Alien: Covenant ★★½

Alien: Covenant is a tough film to write about. For all its shortcomings, I actually quite like Prometheus. And its biggest flaw - the lack of payoff for its philosophical ponderings - could easily be fixed by this film.

That is, if anyone involved in the creation of this film had learned anything from the mistakes made by Prometheus. Covenant follows the structure of Prometheus almost to a tee. Of course, the setting and characters are (mostly) different this time around, but it all felt incredibly familiar.

The most significant difference comes in terms of action. Considering that I have always felt Prometheus would have gained a lot by tossing out its action sequences entirely, this isn't necessarily a compliment. Once again, I feel that this movie should have spent more time being introspective, and less time on needless fistfights.

Credit where credit is due, however: the action sequences are fantastic, and the sense of terror and panic the first act builds complements them perfectly. Nearly every scene involving an Alien is good - great, in some cases. I just wish they didn't feel like unnecessary accessories.

Honestly, that's kind of how I feel about this entire film. Not much is actually earned, and all the plot points come about thanks to idiotic decisions made by inept humans. I do think that if, at some point, Covenant had committed to one thing, it would have been great. Instead, it flip flops back and forth between a really good action/horror film and an attempt at smart sci-fi.

There are bits and pieces where it's great at both, but the two ultimately detract from one another. More than anything, I find myself frustrated.

This is especially true because the movie is really well made otherwise. The performances are all excellent, the shots are beautiful, and the effects are mostly quite good. There's a lot to like here, it's just that none of it has much substance.

I get that this review may read as more negative than the actual score I'm giving the film. Despite all the problems Covenant has, I did actually enjoy my time with it. I likely won't watch it again, but I think calling it a bad movie is a little unfair.