NOTE: The following post contains SPOILERS for Alien: Covenant
Ridley Scott's original Alien film debuted in 1979, following the members of a starship as they were hunted down by a terrifying creature called a Xenomorph until only Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and her cat Jones remained. The horror and science fiction of Alien combined to create a unique movie experience -- one that has since launched an entire film franchise. Though Alien inspired three sequels, Scott returned to the franchise for the prequel film, 2012's Prometheus, and is now gearing up to launch the next installment with Alien: Covenant.
The upcoming Alien film from 20th Century Fox takes place roughly a decade after Prometheus' expedition to the distant planet occupied by the Engineers; Covenant kicks off with a colony ship arriving at a mysterious planet, sending down a team of scientists and researchers to attempt to determine whether it's safe. Alien: Covenant stars Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Danny McBride (Sausage Party), James Franco (Why Him?), and Michael Fassbender (Assassin's Creed), among others.
During a recent film showcase held by Fox in New York City, the studio screened two sequences from Alien: Covenant, the first trailer, and a sizzle reel of Waterston's character Daniels for press. Now, for those unable to attend the studio's film showcase, we break down the unreleased scenes, which include minor spoilers from Alien: Covenant.
The Science Team
In Alien: Covenant, the colony ship is carrying a great number of people looking for a new home on a distant planet. During the first scene that screened, the ship - piloted by McBride's character along with a crew that includes Jussie Smollett (Empire) -- descends into the atmosphere of the planet. Though this particular part of the sequence may have been cut down (since additional shots were included in the trailer), the planet appears to be the same as the one in Prometheus, but there are no recognizable features like the dome discovered by the Prometheus team.
A smaller ship breaks off from the Covenant, landing on the planet while the massive colony ship stays in the upper atmosphere. This smaller ship includes Waterston's Daniels, Fassbender's new android character Walter, and a host of other scientists and researchers that are meant to test the planet's livability. They descend to the planet's surface in a particularly bumpy ride, though there is a great deal of bantering back and forth between the crews of the two ships - their jokes indicate there are a number of couples among the crew members.
This particular sequence doesn't include too many elements of horror - though there is some suspense given the rough descent. However, it does paint a clear picture that there are a number of relationships among the crew members, ranging from friendly to romantic. Additionally, Waterston's Daniels seems quite rattled by their descending trip to the surface, indicating that if she becomes a hero in the vein of Ripley - which seems extremely likely given the legacy of the Alien franchise delivering strong action heroines - it will be a transformation throughout the film.
Meet the Neomorphs
The second sequence was much longer, depicting what may be the first appearance of the Neomorph creature in Alien: Covenant. The scene follows two separate groups - one woman dragging an ill man back to the dropship where another woman remained, and the larger group of scientists that are elsewhere on the planet. The sick man is brought to the med bay of the dropship by the two women, with one calling up to the Covenant about the situation. The man gets much sicker extremely quickly, shaking violently, with lesions appearing on his back. Spikes then emerge from his back as he begins to shake more violently, until he is forced backward, his back breaking and a Neomorph emerging from the lesions.
One of the women has locked the other in the med bay, and the remaining woman attempts to fight off the Neomorph, but is overpowered and killed in a bloody altercation. The woman outside the med bay attempts to help, but slips in blood and falls. As she's trying to lock the Neomorph in the med bay, she closes the door on her foot, before finally getting the door to shut. She runs through the dropship to the cargo hold as the Neomorph breaks through the glass in the med bay door and pursues her. The woman grabs a gun from the small armory in the cargo hold and tries to shoot the Neomorph but winds up shooting tanks of explosive material. The dropship explodes.
Meanwhile, the other group is attempting to get back to the dropship to help, but they have another man who is sick in the same manner as the first. This man collapses, violently shakes, and a Neomorph emerges from his chest, darting off into the darkness of the planet. Leaving this group behind, one healthy man runs to get back to the dropship (it seems he was in a relationship with one of the women on the smaller ship), but he is unable to reach the ship before it explodes. Waterston's Daniels pushes him to the ground to avoid injury from the explosion and she watches as the woman that had been in the cargo bay is engulfed in flames.
More so than the first scene, this second sequence from Alien: Covenant epitomizes the horror that fans can expect from Scott's latest sci-fi/horror entry. The Neomorphs emerging from people's bodies, and their ensuing attacks on the crew members of the dropship, were especially grizzly and likely speak to comments that Covenant will be even scarier than Prometheus. Still, the scene doesn't offer much insight into the film overall since it was presented without context. Where the Neomorphs come from and what the crew will do without their drop ship remains to be seen.
The last bit of footage presented to press by the studio was a sizzle reel featuring Waterston's character, Daniels, in a number of brief action shots. She sports the same sleeveless top and massive gun as seen in photos recently released from Alien: Covenant, though most of the shots were too brief to get a good sense of how they fit into the overall film. Additionally, these scenes didn't include James Franco, who is reportedly playing Daniels' husband Branson, captain of the Covenant -- though the actor has since confirmed his involvement in the film.
Still, it's clear that Alien: Covenant will deliver another compelling and capable female hero in Waterston's Daniels. Furthermore, all the footage from Alien: Covenant promises another installment in the Alien franchise that stays true to the sci-fi and horror influences of the original, while continuing the tone and the story established in Prometheus. All in all, it appears to be a return to the franchise than fans of both the original and Prometheus will enjoy -- and they can get their first glimpse of what to expect in the trailer for Alien: Covenant.
- Alien: Covenant (2017) release date: May 19, 2017