Monday, December 26, 2016

The First 'Alien: Covenant' Trailer Is Brutal And Brutal

It was a merry Christmas, indeed. Not for the usual, warm, fuzzy, holiday nonsense that other people have been compelling me to endure for damn near 40 years against my will. No, on this day we set aside to celebrate fat dudes and the savior of humanity or whatever, I’m in a festive mood because we got our first look at Alien: Covenant, and holy shit balls. Like I said, merry Christmas, indeed.

After a comically long run of still photo releases, Ridley Scott and company finally dropped the Alien: Covenant trailer and it’s damn near perfect. The action is claustrophobic, vicious, and terrifying. We get glimpses of new worlds, new threats, and new creatures (are these the so-called Neomorphs?), as well as peeks at some old, fan-favorite nightmare fuel like the facehuggers and Xenomorphs. And if nothing else, this gave many of us an excuse to duck out of our holiday obligations for two minutes to watch this. (Okay, it was more like six or eight minutes; I watched it three or four times.)

Because this is a modern trailer, there is, of course, a maudlin cover of a classic song. This time out it’s a version of Nat King Cole’s Nature Boy, which actually works. It’s not necessarily a song everyone knows, and this take matches the dreamy, esoteric, sinister tone of the footage. And that bloody shower sex scene doesn’t hurt when it comes to setting a mood and creating an atmosphere of violence and terror where no one is ever safe, no matter what they’re doing.

A follow up to Prometheus, Alien: Covenant follows the crew of a colony ship called, surprise, surprise, the Covenant. En route to a planet on the far side of the galaxy, they encounter a world they think may be an uncharted paradise. As usually happens in these movies, that’s not the case—wouldn’t it be boring if the movie was just the crew hanging out and being stoked on their perfect new home for like two hours? Instead, what they find is a dark, dangerous place, inhabited by the remains of David (Michael Fassbender), the devious android from the last film, and some nastier residents.

Kathrine Waterston plays Daniels, the protagonist. Between movies like Inherent Vice, Steve Jobs, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, she’s played a wide array of roles lately and been fabulous across the board. But a badass sci-fi action hero is something completely different, and I can’t wait to see what she brings to this project.

We know these movies connect to the Ridley Scott’s Alien universe—he’s said they all lead into the events of his 1979 classic. And the title makes that even more apparent. While we know that, we don’t know the mechanics of how. Some theorize that Daniels is a relative—near or distant—of Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley, but who knows. There are, however, some obvious stepping stones in that direction.

In addition to Katherine Waterston, Alien: Covenant put together a great cast. Michael Fassbender reportedly plays two roles, David and a newer version of that droid named Walter—I’m guessing that’s who we see in this footage. Despite reports to the contrary, Noomi Rapace apparently reprises her role from Prometheus, though my guess is it’s a small cameo rather than a central part. Guy Pearce also shows up again as Peter Weyland in some capacity. New faces include Billy Crudup, Callie Hernandez, Carmen Ejogo, Demian Bichir, Jussie Smollett, Amy Seimetz, and BFFs Danny McBride and James Franco.

Prometheus has its share of vehement detractors, and not without justification. I like it quite a bit, it’s big and ambitious, but it’s a deeply, deeply flawed movie. Still, it looks incredible, the tone is spot on, and Ridley Scott maintains the ability to create almost unbearable tension. The problems lie in the script, so, fingers crossed that the writing is in better shape this time and that Alien: Covenant lives up to expectations.

Alien: Covenant bursts into theaters May 19, 2017.

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