Alien: Covenant integrates the franchise successfully
This sixth part of the franchise closes the loop between Prometheus and Alien
By Luc Archambault
Who hasn’t seen at least one film from the Alien franchise, beloved child of Ridley Scott. And who doesn’t have in mind the image of a Xenomorph – the term used to name the beast designed by painter and sculptor Hans Ruedi – with open jaw, dripping saliva and ready to lacerate?
Alien: Covenant takes its title from the name of the space ship carrying more than two thousand colonists to a distant planet, such as an ark of alliance between God and men, a theme that is dear to the director. But rather than find God or his organic avatars, as in the previous film, Prometheus, where the origins of the xenomorphs are explained, the protagonists of Covenant will instead make a terrifying and mortal discovery.
The movie benefits from a stellar distribution, featuring Michael Fassbender playing both androids Walter and David, Katherine Waterston in the role of Daniels, an officer on the Covenant, Billy Crudup as Christopher Oram, the second captain, Danny McBride in the role of Tennessee, the pilot, and Demián Bichir as Sergeant Lope, the head of security.
With Alien Covenant, ten years after the events of Prometheus, we find ourselves in the dark universe of the entrails of a spaceship, with nightmarish creatures and interstellar violence. We follow the crew of the Covenant, a spaceship transporting two thousand settlers in a state of hyper-sleep and 1140 human embryos to Origae-6, an unexplored planet at the other end of the galaxy. But, as a result of unexpected damage and after receiving a mysterious message, the ship changes course to explore its source.
Once the ship is in orbit around the planet, a dozen crew members, including Walter, the latest-generation android, go on reconnaissance to find the source of the message that turns out to be a shipwreck from the Prometheus expedition. Attacked by predatory creatures, the group is saved at last by David, an android of an earlier generation than Walter’s, but physically identical.
David, the only survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition, has, in his solitude, cultivated a rather ambivalent opinion of humans, his creators, which led him to engineer new versions of genetically modified and implacably deadly xenomorphs. Without wanting to reveal too much information, let’s say that the duplication of Michael Fassbender to play the two generations of androids counts for much in the realism of their ultimate confrontation and the success of this film.
Some have accused Scott, who has returned to this franchise as director and producer, of wanting to squeeze the lemon to the last drop in order to get as much profit as possible. Which he refutes, of course, but adding that he wants to film one, two or even three more sequels in order to properly weave the links between the mythological Prometheus and the first film of the series, Alien.
In an interview, the producer said that a new Alien project would be very interesting but that the most important thing was to have a good story so that he could come back to the moment when the creatures first appeared and explain how and by whom they were created. “… There will certainly be another (film) before concluding the whole logically and finishing the franchise by bringing the narrative back to the moment before the initial Alien. The chronological sequence will then be Prometheus, then Awakening, followed by Alien: Covenant … I think that the logical sequel, if this one succeeds, is to make another one next and perhaps even two or three others.” With David, the android in command at the end, and with more than two thousand hibernating colonists and two xenomorphic embryos aboard, the future looks rather gloomy. Let’s just say that with the premises he has sown, Scott has enough juice to feed quite a few more movies… Originally titled Alien: Paradise Lost, in reference to Milton’s work, Alien: Covenant gives a new lease on life to one of the most popular franchises in science fiction. The film also raises some very interesting questions about creation and artificial intelligence and its ability to counteract humans.But is this a great movie for all that? No, because the story is most predictable, except for the David and Walter duo, and the scenario offers little innovation. It becomes more and more urgent for Ridley Scott to renew the genre since the scenes are beginning to be interchangeable as well as the characters. And sometimes, to create something new, one must know how to destroy.
Alien: Covenant is an American-British science fiction film directed and co-produced by Ridley Scott and released in theaters in May 2017.
Images: courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
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Writer and journalist, globe-trotter at heart, passionate about movies, music, literature and contemporary dance, came back to Montreal to pursue his unrelenting quest for artistic meaning.