(US - 2017)
Directed by Ridley Scott. Written by John Logan and Dante Harper. Cast: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Guy Pearce, James Franco, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Amy Seimetz, Nathaniel Dean, Alexander England, Benjamin Rigby, Goran D. Kleut. (R, 120 mins)
Despite the pre-release tap-dancing around the issue, it was obvious that 2012's PROMETHEUS was Ridley Scott's return to the universe he created with the 1979 classic ALIEN. After PROMETHEUS' ultimate reveal as a prequel, Scott has returned with no illusions about what's going on with ALIEN: COVENANT. Picking up ten years after the events of PROMETHEUS, COVENANT centers on a colonization mission on the space vessel Covenant, with a crew of 15 carrying 2000 colonists and 1000 embryos on a seven-year, hypersleep mission to an oxygenated planet known as Origae-6. They're under the watchful eye of "Mother," the ship's computer, as well as Walter (Michael Fassbender), a synthetic in charge of maintaining the ship. A "neutrino burst" causes significant damage to the ship, killing some sleeping colonists and forcing Walter to bring the crew out of stasis. Second-in-charge Oram (Billy Crudup) is forced to assume command when mission leader Branson (a barely-seen and uncredited James Franco) is killed in a freak explosion when his pod won't open. They're still seven years from Origae-6, and Branson's wife Daniels (Katherine Waterston, Sam's lookalike daughter), who's also on the crew, voices her objection when Oram decides to investigate a signal (someone singing John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads," in a garbled audio transmission that's effectively creepy in an EVENT HORIZON way) from a previously unseen planet just a few weeks away that's showing even better habitability figures than their intended destination.
THE COUNSELOR. Before long, we once again start getting that PROMETHEUS feeling that Scott realizes he needs to appease the studio and abandons the project's unique ideas in favor of rushing through the last 30 or so minutes because he seems to suddenly remember he's making an ALIEN movie. In other words, almost right down to the minute, the same flaws in PROMETHEUS are repeated in COVENANT, with the added detriment of a laughably predictable twist ending and an attempt to turn David into a quipping, synthetic android Freddy Krueger.