Alien: Covenant

Alien_Covenant_Teaser_PosterAlien:  Covenant (2017) – 5/10

Well, I’ll just start by saying that it’s a very high bar against which to measure any movie in the Alien franchise.  While this sequel to Prometheus is better, it pales in comparison to the original two.

Visually interesting – Aesthetically compelling scenes:  space, the alien planet, the ancient city and the interstellar ship.

Cra-cra android – Michael Fassbender does a competent job juxtaposing David’s ‘Hannibal’ like evil against Walter’s steadfast loyalty.  As David, his search for ‘the creator’ and disdain for humanity leads to the origin of the alien we know and love so well.  Just have to add that Walter’s American(?) accent sounds pretty phoney.

Stupid villagers/engineers – Let’s all gather in the town square where we’re really vulnerable and our entire civilisation can be destroyed.  These are superior beings?

Pacing – No suspense, no slow build.  The other alien movies seemed so much longer than this one because of the slow build and palpable tension.  Covenant is frenetic and uncontrolled, like a pin ball game, bouncing off walls and bumpers.  Directionless coupled with poor decision making.

Crew – Well, we just don’t care about them.  Our hero (Jack McCoy’s daughter) is ok and it’s probably not fair to compare her to Ripley but I wanted more stature, more poise. And, didn’t she notice at the end of the movie that the wounds on ‘Walter’s’ face weren’t healing?  Come on.  But I guess she had been through a lot.

And while this is not a military operation, per se, you would think that the crew of an interstellar ship transporting 2000 colonists and 1000 human embryos would have some training in how to respond in a crisis situation.  Seriously here’s how that initial scene on the lander unfolded . . . ‘oh I have to lock you in the med lab cause there’s something really dangerous going on; no you can’t come out and it doesn’t matter that I also have infected blood spatter on my face; oh my, things don’t look so good, I know, I’ll get a gun and open the door to the med lab to help; wow didn’t expect the situation to be so difficult to handle; whoops there goes the shuttle up in flames.’  Witness the little alien scampering away to wreak havoc on the rest of the crew.

The Alien –  Really wanted the alien, newly birthed from Captain Oram’s chest, to don a top hat and start singing ‘hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime, summertime gal’.  Now that’s a classic.

Life

Life_(2017_film)Life (2017) – 2/10

The possibility of life on Mars always makes for compelling viewing.  Jake Gyllenhaal and to a lesser degree Ryan Reynolds are fine actors.  This is going to be good.

Wait, what’s that tag line? I think they meant we were better off without this movie.

A group of highly educated and trained astronauts working in a confined space. With crazy quarantine protocols. Making life and death decisions based on emotion.

An extremely intelligent and very hungry alien. And it’s definitely evil; evil with capitals and in bold.  EVIL.  

Never stood a chance.  Earth is in trouble.  If you are looking for an intelligent, well acted, interesting science fiction flick then you are better off without this movie.

 

Midnight Special

Midnight_Special_(film)_posterMidnight Special (2016) – 5/10

I really wanted to see this movie.  It had a limited cinema release so I waited for it to arrive at my local video store. I harassed the video store people because they simply did not call me back all day after I reserved the movie.  I mean there were about 15 DVD boxes on the shelf so surely one of the DVDs would get returned, right?

It seemed surprising that there were 15 copies of this limited release movie for rent but, you know, I considered this a sign of how good the movie was.  BTW, evidently my video store now puts more film boxes on the shelf than they have movies (there were actually only two copies of ‘Midnight Special’).  The video store clerk said they do that because it ‘looks better’.  Further proof that marketing is evil.

Anyway, on to the movie.  So this is another  Jeff Nichols, Michael Shannon collaboration (remember the amazing film ‘Take Shelter’).  Also starring interesting Aussie actor Joel Edgerton and occasionally competent Kirsten Dunst.

The opening scenes are compelling.  We join the father, son and father’s friend on their midnight run from a religious cult and the US government.  The boy is special; the mystery intriguing. The story and driving sound track build but ultimately can’t sustain to a satisfactory conclusion.  Too many reveals and superficial emotional angst fail to connect the viewer.

 

Silent Running

Silent_runningSilent Running (1972) – 6/10

Young Bruce Dern is Freeman Lowell, a post apocalyptic environmental activist.   What is left of earth’s flora and fauna exists in geodesic domes carried safely in space by American Airlines commercial ships.

Dressed in a hippie frock Lowell cavorts with the native rabbits and turtles (there’s even a bird of prey) and eats home grown rock melon and lettuce.  His colleagues run riot in their supercharged buggies subsisting on synthetic supplements.

In a desperate act to subvert orders to destroy the domes Lowell takes the life of his three human companions.

Left to tend to the last dome with his two droids, Lowell revisits his deed descending into despair.  A tragic yet expected ending.  The last garden of eden adrift; follow the little droid, caretaker of hope.

The Running Man

images-1The Running Man (1987) – 6/10

Wow.  Arnie was so young and so on steroids.  One liners in abundance.  What’s not to like about this movie?  Based on a short story by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King).  Directed by Paul Michael Glaser the original ‘Starsky’.  80s glam dancers’ choreography by Paula Adbul.   Richard Dawson a parody of himself.

Game shows stakes are high in dystopian America.  Lucky audience members choose from stalkers Dynamo, Buzzsaw, Subzero or Fireball to battle expendable citizens.

80s fashion and hairstyles – big silver geometric earrings.  Love the costumes.  Two memorable scenes:  After his escape from prison Arnie dresses as a labourer complete with suspenders and a little yellow safety hat?  Stalker Dynamo covered with fairy lights drives a vehicle not much bigger than himself up a steep hill of refuse.  Tumbling down he comes.  Was he thinking?