The thrill is gone.
Ridley Scott's Alien is among my all-time favorite films, a taut, splendidly acted thriller that to this day scares my pants off. James Cameron's Aliens, while more amusing than downright terrifying, marks a plenty worthy sequel, paced like a rollicking roller coaster ride and sporting one of Sigourney Weaver's finest performances.
Since then, I'm afraid, it's been all downhill.
Alien: Covenant, Scott's third contribution to the series (following Prometheus in 2012), delivers none of the thrills or chills you'd expect. Unbelievably, it's a picture so slapdash and hackneyed, you'll be tempted to look back and admire David Fincher for at least having an intriguing vision for the cinematic catastrophe that is Alien 3. Single-handedly on the strength of one performance, Covenant does not quite sink to the same bottom of the barrel as the Fincher film but boy, it's still rough stuff.
This sixth entry in the franchise finds the crew of the colony ship Covenant, en route to a remote planet, diverted to what appears to be an undiscovered paradise. Among the explorers are terraforming expert Daniels (Katherine Waterston), first mate Oram (Billy Crudup) and synthetic android Walter (Michael Fassbender). Complications arise when two crew members fall gravely ill and then there's the introduction of synthetic David (Fassbender again), the sole survivor of the Prometheus mission, who now resides on this mysterious planet. Before long, of course, those pesky extraterrestrial creatures say hello, ready to lay eggs inside their prey and make mincemeat out of those who stand in the way.
When the monsters aren't gracing the screen, Covenant is, for the most part, a real snooze. The humor of Aliens is sorely missing and none of the characters here are nearly as expertly drawn as in the first entry. Problem is, the proceedings aren't all that exciting even when the aliens are doing what they do best, as the action here much more recalls that of Alien 3 than the first two entries. As was the case in the Fincher flick, these CGI creatures aren't the least bit convincing.
Keeping the picture from being a complete bust is Fassbender, marvelous in duel roles. While the rest of the ensemble struggles to make anything of their cookie-cutter roles, he at least seems to be having a blast and frankly, his David is a far more riveting foe than than any of the gnarly beasts who roam this picture.
Fassbender's impressive turn aside, however, Alien: Covenent is among Scott's worst pictures to date.