If just thinking about Michael Fassbender makes you want to jump for joy, Alien: Covenant has a cure for that. David the robot, his creepier-than-a-serial-killer android butler, was the breakout star of Ridley Scott’s 2012 Alien prequel, Prometheus. Scott, realising perhaps that David is scarier than a spaceship full of parasitic flesh-eaters, makes him the star of this sequel to that prequel. Just as well, because nothing else particularly hits.
Okay, so the plot. It’s 2104, ten years after the crew of the Prometheus ended up as alien meat. A colony ship, the Covenant, is on a voyage to a distant planet. Its cargo is 2,000 people sleeping in hibernation and a job lot of human embryos to populate their new home.
Scott famously joked that nothing happened in the first 45 minutes of Alien. Not so here. When the Covenant runs into a storm, its computer – Mother – wakes up the crew of 15 from hyper-sleep, and plonks them on another, supposedly hospitable, planet. Things don’t go to plan…
The terrific Fantastic Beasts actress Katherine Waterston is cast in the heroic Ripley role. The rest of the crew is a bunch of ciphers there to just get munched. Also on board is David the robot. Except on the Covenant, he’s called Walter. Is he David rebooted? Or a newer model?
Really, this is David/Walter’s show, and Fassbender is electric. Elsewhere, Covenant has the same beautiful design as Prometheus and once again the script asks life’s big questions. What’s missing is one of the franchise’s unforgettable scenes that feed your nightmares for weeks. The trailer promised a return to real horror. The reality is more a facsimile.
The bottom line
Better than Prometheus. But it’s no Alien.