• by Wes Singleton

Alien: Covenant, B

Rated R, 123 minutes

Hold on to your seat, the aliens are back to wreak more havoc in the tense, entertaining "Alien: Covenant." From acclaimed director Ridley Scott and the sequel to 2012's "Prometheus" both part of the new "Alien" prequel series that will eventually lead back to the 1979 horror classic of the same name. "Covenant" is leaner, tighter, scarier and more action-packed than Scott's muddled "Prometheus" and while there isn't considerable insight, fans of this series should be pleased.

Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, members (Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, Michael Fassbender and others) of the colony ship Covenant discover what they think to be an uncharted paradise. While there, they meet David (also Michael Fassbender, doing double duty ), the synthetic survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition. The mysterious world soon turns dark and dangerous when a hostile alien life-form forces the crew into a deadly fight for survival.

"Alien: Covenant" is directed by Scott with a script from John Logan ("Spectre") and D.W. Harper and is a solid entry in the "Alien" series and the best of the new prequel installments so far (there are at least two more expected). It follows the crew of the ship Covenant, out on a colonization mission when they receive signals from a nearby planet that seems Earth-like in nature; it so happens it's the same planet where the ship Prometheus crashed in the most recent installment, and trouble ensues.

There's much to enjoy here, with Scott's usual sublime visuals and special effects, along with nice pacing as well as top-notch cast, grounded by the excellent Waterston ("Steve Jobs") as Daniels, a spunky precursor to Ripley, as well as Crudup, Bichir and McBride all getting in a good scene or two as part of the crew. Oscar-nominee Fassbender is most memorable as he does double duty as both androids, the good Walter and the not-so-good David.

On the downside, film's ideas about the aliens and where they came from are still a little muddled and heady (something that "Prometheus" could never wrap its head around) and when Fassbender starts spouting things about creation and life the film loses a little steam. "Covenant" and the "Aliens" films in general work much better as a survival story, and Scott is wiser to stick to that here; the climax is well-handled, but it's a tad too long and there are a couple of plot points that are simply too predictable in execution, and I'll be good not to give them away.

All in all, "Alien: Covenant" is an enjoyable, worthy ride, and those aliens still pack a punch in delivering some good scares.

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