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.

Review: Alien³ (1992)

5

alien 3 poster

“You’ve been in my life so long, I can’t remember anything else.”
– Ellen Ripley

SYNOPSIS: Ripley continues to be stalked by a savage alien, after her escape pod crashes on a prison planet. – via IMDB

The one iconic moment from the movie:

alien 3 iconic

Instead, this is what we dealt with the entire time :/

alien 3 cgialien 3 bad cg

GRADE 4What the hell happened here?! And to have Fincher’s name attached to it? Oh the shocking horror, the shame! Alien3 is terrible. Let’s not beat around the bush. But then, even Fincher hates it, and all the production woes and strong-arming is evident every second of the way through this. Even the presence of Weaver, Dance and company could not save it. Oh no, this was deeply flawed from the off.

I think the biggest offender here is the CGI/effects. It is unacceptable and cringe-worthy. It is some of the worst I have ever laid eyes on. In fact, it was equal in ways for me as the CG used in The Wrath of Paul Bunyan (remember that, Shitfest Social watchers?!). Wow. It is unforgivable. Alright, I understand that the xenomorph itself is a puppet, but the editing to get the limbs and shadows and all that right just makes it look so ridiculous. So not only are we watching some limp story, but the xenomorph isn’t even scary. From time to time we get to see a quick glimpse of it as a costume and not some silly computer generated kitty cat/dog/what the fuck ever that was, and it is way better then.

Let’s not even talk about the fact that within the first few minutes, this movie completely kills off what happened in Aliens – not the events, but the escape. I get that it is to move the story along and all that, but come on guys! Kick in the teeth right there. Then there was the thing with Ripley and Dance’s Clemens. I could deal with a romance aspect being tossed in (I was quite keen on Hicks and Ripley), but I was not keen on how it was rushed from meeting, to immediately asking about a mutual interest, to taking that mutual interest to bed. It happened so fast, and it felt forced. Not because they didn’t work well together, because they did, it was just how it was handled – clunky and clumsy all the way.

The cast did the best that they could with the material that they were given, and I did enjoy the performances for this film as they are worth noting. I hated the aspect of Ripley being a temptation to the men there in the prison, like it would be her fault if she got raped or hurt because, hey, these religious dudes are all good and well until a woman forces them to lose their shit. I was so not a fan of that insinuation at all.

Back to the xenomorph, my other half and I are of the firm opinion that it looks like the xenomorph is humping its prey when it gets to them… every single time. I don’t even want to go there. I appreciate that the xenomorph of this film was trying to be something else, but it wasn’t scary like the others, and I think a large part of that was due to the fact that the alien just wasn’t really that bright. Oh well.

Overall, Alien3 is just a bust all round: bad effects, some truly stilted dialogue and a flimsy story with a xenomorph that is lacking, despite the solid performances all round, this movie could not be saved.

Review: Aliens (1986)

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aliens cover

“Just tell me one thing, Burke. You’re going out there to destroy them, right? Not to study. Not to bring back. But to wipe them out.”
– Ellen Ripley

SYNOPSIS: 57 years after her ordeal with an extraterrestrial creature, Ellen Ripley is rescued by a deep salvage team during her hypersleep. When she discovers that transmissions from a colony that has since settled on the alien planet suddenly stop, Ripley is offered a chance to team up with a group of marines to descend on the planet and investigate the alien presence. Determined to end the memories of the alien creature, Ripley agrees to the offer and is once again thrown back into her living nightmare. – via IMDB

aliens

GRADE 8Now, I might be burnt at the stake for this, but as much as I liked this one, it does not hold a candle to the original (for me). I know most people find it an equal sequel and, in some cases, superior to the original, but I don’t think so. Obviously my score says I liked it just fine, and I did. Aliens is a damn fine film that has a hell of a lot going for it and is a supremely fun film. It is shot well, looks great and allows you plenty of time to ogle the xenomorphs, which is awesome, and offers immense amounts of action and drama, but there are a few things that irritate me.

I think the biggest irritation for me in this is Bill Paxton’s Private Hudson. He is whiny and screaming constantly and shouting and just sounding like a dweeb without fail, and it isn’t cool. It starts out as one thing and ultimately ends up working on your last nerve. It isn’t funny. It isn’t entertaining. It induces eye rolling. Also, sometimes the score just didn’t seem to work as smoothly as it could’ve, and some of the performances were overdone in places. This all, however, does not make it a bad movie. There is much to love.

Ellen Ripley is back and she is kicking some major ass all over the show, and the queen xenomorph is nasty as sin, and that birthing system? Ick. Then there is Hicks, and the relationship that is budding between him and Ripley the whole time, allowing you to hope for the best, and Newt becoming an important redeeming point for Ripley, whose daughter had passed while she was lost in space, and Newt (who can scream like few others), who lost her family to the aliens on the planet her folks had relocated to. Michael Biehn and Sigourney Weaver were brilliant opposite one another, and I really enjoyed seeing every second of them together.

I was also a fan of Bishop, though it was incredibly evident that Ripley couldn’t give a damn about him, and after Ash, who could blame her? Lance Henriksen was a great Bishop, and I liked him from the beginning, even with the misgivings after the last psycho android that Ripley came upon. The ending, while I liked it, dragged in places. It’s almost like a test to see how many times you can throw a life-threatening a last minute xenomorph encounter up and have it accepted. It carried on for just a tad too long, in my opinion. I loved seeing the xenomorphs here, while they were still creepy as hell and not killed with CGI *hem hem Alien 3*. It was great for them to get so much screen time, plus the immense amounts of action scenes and choreography is also well worth watching. Aliens is a solid movie with a lot to like about it, though it does have a few hiccups.

Review: Alien (1979)

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alien poster

“Wait a minute. If we let it in, the ship could be infected. You know the quarantine procedure. Twenty-four hours for decontamination.”
– Ellen Ripley

SYNOPSIS: The commercial vessel Nostromo receives a distress call from an unexplored planet. After searching for survivors, the crew heads home only to realize that a deadly bioform has joined them. – via IMDB

alien chestbuster

It’s all like: “Was I fucking talking to you?”

GRADE 9Alien is a sci-fi horror classic, and with good reason. This is just one of those films that hit on all the right notes so often. Alien is old, but has aged well, and still manages to crawl under the skin all these years later, and it is terrific. The soundtrack is creepy, and it sure as hell drives in that terrible feeling of isolation and loneliness, something the movie has in spades.

This crew is in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no backup, no way home and mysterious orders from home, as well as some weird planet outside that is so obviously not right. The miniscule crew lands on the planet to check out the distress signal they have received, and from there all hell breaks loose. I cannot believe Ripley never pulled the “I told you so” card. I mean after all was said and done, she was the only one thinking straight, and because of an android and an emotional ship captain and hysterical woman, total terror and drama had to be unleashed. Don’t think for one second my pettiness would be forgotten when everyone devolves into total panic and starts screaming about what the hell is going wrong and what are we doing to do… prime time for I-told-you-sos. True story.

The story keeps you captivated from the off, and you marvel the space exploration, the hyper sleep, the incessant complaining about money and finally, whatever they brought back onto the ship with them. I like the fact that the alien arc itself is not rushed, but gradually presented from egg to facehugger to chestpopper to scary stalker, you get to see this terrifying creature every step of the way, and it truly just gets scarier as it continues. The performances were solid, too, and there wasn’t anything that was too out there that it detracted from the story – the crew reactions were quite believable.

Sigourney Weaver is the perfect Ellen Ripley – that woman is badass and she handles herself so well and is deserving of all the respect she gets. Alien is shot well, and implements the shaky cam effect in all the right places, so it does not get frustrating or annoying, but actually lends to the situation at hand. As you can tell, there is quite a lot to love about Alien, and I am sure there are many of you that will agree with me. Old school horror is just one of those things that oozed charm and originality, something that has been lost over the years. Alien is everything you want in a survival horror – solid performances, isolation, a phenomenal monster, plot twists and a heroine worth supporting.