ALIEN COVENANT is an okay film overall that starts off a great ALIEN film, turns into a rather fascinating Prometheus sequel, and then devolves into a bad ALIEN film.
Without rehashing the entire plot and spoiling the possible surprises, it all starts off really well. We learn of our friendly neighborhood Prometheus cyborg, David's "birth", and are laid forth the overall theme of the film via piano and Guy Pearce. From there we meet a new crew populated with some relationships that could prove interesting to watch develop. They interact well, seem to care for one another, and are all seemingly hand in hand to do the task put before them. Furthermore, there is potential for a good conflict between said crew and it's new Captain. All of that seems to be thrown aside pretty quickly though once we reach the the surface of a planet. The caring for one another remains but the ties are cut so quickly, we have no time to get truly invested in anyone.
Following the surface landing is where the Prometheus sequel takes form and my interest piqued. While Prometheus has its over abundance of stupid decisions made by supposedly smart characters, (more on that in a moment) the ideas and world building grabbed me. Shaw and David also garnered attention and investment which carried me along for the ride. In Covenant, Billy Crudup is seemingly wasted in a role that begins promising and could have had thematic ties to Shaw in Prometheus on a spiritual level. Instead, he makes quite possibly the most mind numbing decision in the entire film when it comes to gaining plot exposition and accomplishes little else. We also have two separate crew members, at two separate moments, in one sequence, slip on blood to make them vulnerable. The same blood mind you. The first time it happens you can wave it by but less than a minute later, the beat is repeated. Could no other possible idea have been thrown out there?
That aside, the Prometheus portion of the film is where we grow a story worth knowing but going into detail would ruin much of the middle portion and finale. Suffice to say, Shelley's Ozymandias is prominent in theme and much is revealed. Just as all of that was really building though, we are thrown back into a pure "ALIEN" film. This makes sense due to the universe being one but it felt more forced than organic which, after you see the film, is rather ironic.
Now, the dumb occurs. In a situation where everyone acknowledges danger, we are witness to constant moments of people splitting into pairs, then splitting from each other to be served up solo on a platter for our Xenomorph. Each time it happens the set up is so blatant that all tension is robbed because you know the end prior the first moment ticking off. Then, our hero character puts herself in the most dangerous of situations for absolutely no reason because, to my knowledge, space kills pretty much everything. There is no reason to leave the safety of a ship if that ship is on its way to space and a nasty critter is OUTSIDE said ship. Just keep elevating and voila, problem solved. Again though, it seems that to satisfy the need for tension, we can only arrive there by utterly dumb choices being made.
With all of that negative aside, let's discuss the positive.
I love the world building that continues here from the DNA planted in Prometheus. Michael Fassbender is the films best element once again. Playing the roles of Walter and David prove the most interesting element as Frankenstein's monster becomes Frankenstein himself. Again, to delve further would be to tell you the story and what is the point of that.
Measuring all the elements together, Covenant is a mixed bag where new paths are being paved but the old itch remains to distract the progress. It's worth seeing but understand that Scott seems to be torn between what he wanted to start building in Prometheus and satisfying the fans that just want another ALIEN film.
In this case, I wish the director would trust his instincts while also making an effort to avoid having the plot decided by overtly stupid decision making on the part of the crew members. Let them be smart and still get out smarted. That is what makes the Xenomorph so dangerous. It's stronger, quicker, and smarter, but that final element only works versus a worthy adversary.
One like David.