Covenant is the sixth film in the Alien series and the third to be directed by Ridley Scott. So enter the cinema knowing what we’re in for.
We start with the colony ship Covenant deviating from its assigned course to answer a distress beacon. The ship sends down a party of hapless explorers who split up and start searching the proverbial basement (in this case a cave complex) to a planet with really bad wet and windy weather and a suspicious lack of native fauna.
There are no prizes for guessing what is about to happen next. The surprise is in what variety of Alien horror will be served up this time.
Covenant delivers double the Michael Fassbender. Although he is playing two android characters – Prometheus’ David and Covenant android Walter – the interplay between them provides the core of the story, plunging us into unsettling philosophical territory about the perfectibility of nature. In contrast, the human characters seem to be there in order to be dispatched in various cinematically gruesome ways.
There’s also some further backstory on the origins of the xenomorphs and the Engineer race that created them. The early Alien films were mysterious and delicately crafted, and there’s part of me that thinks they worked best that way. On the other hand, Covenant engaged me sufficiently to leave me wanting to know what the next instalment will bring.
Covenant is a solid, well-paced film which does what it says on the tin. It’s not bad at all but at the same time, it is not one of the stand-out films of the series.