“Alien: Covenant,” part of the overall “Alien” franchise but a direct sequel to the 2012 “Prometheus,” is more than a monster movie (although it certainly is that). Its themes of creation and Prometheus, a deity who created humans and gave them fire after he took it from Mount Olympus, won’t be lost on any viewer with even a passing acquaintance with Greek mythology.
It also ties in nicely with the original 1979 “Alien” and its sequels, and won’t leave “Alien” fans disappointed.
The story begins with a quiet flashback. David, an android, questions his “father” (Guy Pearce as billionaire inventor Peter Weyland, from “Prometheus.”) If humans made David, then who made David’s creators? “You seek your creator. I am looking at mine,” David says. “You will die. I will not.”
Now flash forward to 2014, about 10 years after the setting of “Prometheus” to a colony ship that has its own android named Walter (Michael Fassbender plays both androids) aboard. As soon as we see the colony ship, we know that something besides caretaker Walter will join the crew, colonists and human embryos, all sleeping while they make their long voyage to an earth-like planet.
When an accident occurs, lives are lost, and suddenly the captain of the ship is Oram (Billy Crudup, “Spotlight”), a man of faith and integrity. Daniels (Katherine Waterston, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”) becomes his second in command.
After the catastrophe, the crew members don’t want to return to their cyber-sleep chambers. So they decide to land on a nearby planet that might prove to be a suitable environment.
The planet is lovely — look! There are amber waves of grain! — but the expedition is not alone. And they discover the bodies of the huge creator beings we met in “Prometheus.” Something killed the giants — and we don’t have to wait long to find out just what it was.
One by one, the crew members meet gory demises while the survivors scramble to figure out what is threatening them and how it can be stopped.
Monster-movie aficionados will appreciate the look and grotesque “births” of the alien creatures involved. The dynamic cast is greatly entertaining while they battle the marauding critters and, sometimes, each other.
This could be considered a stalk-and-slash, but it’s smart and philosophical science fiction, too, with references to classic works such as Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem “Ozymandias.”
It’s a welcome entry with more of the unwelcome creatures that have fascinated sci-fi fans for decades.