A still from ‘Alien: Covenant’. Pic/YouTube
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Demián Bichir, Danny McBride, Billy Crudup, Jussie Smollett, Amy Seimetz, Carmen Ejogo, Callie Hernandez
Director: Ridley Scott
This film is a follow-up to ‘Prometheus’ and as admitted by Scott himself, the second part of a prequel of films leading to the original ‘Alien’. The story picks up from 10 years after the incidents of ‘Prometheus,’ in 2104, 18 years before the original “Alien(1979),” aboard a colony spaceship, The Covenant (an obvious Biblical reference), which is on a mission to settle on a preordained habitable planet Origae-6, with about 2,000 passengers couples and 1140 frozen embryos. However, their plans get derailed after the receipt of a mysterious transmission that leads them to what appears to be another habitable planet mimicking earth.
The film opens with synthetically created Walter (Michael Fassbender), engaging with his creator (Guy Pearce) in a philosophical conversation that opens the doors to an exploration of human survival and it’s future prospects. Walter appears to be a much higher and sophisticated upgrade from what we saw of Fassbender in ‘Prometheus.’ Of course the ‘Prometheus’ disappearance finds space in this telling with just David(Fassbender again) being the only sole survivor of that mission. He is a humanoid himself, who has developed his survival skills far beyond what his creators imagined. Once the Covenant Crew( also in pairs)set foot on the planet, things go haywire and it’s now up to them to contain the contamination and prevent the alien creatures from reaching the mother ship.
The film is elegantly mounted and gripping enough but a few neglectful flaws hamper the believability somewhat. The first alien infection comes about when a member of the crew goes stomping off into the undergrowth to take a leak. His obvious negligence doesn’t earmark him as a trained professional who should have been advised against any such loosening-up. Also, for the crew to pursue the investigation when it’s but obvious a huge threat looms large, appears to be entirely contrived even though it stays faithful to movie tradition. Fassbender gets a wonderful opportunity of a double role that makes him the central player here. And he makes a meal of it, cleverly delineating the two roles with nuance and understatement that hail his thespian abilities. The narrative is devoid of thrills other than when it’s punctuated by Alien attacks- which of course provide enough bloody grist to stir your senses. The first sighting of the new habitable planet is breathtaking -the beautiful landscapes, mountains and lakes are fortuitously inviting. Dariusz Wolski’s achingly serene camerawork and Production design by Chris Seagers make the journey beyond, a wonder to behold. Most of it may seem like a repeat of what we’ve seen before but it’s the sheer elegance in the dramatic flow that keeps your interest going. Even the uncluttered background score allows for a soothing evocation that stays with you. This film may not entirely live-up to everyman’s expectations but it’s certain to keep the fans ruminating over the many questions it has unleashed.