To call Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant “a new chapter in his groundbreaking Alien franchise” is a bit of a stretch. Actually, it’s a lot of a stretch, since this latest entry is basically a redo of Prometheus with most (but not all) of the head scratching removed. Actually, it’s even more a redo of the original Alien from 1979, which further confirms that there’s nothing remotely “new” about it. It’s just the same old same old: motley crew of space explorers responds to distress call, lands on hostile planet, unwittingly brings aboard alien life form, watches in shock and horror as it decimates just about everyone until the tough broad finally blows it out the airlock. I’m a big fan of the four-star original, less so its James Cameron-helmed, testosterone-laden, military-heavy sequel, so it was nice to be reminded of the former every step of the way here. And ‘Covenant’s got that deep-space style (and splatter!) we’ve come to expect from the veteran Scott. But the film’s human stars—Katherine Waterston in the Sigourney Weaver role, Michael Fassbender in the Ian Holm role, Billy Crudup in the Tom Skerritt role—can’t really hold a candle to the original cast… although this is probably the first film to feature Danny McBride (Your Highness, Land of the Lost, Observe and Report) that hasn’t had me running for the exits (he’s actually a pleasant surprise here). But he’s the only surprise. Even the alien itself has morphed from a drooling, skeletal, reptilian beast into a humanoid disappointment. In space, nobody can you hear you roll your eyes.
(c) 2017 David N. Butterworth