Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.
Courtney Howard // Film Critic
There’s no other franchise quite like the ALIEN franchise. ALIEN: COVENANT marks the sixth film (Ridley Scott’s third directorial gig) and it’s clear the filmmakers are upping the levels of horror, fright and wonder for their fans.
At the film’s recent footage presentation held on the 20th Century Fox lot, Waterston, who plays astronaut Daniels, along with Scott, who called his leading lady “a tremendous talent” in the all-too brief taped message, had a few things to share about the next chapter in the hugely popular series.
Ridley Scott is still loving world-building in the ALIEN universe. He said, “My passion for the ALIEN series has never diminished.”
MU-TH-UR 6000 is in it – or a version of “Mother.” In the first clip we were shown, we follow the crew of the colony ship, the Covenant, to what they believe is a paradise-like new world. MU-TH-UR 6000, or “Mother” as the Nostromo’s mainframe system is more commonly known, is heard helping coordinate “Lander-1’s” launch sequence to the mysterious planet. Now, it’s very possible it’s not the exact same “Mother,” but hearing her name called out made the butterflies in my soul flutter.
Danny McBride gets to be Danny McBride. During the initial bumpy descent onto the mysterious planet, whilst piloting the lander, he calls Callie Hernandez “sugar tits.” In interest of equality, she lobs back at him, “sugar dick.” Make of this what you will.
The medical bay sequence doubles down on the gore. Throughout the franchise, there’s been some very memorable, very creepy, very bloody moments of people being killed by the xenomorphs and the Last Engineer. This is what you get for being a pioneering crew member on these exploration missions. In the second clip, Carmen Ejogo’s character drags a sick male crew member suffering from seizures to Lander-1’s sick bay. That’s where the magic happens. It’s there that Amy Seimetz’s pilot character is forced to make a choice – quarantine Ejogo in the bay with the infected patient, or let her out, potentially infecting the rest of the crew. Bloody, bloody mayhem ensues – one that traps the rest of the crew – including Waterston, Fassbender and Crudup – on the dangerous planet.
The creatures are called “neomorphs.” They sound and move similar to those in the series – if not faster. Clicking, screaming and hissing aside, they also mature as fast as they attack their victims, which is to say, quickly. And instead of the stomach-bursters, we get something more spine-tingling – back-bursters – as shown in the new trailer. Waterston said, “We saw everything ahead of shooting. We did our first read through in a room that was surrounded by disturbing images of the aliens and what they can do to a person. Then we got to work with a lot of puppets which was so useful – you don’t have to use your imagination.”
Waterston’s distinct haircut. On the rumors that Waterston’s playing “the new Ripley,” she slyly stated, “I actually think it’s probably pretty accurate. There’s a broad at the center of the film fighting aliens – a tall one again. I see that parallel, for sure. But in terms of the narrative I don’t know that there’s an obvious link there.” Oddly enough, her FANTASTIC BEASTS’ co-star Ezra Miller inspired the hair-do. “I had a bob for FANTASTIC BEASTS when I got this job. I was already drawn to Ezra Miller’s haircut in that film. It’s sort of miniature bowl cut. He knew it was right for his part but he didn’t like having it look like that on the weekends. I thought he looked like Ian Curtis. I took a bunch of pictures and convinced Ridley to let me do it for the film.” She also added, “[He] put me on tape for this film. I feel like I should give him half my paycheck – a tip.”
Ridley’s first pitch to Waterston was casual. She said that in their initial meeting, Scott was mostly impressed by her work on INHERENT VICE. “He said, ‘I like to shoot two takes and get on with the day and come in on time and under budget and take the cast out to dinner at night. Does that sound good to you?’ I said, ‘Yeah that sounds real nice.’ He says, ‘Ah. I don’t want to get in your way. You’ll read the script and know what to do.’ That’s really what it was like. He left us all in our own corners to work out what we wanted to do and we’d show it to him. If it was terrible he’d say and then we’d go to dinner. Making something this dark and twisted was really lovely to do it with someone who’s so enthusiastic about what he does.”
ALIEN: COVENANT opens on May 19, 2017.