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?

Question of the week: Which seasoned director do you think has lost his mojo?

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Sir Ridley couldn’t even keep Christian Bale awake on set

Though this falls under my Random Movie Question categories, you’d surmise that it’s really NOT so random. I was inspired by my friend Ted who texted me after the EXODUS screening that he was surprised the film was made by an experienced director of Ridley Scott’s caliber, he said it looked like it had been done by some newbie filmmaker.

You’ll see his full review later this week, but that confirms my dread that Sir Ridley seems to have really lost his mojo. I mean this is the same visionary director who did sci-fi classics like Alien, Blade Runner in his early 40s, then Gladiator (one of my faves of all time), Thelma & Louise, Black Hawk Dawn, etc. in his 50s. A lot of people might’ve said he’s lost it long ago and perhaps the 77-year-old should’ve retired and just stick to be an executive producer. Yet I somehow still defended him when he made Robin Hood (which I still enjoyed though I wish he had stuck with the Sheriff of Nottingham concept), and I even think A Good Year has its charm. But after Prometheus, which was fun but definitely no masterpiece by a long shot, The Counselor was panned by critics and audience alike. His latest *Biblical epic* seems um, poised to fall in that same category, and not only because of his questionable casting choices.

Now, he’s certainly not the only director out there who can’t seem to follow up their past success. People have been saying that about Brian de Palma, Oliver Stone, even Francis Ford Coppola are in the same camp.


So I’m curious, which seasoned/famous director(s) you think have lost their touch in recent years?

Guest Review: Prometheus – from a die-hard ALIENS fan

In August last year, I posted this Random Question: What movie you’ve seen most often on the big screen as I was inspired by my colleague who saw Aliens twelve times on the big screen. Well, now he’s here to tell us whether Prometheus lives up to his lofty expectations.


Review by Phil Thompson

Full disclosure: I am a big fan of the first 2 Alien movies, Aliens is my all-time favorite movie, and I actually saw it twelve times in theaters. So yeah, I’m a fan.

“A king has his reign, and then he dies. It is inevitable.”

These words open the narration of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, a return to the Alien universe he created back in 1979 with Alien. A character will speak these words again later in the movie, and their significance will be apparent at that time.

Prometheus is a gorgeous movie, with excellent cinematography, sets, and special effects, and is generally well-cast and well-acted. The soundtrack was a bit of a let-down for me; it never really conveyed a sense of fear or dread. The movie combines the genres of science-fiction, action, and horror, with a touch of religion added in. It has a lot in common with the original Alien, but also interestingly evokes memories of 2001: A Space Odyssey. And although this is clearly a prequel to the movie Alien, it is not a direct prequel in the sense that the events of this movie will lead to the beginning of Alien. Rather, the events in Prometheus will answer some questions about Alien, and will help you better understand the Alien movies.

The general storyline of Prometheus is that in the late 21st century, a handful of scientists/archaeologists convince the massive Weyland mega-Corporation to bankroll an expedition to the moon (“LV-223”) of a distant planet, where they hope to find some answers about the beginning of mankind on Earth.

The 2 scientists/archaeologists behind Prometheus’ mission are Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fame) and Dr. Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). Michael Fassbender plays the eerie robot David who must look after Prometheus’ sleeping human passengers on the 2+-year journey from Earth to LV-223. Charlize Theron is the grumpy corporate Meredith Vickers, who is in charge of the expedition for the Weyland Corporation, and Idris Elba is Janek, the ship’s gruff, Christmas-loving pilot. Guy Pearce also appears in heavy makeup as Peter Weyland, the CEO of the massive Weyland Corporation.

Prometheus is Noomi Rapace’s movie, and she is a strong female character in the vein of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in the first 2 Alien movies. The harrowing scene where Shaw undergoes a self-inflicted medical procedure is the movie’s best, in my opinion. The other standout star of this movie is Fassbender’s David. He evokes memories of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and you will spend much of the movie trying to understand why he acts the way he does.

Spoiler Alert: [highlight the text below if you want to read the spoiler]

Shaw and David will be part of any “Prometheus” sequels.

Theron’s Meredith Vickers doesn’t have a lot to do in this movie, but she does deliver one of my favorite lines in the movie: “If you’re going down there, you’re going to die.” Interestingly enough, the person(s) she says this to are not the persons she appears to say it to in the movie’s many trailers.

The movie starts out relatively quickly, with a couple quick setup scenes, and in less than 15 minutes, the Prometheus, an opulent trillion-dollar spacecraft with a crew of just 17 people, is in orbit around LV-223.  At this point, Drs. Shaw and Holloway announce to the ship’s crew that they believe some beings they call “Engineers” left some breadcrumbs on Earth “inviting” us to follow them to this exact location, and that they hope to find some evidence of these “Engineers” on this moon, and maybe even meet one of them.

The Prometheus finds some clearly non-natural structures on LV-223, and sets down to investigate them. What they find is not what they expected to find, and some characters’ hidden agendas eventually appear, making things even more interesting. The rest of the movie is a roller-coaster ride, with very few wasted scenes. The ending clearly calls out for at least one sequel, and the final scene of the movie is not to be missed by fans of the “Alien” movies.

So did it live up to my own lofty expectations?

Short answer is: YES. I enjoyed this movie, and I would recommend that you go see it.  But the movie does have several flaws. Its alien creatures (all but one) are surprisingly uninspired (in my opinion), compared to H.R. Giger’s creations for the earlier movies. It has a few serious plot holes – in a trillion dollar expedition to a remote moon, would there really be nobody monitoring 2 scientists stuck off-ship during a storm? And the movie brings up an awful lot of questions that will leave you shaking your head days later. And some of those questions can only be answered by a sequel.  But these are relatively minor flaws, and will not prevent you from enjoying the movie.

As a big fan of both the Alien and Aliens movies, I was a little disappointed that this movie kind of sets off in a different direction. It explains how the aliens in the Aliens movies came to be, but then moves off in another direction with the Engineers and the questions associated with them, and any “Prometheus” sequels would appear to marginalize the “Alien” storylines. I think I might’ve enjoyed the Jon Spaights version of the script more, which supposedly was more of a true Alien prequel, with the same aliens/eggs/chest-bursters that we’ve come to know (and love?).

Thoughts on the Box Office take and the 3D quality:

From what I’m reading right now, Prometheus has opened to a $50 million box-office take in its opening weekend. I think that amount would’ve been a lot higher if the movie didn’t have an R rating. Madagascar 3D bumped Prometheus off the large UltraScreen in the Marcus Oakdale Theater near me, and also out of the main large 3D theater in my local theater. I was stunned that a movie of Prometheus caliber would have to play second fiddle to an animated film about a bunch of animals.

I would recommend getting to the theater on time, as the very first scene of the movie is somewhat important, especially if you want to understand some of the deeper concepts in the movie. Also, I saw the movie both in 3D and on a regular screen, and I didn’t feel that the 3D added much. But I did not see it on an IMAX screen, and I do wear glasses, so any 3D movie for me means 2 sets of glasses. Add in the fact that a lot of the movie’s scenes are in dark scary places, and it doesn’t make for the best 3D viewing.

If you’re like me, you’ll have at least one or two very large questions after the movie ends, and if you go online to get some answers, you’ll find all sorts of them. And you may be surprised to find that the movie may have been hinting at far bigger things than you may have first thought.

4 out of 5 reels

Have you seen Prometheus? Feel free to add your thoughts below on whether this film lives up to the hype.

Weekend Roundup – Back from blogging break

Hello everyone! Hope you had a nice weekend, yeah I know it’s Tuesday already so you’ve probably forgotten all about it, ahah.

Well, I saw the Prometheus chatter all over Twitter though I did hear that it got beaten by Madagascar 3 at the box office by about $10 mil! (per BoxOfficeMojo) Man, those animated kids movies really are a force to be reckoned with, but at least the Ridley Scott alien flick still ranks 10th amongst R-rated movies with $51 mil, so not bad business at all.

Logan Marshall-Green’s uncanny resemblance to Tom Hardy is out of this world!

I haven’t got a chance to read any of your reviews, yet. I literally only had time to check my email for a half hour since last Friday night, so suffice to say I didn’t have time to blog nor watch any movies. But I really had a great time hanging out with my best friend [we’ve been good friends since we were 13!] and seeing her on her graduation from De Paul University. Walking around downtown always reminds me of Nolan’s Batman movies, too, I should probably order those tickets for The Dark Knight Rises soon!

I also got to meet my blogging friend Kristin from All Eyes on Screen blog, who is as awesome as her always well-written and original posts, like this one she did on Five Memorable Courtroom Scenes, inspired by her first-time viewing of To Kill a Mockingbird, yay! That’s right Kris, better late than never. It was lovely meeting you and chatting with you, always so blessed to meet a like-minded people who share the same passion, in movies and otherwise. I hope you’ll visit MN soon, girl, I’ll take you out shopping for sure! 🙂

Well, the closest thing I got to some movie watching is catching a snippet of several movies playing on TV: An Officer an a Gentleman, a decent Navy drama starring a young Richard Gere in uniform [yowza!] and a race-car action flick Driven starring Sylvester Stallone & Burt Reynolds, which undoubtedly deserved all the Razzie awards they were nominated for in 2002, especially for Estella Warren who has no business in the acting industry. But this TV series from the early 90s Jailbreakers should’ve won a Razzie version for TV as well, I was alternating between admiring Antonio Sabato Jr’s exquisite face to cringing on his dumb acting. I think anything with Shannen Doherty is naturally cringe-worthy. It made me chuckle to see Adrien Brody in that show, glad to see he’s come a loooong way since then.

Well, that is my lame weekend movie viewing, folks. I’m 100% certain you’ve seen far better movies than I did, ahah.


So what does your movie-viewing weekend look like? Did you get to see Prometheus?

Trailers of the Week: Trailer 2 of Prometheus & Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Happy Sunday all!

Hope you’ve recovered your festive St. Patrick’s Day! This is quite a big weekend for trailers, and given their epic-ness I can’t help but not posting ’em here.

PROMETHEUS

Woo hoo!! I was already looking forward to this from the start but with this trailer, my excitement just jumped tenfold! In case you haven’t seen it (or you just want to watch it again for the umpteenth time :)), here it is below:


EPIC is the word here, don’t you agree? I thought the first one was good but I was annoyed by title treatment but THIS, it’s nothing but mystifying awesomeness. This looks like Ridley Scott’s return to form and to a genre that he knew how to do so well! If the cast of Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Noomi Rapaci and Patrick Wilson didn’t sell you, this trailer surely will.

This has got to be the BEST trailer of all the 2012 blockbusters… it grips me right from the moment we hear Charlize Theron’s narration. It then begins asking a series of enigmatic question…

“An invitation … from whom?”

“What do you mean a life form?”

“They’re changing… changing into what?”

“They’re moving… to go where?”

The last 30 seconds are so damn intense my nerves is stretched to its snapping point… and ends with android-looking Fassbender stating… ‘big things have small beginnings.’ Woof!! Seriously that trailer is so goosebumps-inducing I don’t know if I’ve got the nerves to sit through the entire movie! The eerie background music definitely adds to the whole edge-of-your-seat experience.

Thanks to my pal Ted who sent me the International version, I decided to add this one to the post as well:


As Ted said in the comments, it’s perhaps closer in tone to the actual film, instead of the all-out action flick the US trailer suggest. Still, it promises a hair-raising and ominous journey for the team of explorers when they discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth.

This is poised to be the sci-fi event of this Summer folks! JUNE 8 can’t come soon enough!

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Ok, switching gear now from a futuristic space adventure to a supernatural but earth-bound adventure taking place in the 1800s. You’ve likely seen the International trailer a month ago which shows the US President his bad-ass side and his ax-wielding skills. Well the second one shows a bit more history and background to the story of the 16th US President’s secret life as a young man.

Check it out:

Historical fiction doesn’t get anymore free rein than this one, ahah… but this trailer definitely shows even more promise than the first one.

“History prefers nobility to brutality… prefers soaring speeches to quiet deeds… history remembers the battle, but forgets the blood…”

I like that this trailer shows more backstory of the and the idea of an American president trying to stop vampires from taking over the United States certainly capitalizes on the whole superhero theme, but with a giant twist. Nice to see Rufus Sewell as the villain leader being shown in the trailer, albeit way too quick… “It’s time we have a nation of our own,” he declares. Heh, blood sucking vampires in American politics?? Now that’s an idea 😉 Anyway, Rufus’ character is actually not in the Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel, he’s created specifically for the film.

I’m quite optimistic about this one, I do hope it’ll deliver!


You can read more about these two films on my Anticipated 2012 Part II post.


Thoughts on either one of these folks? Are you excited for Summer blockbuster to arrive?