I thought it was a disappointment, but not a complete failure. It does what it’s trying to do fairly competently, but what it’s trying to do isn’t that interesting or original. There’s very little in this film that you feel you haven’t seen before, and mostly within this franchise!
Essentially it feels like a remix of Alien, Aliens and Prometheus, but without really capturing their defining qualities. The attempt to reach for greater philosophical ideas that we saw in Prometheus has been blunted almost to the point of non-existence, and the way it unceremoniously dumps some of the characters and concepts of that film will disappoint anyone who was hoping for a proper continuation (one in particular felt like a real disservice to me, especially given some of the promotional material we’ve seen).
At the same time, the elements that tie back more closely to the original Alien fall into the prequel trap of unnecessarily over-explaining concepts from that movie that simply don’t require it. In particular, making David such an out-and-out baddie feels at odds with the tone of the Alien movies, which were always about a much more unknowable enemy.
That said, it tells the story it wants to tell well, in terms of scene-to-scene storytelling. An early horrible moment with a hibernation pod is genuinely disturbing, the alien creatures are all unsettling and frighteningly violent, there are some amazing double-Fassbender moments where you completely buy that two identical robots are sharing the same space (the flute scene is mind-blowing in terms of how it’s put together) and there’s a horrible moment towards the end that manages to make an extremely obvious twist (that most viewers will see coming a mile off) still feel like a punch in the gut because of the precise way it’s done.
I just wish there was a bit more ambition to it all - either a desire to tell an Alien story that’s never been told before, or to properly explore the philosophical questions raised by Prometheus. Covenant ends up being neither one thing nor the other: it’s a derivative story that makes a couple of concessions to bigger ideas, but is mostly content to just go through the motions.
Oh, and those two extended scenes that were used to promote the film (the ‘last supper’ one and the one with Shaw and David) really should have been left in the movie. It feels quite incomplete without them.