchmark for the space/horror genre. After close to five decades, the franchise still offers new opportunities to terrify audiences around the world. Scott has not been at the helm of the franchise since the original, until the 2012 prequel Prometheus.
Even though it met with mediocre critical reception, it did prove that this property still had a fan base who wanted to know more about the origins of the aliens. The answer comes in the form of Alien: Covenant, which will attempt to keep this space-travelling property alive.
It is 2104 and the crew of the colony ship Covenant are abruptly awakened from their hyper-sleep by a system failure. In this potentially disastrous situation, they are able to save the lives of the colonists, but they lose some of the crew. After averting this perilous situation, the crew has to determine if they will progress to their destination or consider another planet that shows promise for colonisation.
Upon landing on the uncharted new world, they realise that they are not the first residents to inhabit the seemingly beautiful new land. As can be expected, all things are not as they seem and they quickly determine that their lives are in jeopardy. The landing team is attacked by terrifying creatures who manage to infect and kill some of the crew before they are saved by an unknown hooded figure. Unwittingly, this Covenant unit has managed to find the final survivor of the Prometheus, the synthetic android David (Michael Fassbender), who desires to help them to escape these insidious beings, or does he?
Like the alien at the heart of this series, Scott proves that he has the persistence and resilience needed to reignite this property. Where Prometheus attempted to be the origin story, but proved to be a convoluted misstep, Alien: Covenant manages to get things back on track. The two key basic principles that the celebrated director finds again are the convincing female action hero and captivating and superb villain.
Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) manages to fill the void left by Sigourney Weaver as the tenacious leader. She manages to portray the needed vulnerabilities for this role, but undergirds this with strength and a will to survive. This is countered brilliantly by Michael Fassbender as he plays the dual roles of Walter and David. He delivers the winsomeness and resolve of the many synthetics that have been introduced throughout the decades, but balances these characteristics with a skin-crawling creepiness that have defined this string of films.
As the visionary who defined this genre, Scott does not offer anything new with this chapter, but does get back to what makes these films work. He manages to touch on the deeper themes of life and mankind’s existence while understanding that people want to be terrified in the process. It contains the blood, violence and special effects needed to draw fans back into this alien narrative, but tempers it with enough existential angst to cause audiences to realise that this is more than the run of the mill horror.
Alien: Covenant is a by the books sci-fi horror that is directed by the author who wrote the book on this genre.
REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
Is there a Creator? In cinematic history, the notion of creation has been at the heart of a multitude of scripts and screenplays. From Frankenstein to Blade Runner, we can see that some of Hollywood’s greatest filmmakers still see the origins story of life as a necessary question to be considered. Ridley Scott attempts to take on this age-old query in Alien: Covenant, but merely proves that even with the best of intentions, man’s futile attempts at creating new life leads to less than satisfactory results.
Is there any hope in answering the question on the existence of a creator? Thankfully, we have been given substantial evidence to the existence of a creator. Some of these indications can be classified as general revelation. This means that by simply looking out at nature or at the magnificent internal systems of the human body, there is an awareness of a creator. Trees, gravity or the birth of a child can provide strong support of the argument for a supreme maker, but these generalities do command some backup.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was at the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. John 1:1-3
This reinforcement can be found in the Bible and is labelled as special revelation. Studied and scrutinised documentation that comes alongside science and nature to prove that there is an architect behind the beautiful architecture of the world and those who live in it.
Where to look for more details: Genesis 1-2, Hebrews 11:3, Revelation 4:11