I don’t know if seeing Prometheus would’ve helped (probably) but Alien Covenant was a bit of a mess. The problem is that it tries to combine lofty intellectual themes with a scary alien movie, and fails at both. The ‘intellectual’ stuff is very surfacey. Instead of being a smartly made movie like the original Alien, it references lots of high culture like poetry and classical music, which makes it more pretentious than clever. I can say ‘Wagner’ or ‘Byron’ in this review but it doesn’t make it any smarter.
It’s cold, which doesn’t mean it can’t be thrilling but it lacks humanity, probably by design and to a fault. The heroic character - Daniels - played by Katherine Waterson is hardly in it; it instead focuses on Michael Fassbender’s David/Walter robot characters who are completely devoid of screen charisma, a fault of writing and/or direction, not performance. When shit goes off it’s hard to care or fear for the characters because they’re very underdeveloped and the horror elements are lazy; there’s no beeping tracking devices or claustrophobic vents. I suppose if you’re making the 6th Alien movie it’s better not to rely on old tricks but it’s probably better not to make it in the first place.
On a technical level - without taking the script into account - it’s good but the cinematography is nothing like as cool as Alien, and the CGI xenomorph still doesn’t look as good as a man in a rubber suit from 1979. All this reminds me of George Lucas or Peter Jackson’s later films. You have a filmmaker going back to their early creation and trying to do it again but cramming more shit into it than it needs and forgetting what made the original movie good - craft and storytelling.