PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — “In space no one can hear you scream.”
That was the tagline that got our attention in 1979, when director Ridley Scott scared us to death with Alien, one of the most gripping and terrifying movies ever made.
And now he’s done it again in the sixth installment in the Alien franchise, Alien: Covenant, which follows three sequels (Aliens, Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection) and one prequel (Prometheus) in the Alien franchise.
And if this post-Prometheus, pre-Alien thriller doesn’t have quite the elegance or isn’t quite the claustrophobic nightmare that was the classic that started it all, it’s still a vividly intense experience – and not for the faint-hearted.
A horror-science fiction thriller, Alien: Covenant is set a decade after Prometheus and two decades before Alien.
The Covenant is a colony spacecraft carrying two-thousand passengers – they and the crew are all couples — and a thousand embryos.
They’re in cryosleep and hoping that they’re traveling to a remote but hospitable planet on the far side of the galaxy, which they will wake up on and where they can then live their new lives.
But the planet they discover is instead a murderously dangerous place, patrolled by monstrous creatures that relentlessly attack humans as a matter of course.
Michael Fassbender returns as an android – actually, in a double role: enough said — and his colleagues on the crew include Billy Crudup, Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, Carmen Ejogo, and Demian Bichir.
Their investigation of this discovered planet quickly turns into a bloody, uphill battle for survival.
Four-time Oscar nominee Scott (The Martian, Gladiator, Thelma & Louise, Black Hawk Down, Blade Runner) works from an action-oriented script by John
Logan and Dante Harper based on a story by Jack Paglen and Michael Green that still manages to embed a light exploration of such themes as creation and playing God.
As for Scott, he conjures up striking visuals, seamless special effects, rich suspense, effective performances, and truly startling jump-scares with his usual deftness.
So does this sixth excursion essentially boil down to more of the same? Well, to a degree, yes. But Scott is a master craftsman and gifted artist who makes the same feel freshly observed.
So we’ll survive 3 stars out of 4. It’s still true that in space no one can hear you scream, but in the Alien: Covenant audience, they just might.