Ridley Scott’s “Alien: Covenant – Prologue: The Crossing” (2017)

Since completing 2012’s PROMETHEUS, the pseudo-prequel to 1979’s ALIEN, director Sir Ridley Scott had found himself increasingly enamored with the revitalized mythology he had brought to the once-massively influential science fiction franchise.  The stars aligned once more in 2016, when the THE MARTIAN’s runaway success — combined with the coalescing of long-gestating concepts for a PROMETHEUS sequel — gave Twentieth Century Fox the confidence to greenlight another foray into this beautiful, deadly universe.  That project would ultimately take the shape of 2017’s ALIEN: COVENANT, but the narrative structure that resulted just so happened to preclude the involvement of PROMETHEUS’ heroine, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace).  As production got underway, Scott realized he needed a satisfying bridge to close the immense story gap between the two films; he also realized this need provided a natural marketing opportunity, as a short prologue could serve as yet another avenue to advertise his forthcoming ALIEN sequel.

Thus, “PROLOGUE: THE CROSSING” was born, conceived and executed by Scott as a brief vignette that sheds a little light on the circumstances that lead to Shaw’s fate (ultimately revealed in the larger feature).  Taking place entirely within the cold, dark chambers of the Engineer spaceship from PROMETHEUS, “PROLOGUE: THE CROSSING” finds Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender reprising their respective roles as Shaw and the mutilated android, David.  While Shaw puts David’s body back together, they muse about the untold discoveries that await them at their destination— the Engineers’ home world.  What Shaw cannot know, however, is that David has an entirely different plan to execute upon their arrival: one that involves a mass genocide in the name of scientific “discovery”.

Scott’s technical execution retains the particular style he fashioned for both PROMETHEUS and ALIEN: COVENANT, committing his cold, blue-hued images to a digital 2.39:1 frame.  He uses smoke and other signature atmospheric effects to imbue his bare-bones set with dimension and scale.  Running just three minutes, “PROLOGUE: THE CROSSING” just barely has enough time for Scott to play around with the material; as such, the execution is mostly perfunctory, possessing little of the directorial flair he brings to his feature work.  That said, the reappearance of Rapace’s Shaw — as well as the haunting reprisal of the majestic theme from Marc Streitenfeld’s PROMETHEUS score — makes for a welcome and effective bit of organic marketing.  By doggedly refusing to answer the evocative questions it prompts, the piece suffers from the same core problem that dog both PROMETHEUS and ALIEN: COVENANT— but then again, when said answers involve horrific, ungodly creatures, maybe it’s better if we stayed in the dark after all.

ALIEN: COVENANT- PROLOGUE: THE CROSSING is currently available on YouTube via the embed above.