None of the 'Alien' sequels comes even close to the standard of the original 1979 film which many consider to be a 'classic', although I have reservations even with that one. (Brilliant up to and including that event, though after that, despite some effectively suspenseful moments, nothing could compare with the first 'shock' .)
I have no such doubts about 'Covenant' - it's substandard. The mystery is why did Ridley Scott bother? He must have needed a substantial cash injection which, to be frank, looks like this film is providing. It's a mish-mash of re-visiting situations of the previous films. I'm sure the writers were thinking "We must have a bit of this....oh, and a bit of that......and oh, yes, and we mustn't forget when this has to happen......". And to add to its unoriginality, there's a lumbering, over-wordy script involving a philosophical explanation of the situation, totally futile in trying to explain a storyline that was far too complicated for me to comprehend. Most of these dreary lines (but also including quoting Percy Bysshe Shelley, for crying out loud!) come from two very humanoid, identical robots, both played by Michael Fassbender, usually speaking to each other - only one is a goodie and the other one not. (Ah, but will the latter ever be posing as the other? Guess!)
Apart from Fassbender, the only other name in the cast I recognised was Billy Crudup. (There were also at least two other uncredited appearances, both of whom I recognised.)
It's the 21st century, and parent space ship 'Covenant' is on its way to inhabit a certain distant planet, carrying hundreds of 'passenger-colonisers' and a score or so of crew, all in cryogenic sleep while one of the robots (the 'goodie') watches over the ship's journey. An event wakes up the crew well in advance of ETA (sound familiar?) which needs correction and while they're awake they pick up a mysterious signal from a nearby world and (would you believe it!) a ship is sent to investigate, on a planet which this time is so conveniently earth-like that even breathing apparatus can be dispensed with.
It'll hardly be a revelation to know that the denizens of this world include hostile beings, feeding on and incubating inside living flesh (thereby making robots immune) and dispatching these human host-visitors one by one in grisly fashion. About half this overlong film is set on this odd world but the grand finale returns to the mothership.
The big and many moments of conflict and confrontation are well-designed and presented, though I didn't get the sense we got throughout the original 'Alien' film of a small, diminishingly surviving crew being locked in a confined space, and sometimes trying to flee an unwanted alien on board.
I felt early on that this latest film badly needed some judicious editing. There's so much unnecessary flab which slows down the story - and that story is so involved that we need spectacle to take our minds off it.
I've seen the original film several times and it still holds up. 'Aliens' I've seen just the once but wouldn't mind sitting through again. As for the rest of them they were strictly to be seen one time only, and 'Covenant' fits with no trouble into this precise category..............5.
1 hour ago