Reviews GameAlien: Covenant review: "Aggressively bloody and high of bodycount... but rarely intimidating"

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Fast Facts:

  • Alien: Covenant release date: May 12, 2017 (UK)/May 19, 2017 (US)
  • Director: Ridley Scott
  • Cast: Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, Demian Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Amy Seimetz, Callie Hernandez, Nathaniel Dean, Alexander England, Benjamin Rigby, and Danny McBride
  • Writers: Michael Green, John Logan, Jack Paglen, Dante Harper

Update: May 2, 2017 - Prologue video details what happened between Prometheus and Covenant 

Alien: Covenant isn't a quick, follow-up story. It's set 10 years after Prometheus. So what happened in between? The last we saw of Prometheus' lone (human) survivor Elizabeth Shaw, she was on an Engineer ship on her way to their homeworld with the remaining bits of android David. Now though, we're joining a new crew, on a new colonisation mission, to planets unknown. Questions, it must be noted, are there to be asked. 

Fortunately, we have the prologue video above to clear some things up. No word yet (as with any of the recent promos) on whether this footage appears in the actual Alien: Covenant movie, or whether it's been specially filmed for marketing. We'd hope most of this stuff's bespoke though, otherwise we're going to have seen half of the film before it's released. If you're wanting to avoid any big Engineer-related details at least, you might want to skip this one. 

Still, it has a very lovely, very original-Alien-style score. 

Update: May 2, 2017 - Katherine Waterson neither confirms nor denies a Ripley connection

Asked outright about rumours of a possible familial connection between her character, Daniels, and original Alien trilogy protagonist Ripley, Covenant actress Katherine Waterson recently made a very deft avoidance of the question, referring back to a line from classic British sitcom Fawlty Towers. Nothing. She knows nothing, apparently. 

Still, it's an interesting question. Certain quarters seem to be zoning in on the possibility, but it'd certainly be a stretch in terms of the Alien timeline. Covenant is set 19 years before Alien, in 2103, so for Daniels to be Ripley's mother, for instance, she'd have to get pregnant pretty early in her own movie, then get herself - or the baby - all the way back to Earth, only for Ripley herself to then build a career for herself with Weyland-Yutani and have her own daughter within the space of about 18 years. And she's definitely older than 18 in Alien. Plus, we also know that canonically - according to material in the Alien Legacy box-set - Ripley was born in 2092, 11 years before Covenant starts. So no, basically. 

Update: May 2, 2017 - Crew videos are like pleasant off-world holiday videos (almost) 

A couple of interesting little scene-setters here, framed as transmissions back home by Covenant crew members Daniels and Oram. Both craft an affecting blend of the grandeur and significance of the colonisation mission at hand, with the real, human effect of travelling millions of miles through space to set up on a strange planet, almost definitely never to see home again.

And then there are the intercut helmet-cam sequences, covering exploration of the planet. It all starts out pretty well, all trepidatious but excited exploration, new sights and sounds. But then discoveries are made. Weird, slightly ominous discoveries. And then it gets bad. 

***Original article continues below***

Alien: Covenant is actually a Prometheus sequel

Few movies reach the legendary status of Alien, Ridley Scott’s tale of space truckers dealing with an otherworldly stowaway. Even Scott’s own Prometheus - a prequel that isn’t quite cut from the same cloth as the masterpiece that spawned it - fell short. However, its worldwide gross of $404 million was more than enough to warrant a sequel, which is called Alien: Covenant.

We've collected all the news we know to date about Ridley Scott's next tango with unfriendly extraterrestrials, and will keep updating until the movie's release later this year. Read on, and remember that in space, no-one can hear you scream... except whatever it is that's about to rip your chest apart. 

The Alien: Covenant release date got moved up

Alien Covenant's release date has been moved forward. Again! Now the date stands at May 19, 2017. That's three months sooner than the last date we had (August), and a whopping seven months ahead of the movie's original December 2017 date. Nice. Oh, and UK audiences will be able to see it a whole week earlier than the US on May 12, 2017. 

The Alien: Covenant trailer has us ready to run

We've been hearing for a while that Alien: Covenant would be channeling the vibe and aesthetic of the original film, and the trailer that dropped in late December made good on that promise. The crew of the Covenant looks like they're going to be meeting many of the same fates as that of the Nostromo, and they don't even have a cute orange cat to keep them company. Sorry, gang.

We also have an official 'prologue' video called The Last Supper which introduces most of the main characters - watch it below:

The second trailer (below) shows a mission full of hope. A lovely day strolling through surprise wheat. And then, of course, everything starts to go horribly wrong. Maybe someday humanity will head out to colonize the stars and everything will be delightful, but that clearly isn't what's going to in Covenant. 

And the video teasers don't end there. There are also four short, loosely themed trailers, entitled Take Me Home, Run, Hide, and Pray. All very solid requests and suggestions given what's undoubtedly about to go down. 

The Alien: Covenant poster offers the most obvious advice ever

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Well, I mean... duh. Ok, in fairness, I guess we do have to spell this out for people like the scientist in Prometheus who thought it'd be a good plan to pet the alien snake creature, but I think the rest of us were already solid on the "run and hide" plan. Keep clicking through the gallery to see other Covenant posters.

The Alien: Covenant cast sees Michael Fassbender playing two different droids

Michael Fassbender’s android character David - just a well-spoken head in a bag, last we saw him - returns in Covenant, apparently having picked up a body somewhere along the way. The movie’s official description says the crew of the colony ship Covenant discovers “what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world - whose sole inhabitant is the ‘synthetic’ David.”

Fassbender will also be playing  a second synthetic, named Walter, who serves aboard the USCSS Covenant. "I am allowed to say I am playing two robots - Walter and David," Fassbender told the Irish Times newspaper (via @rorysbooks). 

Also in the cast are Jussie Smollett (Empire), Amy Seimetz (The Killing), Carmen Ejogo (Selma), Callie Hernandez (Machete Kills), Katherine Waterston (Steve Jobs), Demian Bichir (The Hateful Eight) and Danny McBride (Eastbound & Down). It seems seems fair to say that most, if not all, of these folks will make up the crew of the Covenant; it also seems fair to say that most, if not all of them will die horribly.

The Alien: Covenant plot should answer some questions from Prometheus

Though Prometheus has Alien in its DNA (sorry), it is something entirely separate from the much-beloved franchise... something that didn’t entirely sit well with audiences. Prometheus 2 was originally going to continue going off in an entirely different direction from the original films, but director Ridley Scott rethought that decision, opting instead to get his creation back on course by linking Prometheus more directly to the 1979 Alien film. To that end, Alien: Covenant will be the second part of a trilogy that acts as a prequel to the events on the Nostromo.

Scott explained how Covenant will continue the journey from Prometheus to Alien: “They’re going to go to the planet where the engineers came from, and come across the evolving creature that they had made. Why did they make it? Why would they make such a terrifying beast? It felt bio-mechanoid, it felt like a weapon. And so the movie will explain that, and reintroduce the alien back into it.”

Alien: Covenant's director is the one and only Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott, the father of the Alien franchise, will be once again taking on directorial duties. If you could’ve sworn Neill Blomkamp of District 9 fame was on lens duty for the next Alien film, you’re right - or were, before Scott changed Covenant’s direction. Blomkamp was lined up to direct Alien, with Scott producing, but those plans got put on hold when Scott’s revised plans started to revisit the original lore. “Alien is kinda holding/pending Prometheus 2,” tweeted Blomkamp on October 29, 2015, going on to say that he’ll be “working on other things.”

Originally, ‘Prometheus 2’ was going to be more of a direct continuation of the events of its predecessor, heading further away from the lore of the 1979 Alien. Blomkamp’s film would’ve retconned the franchise, “acting like Alien 3 and 4 never existed,” as Michael Biehn put it to Icons of Fright, and allowed for a passing of the torch from Ripley to a Newt in her late 20s. Scott insists the movie is still moving forward, telling the Empire Online Podcast, “It’s designed to go next after ‘Alien: Paradise Lost’ [the original title for Covenant]. His version is more associated with Ripley. It’s coming from a completely different angle. It’s kind of more of a sequel… after, after after.”

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