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Middling ‘Alien: Covenant’ merges high-minded mythology with sci-fi horror

Mark Rogers, 20th Century Fox

Katherine Waterston is Daniels in “Alien: Covenant.”

“ALIEN: COVENANT” — 2½ stars — Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride; R (sci-fi violence, bloody images, language and some sexuality/nudity); in general release

“Alien: Covenant” is the kind of movie that makes you wonder when it’s best to let the mystery remain mysterious. Sometimes the audience is just better off not knowing.

“Covenant” picks up the Alien story a few years after the events of 2012’s “Prometheus,” and fans will be happy to see director Ridley Scott get back to the franchise’s violent horror roots.

After a cryptic flashback prologue between the synthetic android David (Michael Fassbender) and his human creator, Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), Scott’s film takes viewers to a colonization spaceship named the Covenant packed with 2,000 sleeping settlers about seven years from their raw and untested future home.

But after an energy burst damages the ship and kills Captain Branson (an unbilled James Franco), the suddenly roused crew discovers an alternate planet that seems even better for colonization. Since it’s only a few weeks away, acting captain Oram (Billy Crudup) decides to investigate, against the vehement advice of Branson’s widow, Daniels (Katherine Waterston, assuming the obligatory Sigourney Weaver role).

The planet is haunting and…

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