‘Alien: Covenant’ Reviews Split on Ridley Scott’s ‘Freaky’ but ‘Familiar’ Horror Tale

Critics applaud Scott for his gory, chilling direction, but note that “Covenant” doesn’t push the envelope the way the first two “Alien” films did

The first reviews for Ridley Scott’s return to his goriest brainchild, “Alien,” are in, and while critics praised the 80-year-old director for bringing ample amounts of horror to “Alien: Covenant,” the sequel has some missteps as it attempts to combine its 2012 predecessor, “Prometheus,” with elements of the franchise’s critically-acclaimed first two entries from over 30 years ago.

The film currently has a score of 80 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics’ takes ranging from rave reviews to mild praise to disappointment.

The review by TheWrap’s Alonso Duralde fell into the second of those three categories, with Duralde describing the film as an “interstellar version of ‘Friday the 13th'” that is elevated by Scott’s direction but tends to wilt when the bloodthirsty extraterrestrials aren’t on screen.

“[Katharine] Waterston is a fine actress, and squeezes what she can out of a fairly minimal character, but Daniels is no Ripley, and Sigourney Weaver’s iconic heroine continues to be missed here,” Duralde wrote. “The victims-in-waiting are a stellar bunch — the cast includes Demián Bachir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett and Amy Seimetz — but this is the kind of movie that’s more about putting meat puppets in the way of the alien than about character development.”

Released by 20th Century Fox, “Alien: Covenant” continues to bridge the timeline between “Prometheus” and the original “Alien,” following the crew of the first large-scale colonization mission as they discover a mysterious signal while on the way to a new planet. When they investigate the source of the signal, they find a planet that seems to be perfect for human life…except for the spores that give birth to the killer aliens that would go on to haunt Ellen Ripley and the Nostromo.

As the crew begins to dwindle at the hands of the aliens, they encounter David (Michael Fassbender), the android that is the lone survivor of the doomed Prometheus. John Logan and Dante Harper wrote the script, with Scott, Mark Huffam, Michael Schaefer, David Giler and Walter Hill producing.

Check out more of what critics thought of “Alien: Covenant” below:

Cath Clarke, Time Out:

“For reasons too spoilery to give away, Fassbender is electric, giving a spectacularly skin-crawling performance. ‘Covenant’ has the same beautiful design as ‘Prometheus’ and once again the script is being all clever and profound, asking the biggies: Who are we? Where do we came from? What’s missing is one of the franchise’s unforgettable scenes that feed your nightmares for weeks — like Noomi Rapace’s do-it-yourself alien caesarian in ‘Prometheus’, or the chestbuster in ‘Alien’. And every time a crew member stiffened, an alien about to burst out of them like a blackhead being popped, my mind drifted back to the original.”

Priscilla Page, Birth.Movies.Death.:

“…a film that takes a turn toward gothic horror, the haunted-house movie that critics believed ‘Alien’ was, a film that drags its characters to hell, or perhaps a place described in screenwriter John Logan‘s ‘Penny Dreadful,’ the demimonde: ‘A half world between what we know and what we fear. A place in the shadows, rarely seen, but deeply felt.’ Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien: Covenant’ is a film that got under my skin and took hold, not unlike a little rogue chestburster.”

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian:

“The vu has never been so déja: it’s a greatest-hits compilation of the other ‘Alien’ films’ freaky moments. The paradox is that though you are intended to recognise these touches, you won’t really be impressed unless you happen to be seeing them for the first time. For all this, the film is very capably made, with forceful, potent performances from Waterston and Fassbender. That franchise title is, however, looking increasingly wrong. It is a bit familiar.”

Edward Douglas, New York Daily News

“When the aliens show up, the viewer is promised gruesome and gory kills. At the same time, Scott deliberately wipes the slate clean of some of the problems fans had with ‘Prometheus.’ To say more would take away from the movie’s many surprises, but those wanting to see more of the actual aliens ought to be thrilled by how the third act ups the action ante. 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.'”

Germain Lussier, IO9

“The finale is definitely the coolest thing in the movie but feels relatively standard when compared to the typical big, Hollywood blockbuster. It also doesn’t help that you’ve spent the entire movie waiting for these big action scenes so shoving so many into a short period of time removes much of the tension. There’s just nothing that memorable in the movie. The gore and creature work make for some fun or gross moments, but nothing in the film stands out as something worth of the name ‘Alien.'”