Like a lot of people, I went to see Alien: Covenant at the weekend. Since this is my blog, I'll tell you what I thought of it. (spoilers)
The film suffers from some of the same problems as its predecessor, Prometheus. Inconsistencies about the origin and reproduction of the alien species, the behaviour and motivation of the characters - the sort of thing that leaves a viewer like me saying "Hang on a minute....".
But where Prometheus got lost in the weeds of its plot contortions, Ridley Scott steers Alien: Covenant back on to the track of the more familiar "aliens on the ship" model. This is overall a much tauter film.
This time, the
poor bastards who will be picked off one by one main characters are the crew of a colony ship, the Covenant, destined to settle a new planet.
Needless to say, things do not go to plan. Woken early from their sleep-suspension when the ship is damaged, the crew (and their synthetic, Walter - played by Michael Fassbender), have to assess their options.
While the theme of Prometheus was obviously that of creation, this film focuses on reproduction. Reproduction, meaning breeding, but also doubling. Could earth's double exist out there in space, a new place for humans to call home? Could we reproduce human society there? Can an android be a human's double: and could they really reproduce human feelings?
I mentioned Michael Fassbender - if you saw Prometheus, you'll know where this is going. Would androids of the same factory model have distinct personalities, or would they all be doubles too? Elizabeth Shaw and the disembodied android, David, were the only survivors at the end of Prometheus. The crew of the Covenant find him, 10 years later, repaired but alone. Like a robot Dr Moreau, he has continued to develop his own interest in reproduction, which we saw in Prometheus: with terrifying results.
Katherine Waterston plays the female lead, Daniels, and she is Ripley's double - a tough brunette, whose actions mirror those of the heroine in the original film. Throughout the quieter moments of the film there are visual echoes of Alien, reminding us that this film is a reproduction too.
In terms of the plot, there are still gaps unfilled. The crew have 2000 colonists with them (all in sleep-suspension), and hundreds of embryos. Why the embryos? To increase genetic diversity in the new settlement? Will the colonist women bear them, or have we developed a synthetic womb?
None of these questions are answered. The bigger question for me though was "Where are all the animals?". Unless there were horses and dogs in sleep chambers we didn't see, this would be the first time humans colonised anything without animals: for labour, meat, or companionship. Even Ripley had a cat. A world with only humans: no animals, birds, or fish - what a strange dystopia that would be.
But if there is one thing I have learned from the Aliens series: space is full of monsters, death, and the emptiness of eternity. I don't want to go.