Ridley Scott’s sequel to Prometheus is almost upon us. Run!
If you were cowering in a corner holding a tracking device for Alien: Covenant, you’d be screaming “it’s in the room!” right about now. As reviews creep in ahead of the general US release on May 19, the gloom is finally clearing on Ridley Scott’s long-awaited sequel to 2012’s Prometheus, and we have a few questions we’d like it to answer. Has the combination of Engineer and psychopathic space squid turned into the acid-blooded alien we know and fear? Has Noomi Rapace’s architect Elizabeth Shaw managed to find the Engineer’s home planet to find out what the hell they think they’re up to? And just how many gigantic donut spaceships were on LV-223 anyway?
Chances are we’ll be kept tantalisingly in the dark, but here’s everything we know about Prometheus 2 so far featuring, of course, a veritable sci-fi splatterfest of spoilers.
Where does Alien: Covenant fit into the Alien franchise?
The second in Scott’s series of prequels to his 1979 original Alien, in 2015 the director claimed that it would be the first of two Prometheus sequels which would bridge the gap into the first Alien timeline. He later expanded his plans to involve three new films before Alien – two more after Covenant – which would explain who had created the infamous xenomorphs. The second sequel is already written and goes into production in 2018, so don’t expect Alien: Covenant to give up all of the series’ secrets just yet.
What’s the plot of Alien: Covenant?
With the majority of the crew of Prometheus crushed, burnt, mouth-murdered by alien space snakes or going out in a blaze of heroic self-sacrifice to save mankind by the end of the first film, we were left with just Shaw and Michael Fassbender’s android David flying off to hunt down the home planet of humanity’s forebears the Engineers while a proto-alien hatches from the chest of the rampaging Engineer on the moon they’ve left behind.
Covenant is set ten years after Prometheus, as the crew of a colony ship of 2000 souls called Covenant, overseen by Fassbender as a newer model of the David android, head out to colonise an “uncharted paradise” planet called Origae-6, believed to be able to support human life. On the way, however, a starburst of energy wakes everyone up and kills the captain, and Billy Crudup’s new leader Oram decides to divert the mission to a closer, Earth-like planet showing signs of human occupation. Wandering around, they release plant-like pores which invade their various orifices – never a good idea, as the Prometheus crew found to their peril – and, coming across some alien eggs in another crashed donut spaceship, Crudup gets a faceful of facehugger. It turns out the original David is down there along with some equally nasty critters, and let’s just say he hasn’t opened a petting zoo.
Alien: Covenant cast of characters
Besides Fassbender playing both androids and Crudup as the religious first mate turned captain, Guy Pearce reprises his role as the manipulative trillionaire CEO of Weyland Corporation and Rapace returns as Shaw. James Franco makes a split-second cameo as the doomed captain of the Covenant, but much attention is focussed on Katherine Waterson’s terraforming expert Daniels, who’s being touted as this film’s Ripley. So when the going gets tough, she’ll get in her pants, presumably.
Are there proper aliens?
Yup. Despite Scott previously saying that “the beast is done, cooked”, the first poster for the film featured a classic xenomorph above the single word ‘RUN’ and the first trailer, released on Christmas Day 2016, promised an alien getting in on some rather raunchy shower sex (uninvited, obviously). A second trailer featured smaller white beasties but also a full-stretch alien trying to headbutt its way into some poor feller’s cockpit, and pictures have appeared online of a new, smaller form of xenomorph that looks like an extremely dangerous chicken.
Does Alien: Covenant answer all of the questions of Prometheus?
Of course not. There was an immense amount of online speculation about the link between Prometheus and the Alien story set up to 50 years later – is this primary form of xenomorph some sort of first-generation genetic mutation and the mother of all aliens? Is this dead Engineer the same fossilised Space Jockey that the Nostromo crew stumble across? Is the ship that Shaw and David escape on the same one found in Alien, full of eggs?
Well, as far as we can tell so far, that’s three no’s. With Prometheus writer Damon Lindelof ducking out of writing duties on Covenant – Jack Paglen (Transcendence) and Micheal Green (Green Lantern, Blade Runner 2049) have taken up the quill - Scott has stated that the new series of films wouldn’t return to the moon on which Prometheus is set, so chances are we won’t be seeing that particular xenomorph or any of its offspring again soon. The Space Jockey was found on a completely different planetoid called LV-426 and, on April 26, Alien: Covenant’s prologue scene was released online which shows that Shaw’s ship really does reach the home planet of the Engineers, only for David to drop a cargo of the deadly black goo onto them like some vengeful robot God.
It seems Alien: Covenant is out to delay, at all costs, the moment that humans and Engineers get together and sort it all out over a jug of woo woo, and will pose more questions than it answers. Scott has even suggested the prequel series may even delve into who created our creators. "If Engineers are the forerunners of us, and therefore were creators of life forms in places that were possible for biology to function, who created that?” he said to Deadline. “Where's the big boy? You think this was all an accident? I don't know. Even Stephen Hawking now says he's not sure. He no longer believes in the big bang."
Is it any good?
Reviews so far have been largely positive, with some praising the fact that Alien: Covenant is genuinely scary and shares the claustrophobic sci-fi horror feel of the original film, largely missing from Prometheus - a real seat-soiler, we’re told. Others have criticised the film for sticking to a well-trodden formula for Alien franchise films: “[It] plays like a greatest-hits compilation of the original films’ freakiest moments,” read the Guardian’s review.
When will Alien: Covenant be released on DVD and streaming sites?
Alien: Covenant is estimated to be released on DVD, Blu Ray and on Digital HD via Amazon Video and iTunes in August 2017.
Will there still be an Alien 5?
In 2015, it emerged that Neil Blomkamp, director of Chappie and District 9, was working on a sequel to the Alien franchise starring Sigourney Weaver. Fear not, Scott’s Prometheus movies aren’t going to derail Alien 5. "I'm producing it," Scott said. "The design is for it to go out next, after this. It's more associated with Ripley, it's a completely different angle, it's more of a sequel. I'm coming in from the back end." Weaver has also claimed that the film will ignore Alien3 and Alien: Resurrection, so it’s Ripley battling aliens again, rather than snuggling up to them like some slimy rom-com.
Alien Covenant: full plot spoiler
Just as you want to grab the crew of the Covenant and yell “don’t go to that planet, you’re stumbling into an Alien film, you fools!” we hereby grab you and scream “don’t read any more, there’s spoilers coming, massive ones!”
Okay, don’t mind having Alien Covenant entirely ruined for you? Sure? Then let us unlash spoiler spores galore into your brain. With the Covenant in orbit around the planet, Walter leads an expedition onto the planet, where they accidentally release black spores from the local plant life which infect two crew members. Both quickly come down with somewhat severe cases of monsterburstitis, unleashing two miniature xenomorphs on the team.
Luckily (?), David from Prometheus saves them – they’ve landed on the Engineers’ home planet where David has ended up. Taking them back to the (relative) safety of the Engineers’ ruined city, he tells them that he and Shaw made it to the planet, only to accidentally (yeah, right) unleash the black liquid bioweapon and kill them all. They’re not as safe as they seem though – as they try to contact the Covenant to be rescued, one of the xenomorphs finds its way into the compound and beheads a crew member before being killed by captain Oram just as David is trying to communicate with it. David reveals that he has been trying to breed the xenomorphs using the black liquid as a catalyst and tricks Oram into peeking into one of the xenomorph eggs he’s been keeping in his basement lab. Squelch! Scream! Burst! And a tiny alien as we know it is born, the result of David’s twisted experiments.
Don’t they grow up fast? Before the Covenant can get a rescue craft down to the surface the very next morning to pick up the survivors, the alien is full-sized and clinging on to the ship tight. With much fancy crane action the survivors manage to kill it and escape with ‘Walter’, who has destroyed ‘David’ in a fight to the death over David’s assertion that human beings are a sub-species and only worthy to be alien gestation pods. Back on the Covenant, though, it turns out another of the crew has been implanted with an alien which eats through most of the rest of the crew like a bitey dose of bird flu. The last two survivors, Tennessee and Daniels, manage to flush it out into space in homage to the original film and set the Covenant’s course back towards the planet they were originally going to colonise. Daniels and Tennessee re-enter stasis… realise at the very last minute that ‘Walter’ is actually David, who won the fight back on the Engineers’ planet. Alone on the Covenant, David regurgitates two facehugger embryos and places them in cold storage alongside the human ones. Looks like Origae-6 is going to be one massive xenomorph farm, then.