Michael Fass­ben­der stars in Ri­d­ley Scott’s Alien: Covenant

MICHAEL FASS­BEN­DER is twice the man he wasn’t in the lat­est space beastie en­counter

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FOUR DECADES ON from 1979’s epochal Alien, Ri­d­ley Scott re­turns to the pri­mal ter­rors of chest­bursters, face­hug­gers, and slaver­ing xenomorphs with the se­ries’ sixth in­stal­ment.

A di­rect se­quel to 2012’s Prometheus, Alien: Covenant looks stu­pen­dous, as you’d ex­pect from Scott; it chews over some hefty philo­soph­i­cal ideas, and it has a stun­ning dual per­for­mance by Michael Fass­ben­der as a pair of eerie an­droids.

But for all the new film’s strengths, the qual­i­ties that made the 1979 orig­i­nal so ef­fec­tive are largely miss­ing. Here, if no one can hear you scream, it is be­cause the movie just isn’t that fright­en­ing.

The trou­ble is, we know ex­actly what grisly en­coun­ters lie in store for Kather­ine Water­ston’s Ri­p­ley­like hero­ine and her crew­mates on the space­ship Covenant – in­clud­ing Billy Crudup’s queasily in­se­cure first mate and Danny Mcbride’s good old boy pi­lot – when a mys­te­ri­ous ra­dio trans­mis­sion en­tices them into tak­ing a de­tour to a seem­ingly hos­pitable, Earth-like planet.

This may be terra incog­nita to them, but we’ve been here be­fore. So when a crewmem­ber gapes cu­ri­ously at the pul­sat­ing mem­brane in­side an alien egg, what hap­pens next is an un­pleas­ant sur­prise for him, déjà vu for us.

Of course, Water­ston’s hero­ine is re­source­ful and re­silient, but she is no sub­sti­tute for Sigour­ney Weaver’s Ri­p­ley, de­spite the match­ing sin­glet she strips down to when the go­ing gets hot. Most of the other char­ac­ters are so non­de­script they blur into one an­other. Mere alien fod­der, their fates are all too pre­dictable.

Thank good­ness then for Fass­ben­der’s an­droids. For­get be­ing chased down a space­ship cor­ri­dor by a xenomorph for the umpteenth time. It is their chilly, un­canny as­sur­ance that is re­ally scary.

MICHAEL FASS­BEN­DER IT WAS THE AGE-OLD PROB­LEM OF HAV­ING DENTURES THAT DIDN’T QUITE FIT

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