In Hollywood, Ridley Scott can hear you scream. After backlash against ambitious prequel Prometheus, the seasoned Alien director admitted that he knew how the fans were frustrated and “wanted to see more of the original [Aliens]”. And so in Alien: Covenant (review), he ramps up the monstrous terror and holds back on philosophising.
Still, not everyone is enamoured with his latest venture. For all that is flawed with Alien: Covenant, many complaints fall upon the same point of contention: the baffling flute scene. In it, David (Michael Fassbender) places a recorder/flute in his doppelgänger’s hands.
“Watch me, I’ll do the fingering,” he says to Walter, teaching him the art of music in an intimate test of his loyalties. But is there something more in this act of eroticism than pure evocation?
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Alien: Covenant (dir. Ridley Scott, 2017) – The crew of a colony ship decides to abandon route in favour of an uncharted planet, where they encounter a fatal parasitic threat.
Alien: Covenant strikes a neat balance between Alien’s horror entertainment and Prometheus’ conceptual ambitions.
Fifteen years after Alien: Resurrection ended the well-loved franchise, Ridley Scott took a bold chance. With Prometheus, he reinvented his familiar story with provocative revelations, complicating a slash-and-dice formula with layered, philosophical mythology.
This alienated some fans, who baulked at reduced body horror and potential answers to the unknown. Mysticism is after all, what had made Alien terrifying in the first place. Others find joy in dissecting theological implications, savouring consequent food for thought.
For a fan who stands in the middle, Alien: Covenant feels like a satisfying compromise. Harmony is attained between the best of both worlds, as the original’s blood fest is dished up with the prequel’s intellectual fodder on the side. An elegant opening plays to the latter, reiterating the complex dynamics between man and machine.
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