“You have to not think about how awesome it is or else you wouldn’t be able to function,” Katherine Waterson said at Austin’s SXSW Conference Friday night. She, along with director Ridley Scott, Michael Fassbender, and Danny McBride, were there to promote their upcoming film, Alien: Covenant. Before a special screening of the original Alien, the cast and its director debuted 13 very fresh minutes of Covenant, as well as a red band trailer and more goodies. From everything I saw at SXSW, I can say Alien: Covenant has the potential to be the best summer blockbuster this year.
Alien: Covenant is a sequel to 2012’s Prometheus, Scott’s initial return to the Alien franchise following a 33-year hiatus. Once distancing himself from the series, Scott has since unveiled a new embracing of all things Alien, announcing his plans at SXSW to create multiple sequels leading up to the original Alien.
“Alien vs. Predator really fucking nailed [the franchise] into the ground,” Scott said during a separate panel discussion at the Nat Geo Further Base Camp. “I thought about that for a while, and I said, ‘I can bring this back.’ And here’s the cause and effect: We resurrected it with Prometheus, which had two really good questions that the others weren’t asking: Who made [the aliens] and why? Prometheus set that up. [Covenant] answers ‘who and why.’ Then it leaves all kinds of questions for the next two, or three, or four. Covenant 2 is already being written as I speak right now.”
During the footage previewed, we see the Covenant ship’s crew preparing a descent to what they believe could be an uninhabited paradise. The crew is comprised of various couples, adding a hefty layer of emotional weight when all hell breaks loose later on. Why they assembled a ship of couples isn’t exactly clear, but if we were to speculate, it seems like they might be on a mission to discover a new livable planet.
Now, before seeing this preview, the movie already seemed well cast. Fassbender, Waterson, McBride, James Franco, Billy Crudup, Guy Pearce. But their banter and chemistry really shone through the screen, equal parts witty, touching, and believable. That’s why it’s all the more heartbreaking, when the Xenomorphs eventually show up and pandemonium ensues, some characters turn selfish or slightly betray others.
Watching the original Alien afterwards, it’s apparent how limited Scott was with showcasing the Xenomorphs and really displaying how terrifying and powerful they were. The Xenomorph hides in the tunnels, it hangs from the ceilings, it lurks and corners. We’re more scared for empathetic and aesthetic reasons, watching the psychological terror written on the characters’ faces and the incredibly creepy and claustrophobic lighting Scott utilizes. And we’ve seen the Xenomorphs properly before, but watching Scott take full advantage of the technology at hand in this late career run of his is really exciting. Because this movie, with all its monsters and penetrating mysteries, looks absolutely horrifying in the best way possible.
Some other highlights:
– Scott also showed a teaser commercial, released online as well, where we witness the assembly of an AI named Walter. Fassbender is the model once again, and it’s slightly disturbing how good he is at playing a robot. When asked if it was difficult to prepare for his role as David, the AI we also see in Prometheus, Fassbender interrupted the interviewer and said, “Easy.” After some laughter from the crowd, he added, “I’m half-German.”
– Danny McBride plays some of the most ridiculous, boisterous, loudmouth characters possible, which is why we love him. But this is a pretty serious dramatic role for McBride and he’s not used as a punchline from what we saw.
“This is the first movie I’ve done where my family thinks I’m in a real movie,” McBride said.
Alien: Covenant comes out May 19.
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