Ridley Scott's "Alien," released in 1979, was as much a horror story as a piece of science-fiction. For "Alien: Covenant," the second chapter in the precursor films tying into his masterpiece, the filmmaker is attempting to return to that cringing and grotesque tone after "Prometheus" left some fans and critics wanting.
The "Alien: Covenant" trailer, first screened for press during a Fox Showcase event in New York City, now hits the Web to tease even more commonalities. Katherine Waterston -- a star of another franchise prequel, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" -- is being dubbed the new Ellen Ripley, as her character, Daniels, marks another tough-as-nails woman in a white tank top facing a horde of alien monstrosities.
It's clear from the footage that, like Sigourney Weaver's character, Daniels is having some second thoughts about the Covenant's mission. Might she, too, share an unease around artificial intelligence with Michael Fassbender's Walter lurking around?
"People are talking a lot these days about the progress we're making, or, you know, storytelling, with great roles for women," the actress said during the press event. "But, I mean, I don't know, maybe Ridley's not getting enough credit. He's been doing it for a very long time."
Watch the trailer below.The basic plot of "Alien: Covenant" is of the titular colony ship bound for a planet in a remote part of the galaxy. The crew land on what they believe to be an uncharted paradise and find that the only visible inhabitant is, whaddya know, David, Fassbender's character from "Prometheus." Because it's an "Alien" movie, things go terribly, terribly wrong as they learn he's not exactly the only creature on the planet.
Press were shown even more glimpses of "Covenant" in the form of clips and a sizzle reel. Here's what we learned.
The Covenant Is a Ship of Scientists and CouplesThe crew of the Covenant aren't as militaristic as in previous films, which makes their reactions to the aliens more realistic and relatable -- they aren't trained in the art of war, so they're more frantic and impulsive when faced with something like a creature cutting its way out of their friend.
"They're colonists. They're scientists," Waterston explained after Fox screened a clip. "Obviously Amy [Seimetz's character] is a pilot. They're not military experts or anything, so they are all civilians."
She added, "There are some military dudes around to protect us, but most of the -- I don't know if I'm supposed to say this, but I'm gonna say it anyway -- most of the people on the ship are couples, and then there are all of these colonists who are in a cryosleep."
"You always wonder, what kind of person you would be in an extreme crisis," she continued. "Will you be a coward, or will you be courageous? And I think [Daniels is] just one of those people, who, if her kids were in a car that was on fire, she'd be able to lift up the car."
Meet the NeomorphSince production on the film began, Fox has been teasing fans with images from the set, including some new creature designs. One such addition is the neomorph. Much of the footage screened at the showcase, including from "War for the Planet of the Apes" and "Logan" (which we'll be able to tell you about shortly), were early renderings with unfinished special effects. But in the clip shown, the neomorph was a white, miniaturized xenomorph scampering around on all fours with blade-like spikes lining its back.
It's Even Bloodier Than You ThinkThe film will likely get a hard R rating by the time Scott is finished with post-production, and that assumption is based on a single, extended clip of what we presume is the first time the crew sees a neomorph in the flesh. After a few members scouted the dark and mountainous planet, two of them become infected with these buggers -- and instead of bursting out of their victims' chests, they prefer alternate means of hatching.
Seimetz's character locks two members of the crew in the medical bay, fearing the one writhing in pain has contracted an alien virus that could spread to the others. She's then forced to watch as the neomorph cuts open the back of its victim with its spikes, spilling onto the floor with a heap of entrails. The carnivorous pigmy then charges and ferociously eviscerates the other crew member.
Outside, as Daniels's group is about to reach the ship, one of their men vomits up a stream of blood carrying his neomorph, which then scampers off into the thick grass. Waterston hadn't seen any footage from "Covenant" before the press event, so her initial reaction upon seeing the clip was one of nausea: "Oh, God. I feel like I'm gonna throw up."
Danny McBride and Amy Seimetz Are Surprise HitsThe cast also includes Demián Bichir, Billy Crudup, Jussie Smollett, Carmen Ejogo (Waterston's "Fantastic Beasts" co-star), and Callie Hernandez. But Seimetz and Danny McBride were two of the surprise stand-outs in the clips screened for press.
McBride, as expected, offers comedic relief, while Seimetz delivers a truly terrifying performance as she flees in the horror pursuing her. She's the only one left on the ship that's landed to survey the planet. The others have gone off to survey their surroundings, the patients she locked in the medical bay are dead, and the neomorph is breaking through the glass to get to her.
She desperately searches for a gun, but the creature is too fast for her to hit. Amid the frenzy, she accidentally fires into what's presumed to be the ship's fuel tank, since it instantly explodes, destroying the craft and leaving everyone else stranded on the planet.
"Alien: Covenant" opens in theaters May 19, 2017.