- "The path to paradise begins in hell."
- ―Alien: Covenant tagline
Alien: Covenant is a 2017 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride and Demián Bichir. It is a sequel to the 2012 film Prometheus, taking place roughly ten years later, and follows the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy. Upon landing, the crew discover what they think is an uncharted paradise, inhabited solely by the android David, survivor of the ill-fated Prometheus expedition. However, the planet is soon revealed to be far more dangerous than they could ever have imagined.
The film explores the origins of the Xenomorph species as seen in the Alien franchise, and also features a new version of the creature dubbed the Neomorph. The film will be followed by two further movies, ultimately leading up to the events of the original Alien. Production of the film began in February 2016, and was released May 19, 2017. The film was originally titled Alien: Paradise Lost.
Shortly after his activation, David is interviewed by Sir Peter Weyland in a palatial lakeside apartment. David expresses his confusion at having to serve humans, despite being immortal and humans not.
Many years later, the colony spaceship USCSS Covenant is en route to the planet Origae-6, carrying over 2,000 colonists in hypersleep, and 1,140 human embryos. On December 5, 2104, still seven years four months from its destination, the vessel is struck by a neutrino blast from a nearby stellar ignition, causing major damage and starting several fires on board. In response to the crisis, the ship's crew of 15 are awoken from hyper-sleep, but Captain Branson is incinerated inside his cryotube when it fails to open. The surviving crew manages to bring the disaster under control, although 47 colonists and 16 embryos are lost alongside their captain. During one of the repair sessions, Daniels, Branson's wife, talks to Walter, an improved android model, about a cabin Branson desired to make on the new planet, which Walter keeps to memory.
The Covenant's first officer, the highly religious Chris Oram, assumes command of the mission. While undertaking a spacewalk to conduct exterior repairs, pilot Tennessee picks up a fragmented, distorted transmission via his suit's communications systems. When the message is analyzed on board, the crew are able to discern an unidentified human humming the John Denver song "Country Roads". When they trace the rogue transmission to its source, they find it originated from a nearby planet perfect for human habitation, better even than the predictions for Origae-6. Presented with a seemingly perfect home just a few weeks away and with none of the crew wanting to re-enter hypersleep after witnessing Branson's fate, Oram elects to investigate. Daniels officially protests but is overruled.
Upon reaching the uncharted world, Tennessee, Ricks and Upworth remain aboard the Covenant in orbit while the rest of the crew heads to the surface in a dropship to explore. They discover a verdant world ripe in vegetation but mysteriously devoid of animal life. As they explore, one of the security team, Ledward disturbs some small pods while he smokes, causing several airborne particles to enter his ear unnoticed. Further searching leads the ground team to a crashed Engineer Juggernaut, inside which they find a dog tag belonging to a "Dr. E. Shaw", as well as the source of the transmission they received. The expedition is cut short when Ledward becomes rapidly and violently ill. Karine rushes him back to the dropship, whereupon a Neomorph Bloodburster erupts from his back before attacking and killing Karine. In a desperate attempt to kill the creature, dropship pilot Faris accidentally shoots several flammable tanks aboard the ship, causing an explosion that kills her and destroys the craft; the Neomorph escapes. Outside, Hallett is killed birthing a second Neomorph that explodes from his throat, having also been infected by the pods.
The Neomorphs, having already grown exponentially larger, soon return to attack the crew on the ground; Ankor is killed and Walter loses a hand saving Daniels. The armed security team manage to kill one of the creatures, while the second is scared away by a mysterious hooded figure that fires a bright flare. Unable to contact the Covenant due to ionic interference and with the ship unable to breach the planet's powerful atmospheric storms, the crew follow the mysterious figure. He leads them to a nearby ruined city, strewn with the bodies of dead Engineers. Upon reaching a vast temple at its center, the figure reveals himself to be David, a survivor of the USCSS Prometheus incident. He explains that he and Shaw came to the planet ten years previously aboard the Juggernaut; however, the ship's cargo of weaponized black liquid accidentally deployed over the city when they arrived, annihilating its populace and contaminating the planet. The Juggernaut then crashed, killing Shaw and leaving David alone.
David and Walter spend time bonding in the temple. However, David soon becomes disappointed in his successor's lack of capacity for emotion and higher thought — aspects of his own design deemed dangerous and subsequently removed — and disables him. Meanwhile, the surviving Neomorph, now fully-grown, infiltrates the temple and mutilates Rosenthal. David discovers the creature feeding on her corpse and seems to communicate peacefully with it, but Oram bursts in and shoots the Neomorph dead, enraging David. When Oram threatens him, demanding to know the truth about his actions on the planet, David leads him to a laboratory, where he presents his efforts to genetically engineer a superior lifeform from the creatures spawned by the black liquid. He leads Oram onward into a chamber in the lower levels of the temple, where several Eggs of his creation reside. One of the Eggs promptly opens and Oram is subdued by the Facehugger that emerges.
David waits and watches as Oram is later killed by the Chestburster it lays within him. When the remaining security officers go to investigate, Sergeant Lopé is also attacked by a Facehugger, although he is saved when Cole cuts it off of him, badly burning Lopé's face with in the process. Cole is then killed by the fully grown Alien while Lopé flees. Elsewhere in the temple, Daniels confronts David, correctly guessing that Shaw did not perish in the crash. David confirms that he killed Shaw during his experiments before attacking Daniels. She is saved by Walter, who, as a more advanced synthetic than David, is able to self-repair. The two androids engage in a brutal duel as Daniels flees. She and Lopé manage to contact the Covenant and Tennessee launches a rescue in the ship's cargo transporter sled. Daniels, Lopé and Walter make it aboard the small ship, although they are pursued by the Alien. Daniels battles the creature aboard the flying craft, finally crushing it in the vessel's remote crane.
Upon returning to the Covenant, the survivors prepare to re-enter hypersleep. However, Daniels and Tennessee discover Lopé has been killed by a Chestburster. The Alien quickly slaughters Ricks and Upworth as they shower, but Daniels and Tennessee manage to corner the creature in the ship's terraforming equipment bay, finally succeeding in ejecting it into space. As they return to hypersleep, Daniels reminds Walter of the cabin Branson desired to make; the android's lack of understanding reveals to a horrified Daniels that it is actually David, having cut off his own hand to assume Walter's identity. She cries out in vain as David activates her hypersleep pod. Now alone aboard the vessel, David observes the hundreds of colonists in stasis, before regurgitating two small Facehugger embryos and placing them into storage next to the human embryos. As the Covenant travels onward, David sends a transmission in the guise of Walter reporting that all crew members but Tennessee and Daniels were killed in the neutrino blast incident.
- David .... Michael Fassbender
- Walter .... Michael Fassbender
- Daniels .... Katherine Waterston
- Oram .... Billy Crudup
- Tennessee .... Danny McBride
- Lopé .... Demián Bichir
- Karine .... Carmen Ejogo
- Ricks .... Jussie Smollett
- Upworth .... Callie Hernandez
- Faris .... Amy Seimetz
- Hallett .... Nathaniel Dean
- Ankor .... Alex England
- Ledward .... Ben Rigby
- Cole .... Uli Latukefu
- Rosenthal .... Tess Haubrich
- Voice of "Mother" .... Lorelei King
- Praetomorph .... Goran D. Kleut
- Neomorph ....
- Goran D. Kleut
- Andrew Crawford
During the March 17, 2012 WonderCon, Scott stated that Prometheus would leave many questions unanswered, and that these could be answered in a sequel, saying, "If we're lucky, there'll be a second part. It does leave you with some nice open questions." Asked if a sequel would be a direct prequel to Alien, Prometheus writer Damon Lindelof said, "If we're fortunate enough to do a sequel... it will tangentialize even further away from the original Alien."
In June 2012, Lindelof stated that while plot elements were deliberately left unresolved so that they could be answered in a sequel, he and Scott thoroughly discussed what should be resolved so that Prometheus could stand alone, as a sequel was not guaranteed. Further detailing his sequel concept, Scott stated that it would follow Shaw to her next destination, "because if it is paradise, paradise cannot be what you think it is. Paradise has a connotation of being extremely sinister and ominous". Lindelof cast doubt on his participation, stating, "If [Scott] wants me to be involved in something, that would be hard to say no to. At the same time, I do feel like [Prometheus] might benefit from a fresh voice or a fresh take or a fresh thought." Scott has stated that an additional film would be required to bridge the gap between the Prometheus sequel and the original Alien. In an interview with Empire Magazine, posted October 28, 2013, Scott confirmed that "Prometheus 2 is written", but did not indicate when it might start shooting.
During publicity for his 2015 film The Martian, Scott stated that the Prometheus sequel was going to be his next project, with production due to start in February 2016. He also confirmed that the film would follow on from Shaw's comments at the end of the first film regarding her desire to search for the Engineer home world. In an interview with HeyUGuys, Scott later stated that the film's title would be Alien: Paradise Lost, in reference to the John Milton poem Paradise Lost, which deals with the Fall of Man and the temptations of Adam and Eve. He went on to state that the title had been chosen "because we're heading back to why and how and when the beast was invented. We'll go back into the back door of the very first Alien that I did thirty years ago". This appeared to contradict earlier statements that the sequel would have even less of a connection with Alien than the first Prometheus movie. This change of direction was confirmed when Scott later acknowledged that the original Alien creature would feature in the new movie, as the title implied.
In November 2015, Scott announced that the film's title had been changed to Alien: Covenant and also stated that screenwriter John Logan had been brought onto the production to overhaul the script.
Concept and Design
On October 24, 2016, the production team revealed details regarding the new alien creature that would feature in the movie — dubbed the "Neomorph" by the production crew — through an exclusive released by AVPGalaxy.net. The creatures share several traits with the Xenomorphs from earlier films (most notably, they gestate inside living human hosts) but were otherwise designed to be quite different, with white, translucent skin. Later the same month, a batch of photographs were leaked showcasing new designs for several of the original Xenomorph's life cycle stages as they would appear in the film, but these were quickly taken down by 20th Century Fox.
During pre-production, Scott clarified that Michael Fassbender would return for the sequel, playing both David from Prometheus as well as a "doppelganger" named Walter. In December 2015, it was announced that American actress Katherine Waterston had been cast as Daniels, the film's lead character. Despite Scott initially claiming that Noomi Rapace would not be returning as Prometheus protagonist Elizabeth Shaw, it was later confirmed that she would in fact be appearing in the sequel. However, her roles was largely relegated to the film's pre-release marketing materials.
Throughout February 2016, a series of announcements saw the film's cast continue to grow, with actors Demián Bichir, Danny McBride, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Amy Seimetz, Callie Hernandez and Billy Crudup joining the production. In late October 2016, an exclusive report from AVPGalaxy revealed that Guy Pearce would also be returning from Prometheus in the role of Sir Peter Weyland, portraying a younger version of the character in flashback. Several weeks later, AVPGalaxy also revealed that actor James Franco had also been cast in the film, playing Branson, the captain of the Covenant and the husband of Waterston's lead character.
Harry Gregson-Williams was initially announced as the film's composer, having previously worked (uncredited) on Prometheus, but the musician later announced via his Facebook page that he was no longer working on the film.
In November 2015, it was confirmed that Covenant would film in Sydney, Australia, making it only the second film in the Alien series not to be filmed in the UK, after Alien Resurrection (although minor reshoots were later carried out at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden near Watford, England).
Principal photography began on April 4, 2016. Throughout the month, photographs shot by passers by revealed a set for the film, apparently a section of spacecraft, was under construction on location in Milford Sound in New Zealand. A large explosion was also photographed as part of the filming there. Photographs of a separate set constructed in a quarry near Sydney, Australia appeared to show the aftermath of an extraterrestrial massacre, with numerous charred corpses twisted in the throes of agony. Principal photography wrapped on July 19, 2016.
On November 18 it was announced that the film was undergoing reshoots, to be filmed at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden.
In the lead up to the movie's release, presenter Adam Savage, best known as part of the presenting team on the Discovery Channel show MythBusters, created a series of vlogs documenting aspects of the production as part of his YouTube channel Adam Savage's Tested.
In 2016, a viral campaign called "Meet Walter" started circulating as a link to a website a where the visitor could "Reserve" their own Walter synthetic companion, as featured in Alien: Covenant. This website is designed to look like a product overview, detailing Walter's features, accompanied by a video, depicting Weyland-Yutani manufacturing a Walter from start to finish. This viral campaign is very similar to the David 8 viral campaign for Prometheus.
The film was originally scheduled for an October 6, 2017 release date, but this was brought forward to August 4, 2017. The release date was later brought forward again to May 19, 2017. Prior to release, a 10-minute preview of the film was shown as part of special screenings of Alien and Prometheus on Alien Day 2017.
Home video releases
The film was released in both Blu-Ray and DVD formats on August 15, 2017, while a digital release containing deleted scenes and special features was released on August 1, 2017.
Two novels, both written by Alan Dean Foster, were published to coincide with the release of the film. The first, released in May, 2017, was a novelization of the film script, while the second was an official prequel novel set before the film's events. The books represent Foster's first involvement with the franchise for 25 years, having previously written the novelizations of Alien, Aliens and Alien3. The prequel novel was also the first original story Foster had penned for the franchise. Titan Books also published two behind the scenes books to coincide with the release of the film — Alien: Covenant: The Official Collector's Edition, a behind the scenes book on the making of the film, and The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant, containing production and conceptual artwork. Movie magazine Birth.Movies.Death. also produced a special Alien issue alongside the film.
Jed Kurzel's soundtrack was released in both CD and digital download formats. A tie-in VR experience titled Alien: Covenant in Utero was released in May 2017, and an official Alien Covenant merchandise box was also released in June 2017.
- Alien: Covenant was the first Alien film to be released after the death of H. R. Giger in 2014.
- Alien: Covenant is also the first film in which the titular character is specifically credited as the "Xenomorph" — all previous films have simply credited it as the Alien.
- The GoPro cameras mounted on the actors during scenes on the planet were actually used to capture footage during filming — some of this footage can be seen in the Crew Messages promotional short films.
- Covenant is also the first to discontinue the recurring theme of synthetic characters in the franchise having names that began with subsequent letters of the alphabet; Ash in Alien, Bishop in Aliens, Call in Alien Resurrection and David in Prometheus, A-B-C-D. The android Walter broke this tradition, his name instead being a reference to series producer Walter Hill (while David's name correspondingly served as a retroactive reference to the series' other long-time producer, David Giler).
- Alien: Covenant (novel) — The novelization of the film by Alan Dean Foster.
- Alien: Covenant - Origins — The official prequel novel by Alan Dean Foster.
- Alien: Covenant short films — A series of promotional short films related to Alien: Covenant.
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