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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

May 12, 2017

Alien: Covenant Movie Review: Exciting Sequel To 'Prometheus' And Enlightening Prequel To The First 'Alien' Movie

IN 1979, RIDLEY SCOTT did the first “Alien” movie that really succeeded in scaring us, gave Sigourney Weaver her most memorable role ever as Ripley, and started a franchise mostly not directed by him. Now, Scott returns to it in “Alien: Covenant”, which is actually a sequel to his 2012 movie, “Prometheus”, which is in turn meant to be a prequel to the very first “Alien” flick. It is also his return to the terrifying xenomorph crustacean monsters with their dripping acid saliva.

Just to refresh your memory, “Prometheus” starred Noomi Rapace (the original Swedish “Girl with the Golden Tattoo”) as Dr. Shaw, an archaeologist on board the spaceship Prometheus who aims to look for man’s ancestors in a distant moon, along with the android David (Michael Fassbender). All the other cast members like Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, etc. die because of new villains called The Engineers. Many questions are left unexplained as the film ended.

Now, in the new “Alien” film, we meet David once again in the opening scene showing him with the man who created him (Guy Pearce). David is obsessed with the idea of creation. Then we see a new spaceship called The Covenant containing 2,000 passengers, all couples, who are on a voyage to settle on a new habitable planet. They’re all asleep, except for the android who administers to them, Walter (Fassbender in a dual role.)

A solar flare leads to an accident that kills the captain (James Franco in a cameo) and prematurely wakes up the crew of the Covenant. They discover that they are now near another habitable planet that’s much closer than their original destination. Daniels (Katherine Waterston), the captain’s widow, is against the suggestion of visiting the planet as it’s not part of their plan, but their new leader, the religious Oram (Billy Crudup), disregards her protest.

Daniels somewhat becomes the new Ripley here and her own climactic deadly encounter with an alien is very well staged. Against her wishes, a crew is sent out to investigate and they are soon accosted by a breed of aliens that enter through their ears or nostrils. Set in 2104, questions left hanging in “Prometheus” are answered in this film.

We’re told what happened since the time we last saw Dr. Shaw and David in “Prometheus”. David was then decapitated, but he shows up in “Covenant” looking totally new. It seems David has since developed from what he’s originally designed, leading to unexpected consequences. “Covenant” is quite fast paced, showing a lot how the freakish David has evolved to be the robot who wants to play God. This makes Fassbender the real star of the movie since he actually becomes more frightening than the aliens.

And Fassbender, who’s one of today’s actors whose talent we really believe in after we’ve seen him as Magneto in “X-Men”, “12 Years a Slave” and “Steve Jobs”, plays the role with just the right mixture of deadpan creepiness and charm. The whole cast is splendid but it’s just hard to outshine Fassbender in his dual role. The special effects showing the two Fassbenders playing a flute or fighting each other are all seamlessly executed you’d wonder how they pulled it off.

This is not to say that those who missed the actual horrid aliens will be disappointed as they’re back here in full force with all their original drooling glory and some bloody gory scenes of carnage that will surely make you wince. The film is just replete with surprising twists that lead to nightmarish worse-case scenarios. It definitely goes one step further than “Prometheus” and establishes Ridley Scott at 79 years old as one of the best filmmakers in the business, whether he’s doing costume dramas like “Gladiator”, sci-fi actioners like “Blade Runner” or war flicks like “Blackhawk Down”.

“Covenant” is a fun ride that can surely stand on its own, but with the events and ideas presented here, it looks more like a piece of the puzzle of the whole “Alien” series that has aspirations about probing the origins of our existence. With the villain getting away with it in the film’s final frame, to the tune of Wagnerian music, we can’t get to wait to see where it is headed and where it goes next.