“The first rule of space travel, kids, is always check out distress beacons. 9 out of 10 times, it’s a ship full of dead aliens and a bunch of free [email protected]! One of 10 times it’s a deadly trap but I’m ready to roll those dice”
Starting off with the advice of Rick Sanchez is probably the most appropriate way to jump into talking about Alien: Covenant, the sixth instalment in the Alien franchise (if you ignore the Alien vs Predator offshoots).
It’s important to realise that every character you have ever seen in an Aliens movie has never seen an Aliens movie. While this is Ridley Scott’s 3rd movie in the franchise you can bet if any of the characters had seen the first one they wouldn’t be so quick to look inside any weird alien eggs.
Alien: Covenant sits between Prometheus and Alien timeline wise with Michael Fassbender’s android from the first movie being the only character to span across from the first movie. For anyone who doesn’t know the Alien timeline it goes something like this (Spoilers ahead):
- Starting in Prometheus, bio-engineers from another planet create life on earth and leave clues to follow them to a far planet. The crew of the Prometheus (including Fassbender as the Android David) investigates, is mostly killed by a bio-weapon virus that eventually mutates into a precursor for the more commonly seen Alien from the franchise. The sole remaining crew member and Fassbender/David take the dead bio-engineers ship to follow them to their home planet.
- <Insert Alien: Covenant here>
- Decades later in Alien, a space freighter with Ellen Ripley/Sigourney Weaver respond to a distress call, get infected, most of the crew is killed until the Alien is blown out of an airlock by Ripley who then goes into cryosleep.
- Aliens has Ripley returns to the same planet that the crew of the Prometheus went to when a colony stops responding. Ripley goes with a bunch of marines who are mostly killed, escapes as the base and aliens are largely destroyed by a nuclear-like blast. Ripley is followed by the Alien queen who is blown out of an airlock by Ripley who then goes into cryosleep.
- Alien 3 has an infected Ripley in a space prison with no weapons while an Alien runs around killing everyone. It is eventually killed (by not being blown out of an airlock) and Ripley then dives into molten melt as she has an Alien Queen inside her (and doesn’t go into cryosleep)
- Alien Resurrection has Ripley return as an Human/Alien hybrid clone, there is also another Human/Alien hybrid which is eventually killed when it goes out of the airlock.
Does Alien: Covenant lead directly into Alien? Well, it could. It is left open enough that that does seem to be an option or another Alien movie could be fit right in there. But overall it works best thinking about it as a sequel to Prometheus instead of a prequel to other Alien films.
That said, the film has more in common with the last 4 even with it carrying the story over from the first film as it fills the gaps on how did we get from ‘Prometheus’ Alien to ‘Alien’ Aliens.
The crew of the Covenant are colonists heading to establish a settlement when they receive a distress signal. They go to investigate and hit upon the world that the David/Fassbender and the remaining member of the Prometheus headed to. There are plenty of jump scare moments but really you have to remember that people in Aliens movies have never seen Aliens movies.
There is a lot to like here if you are a fan of the franchise, and seeing it on a big screen is great for a lot of the moments but ultimately you don’t need to see this on a big screen for the experience. Overall if Alien franchise movies are your jam you will love this, but it does feel a little formulaic in parts with most of the jump scares feeling telegraphed and more than a few things in common with other instalments.
Without question, if you are a keen follower of the franchise then you do need to see it as it continues where Prometheus left off in establishing the lore and how we got to the lovable Xenomorphs that we know today.
If not, you can always take a page out of the Rick Sanchez playbook for dealing with facehuggers.