Last year’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them left some questions unanswered — namely, where to find the fantastic beasts. The film never made good on the explicit promise of its title, its best guess at where the fantastic beasts might be located landing somewhere around “all over the place.” As such, a sequel was all but necessary, in the hopes that it can finally clarify the movements and settling patterns of fantastic beasts. (That, and the first movie made over $800 million.) And as principal photography got rolling in England this morning, new plot details and casting notices have been made public, though none brings us any closer to a workable knowledge of fantastic beasts, and/or where to find them.
Much like the Coen Brothers, Steven Soderbergh has two distinct sides. There’s the ‘serious artist’ side, the one responsible for movies Contagion, Solaris, and Traffic, and the side that makes delightfully light-hearted genre movies. As much as I may enjoy Serious Soderbergh, I always have the most fun with the Soderbergh who made Ocean’s 11 and Out of Sight. And thankfully for those of us tired of grimdark summer blockbusters, that’s the Soderbergh on full display in the first trailer for Logan Lucky.
The title of Alien: Covenant directly refers to the spaceship carrying the film’s human characters, and indirectly refers to the film’s most pervasive theme: The tense relationship between gods and their creations. Students of the Old Testament learn about God’s covenant with Abraham, which promised the prophet the land of Israel in exchange for, among other things, his male descendants’ foreskin. Some gods work in mysterious ways; the ones in Alien: Covenant certainly do.
It wouldn’t be a Ridley Scott movie without a well-timed, ominous viral campaign. Much like the series of short videos starring the crew of The Martian on their space station, Alien: Covenant has come out with two transmissions from the people on that particular doomed ship, intercut with some creepy found footage of their expedition onto a new planet. We all know that no matter how good the intentions of the Covenant crew are, it’s all going to go terribly, terribly wrong, thanks to our Xenomorph friend.
In space… no one can hear your crackly John Denver records. The timeless country standard “Take Me Home, Country Road” provides an eerie soundtrack for the latest peek at Ridley Scott’s long-time-coming Alien prequel Covenant. Over some rather breathtaking shots of a hostile, foreign world (no offense, New Zealand), we hear the familiar ode to the beauty of the American South, contrasting the harsh new climate with mental pictures of the gentle, rolling hills of West Virginia. Things get progressively creepier as the Xenomorph descends on our motley crew of intergalactic colonists, scaling their spacecraft and trying to get at the humans inside like they’re the filling of a delicious meaty empanada.
Xenomorphs aren’t the most welcoming neighbors. They’re not going to leave a basket of freshly baked cookies on your porch or invite you to the weekend barbecue; they’re going to skip right ahead to eating you for the barbecue. Too bad the crew of the Covenant thought otherwise when they landed on a new alien-infested planet in Ridley Scott’s latest.
“My mantra has always been to scare the living s— out of you.” Those were Ridley Scott’s final words before he unleashed three scenes from Alien: Covenant to a packed theater at SXSW last night. Scott was joined by stars Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender and Danny McBride at a special screening of his original Alien, preceded by a sneak peek at footage from Covenant. You’re warned of potential spoilers from here on out, but it’s doubtful that Scott, who seems very confident about his “quite clever” prequel, would allow us to see footage that gave away too much.
With every new studio release, Ridley Scott likes to remind us all of his background in advertising. The director behind the canonized “Nineteen Eighty-Four” Macintosh commercial tends to mount an inventive promotional campaign for each of his motion picture efforts — both Prometheus and The Martian showed off their elaborate, space-ready production design through early faux-featurettes, and Scott has pulled the same move today. This morning saw the release of a “prologue” video titled “The Last Supper” in relation to the upcoming sequel Alien: Covenant, and while it gives viewers a chance to familiarize themselves with the crew of a major interstellar colonization effort, it’s also a chilling bait-and-switch unto itself.
We haven’t seen much from Alien: Covenant since the red band trailer dropped late last year and a few photos here and there. But today brings a brand new photo of the colony ship’s crew (and a guest cameo), which finds everyone smiley and free of danger.