A subtle dissection of the Alien: Covenant Red Band trailer

Contributed by
Mar 4, 2017

For those of us twisted souls who revel in the Red Band experience, 20th Century Fox has delivered a new R-rated trailer for Alien: Covenant that's running before Logan that's sure to shock you into submission.

Essentially this is the same Green Band trailer that was released earlier this week with a measure of more gratuitous violence, trickling blood, a dash of profanity and one truly messed-up shot of an Engineer-like skinless humanoid.

It begins with the same romantic set-up of starry-eyed colonists anticipating the promise of a brave new world ... then plummets through the sentimental mists and into the inferno of albino neomorph monsters and general unhinged madness.

For the uninitiated or memory-impaired, here's the official synopsis one more time:

Headed toward a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, the crew members of the colony ship Covenant discover what they believe to be an uncharted paradise, but it is actually a dark, menacing world in which the only inhabitant is the synthetic David (Michael Fassbender), a survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.

Watch the trailer below and let's dissect this cinematic appetizer.

I'm beginning to feel like the Fox marketing campaign for Alien: Covenant is trying too hard to convince us that this Prometheus sequel is heading back to the unsettling rawness and claustrophobic primal fear elicited in Ridley Scott's 1979 masterpiece and that he's determined to silence complaints lobbed at his 2012 Alien prequel.

But it was the internal logic of the screenplay that derailed Prometheus, not the special effects, casting or tone. It was pure stupidity writ large upon the silver screen that reduced it to a mediocre offering. John Spaihts' Alien: Engineers screenplay, the basis for Prometheus, was a far better story before the destructive meddling of script doctor Damon Lindelof (Lost, Tomorrowland).

Returning to Alien's more distilled formula that has stood the test of time is a wise decision and should pay off in dividends by the end of Alien: Covenant's theatrical run. The acclaimed director turns 80 this year, and I believe we're seeing a pissed-off Englishman poised to scare the stuffing out of 21st-century audiences seemingly unaffected by most modern horror fare.

In comparing the two trailers, they are nearly identical except for one prominent F-bomb, a bit more blood and one disturbing image of a slimy, skinless human-like creature with steel studs sticking out of its back that looks a lot like Uncle Frank in Clive Barker's Hellraiser. Here again are the lethal egg pods, uncoiling facehuggers, Shaw and David's parked Juggernaut, a nasty spine-burster, smatterings of charred human-alien hybrids and a vintage xenomorph smacking its head against a windshield at the end.

Why the inclusion of a single swear word and a bloody abomination would warrant a Red Band label is understood, but we could have used a few more nightmarish revelations .

Here's another reason to be excited for this next Alien installment: Alien: Covenant's Director of Photography is the great Dariusz Wolski, the expert lensman on Scott's The Martian and Prometheus and Alex Proyas' The Crow and Dark City (one of my all-time favorite sci-fi films -- it gives me "Sleep Now" shivers every time).

Wolski is a visionary cinematographer and his tight, visceral camera work and glinting green-grey shadows will leech every ounce of cold sweat from your pores as you watch Covenant unfold. His style is similar to the late Derek Vanlint, who was the DP on Scott's original Alien.

Are you sold on Alien: Covenant, or are you in a holding pattern until more creature carnage is tossed out for your titillation?

Directed by Sir Ridley Scott with a screenplay by Jack Paglen (Transcendence) and Michael Green (Green Lantern), Alien: Covenant lands on May 19.