"Alien: Covenant" is directed by Ridley Scott and it's a sequel to "Prometheus", the 2012 sci-fi film that was meant to act as a prequel to Scott's "Alien". Now we have the story being continued in which a group of colonists are on a mission to inhabit a certain planet, but upon changing their destination and landing on a different planet, they soon discover that they've basically landed on Hell as the crew is picked off and discoveries are made.
I just recently reviewed "Prometheus" and my thoughts on that movie have changed over time. From initially finding the movie to be just OK, I've grown to like the movie just a tad more with repeat viewings and I appreciate some of the ambiguity behind it. It still has its problems, but with the story now being continued in this movie, it's time to see just where this prequel series is going and how it's going to connect itself with "Alien".
The thing about this movie is that it's actually a mix of elements from previous movies in this franchise. In other words, it has its moments where it feels like a horror movie, obviously paying homage to Scott's 1979 classic. As for the horror elements, this movie is surprisingly effective. There are some cliches such as the disposable character who says something like "I'm gonna take a piss" out in the middle of the woods and you just know that something is going to happen to him. But the movie does undeniably have some disturbing and even intense imagery. These moments lend themselves very well to Scott going back to the roots of this iconic sci-fi franchise.
As for the cast, I think all of the actors did a good job with the given material. Katherine Waterston and Billy Crudup are arguably the two main characters and they both do good in making their characters likable enough. The actor who really surprised me, though, was Danny McBride. I went into this movie expecting him to play his usual stoner self from previous comedic roles of his and while his character does provide some comedic relief, he's actually playing a pretty entertaining character who I genuinely liked. Not all of the characters get their big moment to shine, it being a decent-sized crew, but I did like most of the characters and I think all of the performances were reliable.
Once again, the best performance in the movie ends up being Michael Fassbender. He reprises his role as David the android from "Prometheus", but he's also playing another android named Walter. There's a very interesting duality to these two characters that I'll talk about more in my spoiler review for this movie, but I'll just say for now that there's a major contrast between David and Walter, one that's one of the movie's highlights not just for the story, but also for showing just how versatile of an actor Fassbender is.
In terms of continuing the story of "Prometheus", that was a part of the movie that I have mixed feelings on. On the one hand, this movie goes into more detail about what happens after "Prometheus" in terms of what David and Elizabeth Shaw go through on their mission. You get a better look at how it will gradually develop into "Alien" as well as getting a better understanding of David's motivations in "Prometheus". These were the parts of the story that I really liked seeing, but not everything works as well.
One thing about this movie that disappointed me was that it seems to abandon certain elements that were introduced in "Prometheus". The point of that movie seemed to be not only being a prequel to "Alien", but also telling a unique story regarding the origins of life. There were a lot of unanswered questions in that movie and unfortunately, "Alien: Covenant" doesn't even make an attempt to answer them. That's not to say that this doesn't develop the story of "Prometheus" in some ways, it's just that I wanted more closure on certain plot points in that movie and it's a shame that this movie doesn't seem to keen on delivering that.
While we're still on flaws, I have to bring up that like with "Prometheus", this movie has some pretty dumb characters who seem to make stupid decisions solely to propel the plot. I actually think that the scientists in "Prometheus" are still dumber than the characters in this movie purely because of their lackadaisical attitude towards certain things, but there were some moments in this movie that had me thinking that even I could do a better job of surviving on this planet than any of these alleged "scientists".
On one final note, I will say that anyone who was disappointed in "Prometheus" for not delivering as an "Alien" film in some way, this movie makes up for that, more specifically in the third act. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that a Xenomorph is in this movie, so there you go. A Xenomorph does appear in this film and it's certainly a way for Scott to give the fans what they wanted after being let down by "Prometheus" and its apparent lack of relevance to the franchise as a whole.
In the end, I enjoyed "Alien: Covenant" more than "Prometheus" and I think it's a good installment in this franchise. If you didn't like "Prometheus", then I honestly think there's a better chance that you'll like this movie as it draws much closer to resembling an actual "Alien" film. This movie still has some storytelling issues, but it also serves as a welcome return to form for the franchise. Both "Alien" and "Aliens" are superior movies obviously, but "Alien: Covenant" is the third best entry in the series and I recommend it for fans of these films.