When it comes to sci-fi horror franchises, Ridley Scott’s Alien offerings can certainly claim to be the granddaddy of them all.
Few will forget the first time they saw the xenomorph explode out of a human chest back in the 1979 original – and the creature remains the gold standard for extra-terrestrial beings in film.
If you discount the ridiculous Alien versus Predator spin-offs, Alien: Covenant is the sixth film in the series. However, Scott’s latest slice of gruesome action plays out as a loose sequel to 2012’s Prometheus, which certainly divided opinion.
The big thing we needed from Covenant was answers. Who are the engineers? Why do they hate humans? And how did that black goo eventually turn into the xenomorph from the original Alien film?
That leaves one final question; does Covenant provide all of the answers?
Well, kind of. But it certainly brings back the gore and trademark terror of the series, which is – in my mind – much more important.
After an intriguing opening featuring Prometheus’ David (Michael Fassbender) and his creator Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), we meet the crew of the Covenant.
Naturally, they are coming out of hyper-sleep and are searching for a new world. The group is a colony, so they have everybody you’d need – doctors, scientists and engineers, etc – to start fresh.
A distress call causes them to ditch their target planet for a seemingly better alternative. But, as you can imagine, it really isn’t.
I’ll not give too much of the game away, but it’s safe to say that it’s here that we find out some of what happened after the Promethues credits rolled.
And, of course, it’s also here that the crew – led by Katherine Waterston’s Daniels and out-of-his depth captain Oram (Billy Crudup) – come across an early version of the xenomorph.
Also with boots on the ground are Carmen Ejogo’s Karine and Amy Seimetz’s Faris, who share one of the stand-out scenes quite early in the alien-induced carnage.
Indeed, there’s a gruesome alternate take on that infamous chestbuster scene, which isn’t for the faint-hearted.
But while the aliens are the main event, it’s once again Fassbender – this time as android Walter – who holds things together with a typically masterful performance.
Indeed, as the mission soon switches from discovery to escape, the relationship between he and Daniels comes to the fore.
Back on the ship, pilot Tennessee (Danny McBride) is another character to stand out as he weighs up just how to get the team to safety without risking the lives of the many sleeping colonists on board.
As touched upon above, Covenant was always going to need to deliver answers.
I was happy with the majority of those that were forthcoming, but fans of Prometheus will be disappointed that the engineer angle doesn’t get much development.
More interesting is the evolution of the classic alien creature. Indeed, we do get to see the original xenomorph in all of its glory, which is an obvious highlight.
Covenant does, however, suffer from a very slow start and a sadly predictable ending.
It does set up the inevitable follow-up well, but I left Boston’s West End Cinema a little disappointed by a twist that you’re all sure to see coming a mile off.
So while I’m of the opinion that more Alien is never a bad thing, Scott doesn’t really come close to re-creating the brilliance of the original.
Voice Verdict: 7.5/10 (reviewed at Boston’s West End Cinema)
+ Fassbender is brilliant again
+ Satisfying amounts of gore
– Slow start and predictable ending
Boston’s West End Cinema (Fri, May 19 to Thurs, May 25)
**PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: SALAZAR’S REVENGE (12A)
2D – 5.30pm (Thu)
3D – 8.30pm (Thu)
**DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL (PREVIEWS) (U)
10am (Sat/Sun), noon (Sat/Sun), 2.10pm (Sat/Sun)
Noon (Wed), 2.10pm (Fri/Wed), 4.20pm (daily), 6.30pm (daily), 8.45pm (daily)
ALIEN COVENANT (15)
3pm (Fri/Sat/Sun/Wed), 5.40pm (daily), 8.30pm (daily)
**KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD (12A)
2D – noon (Sat/Sun/Wed), 8.20pm (daily)
3D – 2.45pm (Fri/Sat/Sun/Wed), 5.30pm (daily)
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOLUME 2 (12A)
2D –10.45pm (Sat/Sun), 2pm (Fri/Sat/Sun/Wed), 5.20pm (daily), 8.20pm (not Thu)
SZTUKA KOCHANIA (15)
5.40pm (Mon), 8.30pm (not Wed/Thu)
A DOGS PURPOSE (PG)
10am (Sat/Sun), 12.30pm (Sat/Sun)
FAST AND FURIOUS 8 (12A)
2.30pm (Sat), 5.40pm (Fri/Sun)
THE BOSS BABY (U)
2D – 12.15pm (Sat/Sun)
Sat/Sun 10.15am – Sing 3D (U)
Wed 11.30 – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (12A)
Tuesday 5.30pm – Alien Covenant (15)
**FREE LIST SUSPENDED