Alien Day: Alien: Covenant Preview Footage - Reviewed

4/26 marks the annual celebration of the Xenomorph, a terrifying creation that has transcended celluloid to become a permanent fixture in virtually every part of the horror genre. To mark this year's occasion, Regal Cinemas screened the original Alien in their RPX theaters. As a bonus, the audience was given an advance preview of 15 minutes of footage from Ridley Scott's upcoming Alien: Covenant

The footage features three vignettes, each approximately five minutes long that string together several key sequences in order to present a slime drenched slice of what viewers can expect when Covenant hits theaters on May 19th. The first sequence serves as a prologue which explores the fates of Shaw and David from Covenant's predecessor, Prometheus. Narrated by Michael's Fassbender's coldly logical android, there are shadowed shots of the Engineer's technology and a stunning sequence of the travelers’ purloined space vessel docking on an alien planet. 

The segment ends with an ominous quote and a shocking display of genocidal intent. The second part focuses on the crew members of the colony ship Covenant as they approach their destination: a virgin planet in the far reaches of space. There's some comical banter between the characters and the composition of the scout ship, particularly the seating, evokes memories of a doomed colonial marines operation that will bring smiles to fans of the franchise. There are some genuinely gorgeous shots of space as the needle-like craft approaches orbit that transition into a turbulent descent, yet another welcomed homage to the original films, ending with breathtaking visuals of the planet’s atmosphere. 

The final sequence is, as expected, where the horror is finally revealed. Eschewing the claustrophobic terror of Alien and the intense action of Aliens, it becomes instantly clear that Scott has chosen to focus on unrelenting brutality in this film. In a matter of minutes, the level of violence for the entire franchise evaporates into an inventive cloud of gore, showcasing Covenant's inhumanely dark splendor with frenetic combat and primal desperation. The camera work becomes frantic, shakily following the characters down perilous corridors and across looming fields of vegetation, while the sound design heightens the unremitting sense of danger by overlaying simultaneous catastrophes with pulse pounding screams and deafening gunfire. 

The footage reveals that Scott's mission with this film is to take the core elements of Alien (horror) and Aliens (action) and turn them on their heads through the use of horrific, over the top death scenes, and larger than life set pieces that expand on the mythology of Prometheus while paying tribute to the originals. While Covenant’s critical value will remain a mystery for a precious handful of remaining weeks, the footage reveals that Alien: Covenant is an undeniably vicious undertaking that will deliver one of the year’s most harrowing cinematic experiences.

-Kyle Jonathan

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