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iReview :: ALIEN: COVENANT

Director Ridley Scott takes us back into deep space and proves without a shadow of a doubt that no one can hear you scream with the latest episode of the sci-fi/horror franchise Alien: Covenant.

When film director Ridley Scott first ventured to take audiences to the outer limits of terror with his space monster movie Alien the ticket price was just a little under $3.00 in 1979. Little did he imagine then that some 40 years later his creation would take on a life of its own, but given the advent popularity of the genre thanks to the success of George Lucas’ Star Wars a new franchise was born. Although it would be almost a decade before James Cameron followed up Scott’s masterpiece with his own blockbuster Aliens, the originating filmmaker would take a little longer to revisit the depths of the final frontier and mine the limitless possibilities.

In the summer of 2012, Scott delivered on his promise to revisit the franchise. Prometheus wasn’t exactly the creature feature that audiences were hungrily anticipating. Scott much more deeper and theoretical exploration of the origins of his creature, inspired a desire to examine the origins of man from the very perspective of the primordial soup. The connection between man’s early evolutions and the horror that chases a taunt Sigourney Weaver through the murky depth of an exploratory mining platform, didn’t entirely resonate with movie goers, especially those now tainted by the consumer-piracy of prequels and reboots to satisfy a numb palette.

The story so far…

Although Scott had conceived of his original 1979 film as little more than a B-movie horror flick, a very well made and impressively budgeted B-movie to say the least, it still captured the imagination as much as it appealed to our most primal fears. When the filmmaker returned to the world he was determined if not resolute to create a thoroughly new experience, and with Prometheus Scott fleshed out a narrative component of the mythology that did go beyond filling in blank spaces. Venturing to provide more answers to the purpose of his perfectly predatory Xenomorph a creature designed to ignite a genocide, Scott raised even greater speculation.

At the conclusion of the monolithic Prometheus the expedition ends in tragedy when the exploratory vessel chasing a cryptic message into uncharted space discover a derelict ship, abandoned by a race of super-humans called “Engineers” who appeared to have been on a trajectory to deliver their payload — an annihilating virus — with our very own planet Earth on their list of stops. It’s theorized that these “Engineers” are the progenitors of all humanoid life across the cosmos, spreading their seed on all life sustaining planets and standing back and allow for evolution to take its course, but something’s amiss.

It would seem that these same life-givers have also developed a means to take it away — a genetic mutation; a weapon — that gestates within and consumes everything in its path, and results in a by product life form. Whether the Engineers ever intended for the evolution of the xenomorph or not, is indeterminate — what is known is that the final result is a predator unlike anything that anyone has ever seen! A creature so perfectly attuned for killing, it is practically unstoppable. A horror so insatiably merciless that in it there is an inescapably seductive quality all consuming in its veracious appetite.

That may be the most dangerously flattering way to describe Ridley Scott’s creation which is still the star of the film and is especially a headliner of its latest installment. Alien: Covenant is a return to genre proper after Scott’s more cerebral sojourn in Prometheus, but we couldn’t have gotten here without having first gone there, and as it has proven before — although it’s worth revisiting it’s only a matter of time before everyone is running and screaming through the dimly lit corridors and we’re reminded that in space no one can here you scream.

Just ignore the distress call!

Leave it to intrepid travelers to make the same mistake, but this is now (perhaps) the fifth incident where a distress call or other type of message leads a crew right into the very tight grip of a face-hugger. The human exploratory crew of the colony ship Covenant are on a mission to settle a far-off planet Origea 6 and are transporting about 2000 cryogenically frozen pioneers to the new promised land. Their vessel is temporarily disabled by an intense neutrino blast, and the crew intercept a message from a planet along their flight path.

Deciding it prudent to investigate the flight crew investigate and before long find themselves under attack by a virus and a rogue homicidal synthetic that is genetically engineering the next generation of xenomorph, and he’s just been handed a ship full of test specimens! Terror ensues, people fight for their lives, bodies burst and aliens get into the weirdest places! The formula is the same, as are the archetypes — Katherine Waterston makes for a decent replacement to the original’s “Ripley”, and Michael Fassbender in a unique duo role, begins to fill in the pieces about the fascination behind these deadly aliens.

Director Ridley Scott has revisited the tempo and feel of his first Alien adventure; the set pieces are bigger, the locations are more exotic and the mythology is filling out to elaborately appeal to the nostalgic among us that are turned on by trying to piece together all of the feature films so far. The question now is, will the quest continue? It appears that there exist as many aimless space rangers as we have space invaders, so exactly how long do we have until audiences get the next — and perhaps final arc of a trilogy — that leads directly to the original film is anyone’s guess, or depends completely on how many fall victim to Alien: Covenant this weekend at the box office.

See the trailer here:

Alien: Covenant directed by Ridley Scott and starring Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston and Billy Crudup is now showing in theaters everywhere and is distributed by 20th Century Fox.

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