Alien: Covenant evolves with unpredictable arc

Katherine Waterston in Alien: Covenant.
Katherine Waterston in Alien: Covenant.

LIKE the xenomorph it depicts, the Alien series is constantly evolving.

The creature starts out as a scurrying face hugger, then a chest-bursting killing machine and egg-laying Queen, and in turn the series has gone from thriller, action, apocalyptic and wacky clone saga to existentialism with 2012’s sort-of Alien prequel Prometheus.

Original director Ridley Scott has well and truly taken ownership in recent years of the always-changing franchise and ensured it continues with its unpredictable arc.

In Alien: Covenant, a crew transporting more than 2000 colonists to populate a distant planet veers off course to investigate a transmission coming from another, unknown planet.

Captain Christopher Oram (Billy Crudup) is keen to check it out, with data showing it could be a more habitable planet, while second-in-charge Daniels (Katherine Waterston) is deeply troubled by the risk being taken.

Regardless, they land on the uncharted planet that has a few surprises in store – breathable air, vegetation, wheat, Prometheus survivor David (Michael Fassbender) and an alien virus that wreaks havoc on the crew when disturbed.

In a bid to make amends to fans alienated by Prometheus’ barely-there link to the series, director/producer Scott has included a more familiar creature design and plot beats that are obvious nods to other series entries.

While the references to our favourite moments from the series are abundant, sometimes annoyingly so, there is much more at play here.

Scott and his writers have much grander ideas than simply the xenomorph’s changing appearance, expanding upon themes raised in Prometheus and the relationship between creator and its creation.

Some may think this series has completely lost the plot, with long stretches of dialogue between short bursts of alien-related gore, but the unpredictability is what makes it fascinating.THE ESSENTIALS

Alien: Covenant (MA)

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup

Four stars

Review by: Julian Wright

In cinemas now

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