Director Ridley Scott deserves a lot of credit for launching the franchise with 1979's Alien, a slow-burn sci-fi horror film that builds up the tension one step at a time, saving the big creature reveal for as long as possible. It's essentially Jaws in space. He deserves even more credit for casting Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, the first truly great female action hero -- though she didn't reach peak badass until put on the Power Loader and went toe-to-toe with the alien queen in James Cameron's Aliens.
So when he dove back in the franchise for 2012's Prometheus, fans went in with high expectations. However, many of them came away unsatisfied. Sure, the film had a great premise and stellar visual effects, but for all of the intriguing questions that it presented, it offered little to no answers. Plus, its all-star cast was wasted as many of them were played brilliant scientists, but their decision making was so moronic it would have the Colonial Marines from Aliens scratching their jarheads.
Now that members of the press have screened Alien: Covenant, the first wave of reviews have come pouring in. Check out our slideshow to see the good, the bad, and the in-between!
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Director Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created, with ALIEN: COVENANT, a new chapter in his groundbreaking ALIEN franchise. The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world — whose sole inhabitant is the "synthetic" David, survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape.
The cast features Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Amy Seimetz, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Nathaniel Dean, Alexander England, and Benjamin Rigby.
Alien: Covenant opens in theaters on May 19, 2017.
Edward Douglas from New York Daily News believes fans of the series will be thrilled with the action-and-alien-packed third act. "Further proving his mastery of creating tension and thrills, Scott has effectively created a satisfying hybrid of Alien, Prometheus and even James Cameron's Aliens," Douglas shared." Those looking for one of the better movies in the Alien franchise should appreciate what the latest movie brings to the mix. But it's not for the squeamish or faint of heart."
Dread Central's Staci Layne Wilson is elated with how believable and terryfing the monsters are. "While Prometheus was cold and airy, Alien: Covenant is cruel and scary – it’s a hard R, and the suspense levels are off the charts," Wilson wrote. "The monsters, while computer-generated, are believable and terrifying. In depicting its life-span from facehugger to chestburster to full-grown predator, the artists never once hit a false note. It’s a wet, gooey movie, too – slick saliva, bloody barrage, and skin singed by caustic acid are only a few of the agonies suffered by the hapless fodder."
Andy Lea of Daily Star praised: "It is scary, gruesome, stylish, suspenseful and clever. There are no long philosophical speeches but Scott finds a nifty way to link the plots of his movies." He added, "But stunning effects, suspense and two great Fassbender performances makes this a thoroughly satisfying addition to the franchise."
Mike Ryan from Uproxx was turned off by the bait-and-switch promotion, believing that the film would be more like Alien and less like Prometheus. "What’s frustrating is this could have been a pretty stellar Alien movie. Waterston, Crudup, Danny McBride (playing a character named Tennessee!), and Demián Bichir are all really great. And Fassbender is terrific as Walter. A new crew! Fun! But then David shows up and forces us to watch Prometheus again. David is such a killjoy."
William Bibbiani from Crave Online found the visual effects impressive and the cinematography beautiful, but was unimpressed with the paper-thin characters and disappointed Scott didn't take the film in new and exciting direction. "Alien Covenant is too competently produced to be boring," Bibbiani wrote. "Ridley Scott knows how to film an action sequence and he knows how to make monsters look creepy as hell. But all of that effort is in service of tiresome material. The monsters are scary but the characters are, mostly, two-dimensional constructs. You feel nothing when one of them dies, no matter how eery their severed head looks after the fact."
We Live Film's Fred Topel wasn't pleased with way the film tried to distance itself from its predecessor and was filled with characters are just as dumb as the scientists in Prometheus. "Alien: Covenant is full of bad decisions, both by the creative team and by the characters themselves," he penned. "There are good set pieces in Alien: Covenant, but the story connecting them is nonsense. Explaining how the xenomorphs were created is a mistake itself. Now it’s not some unstoppable force of nature. It’s some convoluted exposition that can’t possibly be satisfying, even if it were better than this. A prequel doesn’t have to explain its successor. In fact, it shouldn’t. If the original worked, then that’s all the explanation that was ever necessary. Just be a new story set earlier in the timeline."
And The In-Between
David Poland from Movie City News thinks Fassbender delivers a great performance and really dug the first two acts, but soured on the film during a frustrating third act. "There is so much right about Alien Covenant that what is wrong at the end is an incredible frustration," Poland commented. "There are so few movies that do what the film does so well. And I want to be all about the parts I really enjoyed. But when it comes at the end of the movie, it’s the October 28 James Comey letter… even when it gets corrected, it’s too late to get the bad taste out of your mouth."
While Metro's Matt Prigge admits that it is a mixed-bag, he was delighted with how Scott ambitiously mixed together savage alien kills with his thoughts on God. "It’s easy to be cynical about Alien: Covenant, which really only exists because everything old must now become new again," remarked Prigge. "But there’s honor and sincerity to what Scott is doing. Reverse-engineering one of his greatest triumphs, the 1979 original, into a series of philosophical blockbusters is, frankly, pretty badass. You can picture him telling execs there will be blood, then smirking to himself, knowing he was also going to sneak in lots of stuff he read in old Carl Sagan books."
The Wrap's Alonso Duralde compares it to Friday the 13th, with the crew of the ship acting like the camp counselors of Crystal Lake. "Still, the meat-puppet-consumption is pretty spectacular, and on a gutbucket genre-film level, Alien Covenant delivers when it delivers," Duralde offered. "As with so many of its monster-movie peers, however, there’s just not much to it when the creature isn’t preening for its close-up."