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.

Advertisements

DC Cinematic Universe

My buddy Stefan and I went to see Justice League last Tuesday (21st November), and I left feeling a touch unsatisfied. It’s got some great moments in it, particularly Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen/The Flash. I’m not overly familiar with The Flash so can’t say how accurate a portrayal it was but I enjoyed it a lot. He was funny, a little unsure of himself but still had conviction and stood up when he was needed to. I like Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Gal Gadot is just awesome as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. I liked Ray Fisher as Cyborg/Victor Stone, although I was put off a little by the CGI on his body here and there. Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman was pretty cool as well. Like The Flash I’m not that familiar with Aquaman or Cyborg, so I can’t say how these versions of the characters compared but I liked them.

I like Henry Cavill as Superman, but I don’t really feel like we’ve seen him as Superman yet. I liked Man Of Steel, but that was an origin film and he didn’t really get the chance to be Superman or the Clark Kent we know. With Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice I don’t feel like we really got much of the character in that either. To be honest we barely saw him in that movie, and in Justice League he’s in it about the same amount of time as he was in Batman Vs. Superman.

I’ve been trying to put my thoughts straight on the DCCU for a while. I will admit to being an unabashed Marvel movie fan, but I’m also a big fan of Batman, well the whole of the Gotham setting and characters, to be honest. I grew up watching the animated series in the 90s along with the Spider-Man and X-Men animated series (He-Man, Transformers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before that). I love the Tim Burton/ Michael Keaton Batman movies as well. I liked the Nolan films okay, but they always felt to much like they were in the real world too much, and I’m not the biggest fan of Christian Bale. The other DC based movie in that sort of time bracket was Green Lantern, which I thought was pretty decent. I didn’t find it as bad as everyone seemed to make it out to be.

***Potential Spoilers From Here***

 

 

 

 

 

As I said, there are parts of the Justice League that I liked. I’ve mentioned the actors, but one scene that I found extremely pleasing and fun was when Steppenwolf is taking on the Amazonians, Atlantians, and Man, with a little help from the Lanterns. That scene was amazing. It heaved with energy and purpose. I got a mega kick out of seeing the Lanterns in the fight (I’m kinda disappointed Green Lantern didn’t show up to help them defeat Steppenwolf at the end of the movie).

There are two cut-scenes after the film ends. One light hearted one just at the start of the credits, and a bit more of a serious one right at the end. I won’t spoil either of these, but the final one got me more excited for future DCCU films than most of Justice League.

With this new DCCU Warner Bros. seem to be trying to build, I’m not really sure what they’re aiming for. As I said, I liked Man Of Steel. I thought it was a very good origin story, especially the opening sequence on Krypton which gave some great context for Zod’s motivation and how Superman then dealt with him and his plans. The only real issue I had with it was the score was too loud, and the dialogue was too soft. When I watch it I have to turn the volume up when characters are talking, but then turn it down when there’s a big action sequence and the score kicks up. Which is a shame because that score is amazing, but that’s a technical problem. The film itself was good. I got a kick out of the couple of easter eggs I noticed during the movie and was looking forward to what came next.

Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. This movie felt overloaded and could have been resolved by Superman saying to Batman what was happening. I can understand why Superman might be going after Batman, a masked vigilante who is spreading fear. Before their big fight if Superman had just said; “Dude, they’ve got my mum, and will kill her if I don’t kill you.” that would have solved a tonne of problems. I can also understand why Batman would be going for Superman; anyone with a lot of power isn’t normally someone you want in that position. So Batman assuming the worst of Superman has roots, despite Superman’s clearly good intentions. People do change though, and with the history that Batman is hinted at having then he has good reason to be assume that Superman is a threat. In Batman Vs. Superman there is only Batman and Superman. The other heroes in this universe don’t exist yet, or haven’t made themselves known. So all of the people with any kind of superhuman power he’s come up against have been villains. We also can’t forget that he could still be dealing with the death of Robin (I’m assuming its Jason Todd). We don’t know how that’s affected him. That raises another question, if it is Jason Todd, then can we assume Dick Grayson has become Nightwing? if yes why didn’t Batman call him up for the fight with Steppenwolf? But I think I’m nitpicking there.

Another issue I have with the DCCU is does everybody know the secret identities of Batman and Superman? Lex Luther knows who Superman is, in Suicide Squad Amanda Waller knows Bruce Wayne is Batman and Lois Lane is just calling out ‘Clark’ willy nilly when addressing Superman in Justice League. There’s also no explanation on why Clark Kent has suddenly reappeared after being thought dead. Surely there should be a line there somewhere to address this.

I’ve got a quick few words I want to share on Suicide Squad. It’s not a great movie, but its one I do enjoy. I think they made a huge misstep when they didn’t focus on the Joker as the main villain of the piece. I like Jared Leto’s Joker, I thought he worked incredibly well in this era and was genuinely creepy. The first Suicide Squad trailer is amazing, for me it’s up there with the first Guardians of the Galaxy trailer. What really sold me on it was when we first see and hear the Joker, that cackle and his voice made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Throughout the film he felt creepy to watch. Kind of how I’d expect the Joker to be. What I enjoy the most about Suicide Squad is the characters. Aside from Slipknot, you get a decent feel for them all and each of the actors seem to hold their own very well in the film. The plot didn’t really excite me too much, especially after having seen the animated Suicide Squad movie Assault on Arkham. That I would have loved to have seen live-action on the big screen.

Movie fans will know that Kevin Feige is the man at Marvel Studios. He’s got a vision that has been in place since the start. With DCCU it doesn’t feel like that’s the case. You can see how they’re trying to keep everything in the same universe, but it doesn’t feel like they’ve quite got a handle on it yet. I’ve heard that Geoff Johns and Jon Berg are overseeing the DCCU, but I believe thats a recent appointment. So I’ll be interested to see if they can pull all the different teams working on different movies together.

I am going to compare the DCCU to the MCU, simply because I think it’s a good comparison. Both universes deal with people who have abilities that don’t exist in the real world.

I do think DCCU have made a misstep with putting Justice League so early in their line up of movies. With the MCU we had five movies (Iron man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger) that built up to The Avengers. We knew each character, we were invested in them. So when they all came together we not only knew them, but we’re rooting for them. After The Avengers was done I was satisfied, okay I wanted more but I was still fulfilled. I didn’t feel that with Batman Vs. Superman, nor with Justice League. I’ve seen The Avengers countless times, the same with Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America:The Winter Soldier, Deadpool, Mad Max:Fury Road, Dredd, Terminator 2. All those films leave me feeling satisfied. The only DCCU movie to give me that level of satisfaction and desire for more has been Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman is the shining light of the DCCU. I can’t think of anything in that film that I didn’t like. It’s a film that is exciting. It is engaging. It left me feeling satisfied and wanting more. This is a movie done right, I don’t just mean a superhero movie, but a movie done right. Gal Gadot really is Wonder Woman. I remember when she first got cast, all I knew her from was the Fast and Furious movies. I remember her being good in those, but not much else. When she appeared in Batman Vs. Superman I was taken with her straight away, but in Wonder Woman she really gets to show her acting chops. Naive but confident at the start of the film and at the end she knows what its like to loose someone and to have seen the brutality of what the first world war was.

DC should be looking at the elements that made Wonder Woman work. The feeling I get hearing rumours about DC is there are too many cooks in the kitchen. Hopefully Johns and Berg will be able to right that, because otherwise we won’t have the rich DCCU that we could have. If you just look at Gotham City and the rich tapestry of characters that live in that city, then DC and Warner Bros. have a tonne of material to play with and build from. I think they just need to get the right people in place.

Wonder Woman was a huge step forward, I think Justice League might be a step back but hopefully a small one.

Changing My Viewing Habits

I am a big movie and TV fan, but something I am guilty of is not watching enough shows and movies that I haven’t watched before. Especially with movies, I’ll throw one on I’ve seen more times than I can count for ease. So from here on out, till the end of the year I am not going to watch anything I’ve seen before.

There are exceptions to this, if I’m at a movie night with friends. If I haven’t seen the movie/TV show within the last five years, or if I’ve only seen the movie/TV show once. A prime example is the movie, Stargate (which I’m watching now). I haven’t watched this movie in many years. It’s not a favourite of mine but it’s a movie I like all the same.

I don’t re-watch TV shows as much as I used to, mainly because it’s a bigger investment of time to commit to multiple seasons of a TV show than it is for a movie that may be a couple of hours.

Now I’ve decided to do this, I’m quite excited by the prospect. The next couple of months are going to be fun.

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.

Beyond Skyline

All the way back in 2010 a movie called Skyline came out. It was an alien invasion movie which I felt had a lot of potential but it really didn’t live up to the potential it had. Skyline didn’t do well, but the directors, The Brothers Strause, said at the time there would always be at least one sequel. Now, after seven years it looks like that is finally happening. Beyond Skyline is listed on IMDB as being released in 2017, and is being directed/produced/written by Liam O’Donnell. Produced by The Brothers Strause and Matthew Chausse. It’s also starring Frank Grillo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, The Purge:Anarcy).

Now, I have a real love/hate relationship with the first movie. Skyline was a film that as I watched it I could see a lot of potential in it, but it never fulfilled that potential. I’m hoping the sequel does go some way to building something special with what was created in the first film. The fact that Frank Grillo is in it does go a long way to assuring some of my fears. I’ve not seen Grillo in much more than I’ve listed above but he definitely demands attention when on screen. I am worried that Liam O’Donnell has no other directing credits on his IMDB page, but I’m not writing him off just yet. Everyone has to start somewhere, and he did write the first film, and produced it. So he’s been around this world and these aliens for some time.

I’m not someone that likes to see people fail, and I really want to go into this film (when it’s released) and enjoy it, and have that side of me that loves these alien invasion sorta films/shows satisfied.

 

11th January 2017

Each time I write the date in the blogpost title I keep wanting to write December (yes I put a post out the other day having done just that). It’s a little hard to believe that it’s almost halfway through January already.

Anyway, to today’s progress. I wrote a damn good 652 words during my lunch break today, which I am really impressed by. Writing an action scene is always a lot of fun.

This evening I was at a Write-In, but nothing got written. It was more of a chill out evening and a lot of fun. I am about the halfway point in the edit now, and have a bit of momentum going.

Short and sweet tonight, I’m gonna finish watching Alien and then off to bed.

Terminator Salvation

Terminator Salvation is the fourth film in the Terminator series and takes place after Judgement day. John Connor is not commanding the resistance yet, and is viewed by some as a prophet for his knowledge of the machines. We see his efforts against Skynet, and as he’s trying to find Kyle Reese, and as he’s trying to deal with the Marcus Wright character. Wright is trying to discover why he’s alive after being executed decades before.

I seem to be in a minority when it comes to Terminator Salvation, in that I like it. I love the post-Judgment Day setting, it was something that we got teased in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day and it was always something that I wanted to see more of. Although what we see here isn’t the post Judgement Day world we saw in the first two movies I still liked what I saw. It’s set in the early days of the war against the machines and there aren’t a lot of terminators roaming the ruins, there seem to be more aerial hunter/killer drones that probably locate any survivors and then send in the ground based terminators to deal with them.

From what I can make out this was meant to be the first in a new trilogy of films in the franchise but it just did not do well enough for the next two to be made. This is something that I’m genuinely gutted by as I would have really liked to see where the story went. I’d imagine they would have ended up with the discovery of the time displacement equipment and sending Kyle Reese back to protect Sarah Connor. To me that would have been a beautiful way to end the trilogy.

To the film though, I do like it but it does have its issues. One of the biggest is that it didn’t feel like the director was able to put his stamp on it.  I was worried about McG directing Salvation as I’d seen his Charlie’s Angels films and wasn’t impressed, that said I was surprised with what I saw from him here. Some of the shots were beautifully put together and the look of the film was very good, very genuine. The action looked good too. It just felt a little safe, a little by the numbers. Now I’m not sure if it’s a case that McG hadn’t quite got the directing chops to put his stamp on it, of if the studio or others involved in the film reigned him in too much. Either way it didn’t have a strong identity which I felt left the film missing something to make it stand out.

Christian Bale was good as John Connor. I thought he showed good intensity, and the pressure from what he knew, well. I liked that they didn’t make him too cold and isolated. There’s a couple of sweet scenes between him and Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays his wife Kate Connor, that shows that he doesn’t carry all of this burden himself. She’s become his rock by this time and although Howard doesn’t have a lot to do in the film, what she does she looked natural doing.

I could have done without the Marcus Wright storyline. It felt forced, like they needed to one up the previous films. Aside from the odd accent slip, I can’t fault Sam Worthington, though. I thought he had a good vibe and showed a decent range as his character tried to figure out what the hell was going on. If the Marcus Wright storyline hadn’t of been there then there would have been no need for the Moon Bloodgood role of Blair Williams. She plays an A-10 pilot who gets shot down and meets Wright and takes him to Connor. Bloodgood was okay in the role, but like the Marcus Wright storyline, her character felt a little forced in some respects. It felt like she was only there to help the Marcus Wright character grow. It feels a little like they wanted her to be the strong female warrior character that Linda Hamilton pulled off so well as Sarah Connor in Terminator 2, but the character wasn’t given the freedom to take that mantle.

Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese was good. I liked the youthful urge to fight and rebel that he put into the character. He was jokey and hadn’t been through the toughest parts of the war yet, in fact I don’t think he’d seen much combat at this point in his life. I think that would have come in the next two films and I think we would have seen that enthusiasm to fight diminish as his character saw so much death and suffering. The character of Star really wasn’t needed. She was sweet, but again, felt a little forced into the story.

A minor character I wanted to see more of was that of Barnes, played by Common. I think Barnes may have been Connor’s second in command, but regardless of that I just wanted to see more of him. Common looked good on screen and there seemed to be a lot going on with him.

And just a final shoutout to Michael Ironside. Fantastic actor and I love seeing him pop up in places like this.

Overall, I like Terminator Salvation a lot. It’s a fun film to watch that has more than a few nods to its predecessors and set a few seeds for future films that we never saw. Easily my third favourite terminator movie.