Movie Beat: Michael Fassbender both best and worst thing about "Alien: Covenant"

"I was totally at ease being up on that ship and in one piece".

As a milky-white gross-beast skitters its way around a wheat field, getting murder-death all over gun-toting space colonists, the only question becomes whether Alien: Covenant deserves a place near director Ridley Scott's original Alien in the pantheon of ideal sci-fi horror. The movie is Passengers (minus the love/murder story) until it turns into an Alien movie. Though, having Scott in the director's chair, again, ends up being both an advantage and a hindrance for the story. Michael Fassbender (arguably the best part of Prometheus [2012]) returns. The film ends with David upchucking two alien embryos, which he places alongside the 1,140 embryos headed to humanity's new home. As the secrets of David's decade on the planet emerge, so too does the chest-bursting, bowel-displaying xenomorph body count. From a derivative but propulsive first act, the film moves into a truly perplexing second act that sees Scott delve half-assedly into headier matters and pretty much directly reference Blade Runner in such a freaky, circuitous way that I suspect he may have some residual regret over handing the reins of that forthcoming sequel over to Denis Villeneuve.

What's Jackson's verdict? Should we see it or skip it? Despite everything that they've been saying in press releases, promotional materials and interviews, Alien: Covenant is not a prequel to Alien, not really. The latest installment in the Alien franchise is making its debut.

Just as in "Prometheus", the characters in the new film are stupid.

The Buzz: There's always strong buzz around an Alien movie (except maybe those Aliens vs. Predator disasters), and this one is no exception.

Meanwhile others from the crew have tracked the mystery signal to a crashed ship, and it's here that viewers unfamiliar with the "Alien" franchise, and recent entry "Prometheus" in particular, may start to feel lost.

I absolutely love the Alien franchise.

Its connections to Prometheus center around Michael Fassbender's David, the near destroyed android who has been repaired by Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) sometime prior to Covenant's beginning. The film sets them apart by appearance and accent, but even without that Mr. Fassbender ably differentiates the two, imbuing David with an arch humor to mask his ingrained contempt for the humans he was built to serve.

Movie Beat: Michael Fassbender both best and worst thing about

However, if you are a fan of "Prometheus", you're in luck! Hasn't she seen a horror movie before?

Fox is also opening "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul" at 3,157 locations this weekend for the family audience amid expectations of a $10 million launch. There does not seem to be any redeeming qualities for parents or older siblings to enjoy here. The movie takes place in 2104, which - like Prometheus before it - paints an nearly depressingly optimistic portrait of our near-future spacefaring capabilities.

A genuine prologue to Alien: Covenant, "The Last Supper" is a scene prominently used in several of the trailers.

Those creepy, slimy parasitic monsters called xenomorphs, so familiar from the original Alien films, seem to be breeding quite successfully on this unknown planet.

What we are excited about: Nothing, nothing.

What we are anxious about: Everything, everything. Unfortunately, tying everything together isn't almost as tidy as you would hope and the result is a movie that, even with its share of moments, feels kind of clunky and unsatisfying.

The Buzz: There isn't much buzz around this movie, which is probably not what the studio was hoping for. While past films have kept them in the shadows, building the tension by focusing on the victims as they haplessly scramble to survive, "Alien: Covenant" brings the beasts into the light, showing off their formidable speed and power in the face of brutal firefights.

Vanessa Coleman