Alien:Covenant

This film has been on my mind a fair bit since its release. I had mixed feelings going into it due to Prometheus. Prometheus is a movie I think is very beautiful to look at and has some decent bits in, but overall is a bit of a mess. It feels like it’s trying to tell two stories by two different camps from the production standpoint. In one camp you’ve got the urge to make an prequel film for the Alien franchise, and the other camp want to make a film about creationism. Add in some daft elements in the script (run off to one side!) and we’ve got a film which is hard to love, also the technology is massively advanced compared to the other films. I know the Prometheus is an advanced space craft but they could have easily made the tech look like that of the previous films (Sorry, this is something that really bugs me!).

The problem of what film is being made carries on into Alien:Covenant. On one side we’ve got a story about colonists wanting to find a new world to settle on, then on the other side we have the urge to look at this creationist storyline. I’ve watched this movie maybe half a dozen times now and I really believe there is a good movie in here, if you take away that creationist element, and some of the dumb-ass choices the characters make. There’s a bit early on about a funeral that shows there is friction between the characters, but it feels ham-fisted. The funeral is forbidden due to repairs needing to be done, but the repairs could wait and the funeral is brief. It feels like it’s there just to create conflict.

If they took away the David storyline, the plot device of wondering off to another planet and just had a story about colonists arriving at a new planet to then find it was once inhabited by an alien race that died out. Then they find an egg and chaos ensues. Why couldn’t we have had that movie? Up until David shows up we’ve got the makings of a really good atmospheric horror movie and then it slips into a psycho-robot-with-delusions-of-being-a-god movie.

When I think about the original Alien movies they were pretty straightforward. Horror and action pretty much, what you saw was what you got. They never really felt like there was a grander story happening that needed to be addressed. They were just what they were. There was social commentary there, but it was subtle. You didn’t feel like you were being hit over the head with it. Maybe that’s what they need to get back to. Imagine the type of social commentary we could of had in this film if it had been about landing on a planet for colonisation only to discover these horrific aliens that had maybe already wiped out an alien species that had been on the planet before.

Where this series goes in the future, I don’t know. There’s rumours that this new generation of Ridley Scott Alien movies is a trilogy and there’s a third part coming, but this movie didn’t do especially well. So I’ve got to wonder if Fox will give it one more go, drop the franchise for the time being, or go in an entirely different route altogether.

Time will tell, but I know how I’d like it to go.

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July 3rd 2018

Yesterday (the 3rd) I wrote 940 words for the days, just 60 short of my 1000 word a day target. If I didn’t have cinema tickets booked I would have got those few more words cracked out.

A very very short post this morning as I’m still half asleep and need to think about getting ready for work.

Book Review: Billy and the Cloneasaurus by Stephen Kozeniewski

This book rocked! I described it to a friend as being 1984 meets The Lego Movie! I didn’t really have any idea of what to expect. I hadn’t read the synopsis or any reviews of it. I just knew it was by an author I wanted to check out.
What really sticks with me is the tone throughout the story is pretty level regardless of what’s happening, but that’s just a thin covering of the real tone of the story.

I listened to the audiobook of this one and the narration by Steve Rimpici was perfect for the book. he got the tone just right.

Billy and the Cloneasaurus was right up my street and is a fantastic modern day dystopian that is gripping and memorable. Definitely worth checking out!

Beyond Skyline

Okay, if you’ve been reading my blog for a few years now you’ll have seen the odd post/rant I’ve written about the movie Skyline, directed by The Brothers Strause. Without going into another full blown post about Skyline my biggest complaint was not enough attention was on the live action sequences and too much was spent on the CGI, which granted was very beautiful. It just didn’t fulfil an amazing potential I thought.

Beyond Skyline was not Skyline, it took that potential and made a movie I enjoyed a lot. The CGI looks beautiful, the plot line kept my attention and the actors held the screen well, and more importantly I cared about what happened to them. Frank Grillo and Bojana Novakovic were both very good, and I enjoyed Iko Uwais as well. It was fun seeing Callan Mulvey playing a role which wasn’t a mercenary as well.

I liked how the story went from the events in Skyline and took it further and looked at what was going on in a lot more depth and moves across the globe a little and we see how the invasion is being looked at by another culture. We saw a lot more of the aliens and their little world as well. I really liked the final confrontation at the end of the movie. Not only is there some great CGI action, but some of the fighting the characters do on the ground level is beautiful! The Choreography is very well done.

This is the first film where I’ve seen Iko Uwais and I liked him a lot. He held the screen well and when acting opposite an actor of Frank Grillo’s calibre you need that.

The whole cast was pretty solid I thought, no one felt out of place and none of them felt ‘Meh’ for lack of a better phrase. I thought they felt genuine, we don’t know what we’ll be capable of until we’re pushed out of our comfort zones.

There was a couple of moments where I found my eyebrow raising a little but nothing drastic that took me out of the film any more than a passing second.

I was a little anxious that this was Liam O’Donnell’s directing debut, but I liked where he took the story (he wrote it as well). Some of the visuals were stunning and he got a great balance between the live action and the CGI. They complimented each other very well. Overall I liked his direction and I really hope they do more of these. I will definitely be looking out for what O’Donnell does in the future.

Overall, Beyond Skyline is a film that’s well worth watching. I’m glad I’ve brought it on Blu-Ray as I think I will be re-watching it more than a few times.

The Warmaster by Dan Abnett

I’ve just finished The Warmaster by Dan Abnett and wow! What a book! I loved how Abnett put this together and how it was tied into Salvations Reach (of which I’m glad I listened to immediately before embarking on The Warmaster). I’d guess there’s a lot more connections in the books that have lead up to The Warmaster, but it’s been a few years since I’ve read them. (I’m really hoping they come up on Audible because I really want to read them again, and listening is quicker for me as I can listen while at work).

The Warmaster picks up for Gaunt and his Ghosts right after their mission to Salvations Reach, but all is not right with their return.

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Such a beautiful edition.

Now, I am a huge fan of this series of books, this being the fourteenth, and I’ve been eagerly anticipating this one since I first heard about it a little while ago. There was a gap of time between Salvations Reach and The Warmaster, but it was worth the wait. Dan Abnett really turns things up to eleven in this book. He pushes characters into places that I wasn’t expecting, but that said I wasn’t really sure what to expect. With the Gaunt’s Ghosts books it feels like each book goes in somewhat of a different direction. This one is no different. A lot of the events in this book I didn’t see coming or where they were going to go.  A lot of the characters had their lives turned upside down and Abnett wasn’t scared to kill any of his characters. That is something I learnt a long time ago about Abnett with this series. He is not afraid to kill the most beloved of characters, often in brutal and unfair ways. Even in war where people die for what can be the most silly of reasons, some of the deaths in these books have been a huge kick in the gut. Even when a character doesn’t die, but they are pushed into something harsh and tough to stomach it feels the same as when a loved character dies.

That is one of Abnett’s biggest strengths I think. He can write these stories with a huge cast of characters and you either love or hate them, with the odd middle of the road character in between. You get their motivations, you get their mentalities. It all works very well.

This book really opened up a whole can of hell yeah! And it puts so much out on the table for future novels that has left me bouncing and determined to re-read the previous books again in the new year.

There are many reasons why Dan Abnett is one of my favourite writers, the Gaunt’s Ghosts series is one of them. Beautifully written, to the point where you’re almost there when the las-bolts are flying.

***Very Minor Spoilers Below image***

***(Very Minor) Spoilers***

If you’ve read these books you’ll know there have been three characters that have left over the years that had nothing to do with dying, although one did eventually die if I remember right, but the two that always sits in my mind when I’m reading these books are Brin Milo and a scout called Mkvenner (I can’t for the life of me remember his first name). Both these characters went off for different reasons. For Milo, he went with Saint Sabbat, and I’ve heard rumours that Abnett has always intended Milo and the Ghosts to get back to each other at some point. With The Warmaster, the Saint is on the same planet as Gaunt and his Ghosts. When I found this out I was waiting for them to come together, but it didn’t happen. I really hope Abnett does so in the next book, because aside from the return of Mkvenner, that is one of the moments in this series of novels that I am eagerly waiting for.

I think Dan Abnett is setting up to bring this series to a close, to a point where the Sabbat Worlds Crusade is either won or lost.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day. On The Big Screen

My favourite movie of all time is Terminator 2: Judgement Day. I saw it when it came out on home video and I was just at the right age for it to have a lasting effect on me. It blew me away. Everything from the story, to the acting, to the special effects. Everything about this movie I love. It is my Star Wars.

So when I saw it was going to be in the cinema’s again for one night only I was there. Seriously, the zombie apocalypse could have been erupting and I would still have been there.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of 3D but that wasn’t going to stop me either.

*****Spoiler warning*****

Was it good? YES! It was awesome! Seeing Schwarzenegger, Hamilton, Patrick, Furlong all on the big screen was fantastic. Everything that I love about this film, the T-800 against the LAPD place department at the Cyberdyne building, Sarah Connor’s nuclear  apocalypse dreams, the chase through the Los Angeles River. The T-800 with the Winchester shotgun and how he’s cocking it during that chase. Damn, there are so many scenes that seeing for the first time as a teen opened my mind up. The helicopter going under the overpass, the T-800 being lowered into the steel at the end of the film. Pretty much any scene where the T-1000 is killing someone, or rising out of the floor or walking  through iron bars.

The whole concept of time travelling cyborgs was fuel for my imagination as well.

With the sound system the cinema has that industrial beat the soundtrack has was brilliant. A few times it felt like it was vibrating through my bones.

I struggle to put into words just how much this movie means to me, so being able to see it on the big screen was very special and I’m so glad I did. It’s great watching it at home, but it is a film that is at its best on the big screen.

Good Morning, Sunday

This is going to be a bit of a bulky post as I just sum up what’s been going on in the last few weeks.

It’s been a slow couple of weeks with writing, I’ve literally written no new words for pushing a month now. In that time though I have been  working on an outline in much more detail than I have done in the past, and I’ve been working on getting last years FanFic piece read through. With the FanFic piece it’s a little complicated as I have to figure out what I’m going to need to connect the various pieces together, as well as figuring out what I’m going to re-write to make it all into a coherent story.

I have got my vampire collection all sorted out though. This is one of the files that I’d done beta note adjustments on, but I’d lost the file and have had to do them all over again. As I was doing the changes I couldn’t help but think it might just be an idea to rewrite the whole thing as (I’d like to think) I’m a better writer now. Aside from the time it’ll take for me to rewrite another story I’ve written (50k plus words), I’d also loose some of the subtext that is in those stories. I listen to Armand Rosamilla’s podcasts (Armcast and The Mando Method) and he has said that he has thought about rewriting some of his older work, but he isn’t now who he was then, and they’d loose something if he rewrote them. I can’t help but agree. I also don’t want to be that writer that keeps working on the same things and never moves forward. I do suffer a little of that but I’m trying to pull away from it. Now that I’ve got this done, and ready to go off to other beta readers, I’m feeling like I am moving forward.

We’re also moving forward on The Space Watch. Owen is working his way through, putting his stamp on it and I’m looking forward to sitting down with him to go through it in detail and see what he thinks needs working on.

I did have a massive highlight last Saturday (18th March) and that was meeting Scott Sigler. Scott is one of my writing idols and he’s having a small European tour and as soon as I heard him announce the two London dates I immediately booked the 18th off so I could go and hang out with a writer who I’ve been following since 2007. I also got to meet his business partner, AB Kovacs. Both Scott and A are really fantastic people. They are both very engaging, passionate, hard working, and genuine. They’ve also got a great deal of appreciation for the fans, we call ourselves Junkies, and that was very clear to see on Saturday. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was one of the best moments of my life, and has opened my eyes a little to how much of a rut I’m in. Both with writing and life in general. I am taking steps to change that, but I am quite an introvert and it’s not easy for me to step out of my comfort zone.

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Scott Sigler and myself
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AB Kovacs

Back to Saturday night though; in addition to meeting Scott and A, I got to hang out with a good twenty to thirty other Junkies who were an awesome group of people and were all so passionate about Sigler’s work. I also got to meet comedian, illusionist,  and writer John Lenahan. John was podcasting back when Scott started off, and is such a cool dude. What made him even cooler was that he did the voice of Talkie Toaster from the TV series Red Dwarf!

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John Lenahan

Elsewhere, I’ve been getting back into the cinema. I’m a huge movie fan and it’s getting to the time of year when the movies I want to see are coming out. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been to see Lego Batman, Logan, Kong:Skull Island, and Beauty and the Beast. Lego Batman was a lot of fun, silly and over the top, which is what I was expecting. Logan was just brilliant! Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine with such commitment, understanding and passion over the years it’s going to be a shame not seeing him playing the character again. Kong was surprising good. Action right from the start and never did it feel like it was slowing down. It just kept its pace, and the action didn’t disappoint. It’s also the first time I’ve really seen Brie Larson in anything. She’s been cast as Carol Danvers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I was really impressed with how she was on screen. Beauty and the Beast is probably one of my favourite Disney movies. I saw the animated version a couple of times at the cinema when it first came out, and it’s always resonated with me. The live action version was good, but I think it doesn’t quite match up to the original. This is one of those times where I’ve realised this film was going to find it hard to impress me because of my love for the original, that said there was a lot I liked about the live action remake and I will definitely be buying it on Blu-Ray when it does come out.

TV wise, I watched The Expanse, and really dug it. It was a little bit of a slow start but once I’d gotten to about episode three I was locked-in. I’m looking forward to seeing the next series. It’s also reminded me I’ve got to get through the rest of the books in the series. I’m now getting stuck into Iron Fist, and am really enjoying it. It’s just taken a turn I wasn’t expecting. I could quite easily go and binge the last four or five episodes but I’d like to get some work down today.

Reading wise, I’ve not got Terror Byte by J.R. Park finished yet. I’m enjoying the story but I’ve let myself get distracted by movies, TV and comics in the last couple of weeks. I’m going to aim to get back to reading before bed each night, again and will hopefully have it finished by this time next week. Speaking of comics, I’ve just finished House of M, and really loved it. I’ve been curious as to what led up to Scarlett Witch’s ‘No More Mutants’ moment and I brought House of M simply because the cover looked cool and I was intrigued by the title. So seeing Scarlett Witch’s ‘No More Mutants’ moment was an added bonus. I’ve now moved onto Secret Invasion. I also listened to Alone by Scott Sigler. This is the third book of his Generations Trilogy and really ended the series well. The audiobook was narrated by AB Kovacs and she smashed it! A really impressive performance, and very easy to listen to.

Well, that’s about it. Sorry for the chunky post, it’s not often I break five hundred words, let alone a thousand! I am trying to focus my attention and energy better. I’m not being overly successful with it, but I’m trying. Hopefully I’ll have a productive week.