"When Ridley Scott returned to the Alien franchise with 2012’s Prometheus, one of the primary criticisms was that the film wasn’t really, well, Alien-esque. Rather than build upon the sci-fi / horror formula he had created in 1979, Scott went in a different direction with a film that was much more concerned with questions about the origins of humanity and our place in the universe. It was an intentional shift, with Scott even saying at the time that the film shouldn’t be taken as a direct prequel to his previous work, but that didn’t do much to curb audience expectations.
For his new sequel to Prometheus, Scott has made the decision to go back to his roots. From the title to the marketing, Alien: Covenant has been framed as a direct descendent of the original, with one thing in mind above all others: scaring the hell out of the audience. The visceral footage previewed at SXSW earlier this year only seemed to underscore the idea that this was going to be a brutal, gory Alien, much closer to the film that fans wanted five years than the ponderous, often convoluted story they got.
For long stretches Alien: Covenant delivers on that promise. It’s a film full of terrifying, heart-pounding terror, on par with some of the best work in Scott’s career. But it’s also a movie stuck between modes, mixing that horror with the same pseudo-intellectual pondering that ground things to a halt last time. The result is a film that is a welcome improvement over Prometheus, but perhaps not the home run that sci-fi and horror fans might have been hoping for."