The Creation Story
The latest instalment of the Xenomorph saga bursts onto Blu-ray.
released 18 sePTeMBer (out now on download) 2017 | 15 | Blu-ray (4K/standard)/ dVd/download Director ridley scott Cast Michael Fassbender, Billy Crudup, Katherine Waterston, danny McBride
Say what you like about Ridley Scott’s prequel Prometheus, but it did at least make a sincere attempt to broaden out the Alien universe, introducing mysterious giants the Engineers and the Xenomorph precursors created by their bioweapons. Many fans of the series were unhappy that the results didn’t feel sufficiently Alien-y, though.
With Alien: Covenant – whether course-correcting in response or in accordance with his long-term plan – Ridley Scott delivers something that assuredly does. We have a vessel drawn to a planet by a mysterious signal. We have a wrecked spaceship to be explored. There are alien eggs, and Facehuggers, and a heroine spitting lines like “I got you, you son of a bitch!” Every fan-pleasing button is pressed. So why does it feel a little underwhelming?
Perhaps because the mystery of the Engineers turns out to be a dead end, with Scott taking their pieces off the board as he unveils the truth behind the Xenomorphs – one you may struggle to swallow if your view on “Chicken or egg?” is “chicken”. Still, Covenant’s revelations retroactively improve Prometheus, making sense of the fact that its “Neomorphs” seemed too random in nature to develop into the Aliens we know.
Perhaps it’s because of the human characters. Only Katherine Waterston’s grieving Daniels, Billy Crudup’s man of faith Oram and Danny McBride’s Tennessee linger in the memory – and the latter mostly because he wears a hat. By making the crew composed of couples, Scott attempts to give their deaths more impact, but it doesn’t really pay off. It would help if the film made a better fist of establishing their relationships, but frustratingly that was left to viral short “The Last Supper”.
On the plus side, the non-human characters are superb. Michael Fassbender’s android was the best thing about Prometheus, and here, as both the sinisterly autonomous David and new model Walter, we get double helpings of his genius. In scenes like the tautly homo-erotic sequence where David teaches Walter to play a flute, virtuoso performances combine with cutting-edge effects in almost magical synergy.
And those human characters are more memorable in death than they were in life... With creatures erupting from backs and mouths in great gouts of blood, Covenant often resembles a ghastly jet-black farce, as characters slip about in great pools of plasma, or accidentally blow themselves to bits. The Xenomorph attacks are fast, furious and thrilling. And anyone with the faintest goth leanings will respond to the baroque darkness of this world, with its vistas of charred corpses, grotesque anatomical drawings and mash-ups of mad scientist’s lab and serial killer’s den.
Despite all Covenant’s visual splendour, however, it’s hard to
Creatures erupt in great gouts of blood
escape the nagging feeling that its give-’em-what-they-want approach represents a partial retreat from a more original vision.
Extras Ever heard Arnold Schwarzenegger’s staggeringly literal commentary for Total
Recall? Ridley Scott’s not as bad, but still… in-between occasional insights, he spends a lot of his yak track saying things like, “Now they’re walking around the interior of the old craft.” You’ll learn much more from Making Of “Master Class: Ridley Scott” (56 minutes), which includes some neat glimpses behind the scenes. Our favourite: the test firing of an Alien Egg that results in a crewmember getting a Facehugger full in the face! None of the dozen alternate/ deleted scenes are that remarkable. Highlights: glimpses of James Franco in a domestic flashback, and Walter displaying concern for the grieving Daniels by bringing her some grass! How thoughtful. Chances are you’ve seen the viral videos. “The Last Supper” sees the crew bonding before cryosleep; “Meet Walter” is a Weyland-Yutani commercial; “Phobos” provides nine tiresome minutes of crew “fear assessment” tests. Prologue “The Crossing” shows Prometheus survivor Elizabeth Shaw reassembling David, while new epilogue “Advent” consists of transmissions to Weyland-Yutani. These hint that we might see an Alien Queen in the next film… “David’s Illustrations” provide Giger-esque designs with titles like “skeleton jellyfish”. They’re a sinister delight, but a pain to navigate. A production gallery features concept art and Scott’s storyboards. Trailers complete the package. The DVD has the commentary, deleted scenes and “Phobos” viral.
The look of David’s outfit was inspired by Wilson the Wonder Athlete, a character in ’50s boys’ paper The Hotspur.
Fantastic beasts and where to shoot them.
How dare you accuse the Xenomorph of being a drip.