Before the release of Prometheus (2012), director Ridley Scott insisted that the movie was NOT a prequel to his hit 1979 movie, Alien. Of course, this was all misdirection on Scott’s part as Prometheus was clearly a prequel to Alien.
Five years on and Scott drops all pretext with Alien : Covenant – he confirmed that Covenant would be the first instalment of a new Alien prequel trilogy that would lead up to the first Alien movie chronologically.
But before the release, Scott and 20th Century Fox provided fans with a rarity – two prologues to help with the background of the movie.
The first, Last Supper – shows the crew of the Covenant, a colonization ship heading to Origae-6, having a final meal before entering cryosleep.
We are introduced to the main players – the android Walter (Michael Fassbender), terraforming expert Daniels “Dany” Branson (Katherine Waterson), the first mate Christopher Oram (Billy Crudup), the chief pilot Tennessee Faris (Danny McBride) and the head of the security unit Sergeant Lope (Damien Bichir).
Then, there’s The Crossing, which reveals what happened to crew members Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and the synthetic David (Michael Fassbender) after the events of Prometheus.
All of which indicates to the viewer that Prometheus and Covenant are inextricably linked and that the actions taken by David will have a devastating effect on the fate of the Covenant and everyone on board.
Both prologues set the tone well and still the film opens with a third. This time, we see the newly-activated David and his creator Peter Weyland discussing the relative nature of God and man… and how an android fits into the scheme of things. This scene is pivotal to an understanding of what David got up to in Prometheus and of course, Covenant.
Once we are into the story proper, the movie shares quite a few narrative beats with Alien. The crew are brought out of cryosleep prematurely, they intercept a distress signal that makes them change course, arrive at a new planet and there they encounter unfriendly organisms that threaten their very existence.
However, compared to the original Alien movie, things come to a head very quickly in Covenant, the crew meet David and then find themselves in a fight for survival against creatures like the neomorphs and protomorphs.
So now we discover that David is behind it all. Back during the events of Prometheus on LV-223, David had deliberately infected archaeologists Charlie Holloway and Shaw (indirectly) and his motivation was unclear. Now it appears that David has a deep hatred for mankind and is seeking to claim godhood for himself by the creation of new life.
Thus, David had killed the entire population of an Engineers city, experimented on Shaw and created new organisms that would ultimately become the Alien creature we saw in the franchise.
When he encounters the crew of the Covenant, David sets into motion a diabolical plan to continue his experiments with the hapless crew and the thousands of colonists and embryos on the ship.
Thankfully, Scott and his writers John Hogan and Dante Harper, had not made Covenant a soft reboot (as Star Wars : The Force Awakens was) but is a genuine attempt to reveal the story of the franchise’s beginnings. Using David as the focus is a masterstroke as it appears – once again – that man’s undoing will be at his own hand.
Of course, being a prequel, there are many questions raised and left answered by the revelations.
One key query – if David genetically engineered the alien eggs and facehuggers – then how does that jive with the Alien Queen shown in Aliens? How will this series tie in with the first Alien movie when Covenant is headed to Origae-6 and not LV-426?
Presumably, all will be answered in the instalments to come. In the meantime, while Alien : Covenant is not particularly terrifying, the action sequences and plot twists will keep scifi-horror fans enthralled throughout.
… still there’s more …