Everything old is new again in “Alien: Covenant,” a deep space terror thriller that is blessed to have “Aliens” director Ridley Scott at the helm. Scott has a certain visual je ne sais quoi that is pitch-perfect when it comes to directing high brow (yet also kick ass) R-rated science fiction stories.
In this prequel to “Alien” and sequel to “Prometheus,” a crew of astronauts (led by Katherine Waterston, Demián Bichir, and Billy Crudup) onboard the colony ship Covenant discover a planet similar to Earth and decide to pop in and check it out. Of course this doesn’t go well for the crew, and things go from bad to worse once they cross paths with Prometheus survivor android David (Michael Fassbender).
The first half of the movie rates a solid 4.5 stars, with an interesting set up of the story line and characters (and several surprisingly effective performances from Crudup and Danny McBride). Of course the characters make frequent very, very poor decisions (why do these people always insist on going off into dark spaces alone when there’s a hideous killer monster on the loose?), but here’s yet another film that’s unafraid of killing off its characters in an extra-terrestrial bloodbath. You know they’re gonna die but you don’t when or how. It’s too bad that the film eventually veers off into slightly goofball territory with the de rigueur “gotchas” thrown at the audience. Still, there are plenty of admirable special effects, exciting action sequences, and nail-biting suspense along the way.
Scott drops in a few references to creation and faith, but the alien-induced splatter rules the day. The film doesn’t rely on lazy jump scares and is stuffed with dazzling visuals. It’s a lively mix of 80s horror gore and intelligent science fiction, delivering slick genre thrills in a satisfying (if not totally original) way.
Overall, this is what a big summer blockbuster should be: action packed and utterly entertaining. Forget the haters. This is a fun movie.