Happy Alien Day! A Breakdown of the Cinematic Experience

By Jack Mansfield

Every year, the 26th of April is celebrated as Alien Day in homage to LV-426 from Aliens (1986), the sequel to the original Alien (1979). To celebrate this year, with Alien: Covenant just around the corner, myself and a theatre packed full of fans were treated to a jam-packed programme. This included Prometheus (2012) and Alien, new footage bridging Prometheus and the upcoming Covenant, and, possibly most exciting, fourteen minutes of footage from Covenant itself. Here I’ll do my best to describe what us lucky fans saw of Covenant and its new prologue.

After the films aired, we were shown the new prologue to Covenant (which is now on YouTube, watch here), which picked up from where Prometheus left off, showing Dr Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and David (Michael Fassbender) as they search for the Engineers’ homeworld. We see Shaw fix David after being decapitated in Prometheus‘ third act, and then return to stasis for the rest of the journey. The prologue ends with David quoting Percy Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’, declaring, “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair”, as he looks down at the Engineer homeworld, presumably before dropping the alien canisters on them. There was a lot in this prologue to take in, but the two main things to take away were the strengthening relationship between Shaw and David and David poised to drop aliens on the engineers. It also poses the question: if Shaw is in stasis, and we know David is with her before Covenant, where is she now?

As soon as the prologue ended with David looking down menacingly, we were instantly treated to fourteen minutes of brand new footage from Alien: Covenant. The footage showed us –

(…wait, now’s the time to click away if you don’t want to see or read anything about Covenant, because I’m going to break it down in a few lines’ time)

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(…okay? Here we go!)

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I was expecting to see just the first fourteen minutes of Covenant, but we were in fact given two separate clips. The first clip lasted four minutes and showed the crew of the colony ship Covenant as they arrive at a seemingly paradisiacal new planet, but this clip showed us little of the crew themselves; instead, we saw spectacular landscapes as the ship slowly descended through the cloud barrier. This scene also shows brief quips and general banter between the cremates, and this felt somewhat similar to that we saw in Prometheus, before it was dashed harrowingly (and I’m sure Covenant will follow a similar route.)

The second clip, however, made me wish that I had taken Deadpool’s advice and worn the brown pants. Where the first clip showed the calm before the proverbial storm, this second, ten-minute-long clip threw us head first into said storm. In a scene somewhat reminiscent of Kane’s death in the original Alien, a crew member infected by the alien parasite is rushed on board to the medical bay, only to begin shaking violently before spikes pierce through his back. Suddenly, his back bursts fully open to reveal the baby neomorph as he slumps lifeless over the medical bed. The whole atmosphere of this scene is bloody terrifying (no pun intended) and definitely more intense than anything in Prometheus, and close in shock factor to that provided by John Hurt et al nearly forty years ago. Although the CG for the baby neomorph was not fantastic, it didn’t take away from the sheer terror I felt throughout this scene.

In other words, I’m both ready and in no way prepared for Covenant, and I’m sure that come the 11th of May (yes, I get to see it a day early, lucky me) I will walk out of the cinema afterwards in utter shock, if the footage was anything to go by!

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