Starring: Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Michael Fassbender, Callie Hernandez, Danny McBride, Tess Haubrich (Rated MA – 122 min).
‘In space no one can hear you scream’ declared the 1979 movie advertisements for sleeper hit, now cult, Alien. After unsuspecting audiences witnessed the now infamous chest-bursting scene, reports of mass cinema evacuations were reported.
Forever emulated and considered a classic, it spawned three variable sequels and now a second prequel following on from the first origin tale Prometheus (2012) which is more of a companion piece to the Alien Legacy. Masterful director Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, The Martian) back for this second prequel, Alien Covenant, returning to the landmark horror aspect keeping things frighteningly intense offering mystery combined with gruesome shock tactics.
Filmed at Fox Studios Australia and parts of New Zealand, multiple local filmmakers were involved in this impressive production. Journeying through space, the large colony ship Covenant with its mixed bunch of eclectic hard working crew are bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy to discover what they think is an uncharted paradise.
Unfortunately things are not what they seem within the picturesque Garden-of-Eden like nirvana turning out to be the dark resting place for the Xenomorph species we know all so well from the previous films.
Pulsating eggs open, face-huggers emerge, elongated chrome dome aliens with a double set of snapping jaws and acid for blood evolve to cause all sorts of mayhem for the mostly naive Covenant crew except for android David (Michael Fassbender) who was introduced in Prometheus. David is programmed to be loyal to his human counterparts but like previous synthetic beings in the Alien saga, trust looms to be a threat greater than the creatures themselves.
Threatening scares give the nerves a shake with realistic special effects looking spectacular while authentic outdoor locations in middle-earth New Zealand doubling for the paradise planet is cinematography to behold. Fassbender is one of the great modern Hollywood actors showcasing superior form yet again.
Original series final girl Sigourney Weaver as Ripley is missed, however stunning Katherine Waterston backs up her majestic impression shown in Fantastic Beasts and Where to find Them, with another sharp performance.
As a fan of the entire series of films, except that appalling pair of Alien Vs Predator rip-off spinoffs, this is an effectively riveting science-fiction thriller sure to make genre fans happy and horror devotees satisfied.
Shane A. Bassett