Muddled between the planned Prometheus sequel's constantly shifting name (Alien: Paradise Lost became Alien: Covenant) and Neill Blomkamp's own Alien sequel; it's hard to keep any enthusiasm for the franchise's future. What exactly is going to happen here?
Well, Ridley Scott wants to straighten things out and get you back on board. Speaking backstage at the Golden Globes, the director spoke of his intentions to make the Covenant film aim for "a pretty hard R". Not a wildly outlandish statement considering ever single movie in the franchise has been an R, outside of (the barely qualifying as a valid sequel) Alien vs Predator film unleashing itself with a PG-13 rating.
What's really intriguing here is Scott's claim that he'll top the infamous chestburster scene of 1979's Alien. "I always remember walking down the edge in Saint Louis when we were previewing [Alien]," Scott reminisced. "I couldn’t sit through the film one more time. I walked down the edge into the kitchen scene when John Hurt started to bring up his breakfast. That moment, I realized how pretty scary the film was… I felt a sense of responsibility that I had gone too far because it was extreme. I’m going to try and do that again this year, but much worse."
At which point he appeared to unleash a small, mischievous smile at the thought. Though familiarity has perhaps dulled the effect; the actual moment in question, witnessing the extra-terrestrial beast explode from Kane (Hurt)'s chest cavity before scuttling off into the recesses of the ship, is iconic precisely because of its unwincing brutality. And, considering Prometheus' self-practised abortion scene was a horrifyingly tense, graphic moment in itself; it'll be fascinating to see what exactly Scott's hiding up his sleeve.
Alien: Covenant supposedly serves as a fairly direct prequel to Alien; as opposed to Prometheus' slightly meandering, contextual colouring of the franchise's world. Covenant refers to the name of a colony ship bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy; upon which its crew, thinking they've discovered an uncharted paradise, actually stumble across dangerous territory. And a sole inhabitant, the "synthetic" David (Michael Fassbender), survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition. Oh, yeah, David's back.
Fassbender will also be joined by a returning Noomi Rapace (as Elizabeth Shaw) and new cast member Katherine Waterston (as Daniels).
Scott's latest film, The Martian, landed a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture, Comedy of Musical. It's also a fairly strong contender at the Academy Awards, which take place 28 February.
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