Alien: Covenant reviews seem mixed, but vaguely positive at the very least


Is Alien: Covenant actually a good movie or not? It seems to depend on the definition of ‘good’ being used, at least if early reviews are any indication.

Alien: Covenant is still about two weeks away from arriving in theaters. However, reviews for the film started emerging (or should we say hatching … or even chestbursting, considering the film we’re discussing here) today and late last night. As of this writing, Rotten Tomatoes has the film at 80%, with the average score a 6.7 out of 10. Not bad, right? Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, by comparison, has a 7.1 out of 10 on Rotten Tomatoes.

The problem is that it seems like critics are wrestling with a movie that is more of a mixed bag than that 80% might suggest. Here’s a brief look at some of the early reviews for the next movie in this nearly-40-year-old franchise that debuted in 1979 with Alien. (The original film, by the way, has a 97% and a 9 out of 10 on the review aggregator, just so you know where things started off. Ridley Scott directed that one, too.) Prometheus, meanwhile, this film’s prequel, also comes from Scott and has a 72% / 6.9.

TheWrap calls Alien: Covenant “an interstellar version of Friday the 13th,” which probably makes the xenomorphs Jason Voorhees, only without the “chee chee chee ah ah ah” sound effects (or the hockey mask).

Uproxx uses the term “bait and switch” in the first line of Mike Ryan’s review, which has the headline of “Alien Covenant: A Good ‘Alien’ Movie, Until It Becomes ‘Prometheus 2′”. Make of that what you will. However, it sounds as though Ryan came away more frustrated than pleased with whatever Scott has put together for this film.

The Village Voice, meanwhile, is both more muted in its praise and its criticism. “It can’t come close to matching the greatness of the first two films in the series, but at least Scott seems to understand these movies thrive on ambition,” Bilge Ebiri writes. Scott didn’t direct Aliens. (That’s James Cameron.)

But, on a perhaps more pertinent point, Aliens and Alien are themselves very different movies. The former skews more towards action. The latter is pure sci-fi horror. So what does that mean? Does Alien: Covenant try for both action and horror, and that’s part of its ambition? But where does Ryan’s “bait and switch” come in, then?

Collider’s Haleigh Foutch flat-out calls the movie “exquisite and infuriating,” and that seems to summarize the general experience with it. If you look closely, you can even spot a Star Wars prequel reference. Keep that in mind for a moment.

Finally, io9 comes out and says it: “Here’s a sentence I’m just incredibly sad to type: Alien: Covenant is bad.” The review from Germain Lussier keeps that tone of disappointment throughout.

So what are fans hoping for a resurgence to make of these early reviews? Ultimately, it seems to depend on what you’re looking for in the movie as a whole. One has to wonder if perhaps Scott needs to, like George Lucas and Star Wars, let go of his creations for good and let newer blood take over the franchise. (It worked for J.J. Abrams and Disney, didn’t it?)

Currently, Box Office Pro projects a $37 million opening for the film. That would represent a decent-sized drop from the opening of Prometheus in 2012, which had $51 million to start with on its way to a worldwide gross of $403 million. It would still be good enough for the third-best Alien opening ever, though, according to additional figures from Box Office Mojo. The future of the franchise may very well depend on how well this movie can perform at the box office.

Next: Wonder Woman: Gal Gadot discusses challenges and the costume

We’ll just have to see when May 19 rolls around and the movie arrives in theaters.