The movies in the Alien franchise have been all over the map in terms of style and quality. The 1979 original, which is generally considered one of the best sci-fi movies of all time, is a tense thriller and put director Ridley Scott and star Sigourney Weaver on the map. The 1986 sequel, Aliens, is full on action and regarded as one of the few sequels to improve on the original. Alien 3 in 1992 was similar in tone to the first film, but isn’t exactly well loved (though I am one of the few who truly enjoyed it). Finally, Alien: Resurrection, the fourth film in the franchise, was honestly just a mess and more or less killed the series (I’m just going to pretend the idiotic Alien vs Predator movies don’t exist).
After a 15 year hiatus, Ridley Scott returned to the franchise he helped create and decided to bring the series back to the beginning with Prometheus. Technically a prequel to the previous movies, Prometheus focused on when the Aliens were actually created. While the film attempted to answer any questions the first films failed to, instead it created even more questions (and the fact that the actual Aliens never made an appearance) and left many viewers frustrated and bored. Now the series is course correcting once again and we have Alien: Covenant.
Ten years after the events of Prometheus, a ship carrying 1000 cryogenically frozen couples is headed to a distant paradise on a new planet. When an emergency hits the ship en route, the crew is awakened. While trying to fix the damage, they hear a distress signal and decide to investigate. Upon going to investigate, things immediately go from bad to worse as the only living beings on the planet happen to be the xenomorphs.
So for those of you who thought the previous film was severely lacking in alien action, you should be happy with this picture. From the moment the crew lands on the planet, the carnage kicks in. Unfortunately, everything that is not an alien attack is no better than in the previous film. There are so many deathly slow periods between the action scenes that I actually found myself dozing off once or twice. None of the performances really stand out aside from Fassender, and that’s only because he has the luxury of playing two distinctly different roles in the film. On the bright side, some alien action actually takes place in the outdoors instead of in a more claustrophobic setting.
I do appreciate what Scott is trying to do and correcting the wrongs made by the last three films, I just wish he didn’t need to drag the story out over four movies (yes, there are two more coming). At least Covenant is a slight improvement over Prometheus, but only marginally so. At this point I wish the recently cancelled Alien 5 was going forward instead of the next film in this series.