Review: Alien: Covenant (2017)

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“I think if we are kind, it will be a kind world.”
– Walter

SYNOPSIS: The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape. – via IMDB

Alrighty, this is a movie I have been looking forward to for some time, and I know that my review is rather late in posting, especially considering I actually watched it weeks ago when it first came out. Alien: Covenant is worth the watch. I know that there has been some bitching online, but people need to breathe. There were some niggles to be had here, and there were some things that should be celebrated too.

First and foremost, Covenant managed to balance what I had hoped Prometheus would have when it came out: the gore and the existential philosophising. This is handled really well. The creation question still emerges and is dealt with far better here than in its predecessor, as it handles the themes as introduced in Prometheus more successfully, yet still delivers the blood and gore one craves when watching an Alien movie. It sets an atmosphere again that is both isolated and creepy as hell, much like the Alien films of old. It also has plenty action and some deep themes to look into, and there is blood. Oh yes, all that blood.

The cast, too, was pretty good here. Yes, a lot of them were there purely for sacrifice and the bloodletting we spoke about above, but then there are some performances that stand out. I was surprised that Danny McBride didn’t get under my skin as always, and I actually quite enjoyed Tennessee’s scenes, he was entertaining. Then there is Katherine Waterson’s Daniels, a resolute woman who is easy to root for, and I appreciate that. Naturally everybody has been raving about Michael Fassbender’s performance(s) in this, and I totally get why. The man is brilliant and an absolute scene stealer. I mean wow. He totally got involved here and brought all the goods to the table.

Now, I did have some issues. I didn’t like that the one huge plotsie that was set out here is so damn transparent it is impossible to miss. I would have liked some more mystery there. Another thing, I was not overly sold on all the different xenomorphs here. Yes, we get different ones for each film, yes, they all bring something to the table, but these ones made me thing a lot of the cat-like, super bad CGI xenomorphs of Alien³. Really. Also, the effects were a little dodgy at the best of times and pulled me totally out of the experience, which sucked a bit. A huge gripe I had was that ridiculously unnecessary sex/shower scene that was tacked in here. It had no place in the movie, and was totally uncalled for. Not a fan.

Alien: Covenant hits the ground running with its story and execution. Definitely nothing new at all, but it is brutal, fast paced, carried by good performances, and sets an atmosphere for the audience. The pacing is also quite good, as it doesn’t feel rushed or drawn out. While not a perfect movie, it is a damn enjoyable one. Scott gets to balance out his Prometheus themes with the horror of his original Alien, and so Covenant is birthed and I can appreciate it. Worth a watch I say, especially if you are a fan of the Alien franchise.

Rapid Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

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“Everything they’ve built will fall! And from the ashes of their world, we’ll build a better one!”
– Apocalypse

SYNOPSIS: With the emergence of the world’s first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan. – via IMDB

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GRADE 7Yes! I finally went to see this. My husband wasn’t thrilled (he loves going to the cinema), but he knew it is one of the few superhero movies I will insist on seeing in the cinema. Screw that, any new movie in this franchise will have me tripping out, no matter how many installments. I know, it sounds mad. I think the reviews have been unjustly harsh towards X-Men: Apocalypse, though it is by no means a perfect movie. It definitely doesn’t have the wow factor of Days of Future Past, and the plot is a little messy (okay, maybe a dash more than a little), and there were some holes, and the pacing was a bit off. The villain, Apocalypse, was also quite disappointing in the long run. As much as I like Oscar Isaac, this was really not good. There was so much more that could have been done with this character! His rising and the X-Men battling him was so rushed and quick, his true power and danger is never really realised, which is a pity. Besides that, the cast is, as is to be expected, excellent. McAvoy is a fantastic Charles, and Fassbender, of course, delivers as the tortured Erik. I wish that the two of them had been given more screen time, if I am being honest, but I loved them when they were there. Also, Nicholas Hoult could have done with more screen time, too. Okay, I think one of the large flaws of the film is that there are a ton of characters, and none are really done any real justice. Evan Peters returns and owns as Quicksilver, which I loved. I must say though, his hit scene from DOFP was recreated here, and as entertaining as it was, it wasn’t perfect like the last one, and didn’t thrill me as much. It also felt squished in, like it was expected. Fun, but a little off. Sophie Turner really impressed me as Jean Grey (and trust me, this was something I was extremely leery about), and Tye Sheridan’s Scott Summers didn’t manage to peeve me endlessly, which in and of itself is a feat. Last but not least, I want to talk about how awesome Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Nightcrawler is. I was so stoked to see the Nightcrawler return, and to see him get such a large role was fantastic. Happy as can be! Look, he is no Alan Cumming, but he was still wonderful, and I am hoping to see more of him in future movies. Also, a young Storm? Yay! Yes, I had a total ball with all these things. I actually think this film is going to appeal more to people who love the X-Men franchise, and not necessarily newcomers. That being said, I enjoyed the story, but didn’t love it, it was flawed, but a fun film, the effects were good, but there were issues, but I would definitely recommend it for a watch. I really am such a fan of going back to see how the X-Men formed, how the relationships were, how everything was before, and I really think a great job is being done with that. I am going to stop now, before this review gets excessively long.

Rapid Review: Steve Jobs (2015)

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“What do you do? You’re not an engineer. You’re not a designer. You can’t put a hammer to a nail. I built the circuit board! The graphical interface was stolen! So how come ten times in a day I read Steve Jobs is a genius? What do you do?”
– Steve Wozniak

SYNOPSIS: Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8This is a film that seemed to fly quite under the radar, and I am not sure why. It has meant that this movie has been grossly overlooked, which is saying something. The cast, the director, the screenwriter? This movie had it all, and yet still not nearly as huge as you would expect it to be. The movie is tightly written, even though there are flaws (seriously, all the big reveals and life learning happens to Jobs before a new product launch without fail is just too much to bear). I really enjoyed the cast here, and felt they all did a solid job. Fassbender was phenomenal, though this is to be expected, and Kate Winslet, as always, held her own every step of the way. Seth Rogen also took on a more serious role here as Wozniak and I really liked him and his portrayal. I didn’t even roll my eyes, and think he was very well suited for the part. Jeff Daniels was really good as John Sculley. Michael Stuhlbarg was also impressive as Andy Hertzfeld. Steve Jobs is very dialogue-centric, which is not something I had a problem with. In fact, I always appreciate that in a film if it can carry itself based purely on conversation and not spend precious story time showing us things. I love something that makes you listen and think. Unlike my husband, I am not too well versed with the IT industry and the people in it, and did not know much about Jobs going into this. I was horrified to learn he was such an asshole. Like, really. I knew that he was a thief of note, stealing ideas from everyone, etc. and he didn’t really understand the technical aspect of computers. I know a load of people in IT and none of them really appreciate Jobs, but are more keen on the people that actually made the things happen (again, I can’t go too much into this, it is just what I hear them discuss, though they will acknowledge other things about Jobs). Again, I am not too familiar with it all, so I can assume that a lot of creative liberties must have been taken in the film, but all I learnt from it was that Jobs was a twat and that he treated people awfully. For real. I thought the casting of Fassbender was a stroke of genius. He was fantastic here, and worth every moment of your time. Maybe not a movie I will be rushing out to see over and over again, but I am glad that I saw it and it is well worth a watch, without a doubt.

Review: Prometheus (2012)

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“How far would you go to get your answers?”
– David

SYNOPSIS: Following clues to the origin of mankind a team journey across the universe and find a structure on a distant planet containing a monolithic statue of a humanoid head and stone cylinders of alien blood but they soon find they are not alone. – via IMDB

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The first time that I watched Prometheus I was exceptionally underwhelmed. Like, to the nth degree. There are plot holes and super flaws and so many subplots that are introduced and never wrapped up, there is just too much wrong with this film to make it great. It did have a stellar cast, and they worked with what they had and did a pretty good job.

I thoroughly enjoy Idris Elba, so to see him as Captain Janek was awesome. Theron grated (har har, imagine this) on my last nerve, again, though I expected no less. Guy Pearce could certainly have been used better, I wish we had seen more of Benedict Wong’s Ravel, and Noomi Rapace did just fine as the ill-fated Shaw. I think the one actor that truly think shone from the off in this film was Michael Fassbender. His David was charming, freaky, strange, something you couldn’t quite understand, more layered than any of the other characters and his performance was excellent and consistent. I had a blast watching him.

Let’s talk about something that really bugged me in this movie: nobody bats an eye for any of the messed up stuff going on. Heck, Vickers uses a flamethrower on Holloway, killing him in front of his lover, Elizabeth Shaw, and nobody bats an eye. Then there is the whole David betrayal, again, not a word, and what about the fact that Shaw is limping around later, abdomen gashed open and all that? Nobody bats an eye or says anything. I cannot buy into it. Someone will have to ask something sooner or later, no matter what.

Pity this was one of those films that had a trailer that was infinitely better than the final product – and before people get iffy about it, it is the truth. The trailer was intense, there was so much happening, there was urgency and fear and a real dangerous problem, by the looks of it. In fact, it pretty much gave away anything and everything of interest in the movie. Now, as for the film itself? It was languishing, there were holes in the script, there were things that just did not make sense, there was nothing so completely awesome in there to blow your mind, it was slow and trundled along, never really creating serious tension or delivering anything… it was just another movie. Simple as that. No more, no less. It explored big themes, or tried to, but delivered nothing.

I didn’t hate the movie like I did the first time around (because hell, I despised it), probably because I knew what to expect this time around, but it remains extremely flawed and doesn’t really offer anything. There are places the story can be taken from here and some exceptionally interesting premises that were granted and concepts that could be a thing of beauty, but what we got from Prometheus, on its own? Nothing, nothing at all, because nothing was ultimately realised. Aside from all that, the movie was shot well and looked pretty good, and the Engineers were interesting though incredibly underutilised, though I suppose this will help set up for a sequel. Uhm… I don’t really have much else to say, so I will just end it here.

Sporadic Scene: X-Men: First Class (2011) – Wolverine’s Cameo

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I was so stoked about X-Men: First Class. I mean really. There were just way too many things that were going for it for it to bomb, so there was that. It was also nice to have a less Wolverine-centric movie than we have seen in a while, though I must admit that the Wolverine certainly had a cameo that was just perfect on so many levels.

If you have a scene that you would like featured, drop me a mail at sporadiczoe@hotmail.com with a picture/gif/video of the scene and an explanation as to why (should you want to include it).

Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

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“The future: a bleak desolate, place. Mutants and the humans who helped them, united in defeat by an enemy we could not stop. Is this the fate we have set for ourselves? Could we have done nothing to stop it?”
– Professor Charles Xavier

A dystopian future of bleak proportions play out the days of the remaining mutants. Made made Sentinels are tracking and hunting down the mutants. Mutants and people who attempted to help them have been captured, they are being butchered and hunted and murdered. Their race is nearing extinction. Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) works with Bobby “Iceman” Drake (Shawn Ashmore), James “Warpath” Proudstar (Booboo Stewart), Peter “Colossus” Rasputin (Daniel Cudmore), Roberto “Sunspot” da Costa (Adan Canto), Clarice “Blink” Fergusen (Fan Bingbing), and Bishop (Omar Sy). They have been relatively successful at avoiding the Sentinels and their tracking beacons. They meet up with Charles “Professor X” Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Erik “Magneto” Lehnsherr (Ian McKellan), Ororo Storm Monroe (Halle Berry), and Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Kitty is asked to send Charles’s consciousness back to the seventies, when Raven “Mystique” Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence) killed Boliver Trask (Peter Dinklage), setting this entire debacle in motion. Mystique’s DNA is also what has made the Sentinels so strong. Charles knows his body will not survive it, and Wolverine steps forwards. His body can heal quickly, and he decides that he will be the one that will have to do what he can to make it right.

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“Basically, your body will go to sleep while your mind travels back in time. Whatever you do won’t change anything, not until you wake up. And then everything will be different, and you’ll be the only one who knew what happened before.” – Kitty Pryde

Returning to the seventies, Logan visits Charles’s school, but finds it shut down. He runs into Hank “Beast” McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), and a fight ensues. Ultimately Logan gets to speak to Charles (James McAvoy), and is shocked to find him walking around, but it seems he is powerless. He is taking a serum created by Hank which allows him to walk but blocks his telepathic abilities. Logan cannot understand how and why Charles is such a shattered man, embittered, twisted, furious with the world. Ultimately Logan convinces Charles that he needs his help, and that his older self and Erik have sent him from the future. They need to get Erik (Michael Fassbender) to help, though he is imprisoned at the Pentagon. Enlisting the help of Peter “Quicksilver” Maximoff (Evan Peters), they break him out. Naturally he and Charles have got issues with each other, but they really need to find a way around them so as to work together to stop Raven, to prevent the ghastly future that Logan has come from. He also does not have a lot of time, seeing as the Sentinels are tracking them in the future, and if they find them there will be a problem.

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“All those years wasted fighting each other, Charles.” – Erik Lehnsherr

Trask is having serious getting his Sentinel program approved, and it getting progressively angrier about it, as he perceives mutants to be a terrible threat. Tracking down Raven proves to be a bit of an issue, and nothing about their intervention goes even remotely as planned. Erik has a different idea about saving the future, and attempts to kill Raven after stopping her from killing Trask. Charles is angered, and Logan is losing his tether to this era and really needs to make it back to them. Trask has scraped some of Mystique’s blood off the pavement and is working with Major William Stryker (Josh Helman), but they need more DNA. The world witnessed the bloody fights in detail, and are terrified now that they know mutants exist. President Richard Nixon (Mark Camacho) calls for the execution of the Sentinel program. Mystique needs to recover after having barely escaped Erik’s intentions. Logan, Charles, Erik, and Beast need to find a way to fix what has happened, but they all seem to have other ideas about how they are going to go about it. Logan has to convince Charles to regain his abilities, to make a difference, though Charles seems to have no desire whatsoever of getting back on that track. Charles, meanwhile, is desperately struggling to get through to Raven, to express his apologies, to make things right.

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“There is a new enemy out there: mutants. You need a new weapon for this war.” – Boliver Trask

Will Charles be able to salvage things between him and Raven? Will Erik always have the outlook on the world that he does? Will he and Charles find a way to work with each other? Will Logan be able to band them all together on time and have them change the past, to impact the future? Will Charles give up the use of his legs to harness the power of his mind? Will they be able to create an alternative future, one where mutants are not hunted and slaughtered, where they live in freedom? Will Mystique successfully kill Trask?

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“Just because someone stumbles and loses their path, doesn’t mean they can’t be saved.” – Professor Charles Xavier

I must say that I was exceptionally impressed with this. This was a fine return to form for the franchise after that awful Wolverine film of last year. Hugh Jackman reprises his role of Wolverine and impressed me endlessly. Then there was the combination of bringing Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart back for their roles as the older Charles and Erik, and crossing that with the younger versions of themselves, portrayed by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. It was amazing to see the two separate generations combined in one film. The effects in this film were amazing and definitely assisted with the thrill ride. The dystopian future which the mutants find themselves in really is dreary and depressing. Seeing Charles and Erik united once more was something to see, always being the best of friends but always being on completely opposite sides. The performances were fantastic, and there was plenty of humour considering the serious subject matter, but that never stopped it from being intense. I really, really liked the plane scene, the reasons Erik and Charles both had, it was one hell of a scene. Evan Peters as Quicksilver is something that I really did not see coming. I adore Peters as an actor, he amazes me, and I was sure he was going to do the best with the material that he had. However, I had no idea that the material was going to be so great, and he was truly a showstealer every second he was on screen. The concept of the film was great, and wasn’t too intense to wrap your mind around. Seeing Charles in his confused state as his younger self was a difficult thing to watch. Angry, embittered and sour, McAvoy truly delivered in his role. Fassbender, too, impressed me endlessly as Erik, imprisoned and furious. The tension between the two was quite heavy, and McAvoy and Fassbender truly sold it. Wolverine was funnier in here than he has been recently, though I have no issues with seeing a serious and dramatic Logan, it seems that the fans only want the lighthearted man, cocky and sure of himself. Then there was the whole Sentinel story, which was exceptionally interesting, coming together extremely well. Lawrence delivered another solid performance as Mystique. Definitely worth hauling out your cash for and seeing in theatre, X-Men: Days of Future Past delivered far more than expected, delivering a solid film for the year!

Review: X-Men: First Class (2011)

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“Mutation. It is the key to our evolution. It is how we have evolved from a single-cell organism into the dominant species on the planet. This process is slow, normally taking thousands and thousands of years. But every few millennia evolution leaps forward.” 
– Professor Charles Xavier

In a concentration camp in Germany, 1944, young Erik Lehnsherr (Bill Milner) is separated from his Jewish family. In a panic state, he reaches out to them and through some force pulls down the metal gates. Naturally, this piques the interest of Dr Klaus Schmidt (Kevin Bacon), who brings Erik in to study him. Ordering Erik to move a coin, he expects results. When nothing happens, he orders Erik’s mother to be shot before him, which gets the powers going, and he kills the guards and wrecks the room. Erik is a changed man. Back in the states, a young telepathic boy named Charles Xavier (Laurence Belcher) makes the acquaintance of another mutant, a shapeshifter, named Raven Darkhome (Morgan Lily). She moves in with the family and becomes his foster sister.

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“We are the children of the atom. Radiation gave birth to mutants. What will kill the humans will only make us stronger.” – Sebastian Shaw

In 1962, Erik (Michael Fassbender) has made it his life’s work to track down Schmidt and kill him for what he did to his mother. Charles (James McAvoy), on the other hand, has made quite the name for himself after having studied genetics. Raven is still with him, though the two seem to be slightly at odds about what mutation means to them. CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) is assigned to follow US Army Colonel Hendry (Glenn Morshower), where she sees him enter the Hellfire Club. There she sees him converse with Schmidt, now known as Sebastian Shaw. With Shaw are his partners, the telepathic Emma Frost (January Jones), teleporter Azazel (Jason Flemyng), and Riptide (Álex González), a mutant who can produce cyclones. He is teleported out of there, and advocates the deployment of nuclear missiles in Turkey. Nobody at the CIA believes Moira, and she decides to take matters into her own hands. She approaches Charles for his advice on mutation, and takes him and Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) with her to discuss matters with the CIA director John McCone (Matt Craven). It does not go the way that she was expecting, and he flips out. Another CIA agent (Oliver Platt), offers that they accompany him to “Division X”, a secret facility with mutants at the core. There they meet Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), a genius scientist.

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“I’ve been at the mercy of men just following orders. Never again.” – Erik Lehnsherr

Charles meets Erik when Shaw has been tracked down (Moira’s people have found him). It seems that Erik has also finally worked out the whereabouts of his nemesis. Charles manages to rescue Erik, who damn nears drowns when attempting to pull Shaw’s submarine out of the ocean. Together they head back to Division X, where Erik meets the team. Hank explains that he has developed a machine called Cerebro, one that cal locate other mutants. Charles uses this machine with his telepathic abilities and tracks down mutants. He and Erik set out across the country to recruit these mutants to join them. They discover Alex “Havok” Summers (Lucas Till), Sean “Banshee” Cassidy (Caleb Landry Jones), Armando “Darwin” Muñoz (Edi Gathegi), Angel Salvadore (Zoë Kravitz). These kids all get together and seem to enjoy themselves, picking their mutant names and dubbing Charles “Professor X” and Erik “Magneto”. Erik sets out on a revenge mission to take down Shaw, with Charles and Moira coming along. However, Shaw is not at the designated meeting place in the USSR, and Erik flips out. Charles ultimately goes to help him, and there they capture Emma Frost. It seems that Shaw is intent on starting World War III. Returning to Division X, they find that the place has been wrecked, Riptide, Azazel, and Shaw had been there, killing everyone but the mutants. They were recruiting, and only Angel left with them. The kids are in shock. Erik gets them set on a path for vengeance, to avenge the death of Darwin, to make things right.

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“Are you really so naive as to think that they won’t battle their own extinction? Or is it arrogance?” – Erik Lehnsherr

Shaw has managed to convince the USSR to install missiles in Cuba. Hank is sure that Raven’s DNA contains the cure for their appearances, and develops a cure. Erik, on the other hand, is advocating that they should be proud of being mutants, and encourages Raven to remain in her natural blue form. Charles has a mansion which he uses for them all to move to, somewhere where they can train, master their abilities. Will they be able to stop Shaw? Will Shaw succeed in starting World War III?

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“There’s so much more to you than you know, not just pain and anger. There’s good in you too, and you can harness all that. You have a power that no one can match, not even me.” – Charles Xavier

An 8/10 for X-Men: First Class. This is really a favourite of mine, something I have fun with all the time. I think it was incredibly well put together and that a wonderful cast was chosen to represent the younger mutants we have come to know and love over the years. James McAvoy is a phenomenal younger Charles Xavier, and I cannot fault his performance. I liked how he managed to bring it though (especially watching him with Raven), that he was preaching something but not necessarily always practising it in his youth. He talks about being proud of being a mutant, but is always encouraging Raven to hide herself. McAvoy is an incredibly talented actor, and this was just another place he shone. Then there is Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr, and I thought that he was also just fantastic as a young, powerful and incredibly embittered man on a revenge mission of note. Kevin Bacon was entertaining as Shaw, and really was just an evil dude. I liked the effects of this movie, the back story for all the characters as well as who was cast to play them now. I liked the progression of the plot, it construed the story nicely and wasn’t too jumbled. I thoroughly enjoyed Hugh Jackman’s cameo as Wolverine in here, had me laughing. Watching Charles and Erik develop and begin their fantastic friendship was awesome. They were both at opposing ends in their beliefs, but friends down at the core of it all with an immense amount of respect for each other. Jennifer Lawrence is also a pretty cool younger Raven, and I thought she did that rather well, handling Raven’s confusion about being a mutant as well as where/how she fits in to society. A wonderful addition to the franchise, and definitely a much needed breath of fresh air.