In space no one can hear you scream – but you can certainly read about it on the internet. In 2012 Ridley Scott released Prometheus, a prequel/reboot to the Alien franchise. Reception to Prometheus was mixed at best – with praise for its concepts and striking visuals stacked against almost unified criticism for the poor characters, heavy focus on visuals over substance and a general lack of the Alien Xenomorph’s that popularised in the first place. So of course there’s a healthy amount of scepticism when it comes to the films follow up – Alien Covenant.
Prometheus’s intentions can’t be questioned. It ambitiously set out to give context on mysteries left untouched in the Alien franchise up to that point. Mysteries such as the origins of the Space Jockey – a curious addition to the series canon. Prometheus also introduced a narrative focusing on high concept questions such as ‘What would happen if we had the chance to meet our creator’. Sadly between all this high posturing and musing – Scott forgot to make a film that wasn’t divisive.
On May 19th, Ridley Scott releases the follow up to this movie – Alien Covenant. The film is the start of a new trilogy in the Alien franchise with Prometheus as its narrative backbone and promises to answer questions that will bridge the gap between the 2012 reboot and the 1979 original. This is all well and good but is this something fans really need to see?
I’m a huge Alien apologist and as easy as it is to defend Alien and it’s sequel Aliens, it’s embarrassingly hard to defend Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection. The latter two movies are incredibly divisive, with the latter in particular pushing the edges of acceptability. The franchise has seen better days – with crossovers to the Predator franchise delivering diminished returns. On top of this, Prometheus was billed as a new genesis for the series – yet returning to the Aliens name feels more like Scott and the Studio playing safe to get audiences in the seats. With all this acting as backdrop to the upcoming movie – why would fans be interested?
2017 has seen the release of two trailers for the film. Both trailers start off with an air of mystery and ominous threat but both quickly resort to over exposure and typical horror movie tropes on top of every beat you’ve seen in the franchise before. Strong female lead? Check. Conspicuous android with unknown goals? Check. Mysterious company whose vague intentions with the Alien are only hinted at? Check. It’s all there for better or for worse.
For all my worries there are plenty of things to be excited about. The cast is unique, including Danny McBride and James Franco. Both names are synonymous with raunchy comedy and while there is a chance of bad slasher-movie parody, I see a chance to shake up expectations. Along with your expected Facehuggers, Chestbursters and Xenomorphs come Backbursters and a new Alien called the Neomorph. Slight changes to expectations that may result in more of the same, but could also be refreshing.
Prometheus, for all its criticism, at least tried something new and engaging. Turning tropes within the franchise on their heads and bringing new ideas to the series. My hope is that Alien Covenant isn’t simply an Alien movie beat by beat and instead challenges the audiences expectations and introduces new and engaging ideas.
With only a couple of months until release I am cautiously optimistic with the movie. I want new ideas on the forefront but I also want acid blood and Alien Queens. As boring as it may be to have an Alien attack from the shadows I will still geek out. My hope is that Covenant ties less with the original movies and instead introduces new ideas and please….Please! Have. Better. Editing.