Ridley Scott is one of the most talented directors in the Hollywood today. He is simply brilliant at what he does. He has directed some of the best movies in the history of cinema, including Blade Runner, Gladiator, Alien, Body of Lies, Hannibal, and the list goes on. But, when he came out with Prometheus in 2012, the fans were not amused. In fact, they were befuddled. They were frustrated that their favorite director had dished out an excuse for a movie in Prometheus, far from the worthy installment of the Alien franchise it was supposed to be. There was a minority that tagged the film ‘smart’. But, the popular verdict was that the film was not Ridley Scott level.
Prometheus failed the audience on multiple accounts. When the movie was announced, everybody was promised an origin story for the Xenomorph. It was this alien creature that had turned many people to the alien and sci-fi genre. The icing on the cake was that Prometheus was to be directed by none other than Ridley Scott. Who better to tell the origin story of the monster than the man who introduced it to us in the first place! But, it turned out to be a huge mess. The only two things good about Prometheus are the exquisite visuals (which, by the way, is a trademark of every Ridley Scott movie. So nothing out of the ordinary there) and Michael Fassbender. Needless to say, it was not enough. There were so many unanswered questions and glaring plot holes that the audience could simply not ignore. Bluntly put, Prometheus was a colossal disappointment. They did not forgive Ridley Scott for this. After all, he was supposed to be the genius behind the camera. It looked like Ridley would never be able to live it down. Until now, that is.
In 2017, Ridley Scott is back with Alien: Covenant, which has been dubbed as a sequel to Prometheus, and a prequel to the super-successful, Alien. You heard it right! The events of this movie continue from where Prometheus concluded. So, Ridley Scott has not completely abandoned his earlier work. But, why? It appears that Ridley Scott is looking to redeem himself by making another attempt at answering questions that Prometheus left hanging. So, did he succeed? Let’s find out.
Alien: Covenant begins with a team of highly qualified pilots, scientists, and engineers waking up from hypersleep. They are transporting colonies in space to a distant planet. They have a pre-decided destination and a route to follow. However, soon enough, they stumble upon another planet. Coincidentally, this planet appears to be a better planet for humans to live on. Since a qualified group of professionals are on board, they discuss this new-found option. They finally arrive at the decision to abandon the original plan and land on this new planet. Then begins the suspense! And man, is it good! Different members of the group become infected by the incumbent parasite. They become host to this alien parasite and the story takes a horrible turn.
Now, you have to remember here what Ridley Scott is trying to recreate. He is going back to the 1979 Alien. This is a film that gave us one of the scariest monsters in the movie history. The older movie kept the monster in the shadows. You could hardly ever see it. The audience’s imagination made the Xenomorph and the movie so much more frightening. In Covenant, you can see the creature in front of your eyes in all its glory, and not shrouded in any kind of mystery. This is not to say that the action scenes are not good to watch. They are a treat – they do create a lot of anxiety and anticipation. Moreover, you get to see how fast, ferocious, and dangerous the Alien really is.
You have to give Alien: Covenant for the amped up emotional quotient. The director has done it in many ways. It is scary to see all these people bursting up as the parasite tears out of them. The scenes are more gruesome than any of the earlier movies. What makes these scenes even more heart-wrenching is the fact that the story humanizes all the crew members. You are told their stories. So you know and care about them. Ergo, when they die, you are more affected by their death than you would be of a random guy on the spaceship. Then, there is the crew which is almost entirely composed of couples. It is difficult to fathom such a crew in real life. But, on screen, this dynamic plays out pretty well. Why? With every death of a crew member, their respective partners feel a lot more pain than they would feel with the death of an acquaintance. It makes the movie more impactful and make the death of each of the crew members more heart-wrenching. Such cold-blooded killings also make you fear the Alien more. This is something that the original Alien movie did very well. When you saw the first movie all those years ago, you connected with the characters and felt bad when they died. Prometheus, not so much. But, by adding this little detail, Ridley Scott has made his audience care more about these crew members on the damned ship.
The beginning and even the climax of the movie (which we are not giving out) is similar to that of the seventies movie. However, the movie is a sequel to Prometheus as well. So, it has to have that philosophical tone to it, which comes in the second act. But, don’t fret. Ridley Scott has exercised a greater sense of restraint in this part of the movie than he did with Prometheus. There is no excessive symbolism to take away from the movie. It has its philosophical moments, but there are none of the long silences for the audiences to endure through. Ridley Scott has chosen a simpler path this time. He has learned his lesson from Prometheus and has stuck to what his fans like best. He has made sure that this time around, it is more about the horror and not the mythology. Prometheus was not scary at all. On the other hand, Alien: Covenant will have monsters running towards you with all their might. It is an adventure, which will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Apart from the high octane chases and action scenes, the story line of the new movie is much more in line with what the audience wants to see. So, it is a better story. Alien: Covenant comes with some pretty satisfying answers to questions that Prometheus did not explore. First of all, Alien: Covenant has successfully showcased how these monsters were created. It is not only visually striking to watch it, but it also falls within the parameters set up by Prometheus and Alien.
Alien: Covenant also features Michael Fassbender. It was his character that made Prometheus watchable, and here too, he has delivered flawlessly. He is calm and composed, even amidst all the chaos surrounding him. His character connects the movie to Prometheus in a good way.
Lastly, it is the nostalgia factor that plays really well for Alien: Covenant. While watching Prometheus, the audience wanted to relive the old Alien movie. But, they were starved of it. But, Ridley Scott does not make the same mistake with Alien: Covenant. In this movie, you will see how the small aliens infect humans, make them the host, and kill them to finally take their form. You get to see how this mighty species breeds and comes back to kill the humans. All of this will take you back to the original movie. Most of the successful franchises are producing more installments to cash in on the nostalgia effect, and Alien: Covenant has been able to successfully deliver the same.
Alien: Covenant is sandwiched between two of Ridley Scott’s very dear projects, and it fares very well. It projects all the philosophical and intriguing ideas of Prometheus without being boring, and also scares people with the horror that the original Alien was able to instill. It has managed to capture all the good parts of both the movies. The actors have performed well too. Needless to say, Alien: Covenant is a believable, interesting, and a worthy origin story to the legendary 1979’s Alien. This was the exact balance that Ridley Scott had aimed to strike with Prometheus. He might have failed in 2012, but he has more than made up for it with his 2017 Alien origin story.