Alien: Covenant (15)

SciFi (2017)
122mins US/Australia/NZ/UK

Starring: Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, Demian Bichir, Billy Crudup, Carmen Ejogo, Danny McBride
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer(s): John Logan, Dante Harper
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

The Weyland-Yutani Corporation vessel Covenant is bound for a remote planet, which the crew hopes to colonise. Many on board are couples including Captain Jacob Branson and his wife Daniels, chief pilot Tennessee and his wife Faris, first mate Christopher Oram and his biologist wife Karine, and head of security Lope and his husband Hallett. Their destination - an uncharted paradise - turns out to be home to voracious predators that will stop at nothing until every human is dead.

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LondonNet Film Review
Alien Covenant (15)

If Ridley Scott's seminal 1979 sci-fi horror Alien and the anthology it spawned teach us anything, it's that in the inky void of space, everyone can hear your bloodcurdling screams. Alien: Covenant confirms another disheartening fact: every time the thrice Oscar nominated director from South Shields revisits his beautifully stylised universe, he tarnishes the golden lustre of the original film...

Alien Covenant. Copyright: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Caption: Michael Fassbender and Carmen Ejogo star in Alien Covenant, directed by Ridley Scott. Photo: Mark Rogers. All Rights Reserved.Set approximately 10 years after humdrum events of the 2012 prequel Prometheus, this battle royale between humanity and cinema's most perfect killing machine compounds artistic sins by hardwiring into our nostalgia for Scott's other sci-fi masterpiece, Blade Runner. Do androids dream of electric sheep? No, they fantasize about something far grander here - gods and acid-blooded monsters - evidenced by a quasi-philosophical and ponderous prologue that loudly trumpets a central motif: creation. It's a bitter irony, then, that Scott and his vast array of technical wizards spend the next two hours committing an act of plodding and ponderous recreation.

Covenant labours in the shadow of earlier films and has been crudely bolted together by screenwriters John Logan and Dante Harper with derivative action set-pieces that give birth to a new hybrid of extraterrestrial nasty - the neomorph - with translucent milky skin and a gait more akin to humans. Or as one character pithily describes us: "a dying species, grasping for resurrection". The action initially unfolds on the Weyland-Yutani Corporation vessel Covenant, which is bound for a remote planet with 15 crew and 2,000 colonists in cryogenic stasis. Synthetic android Walter (Michael Fassbender) keeps watch until a neutrino burst from a star causes a "destructive event" that prematurely wakes the crew including devoutly religious first mate Christopher Oram (Billy Crudup) and his biologist wife Karine (Carmen Ejogo), chief pilot Tennessee (Danny McBride), head of security Lope (Demian Bichir) and the captain's plucky wife, Daniels (Katherine Waterston). They stumble upon a distress signal containing a snippet of John Denver's classic Take Me Home, Country Roads, broadcast from a nearby planet that sensors reveal would make an idyllic new home. "It's too good to be true," warns Daniels as a landing party prepares to investigate.

Alien: Covenant joins the dots to the original trilogy with strong echoes of Sigourney Weaver's exploits as Ripley, meekly mimicked here by Waterston. Jump-out-of-your-seat scares have been eradicated from the picture's DNA and the script's sleight of hand is clumsy. In the year 2104, characters are evidently none the wiser about the tattered rules of surviving a horror film - don't have sex, don't wander off alone, don't assume the killer is dead - and sign their death warrants with hilarious predictability. Before Scott nestles in the director's chair for another instalment, he should take heed of Daniels' doom-laden words: "It's a monumental risk not worth taking."

- Jo Planter

Alien Covenant. Copyright: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Caption: Michael Fassbender and Carmen Ejogo star in Alien Covenant, directed by Ridley Scott. Photo: Mark Rogers. All Rights Reserved.

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