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Alien: Covenant Review!

Movie Title

Alien: Covenant

 

Synopsis:  While on their journey through space to colonize a new planet, a crew of scientist and pilots aboard the colony ship “Covenant” discover an unknown paradise that may hold the key to their new home. They quickly realize that what was once paradise is now hell, and now they must escape the horrors that haunt them.

 

Actors:  Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride

 

My Thoughts: Before my viewing of Alien: Covenant, I figured I’d treat myself to re-watching the classic original. And boy what a classic it is! Everything from actors, set design, mood, and story felt genuinely real and horrifying. It’s been a long time since I’d seen it, and viewing it as an adult brings new found appreciation for its influences on the sub-genre. It also gave me a set of clear critical glasses through which I’d view “Covenant” with. That maybe the reason this movie had no real lasting impressions on me. Aside from a great soundtrack, a new neat looking creature and a beautiful set design that rivals the original, “Covenant” failed to live up to “Alien” and its sequel. It even failed to live up to the promises made in “Prometheus” and it failed that in such a monumental “don’t put your face near the alien pod” way.

It starts off strong, with a tragedy that sets the mood and tone of its characters. It is established that this crew of scientist and pilots mostly consist of couples, and with a few lines and screen time, this was a perfect way for me to care about these brave men and women once the chest bursting starts. While on their journey to inhabit a new planet, they intercept a transmission that seemed strangely familiar.  It is broadcast from a distant planet this crew had never seen nor had any plans of visiting. In typical horror movie sense, they decide to abandon their current course and embark on uncharted land. I smiled when this films signature female heroine (Katherine Waterston) warned the captain (Billy Crudup) of what dangers may await in unknown territory. It instantly reminded me of Ripley’s warning to her crew when she refused to let them on the ship because of the unknown species they encountered off ship. A women’s intuition never fails, am I right? Credit goes to Billy Crudup for his convincing portrayal of Captain Oram, a timid but well-intention man who seeks the approval and respect of his crew. Once landed, Oram and his crew began hiking the planet, breaking off into groups (never break into groups!) and it takes zero seconds before ish hits the fan! Apparently, the face huggers aren’t the only things infecting humans these days…it’s pollen! Or the equivalent of it in this film. This environmental infection births a new type of creature named Neomorphs. If these aliens were basketball players, the neomorph would be Steph curry and the xenomorph is LeBron James, both lethal, but one more so than the other. Not to be outdone by their beefier cousins, the neomorph burst through its victims back. This was a very delicious scene, and it took me back to when the first alien popped out that poor guys chest and starting singing…wait…wrong movie. Once the neomorphs burst (pun intended) on screen what transpires during these moments are the films highlights! I was excited, frustrated, scared, thrilled and upset that one character lost their spouse in such an unfortunate way. Another cool, well shot action scene that takes place in an open field follows.

Then that was it. After these events, the film declined in the worst way possible. It began to rely heavily on cheap horror tropes, and I mean heavy. I was stunned at what I was watching. This is Ridely Scott, he’s better than this, right? The only reasonable explanation is that the original writers were somehow infected with aliens and lye dead on the floor while they’re lesser talented replacements (a.k.a writers of Prometheus) took over. The writing intentionally puts these scientist in the most predictable and ridiculous situations, just to see them get murdered. And then there’s David and Walter. These are identical androids created by Waylon industry and both are played by Michael Fassbender. He has the best performance in this film. Mainly because he is given more to do and even a bigger, albeit upsetting, role to play. I’ll mention Walter first, because I liked Walter and he became the hero I was rooting for instead of Daniels (Katherine Waterston). At first, he seems like a robot that obeys all his master’s commands because, according to him, it’s his duty. He’s loyal to the covenant and its crew and is very empathetic, possibly romantically inclined, towards Daniels. He then meets David. We all remember David from Prometheus, right? He has an ominous scene with his creator Waylon, in the very beginning of the movie that comes full circle by its end. David ponders on creation, and the pride of seeing ones’ vison come into fruition. I remember asking my father how he felt when I was born, he said happy…very un-descriptive, but that’s my father. I asked him because I was trying to imagine what it would feel like to have my own child. I guess as creation ourselves we want to influence something or someone else. A legacy we can be proud of, a creation in our own likeness. God gave us that ability to create as humans. A luxury not provided to David. Yeah, I went all blade runner. Because that’s what this reminds me of. Ridley Scott Shared Universe anyone? Even well-respected Directors aren’t too good for a Cinematic Universe! David’s character has undergone some drastic development, since we’d last seen him. He’s now become, I assume, the sole antagonist for future films. Just wait until you see the unnecessary, foolish thing they do with his character. It will no doubt leave some fans highly upset. Star Wars prequels…. All over again. I forgot to mention the hilariously over the top homoerotic scene between him and Walter…. yep…Darn Prometheus writers! What disappoints me the most is how Ridley Scott decides to through everything that Prometheus sets up, in the trash. And then lights it on fire, while crushing it in a trash compactor. Maybe some of you didn’t care about Prometheus enough to allow this current development of the mythos bother you. I was at least interested in seeing what happened after David and Shaw took off at the end of Prometheus. Ultimately, I had a solid time with Alien: Covenant. It started off great and ended up Average. If you’re a fan of the Alien Franchise, then I recommend checking this out. You’re experience may very well be different than mine.

 

 

KONG: SKULL ISLAND REVIEW!!!!

Movie Title

KONG: SKULL ISLAND

 

Synopsis:  Two Scientist from an organization known as Monarch, receives funded for an Expedition to Skull Island. A mysterious uncharted island where monsters are said to be its inhabitants. Before embarking on this adventure, they enlist the help of an Army Convoy, a war photographer, and a former SAS soldier. From the moment they arrive they’re introduced to KONG. The Islands Behemoth Protector and KING.  As the story unfolds the scientist’s expedition turns into a fight for survival as they navigate unknown threats, to find their way home.

 

Actors: Samuel Jackson, John Goodman, Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Toby Kebbell, John C. Riley

 

My Thoughts: As a convoy of military choppers drop bombs on skull island, a palm tree thrown like a javelin comes hurling towards them out of nowhere. It rips right through one of the helicopters, leaving the rest flustered, like a school of pigeons after being interrupted by a toddler. After seeing their 100-ft. tall assailant their response is panic, awestruck, and terror……but one pilot, seeming strangely calm, asks “Is that a Monkey”? This visually stunning, action sequence is the equivalent of a thrill ride at universal studios, minus the arm and leg for admission. It’s the highlight of a film that boast some of the best choreographed action scenes I’ve seen in a monster movie thus far! Kong is no stranger to the general movie audience. He’s parodied in so many other mediums; i find it hard for anyone not to know who he is. I never saw the original but I became very interested when I first saw him slap boxing other giant creatures, Godzilla included. The cinematography really stands out in Skull island. Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kings of Summer) shoots the film in a way that would turn the blandest of action films into something unique. I’d suggest seeing this movie on the biggest screen possible. The island and its creatures are mysteriously beautiful and strange, yet terrifying. The jungles here are made to look like these soldiers never left the war in Vietnam. In one harrowing encounter a giant spider attacks them, and i imagine the experience is akin to the jungle warfare they endured in Vietnam. Anytime Kong is on screen they really give you a sense of his full size. When compared to us puny humans, he is breathtaking. He’s also more interesting in this film than his last trip to the big screen. He gets a back story, you see where he sleeps, eat lunch and of course throw down with a few other monsters that inhabits the island. Might as well have titled this “A Day in The Life of Kong”. There are human settlers on the island and they worship Kong as their protector, their king. It’s never really explained why he protects them. If he’s hungry why doesn’t he eat them? Is it because he sees them as the weakest, most fragile thing on the island? And so, feels compelled to keep them safe? He goes out of his way to protect these humans, both natives and invaders. It would have been nice to maybe get some exposition of why he’s our hero and not our doom. Maybe some things are better left a mystery.  This film could have easily fallen into one of the biggest gripes of monster movies. Forcing the audience to wait a whole hour before we get to see the monster itself, and instead have us sit through the insufferable humans. (Looking at you 2014 Godzilla) Not with Skull Island! After their first encounter with Kong, these explorers are plunged into a fight for survival. The story takes minor breaks but, mostly moves at a decent pace to keep its audience from getting to bored of it’s mostly wasted and dull humans. So, yea at least there’s more Kong…Right? I appreciate a diverse cast, but this one serves as a means to sell more tickets.  A few good, top billed actors are present and how they handle bad dialogue is a testament to their skill. Samuel Jackson does great with bad dialogue! His character is a soldier of war feeling jaded and bitter towards Vietnam’s outcome, hoping to gain some closure. He’s a contrast to Brie Larson’s character. A pacifist reporter fighting for peace with her trusty camera, that she never seems to use at the right time. She’s underutilized, amounting to nothing more than just being the new “Kong Girl”. A little banter or, a battle of morals, between her and Jackson’s character would have been interesting, but Kong…right? John Goodman’s vengeful, deranged scientist is awkwardly portrayed. Tom Hiddleston…is Indiana Jones? Less charismatic, albeit better looking. I was really looking forward to Tobey Kebbell’s character.  I have much respect for him. I believe he’s underrated and deserves better films to star in. At first his character seems to be the heart of skull island, but unfortunately, he’s not used to his capacity. I guess I should be grateful then, that he does the mo-cap for Kong himself. That makes it easier for me to forgive his wasted potential in this movie. The actual heart comes from the very likable and hilarious John C. Riley. When he was revealed to star in this film, many thought he’d ruin it for sure. Quite the opposite occurred and he became one of the best parts about it. He’s so good natured and innocent, that i genuinely felt sorry for his tragic story. His “hotdog and beer at Wrigley field” line was adorable and painted him as a man lost, but always hanging on to hope. How he came to be on the island is interesting, and I wanted them to explore more of it. Such a missed opportunity to really add depth to their human characters.  They attempt to make us care about the soldiers who tag along reluctantly on this expedition. I bought the comrade displayed between these guys, but they aren’t any different than your usual red shirts. The team of scientist fit this bill as well.  Kong: Skull Island is a thrill ride from start to finish, leaving the audience with the promise of more to come and a shared universe post credit scene that is ridiculously bad. A shared universe is nothing new to Kong and Godzilla and the promise of them facing off again is exciting! I was surprised to see quite a few families during my theater experience. There are frightening scenes probably too intense for some younger viewers, but this is a fun experience to have with your family. Skull Island could have been elevated pass it’s Blockbuster check list. It captures the style and imagery of films like Apocalypse Now, Rambo, and full metal jacket, but it doesn’t have the luxury of going to in-depth with the themes those movies explored. A few less characters and some commentary about the morality of war would have sufficed. I had a fun time with Kong Skull Island! Feel free to comment and ask questions! or simply discuss your favorite parts of the movie!

I belong in this world….

I Love God, I Love my Wife, and I Love Movies.  Here is where i can express my passion for recent and older films. I’ve been obsessed  with movies since high school. I can think back to the dozens of VHS tapes my dad kept in these old milk crates. Often i would arrange them and stack them in interesting ways. It’d take me hours and i had fun doing it. I took pride in our collection. I’d say that’s where my hobby(collecting movies) comes from.  We rarely had cable, So re-watching tapes was a perfect substitute. I was excited when i was given a chance to purchase new ones. One of my favorites i got to pick out was Lord Of The Rings:The Two Towers. Tearing the plastic off it felt like opening a gift on Christmas. I marveled at the box art! Even today i still have that same appreciation for creative box art. Having that VHS collection planted a seed; and later in my life, People and experiences would validate my love for film and my appreciation of the art. Those stories though, i’ll save for a later time. Now i would give you a primer into my mind. I want my Blog to have purpose and meaning and maybe even add value to your life. Is that not the purpose of film? To add value to ones life? What is the purpose of anything, if not to add Value? Movies did that for me. It added worlds and stories and Characters that stretched my imagination, inspired me, educated me and even gave me a feeling of belonging to the world i inhabit.  I’m not trying to change the world. I simply want to  encourage others and inspire them to find something that makes them feel they belong in the world.