Ridley Scott’s “Alien: Covenant” is said to be a prequel of the well-known “Alien” franchise but also a sequel to “Prometheus” (2013), which had shown the panspermia of man and then set up the series of space journeys that could set mankind in mortal danger. The story for this movie is by Jack Paglan and Michael Green. Titan books sells a “novelization” of the movie.
I was still living in Manhattan at the end of 1978 when I saw the movie posters for the upcoming first “Alien” movie. There was a picture of an egg and a laser flare beaming down on bodies, and I thought some wording like “a warning”. I wondered then if the movie was about some kind of mass abduction (given my contacts then with Dan Fry and “Understanding”). Indeed, a movie about what happens to those who are “raptured” (an inverse of “The Leftovers”) could be an interesting premise. That would not be the case. I remember standing in line at the Medallion Theater in Dallas Memorial Day 1979 to buy a ticket, and seeing a young man who had been severely burned in line. That’s one of the few time I remember seeing that. And I remember the visual captivation of the first movie: the cave with the devices combining man with machine, the egg cases, and then, back on the ship, the exploding bodies, and later the hidden robot. Ripley, Sjjuourney Weaver, believer. For the third film, they gave out clippers for private parts.
The new film starts with a shot of an eye, and then we’re on some mountain spa on another planet, as David (Michael Fassbender) learns he is an immortal android artifice created by his dad, who has learned how to connect consciousness to AI. Then we’re on a colonization ship, the Covenant, with 2000 colonists and some embryos looking for a specific Earth 2 at the other side of the galaxy. The ship (where Fassbender plays another droid, Walter) passes through a “neutrino flare” and gets damaged. When the ship is getting fixed, it gets a bizarre transmission indicating another earth-like paradise planet is much closer. The crew takes the bait, not suspecting it is a honeypot.
The surface is a damp, fjord country of southern New Zealand (“Aotearoa”). When the crew makes its initial exploration, it quickly notices the silence, no birds or animals. Soon the astronauts are getting infected by dust that can enter an ear lobe, and the bodies start to explode. Some of the crew is led to the ruins of a former city, ruled by David.
It seems that ten years before, the survivors of “Prometheus” had been there, and David, after arriving with them, had thrown a hissy fit and destroyed the entire civilization, after breeding a virus that destroyed all other animal life except this one shape-shifting monster mutant. (Did that virus come from the Prometheus planet?)
The flashback makes the ancient city look quite interesting. There were two organic sabres or “ships” that commanded an open circle in the center of the City. The rest of it looked like a typical place in the Middle East, despite the damp climate.
Davis, as a character, presents a dilemma. If you’re immortal you don’t need to have children. But wouldn’t you care about the future if you knew you would be around forever, like a god?
There’s an interesting sequence where David learns to play a flute, to articulate the soaring music theme that had played in “Prometheus” (by Mark Stretenfeld). David also has a fixation with Wagner, the “Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla” and the movie (before credits) ends with the close of “Das Rheingold”. The closing credits feature a Wagnerian symphonic poem by Jed Kurzel.
|Director, writer:||Ridley Scott|
|When and how viewed:||Regal Ballston Quarter, 2017/5/22, large auditorium, evening, small audience|
|Companies:||20th Century Fox, TSG, ScottFree|
(Posted: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 3:30 PM EDT)