ALIEN: COVENANT

Cert 15 122mins Stars 5

Scream as though no-one can hear you as the galaxy’s greatest space horror franchise is back to terrorise us once again.

Director Ridley Scott returns to the sci-fi thriller which made his name, and delivers an epic of spine-busting action, exotic locations and stunning design.

The Oscar winning director made the original Alien in 1979 when he was a young man in a hurry. As one of cinemas elder statesmen, in 2012 he belatedly  followed up with the grandly ambitious but less well received, Prometheus.

Now he splices the pair to create an explosive hybrid of blood-splatting thrills and apocalyptic destruction on a mythic scale. It’s all very familiar and at times daringly new.

There are chest-bursters, face-huggers, and acid blood. Orifices are penetrated and cavities evacuated, as we’d expect. But Scott plays on our knowledge of the franchise to skilfully toy with our expectations of the narrative.

We’re challenged to have some sympathy with the the ferocious flesh hungry parasitic alien, called a Xenomorph. A seduction is played with such subtle grace and integrity, it disguises how audacious and mind bendingly freaky it is. 

Set ten years after Prometheus, a small team of colonists are stranded on a planet and are unable to communicate with the orbiting mothership.

As the script wrestles with the big questions of existence, our heroes have to grapple for their lives.

Leading the fight for survival is Daniels, played by Katherine Waterston. The tall, dark-haired beauty is slyly styled by Scott to resemble the undisputed queen of the franchise, Sigourney Weaver.

Despite displaying Weaver’s kick-ass aptitude, Waterston is overawed by a majestic Michael Fassbender. He’s mesmeric in a dual role as synthetic androids, David and Walter.

Scott’s final theatrical flourish sends the franchise spinning out in a new direction. This is screamingly great cinema.

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