In space, no-one can hear you sigh.
Alien Covenant is the fifth film in the classic sci-fi horror series and its events follow ten years after the ill-fated Prometheus mission whose crew ran into hostile xenomorphs (as well as lots of ponderous semi-religious hokum).
This time we join plucky Ripley wannabe Daniels (Katherine ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’ Waterston) awakened many years early - Passengers style - from her hyper-sleep when the Covenant is hit by a solar flare. With the lives of the 2,000 colonists on board in jeopardy there is no time to at least be grateful that it’s a life endangering spaceship crisis rather than a creepy planned space date by Chris Pratt.
The crew who include Captain Oram (Billy ‘The Flash’ Crudup), Pilot Tennessee (Billy ‘Watchmen’ McBride), Sergeant Lope (Demián ‘The Nun’ Nájera), Sergeant Hallett (Nathaniel ‘Rush’ Dean) and synthetic Walter (Michael Fassbender) bicker and then decide to stop off and investigate a nearby ‘earth like’ planet rather than continue to their original long haul destination.
From then on it’s kinda Aliens business as usual as the crew discover that the planet is home to the a range of acid-blood, face-hugging, people-eating nasties. Director Ridley Scott amps up the action quotient and effectively throws in many Alien series nods (they mostly come at night, the gestation cycle varies on the importance of the character, the crew must use unorthodox methods to try and battle the slimy foes) but there is very little that feels ‘new’.
It all looks cinematically stunning and the aliens look great, plus there are some very nasty deaths and inventively mean situations engineered. The main problem though is that the plot can’t help but become another ‘let’s get off this planet’ escape-em-up and we’ve seen this before.
Waterston and Fassbender are both good, Fassbinder in particular gives his all and carries the movie through some dubious plot points that feel unnecessary. The rest of the crew are pretty interchangeable alien fodder though and don't even get any memorable lines.
If this was the first Alien film released it would score better but it stands in the shadow of the original Alien (and Aliens) both of which are truly excellent, and doesn’t even have the distinct ‘feel’ of the other entries. So Covenant delivers a good but not great addition to a series which really needs a world-class revival next time or the series risks drifting off into space losing viewers in the process.