Ridley Scott has always had a prequel plan that will take several movies in order to bring events round to the 'true' beginnings of the Alien franchise with Ripley et al. Prometheus was just the start of the story. Sadly given the reaction to Prometheus, its fair to say he's up against it in seeing his vision play out. People do not seem to care for philospohical big budget sci-fi that ponders our origins and who or where we were created. So to the second of Ridley's prequels Alien: Covenant and further explorations not only of our origins but those of these creatures that have become such treasured icons of science fiction cinema.
AS with the previous film we find ourselves in the company of a crew on a mission to colonise a new world with a large cargo of embryos and frozen citizens to inhabit the new world. A mixed bag of characters make up the crew, largely forgettable in the majority due to the fact that this ship and its inhabitants are little more than the xenomorph equivalent of a meals on wheels service.
On encountering a distress signal (when will people in space learn to ignore these?) our crew land on a planet which initially appears to be a form of paradise but quickly descends into a hellacious landscape once the inevitable carnage begins.
Katherine Waterston is the new focus of this film as Daniels, who has leadership forced upon her following the grizzly dispatch/devouring of fellow crew members. This of course puts her under the intense scrutiny of Ripley comparisons which are unwarranted and frankly lazy. Sigourney Weaver's shadow looms large over the franchise as a whole but the character of Ripley should not as she is not part of this story. Her time will come and we shouldn't compare although it is difficult to avoid.
I enjoyed Daniels as a a character and her resilience and determination were admirable in the face of oncoming monsters. She is not Ripley. She is meeker in character and has leadership forced upon her. Her journey is one of growth and not instantaneous heroism. While Daniels is the focus the show is stolen by Michael Fassbender in the dual role of androids David (who has survived the Prometheus journey) and Walter the new and improved cybernetic sidekick accompanying the Covenant voyage. Walter is drawn to protect Daniels and seems to feel love towards her although sadly this is never fully explored or built upon sufficiently.
The character of David is fascinating. An android who doesn't desire to be human (likes many in science fiction) he instead but desires to be God. He has become obsessed with these creatures and the substance that creates them. He has spent years 'perfecting' their form and he wishes to see these beasts grow and evolve to their terrifying potential.
Alien: Covenant is by no means a perfect film. Much like its predecessor it is flawed in places, the dialogue is corny at points and the frustration of inexplicable decision making by our plucky crew is verging on ludicrous. That said, I'm content with the story so far. I enjoy the meandering philosophical nature of these films and I'm not frustrated by the many unanswered questions. For now I'm happy with the story so far and look forward to Ridley Scott taking us on the next step of the story.