If you watched Prometheus, director Ridley Scott’s loosely-based prequel to Alien, you probably left theaters with more questions than answers. Luckily, Alien: Covenant fills in all the right blanks, propelling the franchise forward in a way its predecessor failed to do.
Ten years after the events of Prometheus, a new ship of colonists look to locate and populate a planet known as Origae-6. Yet when a space signal derails their plans, and their ship, to a closer, seemingly safer planet, they stumble upon the remains of the Prometheus mission and its horrors.
Select members of the crew make you want this mission to go right, although everything you know about Alien tells you it’s about to go terribly wrong. Michael Fassbender, as androids David and Walter, carries the story, but behind every good Alien film is also a strong, female lead. In Covenant, that’s Katherine Waterston’s character, Danny. While young, Danny is the first to (wisely) insist the ship stay on course. Early on, she’s rocked by a tragedy, but by no means is that a substitute for her character development. We get snapshots of who Danny is, whether it’s through a moment of frustration or a feisty quip to her crew. She’s the kind of girl you root for, and root for her we do.
Panic and paranoia disarm the crew well before we actually see our first alien. It’s dizzying to watch as the cameras stay close, capturing every frightened detail. Covenant’s haunting score only seems to perpetuate our worry. By the time we see aliens, we’re almost relieved to be over the suspense. Almost. Instead of the stealthy Xenomorphs you remember from Alien, these blood-starved Neomorphs think the exit route to freedom is through your spine and hunt like Velociraptors. Scott doesn’t shy away from the gore, but keeps it to quick cuts so as not to sour our appetites. At times, I debated if the film showed too much alien. Perhaps. But after learning so much about them, it felt earned.
Covenant delivers just the right amount of suspense, Michael Fassbender in tight pants, alien drool and exposition. Its biggest success is telling us what we wanted to know. More importantly, it’s established itself among the Alien canon. A sequel’s inevitable, not just for the box-office dollars but because it makes sense. The film tied up many, if not all, of its loose ends. Now, we don’t know what’s next, but that’s the most exciting part.