“I don’t want to go back to where we came from. I want to go where they came from.”
Certainly one of the most widely discussed genre films of the past several years is Ridley Scott’s 2012 Prometheus, which expanded upon the Alienverse which he first brought to cinemas in 1979’s Alien. While many praised the film’s visuals, ambitious ideas and lead performances, others were less than thrilled with certain missteps in logic, as well as disappointed in the less overt connection to the alien xenomorphs which had graced the screen in four previous films and two pair-ups with another killer alien, the Predator. Now, after a number of pronouncements from Scott, along with titles mentioned from Prometheus: Paradise to Alien: Paradise Lost, 20th Century Fox has declared a release date of October 6, 2017 for the officially titled, Alien: Covenant, with shooting to begin in early 2016, under the tutelage of the prolific septuagenarian himself, Ridley Scott.
Here is 20th Century Fox’s official plot synopsis for the latest chapter in the Alienverse:
- Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created in ALIEN with ALIEN: COVENANT, the second chapter in a prequel trilogy that began with PROMETHEUS — and connects directly to Scott’s 1979 seminal work of science fiction. Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, 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 (Michael Fassbender), survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.
This announcement raises a number of interesting questions. First, why the change from Paradise to Covenant? It may be a way to provide a less direct correlation to Milton’s Paradise Lost, which concerned a battle between God and Satan and their followers, while still maintaining a connection to the biblical themes of creation and a fall from grace that were brought up in Prometheus. It also allows a consistency in titling the prequels after the names of the featured spaceships. A covenant is an agreement or bond. As has been widely speculated that a mention of an event 2000 years prior in Prometheus might have been referring to the crucifixion of Christ, might this title change be further evidence that this betrayal may have been what instigated the Engineers looking to end mankind? For whatever flack Prometheus has received, these are incredibly lofty ideas to tackle in a sci-fi/horror film, especially when previous films in the franchise were closer in nature to a slasher featuring a horrific alien with an interesting life cycle.
Second, what’s noteworthy is that this is the second film of a trilogy. The first film, Prometheus, was quite successful, especially for an R-rated sci-fi/horror film, and in comparison to the other Alien films that came before it. Fox must feel pretty confident in the state of things to warrant announcing this film as well as another. Certainly the current success of Scott’s The Martian must be a factor as well. And while Skyfall and Spectre screenwriter, John Logan, an Oscar nominee, had been brought on board to update the script by Jack Paglen and Michael Green, there must also be a plan in place for what will constitute the third film, which according to the press release, will ultimate connect directly to Scott’s original 1979 Alien. This is a rather fascinating development, and something fans should most definitely be excited for.
While the above press release brings up Michael Fassbender’s android, David, it conspicuously fails to mention that of archaeologist Shaw, played by Noomi Rapace. it was always assumed Rapace would reprise her character in a sequel, and Scott has said so a number of times. Might something horrific have happened to her on their journey to find the Engineer’s homeworld? Might she still show up at a later point in the film? You would have to figure she at least survived long enough to put the beheaded David back together. Although leaving us with Shaw and David headed to parts unknown was an intriguing idea, it might not have been enough to carry an entire film. Adding a new crew on a new ship takes care of that dilemma, and gives Scott and the producers a chance to add some interesting actors to bolster the cast. It would be hard to top that of Prometheus‘ Rapace, Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba and Guy Pearce, so we’ll be eagerly awaiting any new cast announcements in the coming weeks.
Furthermore, what remote planet is the press release referring to? Did Shaw, or at least David, make it to the Engineers’ home planet, or might they have crash-landed somewhere in between, which could explain a missing Shaw? Would David have even continued to the Engineers’ world without Shaw, as it was her desire to reach this destination to begin with. There are without a doubt a plethora of intriguing questions to be answered and possibilities to be explored in Alien: Covenant, and we anxiously look forward to continuing the Alien saga. As to what all this means for the previously announced Alien 5, with a returning Ripley and Hicks, to be directed by District 9‘s Neill Blomkamp, as we had announced HERE? That has, unfortunately, been put on indefinite hold, either due to the poor box office performance of his recent Chappie, or so as not to conflict with Covenant, or a combination of the two. His Alien 5 was a mind-blowing development, especially with the return of Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn as Ripley and Hicks, so one has to hope this can still be revisited before too long as these actors won’t be getting any younger. Still, though it continues to morph and evolve, one of the most original and fascinating universes in all of science fiction, and horror, is alive and well, and ready to hit screens again on October 6, 2017. We definitely want to go there.