I fancy myself something of an Alien aficionado. I grew up with the nightmarish, cone-headed, acid-filled xenomorphs, watching the first three films numerous times with awe and admiration, somewhere between the ages of 10 and 14.

The imagination, raw fear and claustrophobia really struck a nerve in me and fed my love of film. Ridley Scott, James Cameron and David Fincher (some say “Alien 3” was the beginning of the end for the beloved franchise, I say nay) created some of their finest works, bringing a terrifying species to life with primal science-fiction glory.

Imagine my giddy pleasure when it was announced that Ridley Scott would not only be following up his misunderstood and critically disappointing 2012 film, “Prometheus,” with a bona fide “Alien” prequel; and it was moved up from fall 2017 to make the summer blockbuster season.

The expectations couldn’t be higher. From the opening 20th Century Fox symphonic hook, there is a haunting, almost ominous vibe. We are introduced to the crew of the Covenant, a colonizing ship headed for a goldilocks planet, carrying precious cargo — 2,000 colonists in hypersleep.

Then things go wrong.

After receiving a mysterious signal, they decide to investigate, and find a perfectly suitable planet, which presents a scenario that appears too good to be true. Of course, the audience knows that it is, but our hapless and optimistic colonists investigate to their own peril, and the rest is now Alien canon.

Bookended by a fantastic first encounter and a pleasantly satisfying ending, what comprises the majority of the rest of the film lacks real teeth. Once we are introduced to the iconic creature (and its new incarnations), the film reverts to a less suspenseful and chilling narrative that is more “Prometheus” and less “Alien,” if you know what I mean. This serious lull is problematic, considering the way the film was brilliantly advertised. The red band preview from Christmas promised a seriously frightening experience, yet, delivery was not made in the end. 

Katherine Waterston follows the trail blazed by Sigourney Weaver as Daniels, the reluctant heroine thrust into action in a far less convincing way than her predecessor. Her innocent, deer-in-headlights visage revokes her believability as the strongest of the bunch. I’m not saying she was necessarily miscast, but her fights with the hideous alien lacked the emotional intensity of Weaver’s various encounters. Speaking of Waterston’s fight scenes, they were unnecessarily complicated. I found myself thinking, “Why wouldn’t she just…” more times than I could count.

Michael Fassbender stands out in dual roles as Walter and David (an homage to two of the producers). Although both androids, they are yin and yang in personality, and Fassbender clearly enjoyed playing out these inhuman characters. His existence is the epicenter of the story, either driven to engineer the perfect organism, or protect the humans. His acting is essentially the highlight of an otherwise bland ensemble cast with some wasted roles by more than capable actors, and untied loose ends that are teased in the barrage of online marketing. 

Ridley Scott returns to the franchise that started his illustrious career in the sci-fi genre, and honestly, I was expecting a bit more after decades honing his craft. This was an opportunity for a tour de force, but he seemed to coast through the film in a formulaic manner, shunning genuine opportunities to inspire fear and recapture the tone of the 1979 original, instead deferring to the existentialist alien origins story that was the downfall of an otherwise well-done “Prometheus” back in 2012.  

Aside from one thrilling sequence and a commendable ending, the plot and characters were quite weak. The crew tended to make predictably bad decisions, seemingly just for the sake of gore, and none of the humans were memorable or captivating in the slightest. The aliens tend to be the selling point, but it’s the conflict for superiority that I really missed. The tough guys in the crew needed to put up a better fight. 

All in all, this is a somewhat fun film for a fan of the franchise, but be warned, the previews are misleading. This is not an action-packed thrill-ride, and the visual effects are not remarkable. The beginning and end are well done, but the rest is moderately disappointing.