Early reviews are out on Alien: Covenant and they’re about as forgiving as a Xenomorph’s acidic blood. Although it delivers on the visuals, critics called out Covenant for its lack of character development and a rather lackluster plot.
Variety’s Peter Debruge writes that although the Alien franchise has now experienced a multitude of stylistic choices, this film is a return to the classic Ridley Scott formula:
“A hard-R horror movie, featuring ferocious, acid-dripping space crustaceans, a tough female lead and a bunch of dead-meat crew members.”
Sounds good, but Debruge also cautions that fans looking for more high-minded exploration on the origins of mankind — like Prometheus — may be disappointed. This is a more straightforward horror affair, with a few plot missteps, but plenty of riveting cinematography to distract you. “As acts of creation go, Scott has made an Alien movie for that segment of the audience that has always rooted for the monster,” Debruge writes.
Gizmodo’s Germain Lussier is much less kind, calling the film flat-out bad. In his estimation, it spends too much time explaining what happened after Prometheus in the beginning, but still never answers the big, fun questions like, “Why are we here?” Then —rather abruptly — gory, alien-induced carnage ensues.
“The film includes such a brutal, clean dismissal of Prometheus’ potential it almost feels like Scott is apologizing to fans for that film.”
David Houghton and Jordan Farley, writing in Games Radar acknowledge the film’s attempt to bridge the gap between the sleek and philosophical leanings of Prometheus and the gritty, used universe feel of the chronologically later films. But where it accomplishes this visually, it still loses in depth:
“Despite the exciting, early promise of some intriguing and affectingly woven new themes, it rapidly becomes clear that the film does not, in actual fact, have a plot. Nor does it have discernable characters. Nor even a real protagonist.”
Yikes. In the Guardian, Peter Bradshaw writes that the film is “capably made” but lacks the originality to properly stand out within the franchise.
“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 recognize these touches, you won’t really be impressed unless you happen to be seeing them for the first time.”
And in contrast to those who may appreciate a classic Ridley Scott Alien film, Scott Mendelson writes in Forbes of how he wishes Scott would eschew the “haunted house in space” formula for something new.
“If Ridley Scott really wants to keep this going, he would do well to heed one of the better things about modern franchises, namely their willingness to change genre to keep things fresh.”
Still, most critics admitted it’s not all bad if you’re just looking for a creepy, body horror romp. With the review embargo having just lifted, it’s a little early to go by Rotten Tomatoes rating, but it looks like the film will fare averagely.
Alien: Covenant is out in wide release on May 19, 2017.