Eppler: Studio wants to win "Alien" fans back with "Covenant"

Eppler: Studio wants to win "Alien" fans back with "Covenant"

At some point, a few folks decided that one of the greatest movie monsters of all time needed a backstory. And not only that, it needed to be a deep medication on the nature of creation and the supposed inherent corruption of an all powerful creator and still kinda sorta be an "Alien" movie, but not really. With so much to bear, it's no wonder "Prometheus" turned out to be an ambitious, yet ultimately boring narrative mess that fans of the "Alien" series mostly rejected.

So with this sequel, the studio went out of its way to let fans know they got the message: "Alien" is back in the title! More Xenomorphs! More chest bursting! More face hugging! We're playing all the hits! The result is one of the better "Alien" movies - and no, we're not counting the "Alien vs Predator" nonsense. It's back to being a fun monster movie, for the most part.

Set a decade after the events of "Prometheus," a colonizing ship called the Covenant is on its way to a planet with its crew and some two thousand souls aboard. When they pick up a signal from a mysterious planet, they decide to make a pit stop. Big mistake, of course.

When they encounter the horrors of this planet, the movie takes off and shook me out of a sleepy state where I'd started to drift. 

I won't reveal much about the crew, only to say Katherine Waterston is earnest but stuck as another Sigourney sub, Michael Fassbender gives great robot, and comedy actor Danny McBride turns in a surprising dramatic performance. 

The movie can't escape the horror picture cliches - people who announce they're going to take a leak or a shower are always dead meat. And the movie's twists are way too obvious. But despite the campy touches, the movie still takes itself very seriously because it's convinced it's about something profound.

More than action and thrills, Director Ridley Scott is interested in exploring the dark side of human nature here, leading to monologues and sermonizing that drag things down. But at least his movies are gorgeous to watch, and "Alien: Covenant" at least feels like an "Alien" movie.

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