Susan Granger’s review of “Alien: Covenant” (20th Century-Fox: Scott Free Production)
Back in 1979, Ridley Scott helmed the shocking sci-fi thriller “Alien,” starring Sigourney Weaver, and containing one of the most terrifying moments I’ve ever seen on the screen, heralded by the memorable slogan: “In space, no one can hear you scream.”
In 2012, he made the mythology-heavy prequel “Prometheus,” introducing Michael Fassbender as the enigmatic British “synthetic” – a.k.a. android – David, created by Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce).
Fast-forward 10 years later to 2104, as a massive spaceship called Covenant – transporting 2,000 human passengers and 1,140 embryos – is headed on a couples’ colonization mission to terraform a planet that’s still seven years away.
An American android update named Walter (Fassbender) is at the controls when a violent stellar flare jolts the crew of 15 out of their cryo-sleep pods. The Captain (James Franco) is immediately killed, leaving Daniels (Katherine Waterston), his widow, to cope with this catastrophe and survive on her own, instead of settling down in a cabin on a lake.
Out of necessity, the religious First Mate, Christopher Oram (Billy Crudup), assumes command, immediately making a grievous mistake by diverting the Covenant to Origae-6, where the Prometheus disappeared, when he hears a distress signal containing a plaintive John Denver song.
On this vast, verdant but seemingly uninhabited planet, they encounter ruthless David, who lures them into a cavern that turns out to be trap, filled with those vicious, ravenous creatures called Xenomorphs, designed by Swiss artist H.R. Giger, that burrow into human bodies as spores and then burst forth in quasi-humanoid form with an eyeless helmet-head and a mouth dripping with slime.
Working from a script by John Logan, Dante Harper, Jack Paglen & Michael Green, Ridley Scott, who will be 80 later this year, adroitly frames existential speculation about the creation of human life and projections for its survival. But, aside from the hyper-intelligent androids, the human characters lack both delineation and development.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Alien: Covenant” is a splattering 6, another slithery creature-feature.