The early reviews for Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant are hatching and the good news is it’s not going to be a facehugger for Fox execs, but then again, it’s not likely to be a chest-busting critical success either.
Scott’s follow-up and a direct sequel to 2012’s rather polarizing Prometheus is hotly anticipated, not least because many see it as a do over for the director to bring the franchise back into line with the first two films. The very early consensus seems to be that Scott has made another gorgeous film packed with scares that’s close to the franchise DNA and avoids going off into ‘big question’ flights of fancy.
The review aggregating sites give Covenant solid, if unspectacular, numbers as of Sunday with dozens of reviews to come this week. Currently, the film’s Rotten Tomatoes critic score stood a respectable 76 percent and its Metacritic score a decent if nothing to be shouting about 66 percent. For reference, Prometheus’ current Rotten Tomatoes score sits at 72 percent and its Metacritic score at 65 percent.
THR’s Todd McCarthy was gushing in his praise for Covenant, describing it as a beautifully made film that was gripping throughout. McCarthy believed that Covenant had renewed the franchise and described the film as “the most satisfying entry in the six-films-and-counting franchise” since Scott’s seminal Alien, and James Cameron’s Aliens.
Entertainment Weekly’s Kevin P. Sullivan welcomed Scott’s decision to leave behind the existential questions and philosophy that turned people off Prometheus and return the space horror that made the director’s name. “Alien: Covenant is very much a sequel to the 2012 movie, but one that knows the crowd showed up to hear the hits,” said Sullivan, adding “[much] like The Force Awakens did with the first Star Wars, Covenant succeeds by recreating what it feels like to watch Alien.
There was great praise for Michael Fassbender’s portrayal of Walter the doomed ship’s synthetic android. Timeout’s Cath Clarke said that “Fassbender is electric, giving a spectacularly skin-crawling performance.” Edward Douglas of the The Daily News also praises Fassbender’s creepiness and believes Scott has created a “satisfying hybrid of Alien, Prometheus and even James Cameron’s Aliens.”
The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw also gave Covenant a thumbs-up, describing the film as a well-made greatest hits compilation of previous films but feeling that the overall effect was “too familiar.” Collider’s Haleigh Foutch liked the movie overall, but still felt Covenant “was a messy film that is at turns, exquisite and infuriating.” She added: “It won’t be your favorite Alien movie, but it’ll probably make you want to watch it again.
Of the negative reviews, Den of Geek’s David Crow was perhaps the most unflattering, describing Covenant as a pretty but “dull retread” of the 1979 original. “Instead of looking to the franchise’s future, it is hopelessly stuck in its past, reworking old tensions with a few new jumps and blood splatters that quizzically stay bloodless,” writes Crow.
Uproxx’s Mike Ryan was also underwhelmed, feeling that Covenant’s first act was great until the film performed a bait-and-switch and became Prometheus 2. Ryan felt like Scott was on the right track to making a great Alien film, but then had to pull a “dramatic shift in tone” in order to continue his quest “to show us why these aliens exist.