FlixChatter Review – ALIEN: Covenant (2017)

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When Ridley Scott announced that he’s going back to the Alien franchise again 5 years ago, many fans were very excited. Even though he didn’t say it at the time, 2012’s Prometheus was a prequel to his original Alien film. There were quite a lot of excitement for Scott’s first sci-fi picture in many years but when Prometheus finally opened, it was met with mixed reviews, modest box office results and divided many fans of the franchise. Now instead of trying to say the new film isn’t related to the Alien world, Scott decided to go full Alien mode in this new sequel.

It’s a decade after the events of the previous film, a new crew in a spaceship full of colonists are heading to a distant planet to find a new home for humans and preserve our race. While all the human crew members were in hyper sleep, a cyborg named Walter (Michael Fassbender) had to wake them all up because the ship ran into some troubles. Unfortunately, the ship’s captain was killed during the commotion and his second in command named Oram (Billy Crudup) must man up and be the leader of the crew.

We get the sense that the crew don’t have much respect for Oram and he certainly doesn’t have respect of the captain’s wife named Daniels (Katherine Waterston). While trying to fix the ship, the crew received a signal from near by planet and Oram decided to investigate. Daniels opposed his decision, she believes they should head to their original destination but Oram believes this new planet could be their new home because it has the same atmosphere as earth. Of course when the crew landed on this new planet, they were met with menace and many won’t survive.

As far as story goes, this sequel didn’t really offer anything new. I thought the script by John Logan and Dante Harper didn’t really do a good job of creating these new characters, with exception of Fassbender’s David/Walter, we didn’t really know much about any of the characters. Oram and Daniels are very interesting individuals but they weren’t given much to do. When Daniels was thrust into the hero mode, to me it just felt off because she really didn’t have much to do in the first half of the film. Maybe an earlier draft of the script may have fleshed out these characters much better, but the shooting script didn’t do a good job of it.

Since he got top billing, Fassbender was the main star of the film and he excels here in a duo role. Walter is new cyborg who wants to protect the crew while David has evolved into something more menacing. Waterston’s Daniels is supposed to be the new Ripley but her character was so underwritten that I don’t really care for her. The same could be said for other characters in the film. In fact, I thought it’s kind of weird seeing Danny McBride in a non-comedic role. Not sure what the casting director was thinking when they cast him.

This is Scott’s third time doing an Alien picture so from technical stand point, it’s flawless. Although, some of the CGI aliens looked way too fake. I thought some of the alien creatures from the original film looked much scarier than in this film. Scott staged some cool frantic action sequences and didn’t backdown on the gore. He said he wanted to scare people in this new film, I don’t think he achieved that but I appreciated his effort. Scott also wanted to give some sort of shout outs to the previous films in the franchise, fans will recognize similar sequences from Cameron’s Aliens and Fincher’s Alien 3.

Despite its underdeveloped characters, I still thought it’s an entertaining picture. I wanted to see something new for a sixth film in the franchise but what we got here is just another summer spectacle that feels like it’s been there done that. It looks great and I’m sure fans of the franchise will be entertained by it.

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So have you seen Alien: Covenant? Well, what did you think?

Everybody’s Chattin’ … and Timothy Dalton Casting news & rumor I’m super excited about

Happy Friday everyone! Those of you in the US, hurray for long Labor Day Weekend! 😀

It’s been quite a hectic week for me at work, but fortunately there’s no press screenings I’m interested in all week so that actually helps a lot. Allow me lament a bit though about how this Summer’s put quite a dent on the hits and comments on the blog 😦 I guess I chalk it up to people being away on a break and what not, but still it’s kind of a bummer.

Ah well, enough complainin’. There ARE those of use who are still bloggin’ away in the Summer months, churning great posts on a daily/weekly basis. So I’m going to highlight those who’ve been particularly supportive to FlixChatter in their readership and comments. I REALLY appreciate it folks, I know we’re all busy people so I’m grateful that you not only took the time to visit, even if the movie(s) being posted aren’t necessarily your cup of tea.

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Firstly, have you heard about this new movie site Cinema Axis? It’s a film blog based in Toronto, Canada with contributors hailing from various parts of Canada and the United States, spawned from the blog Big Thoughts from a Small Mind. One of the contributors is Steven Flores from Surrender to The Void blog. So pay them a visit and take part in the August edition of I Have Scene it Before, one of their monthly series.

Now that Summer is officially over, we’re all gearing up for Fall movies (well I am anyways). So check out Keith’s list on which movies to Flaunt or Flush. Thanks for the warning Keith!

Oh, and speaking of what to flush, in case you’re thinking of Ethan Hawke’s action flick The Gateaway, well, you might want to think again. Check out Terrence’s warning er review and watch at your own risk!

Most of you already tired of me saying this but yes, I’m still kicking myself that I missed the film fest screening of this film last April due to a snow storm!! Well, Mark’s review of MUD certainly makes me more eager to finally rent it!

Michael recently posted his Top 10 Greatest Sci-fi Films circa 2000-2013, and I absolutely LOVE his list, especially since he’s got Wall•E and District 9 on there! Saunter over there and see which ones of YOUR favorite made his list.

Since I mentioned Surrender to The Void blog, Steven has been spotlighting Woody Allen of late. Check out his latest post on the New York auteur, Part 4: The Wilderness Years (2004-2013)

You might’ve read Fernando’s post from Comic-con where he met the cast of Kick-Ass (SO jealous. Aaron Johnson is gorgeous!). Well, what did he think of the sequel? Read his review of Kick-Ass 2.

Fans of Breaking Bad, I suggest you check out Sati’s commentary in her Open Letter to Anna Gun. Though I don’t watch the show, I find that the discussion about Skyler White quite interesting.

Last but not least…

Chris T. has returned from his London vacation (where he non-nonchalantly bumped into RICHARD ARMITAGE outside of Harrod’s!!). I’ll be working on my post for his DEBUTS Blogathon starting next week. Check out which sites are participating in this exclusive blog event 😉


Now, about that casting news…

Well, I’m thrilled that my longtime crush TIMOTHY DALTON is joining SHOWTIME’s psycho-horror thriller series Penny Dreadful!

There are FOUR Bond connections on this one as the creator of the series is John Logan (Hugo, The Aviator, Gladiator) who also wrote Skyfall AND he’s producing the series with Skyfall director Sam Mendes! Now of course you already know Dalton is my favorite Bond, so it’s a thrill to see one of my favorite Bond girls Eva Green is also part of the cast!

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Darn it, it’s about time Dalton’s back on the spotlight again. I’m always so perplexed that super talented thespian like him don’t get more work! I mean he could’ve easily done every role offered to his British peers like Anthony Hopkins, Patrick Stewart or Jeremy Irons! Per THR, Dalton, who joins Eva Green and Josh Hartnett, will play Sir Malcolm, a hardened African explorer on a deeply personal quest. Here’s the premise per IMDb:

Some of literature’s most famously terrifying characters, including Dr. Frankenstein and his creature, Dorian Gray and iconic figures from the novel Dracula. become embroiled in Victorian London.

Production is set to begin in October in London for its debut in spring 2014. I just might have to get cable for this!

Now, this one is just a rumor for now, but it’s enough to send me into a frenzy when I first heard about it (just ask my husband, I was practically hyperventilating!) 😀

Last week, I was lamenting on the Batman casting on Man of Steel sequel, but this week, THIS is a rumor I can get behind:

In response to that I tweeted this:

OH MY! I sooooo hoping this isn’t JUST a rumor. Please make it happen people, pretty please! I just so want Dalton to be in something so HUGE which hopefully propels him to get even more roles! I’ve always loved Alfred Pennyworth and with the likes of Michael Caine in Nolan’s Batman trilogy, we definitely could use another British thespian this time around. (I just realized it’d be cool that Dalton signed up for TWO projects with Penny in them, ahah)

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Of course I always envision that Dalton as the older Bruce Wayne type, a la Batman Beyond where he’s retired and a recluse who ends up being a mentor to a young Batman. If you’ve seen the TV series, you’d see how Dalton is so perfect in that role. He’s still a pretty lean guy at 69, certainly he can still be bad ass!

In any case, fingers crossed Dalton is indeed cast! That’d just be THE best news of the year for me 😀


Well, what do you think of this casting?

Have a great weekend all! Hope you see some good movies! 😀

FlixChatter Review: Coriolanus (2011)

Coriolanus is one of the renown playwright’s lesser-known works that Ralph Fiennes has played on stage back in 2000. It’s sort of a passion project for him so naturally he knows this character inside and out. For his directorial debut, the British thespian translates the story as a modern wartime film set in a ‘place calling itself Rome.’ So the story is not set in the Italian capital city but a model of an urban war zone complete with tanks, machine guns, and camouflage. The media coverage and TV talking heads reveal a society in turmoil. Grain is scarce and its people impoverished and hungry, unsatisfied by the way the government, particularly its General Caius Martius, treats them.

Fiennes set up the scene using found footage of people looting, rioting, demonstrating, carrying banners of their general with a big red ‘x’ on it. From the exchange between Martius and the people, it’s clear that he has no regard for them. Martius is a warrior, a man of battle, but not exactly a man of nor for the people.

Even in the time he goes to the people to appeal to them and ask for their votes, Martius (who’s now called Coriolanus as an honor following the battle in Corioles) does it reluctantly. He’s not keen on the idea of promoting himself, and the idea of political campaigning repulses him.

The second act is much more politically charged, quite a contrast to the vehemently action-packed first act. The battle scenes between the Romans and the Volscian army, led by Tulus Aufidius (Gerard Butler) are reminiscent of The Hurt Locker as it shares the same choreographer, Oscar-winner Barry Ackroyd. The knife fight between the two arch nemesis is brutal and very, very bloody.

Just like most of Shakespeare’s work, its hero shares complicated relationship with the people around him. His relationship with his mother Volumnia is one of the film’s major themes, brought to life by a pair of strong stage performers, Fiennes and the great Vanessa Redgrave. A conversation with Martius’ wife reveals that Volumnia has raised her son as a soldier that bred such an extreme conviction on his part…

Had I a dozen sons, I had rather eleven die nobly for their country than one voluptuously surfeit out of action

The person who believes in Martius the most is Senator Menenius (Brian Cox), he’s practically his biggest cheerleader in his quest for political life. But the rest of the senate, led by the two Tribunes Brutus and Sicinius, rally against him and their schemes of manipulating the crowd gets Martius banished from the city.

From then on, what follows is the electrifying scenes between Coriolanus and Aufidius, as he appeals to fight Rome together with the Volscian army. The two sworn enemies hate each other, surely, but there is deep mutual admiration between the two. Aufidius is perhaps the kind of leader Coriolanus wishes to be as he’s courageous, but also loved by his men and his people. The homoerotic undertones is quite palpable here, and Fiennes revealed in the commentary (and in this article) that it’s what Shakespeare intended it to be, though more to suggest an obsession than a literal romantic attraction.

The political relevance of the world we’re in today and all the maneuvering and manipulation that’s going on is as thrilling as the action. Fiennes has proven himself a capable director here, surrounding himself with a massively talented cast and crew, starting with John Logan (Gladiator, Hugo) developing a taut script, and filming on locations in Serbia under Ackroyd’s capable hands as a cinematographer.

He’s also able to cajole great performances from his cast, and he’s assembled a wonderful set of actors to do the job. The critics praised Redgrave’s performance left and right. Indeed she was marvelous and also Jessica Chastain in a small role as Coriolanus’ wife, but I was mostly taken by Brian Cox’s performance as the seasoned politician Menenius. How this Scottish thespian has never been nominated for an Oscar is a travesty. “Coriolanus has grown from man to dragon…” his character said in one heart-wrenching scene, and it’s palpable that Coriolanus’ betrayal cuts deep into his soul.

Fiennes himself is at his most effective, delivering his lines with sheer clarity and intelligence. Coriolanus is a tough character to sympathize with, but Fiennes gives a fascinating look into a flawed antihero. He’s also chosen the perfect actor as his adversary. In interviews Fiennes said that he had wanted a ‘warrior’ to play Aufidius and who could be more fitting than King Leonidas himself. But just like in 300, Butler is just as efficient in the action scenes as in those that demand emotional intensity. The highlights in the film are no doubt the fierce face/off between Fiennes and Butler and the two men seem to relish in them. The knife fight apparently took two days to film and it’s as cutthroat as one can get. There’s barely any music playing during a lot of the action scenes, it feels authentically gritty and realistic, almost documentary-like at times but without the overused hand-held style.

My only gripe is that the scenes between the politicians and the people often feel overly-simplified. I understand that the timeline perhaps isn’t as swift as depicted in the film, but it just feels like thing happen way too fast how Coriolanus goes from hero to scorn exile. I’m not too keen with James Nesbitt’s performance either as one of the tribunes, he feels somewhat miscast in this role. The scenes of the Roman politicians with the crowd also didn’t seem to work as well, perhaps it’s more suitable for stage performance but it just didn’t feel right on film. Coriolanus as a character also isn’t as compelling because there’s barely any reflective moments that gives us insights into his motivations and why he despise the people the way he does.

Those are minor quibbles however, I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and apart from the first act and the very last scene, it’s thankfully not as violent as I had thought. The use of Shakespearean language in modern setting is tricky but I think Fiennes and the cast pulled it off brilliantly. It feels a bit odd at first but after a while I enjoyed listening to it. I’m glad I ended up watching this on Blu-ray so I can turn on the caption however, as it helps me grasp the story a lot better.

Final Thoughts: If you’re looking for an intriguing political thriller filled with great performances, then this is the film for you. Once you get past the Shakespearean language, it’s surprisingly accessible and its themes are eerily relevant to our world today.

It’s been nearly two years since I first heard about Ralph Fiennes’ passion project. Well, after appearing in my most-anticipated list for TWO years in a row, I finally bought the Blu-ray. I’ve actually watched it twice, one with Fiennes’ commentary and one without. If only the special features had been more robust though, it’d be nice if it had more scenes of the on-location shoot in Serbia like I talked about here. Still, it’s certainly well worth the purchase.

4 out of 5 reels


Have you seen CORIOLANUS? Do share your thoughts on the film.