Follow-up to 2012’s ‘Prometheus’ never builds a strong case for its existence

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“Alien: Covenant” feels, in every way, like a hand-me-down.

This is an “Alien” movie made by original “Alien” director Ridley Scott that comes off like something out of the schlocky, second-hand “Alien Vs. Predator” series. Looking for smart scares? Best lower your expectations. In space, no one can hear you checking your watch.

“Alien: Covenant” is the follow-up to 2012’s “Prometheus,” which was superior in every way to this slapdash effort. “Prometheus” — also directed by Scott — played out like an art film and created a starting point for the “Alien” series, and also included a classic scene of self-surgery that made your skin crawl as much as anything in the original film. “Covenant” looks to further connect the dots between “Prometheus” and “Alien,” but it leaves you wondering why or if you should even care.

Here’s a new crew hurtling through space with a gaggle of colonists and embryos on board their mother ship. Among them are Oram (Billy Crudup), Daniels (Katherine Waterston) and Tennessee (Danny McBride), as well as their android everyman, Walter (Michael Fassbender). James Franco shows up in a flashback, which is mostly distracting, because he’s James Franco and why would he only show up in a flashback?

The crew lands on a new planet and is surprised when aliens start popping out of their backs. We’re not. You can almost feel the pressure on Scott to increase the “Alien”-style jump-scares — “our surveys indicate a desire for more Alien-action,” you imagine some studio boss saying — while the cheap-looking CGI renders them useless.

The first “Alien” had better special effects. Watch it instead.

agraham@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2284

@grahamorama

‘Alien: Covenant’

GRADE: C-

Rated R for sci-fi violence, bloody images, language and some sexuality/nudity

Running time: 123 minutes

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