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  Alien Covenant Creationist NarrativeBuy this film here.
Year: 2017
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Amy Seimetz, Nathaniel Dean, Alexander England, Benjamin Rigby, Uli Latukefu, Tess Haubrich, Guy Pearce, James Franco
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: When David (Michael Fassbender) was new, he was intended as a son his creator, the businessman and scientist Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), never had, and with that in mind he used to enjoy having conversations with the android and testing the limits of his abilities to create art. But what if there was more to creating than music? Could David understand the concepts of a creator as something akin to a God? Maybe he could, maybe he could not quite grasp the finer points, but the fact remains he has been missing for a good ten years, lost in deep space away from his Planet Earth home and Weyland. However, also venturing into the void is the starship Covenant, and they are about to hit a problem...

If there's anything Ridley Scott's prequels to his classic sci-fi horror Alien proved, it was that it was possible to be a little too precious about the whole mythos concerning the biggest franchise movies, and it was not the end of the world if elements were introduced into the canon you did not necessarily agree with. The fans were not making these films (apart from, erm, fan films, but they were unofficial anyway), the professionals were, so if they wanted to fashion a background to a revered text then so be it, the originals you preferred stayed made and you could always ignore the newer entries. Well, fair enough, that was easier said than done, and if you had been invested before you would find yourself worrying at those darn follow-ups like a tongue at a mouth ulcer.

For Alien fans, it was worth bearing in mind it could be worse: they could be Terminator fans. What Scott and his team conjured up for their add-ons was not about to forget their origins as basically a haunted house flick turned slasher movie, and it was obvious from the first ten minutes the crew we saw piloting the Covenant was not going to survive intact, because that really would be a radical take on an Alien instalment. Indeed, in the first few moments we are introduced to them we see their Captain die in flames in his suspended animation pod as a mishap on the colonists' journey to a new Earth results in that crew being woken and pressed into service to avoid a further set of dire consequences: we are in no doubt space travel can be dangerous.

And that's before the Aliens even show up. Mourning their Captain (who was played in video footage by James Franco, curiously), everyone finds renewed hope when the solar system near to them is shown to have an Earthlike world in orbit: do they climb back into the potentially deadly pods, or do they seize this chance to start afresh without waiting, frozen, for another seven years? No surprises there, they opted to try for the nearer option, and what do you know, it's the planet we saw in the previous movie Prometheus. There was a film that fell afoul of over-serious aficionados losing their ability to appreciate the schlockier side of their favourite genre, and so it was here, as there was a devilish sense of humour at work (not often seen in Scott's movies) where the joke was well and truly on humanity.

Once a party has been sent to the surface, whatever has infected the planet wastes no time in doing the same to the explorers, and we were offered a flashback that may be accurate, or may be filtered through the thoughts of the imaginer, that indicated there had been a malevolent race engineering doom for reasons unknown, with the possibility we would find out why in the third of this prequel trilogy. What we did know was David is still alive - or functional – in the remains of that craft we saw way back in 1979 in the original, and he may well have been sent insane in a HAL 9000 manner by his circumstances, or a renewed sense of power. The creation theme was largely Godless, Scott being an atheist, but that did not deter him from investigating the parameters of humanity being creators themselves, sowing the seeds of their own destruction even as they tried to extend their influence beyond their own planet. This may not have stood up to close scrutiny, but it had a pulp philosophy that was amusing, and Fassbender capitalised on that, playing off thinly-sketched heroine Katherine Waterston's earnestness with that dark humour. No, it wasn't a classic, but did it need to be? Music by Jed Kurzel (with bits and bobs of Jerry Goldsmith).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Ridley Scott  (1937 - )

Talented, prolific British director whose background in set design and advertising always brings a stylised, visually stunning sheen to often mainstream projects. Scott made his debut in 1977 with the unusual The Duellists, but it was with his next two films - now-classic sci-fi thrillers Alien and Blade Runner - that he really made his mark. Slick fantasy Legend and excellent thriller Someone to Watch Over Me followed, while Thelma and Louise proved one of the most talked-about films of 1991. However, his subsequent movies - the mega-budget flop 1492, GI Jane and the hopeless White Squall failed to satisfy critics or find audiences.

Scott bounced back to the A-list in 2000 with the Oscar-winning epic Gladiator, and since then has had big hits with uneven Hannibal, savage war drama Black Hawk Down and his Robin Hood update. Prometheus, tentatively sold as a spin-off from Alien, created a huge buzz in 2012, then a lot of indignation. His Cormac McCarthy-penned thriller The Counselor didn't even get the buzz, flopping badly then turning cult movie. Exodus: Gods and Kings was a controversial Biblical epic, but a success at the box office, as was sci-fi survival tale The Martian. Alien Covenant was the second in his sci-fi prequel trilogy, but did not go down well with fans. Brother to the more commercial, less cerebral Tony Scott.

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