Complete A-Z list

Alien: Covenant


Stars: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Amy Seimetz, Benjamin Rigby, James Franco

Director: Ridley Scott

Scott, having created his memorable movie laxative when the monster burst out of John Hurt’s chest in Alien, returns to the franchise he created in a gore-sodden sequel to Prometheus with a slick, suspenseful monster mash so fashioned as to make Alien seem positively anemic by comparison.

John Logan and Dante Harper’s shockfilm screenplay (based on a story by Jack Palglen and Michael Green and set 10 years after what happened in Prometheus, shrewdly revisits the aliens-versus-humans trope that satisfyingly propels the series and has proved a successful sci fi storyline for ages. Remember It! The Terror From Beyond Space more than half a century ago?

Here, a decade after what happened in Prometheus, the eponymous spaceship is boldly going to the far side of the galaxy to find a planet suitable for human colonization. The crew, 2,000 aspirant colonists and 1,140 embryos are unconscious in deep hyper-sleep while synthetic Fassbender (who chooses the name David in an opening sequence while discussing himself with his ‘father’ – also Fassbender) paces the spacecraft…

“We suffered a monumental tragedy” states the newly-awoken new captain (Crudup) after a space storm strikes the Covenant, killing 47 colonists, 16 second generation embryos and the [previous captain.

Fortunately the survivors find a new planet whose mountains, seas and huge trees appear to provide the new Eden they are seeking.


Beauty soon turns beastly.

When a member of the landing crew goes for a leak (which, strangely, he doesn’t appear to have, settling for a cigarette instead) a small black fog enters his ear and, before long, a vile alien bursts from his back (a change from the original beast-from-the chest creation) and paradise turns out to be pure hell again…

And, doubling the unease, while they try to escape, the survivors meet David’s double (also Fassbender) on the planet, which becomes increasingly scary by the moment - which you might expect since one of its chilling vistas all-too-credibly creates a brave new world littered with burned corpses.

While one survivor states, "We did not leave earth to be safe" their increasingly terrifying position is better summed up with “We should never have come here” as Scott sadistically stretches nerves to breaking point…

Oscar-worthy special effects add all-too-convincing credibility to the alien landscapes and genuinely scary leaping, blood-swilling space creatures, while cultists will enjoy Scott’s gaudy Technicolor riff (or could that be homage?) on the celebrated shower scene from Psycho.

And, to Scott’s credit, he largely succeeds in making his characters credible in the face of the dazzling movie magic decorating a classy shocker that, despite its sci fi trimmings, is fundamentally a horror-monster show and a bloody good one at that.

Alan Frank

USA/Australia/New Zealand/UK 2017. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Technicolor.
122 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 10 May 2017