Science fiction has been pretty good to Sir Ridley Scott. Not only did he found his astonishing career on a brace of undisputed classics of the genre, Alien (1979) – which he affectionately termed his “vicious little shocker” – and Blade Runner (1982), but more recently The Martian (2015) was also a copper-bottomed box-office smash. It raked in $650 million worldwide and bagged Oscar nominations for Scott for Best Film, and for star Matt Damon for Best Actor. So news that with Alien: Covenant the great Scott is returning both to the genre, and to the universe he created, has fans salivating.
This latest terrifying instalment of the 40-year-old franchise has the crew of the colony ship Covenant bound for what they believe to be a paradise planet on the far side of the galaxy. However, when they arrive, they find it already seems to have long-established residents: ones that have plenty of teeth…
If 2012’s Prometheus set the stage for Scott’s continuation of his franchise, Covenant is its true heir, advancing the story and deepening our knowledge of the alien species, as well as finally revealing the mysterious origins of the Xenomorphs. Fans will be delighted with the R-rated, thrillingly bloody action, which is clearly located in the universe of the original film.
However, the tense story of hapless human colonists attempting to survive in unbelievably harsh circumstances billions of miles from home, together with Scott’s trademark breathtaking visual realisation of the hostile alien planet, will also be a great introduction for newbies – or at least those who don’t mind doing a bit of casual cowering at their local Picturehouse.
“It’s beginning to answer the who and why,” Scott says of the film, which has Michael Fassbender returning as a couple of android characters, and newcomer Katherine Waterston (last seen interacting with a different kind of fictional fauna in JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them) as a reluctant heroine, who might be the last hope for a new civilisation.
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“It’s definitely gorier, and smarter,” Scott continues. “We raise some very interesting questions about the position and possibility of AI against the human condition, and it crosses into the zone of apartheid, kind of like how [Blade Runner’s] Roy Batty was treated like a second-class citizen. It touches on mortality, immortality and the real question of who created us and why.”
The indications are that Alien: Covenant is going to be the smash of the summer. An early preview of 15 minutes of footage at film festival SXSW had audiences both screaming and cheering. One critic likened the unfolding horror to “Alien meets Jurassic Park”. A vicious, gigantic shocker then…