Friday , 24 November 2017

Alien: Covenant set to land next month

In just a few short weeks, another chapter to one of horror and sci-fi’s most terrifying film franchises is set to be unleashed upon the world. Acclaimed director, Ridley Scott, returns once again to the universe he first brought to life in 1979 with Alien, and continued in 2012 with Prometheus. Now, on May 19th (a week earlier in the UK, Spain and some other countries), Alien: Covenant looks to add to the Alien mythos with more eggs, face-huggers, chest-bursters (or, judging from the first trailer, back-bursters) and xenomorphs. So, what can we expect from this anxiously awaited sequel? Let’s examine what we know so far.

It is now known that Alien: Covenant takes place a decade after the events in Prometheus, where we were left with archaeologist, Elizabeth Shaw (Naomi Rapace) and the android, David (Michael Fassbender), commandeering an Engineer spacecraft in search of these intelligent humanoids’ homeworld to get some answers. Now, Prometheus remains a polarizing film due to a variety of reasons, from certain characters’ behaviors, to the film just not being ‘Alien‘ enough for some fans’ tastes. Perhaps that is why the new film forgoes a title like Prometheus 2 and instead brings ‘Alien‘ back into the picture. At one point, the movie was entitled, Alien: Paradise Lost. While Prometheus may remain a divisive film, no one can deny the impressive visuals, and the ambitious storytelling looked to expand upon the Alienverse and take it in exciting, new directions.

In the new film, from 20th Century Fox – “The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape.” In keeping with past Alien films, the producers have once again assembled an impressive cast. Katherine Waterston gets the female lead as Daniels, a terraforming expert. There has been speculation that her character may be related in some way to Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, however, that is merely conjecture, and even moreso, unlikely. Her husband is the ship’s captain, played by James Franco. However, his character seems to appear only early on in the film. Might he succumb to some sort of hypersleep malfunction? Billy Crudup serves as the Covenant’s first mate, Oram, and if the trailer and TV spots are any indication, his close-up examination of an alien egg does not bode well for his character. Maybe he will suffer a demise similar to that of John Hurt’s Kane in the first film. Also on board are Demian Bichir as Sergeant Lope, Danny McBride as Tennessee, the ship’s pilot, and Carmen Ejogo, as Oram’s biologist wife. Returning from Prometheus is Michael Fassbender, as not only David, but as another, newer model android, Walter, along with Guy Pearce, as Peter Weyland and Noomi Rapace as Shaw. As Weyland met his end in Prometheus, his character could return in flashback or holographic form. As for Shaw, the extent of her role is unknown but it appears to be limited, meaning her survival in any sustainable form is rather improbable. which is unfortunate as she was such a compelling and driving force, particularly in that incredibly intense, self-surgery scene.

There are a number of trademark characteristics that pop up within Alien films, and that certainly seems to be the case here. A strong female character, from Ripley to Shaw to now, Daniels, leads the way. The job of ship’s captain again looks to be one with a quick life insurance payout, from Alien‘s Dallas to Resurrection‘s  Elgyn to this film’s Franco character. Casting an actor known more for comedic roles, like Paul Reiser in Aliens occurs here too with McBride’s character. For those who complained there wasn’t enough ‘Alien‘ in Prometheus, that doesn’t appear to be the case here. While we see an Engineer in the above poster released by Fox, we also see images of face-huggers and xenomorphs. What made Prometheus so fascinating is it attempted to explore the origins of not just the ‘alien‘, but of mankind itself. These lofty aspirations were the kind not often seen in the most ambitious of science fiction films. From the look of the trailer seen below, while it is without a doubt, amazing, if there is any concern, it’s that it might seem too similar in many aspects to the original Alien. One hopes that this new Alien: Covenant takes the best elements of the entire Alien franchise along with the new aspects set forth in Prometheus to add to the mythology in an captivating way.

Naturally, how Alien: Covenant performs at the box office with determine the fate of future Alien installments. Currently, it’s U.S. release comes two weeks after Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 and the week after King Arthur, with little competition of note during its opening weekend. The following weeks bring the new Pirates of the Caribbean, Wonder Woman and Universal’s The Mummy reboot, opening in succession, so there will be plenty of new offerings for moviegoers to check out. A big question is whether audiences will be ready for a hard R-rated, serious space opera after being so totally entertained by the likes of Peter Quint, Gamora and Baby Groot and company in the more light-hearted Guardians sequel. Also, the lack of a release in China, which is averse to violent American fare, but has become so important when it comes to worldwide grosses, doesn’t help.

Ridley Scott has stated that Covenant marks the first in a proposed new trilogy of films that will take us up to the events of the first Alien film. He’s even brought up the possibility of Sigourney Weaver making another appearance as Ripley, in a CGI-altered form to make her look younger, as was done with Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia in the recent Rogue One. Most Alien fans it would seem would prefer seeing Ripley in the previously announced, yet currently shelved, Alien 5, to be written and directed by District 9′s Neill Blomkamp. The prospects for that film, which would bring back Ripley and Michael Biehn’s Hicks from Aliens, seem rather dim at this point, but that could change depending on the success or failure of Covenant. One other factor worth mentioning is that of Ridley Scott’s involvement in future films. While it looks like any Alien films would include him in some capacity, and he sure looks to be thoroughly immersed and invigorated at exploring this world again, Scott does turn 80 later this year. One has to wonder how much he has left in the tank, and he currently has numerous other projects where he serves as a producer to some degree. However, Scott has shown no signs of slowing down, and it truly is remarkable for anyone, especially at his age, to be able to tackle such big budget, large scale productions on such a consistent basis.

Alien: Covenant opens in the U.S. and Canada on May 19th, with most other markets around the world in the week leading up to that date. You can learn more and see additional trailers at Fox’ Official Alien: Covenant website. And stay tuned to the Gore 4 for a review once the film comes out.

And to whet your appetites even further, here’s a special promotional short, entitled The Crossing, that Fox just released, which bridges the gap between Prometheus and Covenant:

4 comments

  1. 'Walking' Ed Turner

    Please – No one get mad at me. I’m a diehard ‘Alien’ fan, and what Ridley Scott made in 1979 was a pure work of art. This film sounds a bit intriguing. I can’t judge the film, of course, until after I see it, but I tend to think it’ll be ‘Alien’ kind of rehashed with a bigger cast and not so claustrophobic surroundings, which is what made the original so dire and horrific. Can’t help thinking that Ridley Scott is making up a whole ‘Alien’ mythology from a story that wasn’t originally his. And he’s making it up as he goes along, trying to make a “Chariots of the Gods” connection between mankind and the aliens. All that stuff gunks up the works to me. Don’t make it mythological. The concept was more pure when the threat was simply something HORRIBLE to be afraid of that was ‘out there’, and that there was a company or corporation that wanted it brought back here. As far as I’m concerned, the ‘Alien’ saga started with ‘Alien’. Not all this rigmarole before it. If the movie will be at least entertaining, that’d be cool. But it would be a film, like ‘Prometheus’, that would be separate from the true ‘Alien’ story. Personally, I’d rather see the somewhat planned sequel to ‘Aliens’. I guess we’ll see how it goes.

    • I’m outraged! No, just kidding. You make some good points. While I loved Prometheus and appreciated the efforts in making the Alien saga more grandiose, there is also something to be said for keeping the element of mystery. Similar to the prequel to The Thing, where before we had all these questions on what happened at the Swedish camp, I mean, Norwegian. Now, it’s all been spelled out for us. Maybe they should have just done a sequel with another ‘thing’ wreaking havoc somewhere else. Again, while I like where Prometheus took us, now, Ridley and the producers are at a point where they almost have to give us answers to everything or audiences will be disappointed. But that takes away any sense of mystery or the unknown. If I have any concerns about the new movie, it’s that it will be TOO much like the first Alien, and ditch much of the Prometheus elements. We will see. But I would love to see that Alien 5 with Ripley and Hicks.

  2. Today history is made as a legacy continues. Ridley Scott returns once again to the ALIEN universe. Expectations are difficult to overcome, but it’s safe to say that Ridley Scott is aware of the bar he raised so very high with ALIEN. Although PROMETHEUS didn’t quite reach it, there were moments of pure “frisson” that most definitely did (Shaw’s “abortion” comes to mind). We should all be grateful that PROMETHEUS was successful enough to warrant a continuation. Stay tuned to the Gore4 for further insightful commentary and trenchant analysis of this latest foray into the realm of the macabre and the horrific.

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