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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The Martian by Andy Weir

I discovered this book by an interview with the author that was on the StarShipSofa podcast. Weir came across as a proper decent, down to earth fella and as I listened to the interview and about the story I was getting more and more interested in it. Then it came up in the conversation that not only has it been optioned for a movie, it’s currently in production and is being directed by Ridley Scott and the lead is being played by Matt Damon, the rest of the cast is also very impressive.

That’s the movie though, I want to talk about the book. I got hold of it on Audio and damn its a good book.
The story is of Mark Watney, who gets abandoned on Mars during a sandstorm by the rest of the six person crew he is part of (they didn’t do it on purpose). Due to the storm he has no communications either.
Watney waking up in this situation is the start of the book. Then we get him setting up how he’s going to survive until the next mission to the red planet arrives. That doesn’t sound exciting, but believe me it is (not much goes to plan).
Watney has an awesome sense of humour that had me laughing multiple times throughout the story, but in other places I was on the edge of my seat (well, I would have been if I’d been sitting down). I think I probably did two or three fist pumps as well when something worked out well. Andy Weir really does get you caring about what happens to Mark Watney, I found I was really pulling for him to make it.

It’s not just about poor Mark Watney on Mars with no one else or no way to communicate with the rest of the human race. We see how things are going back here on earth after the mission to mars was aborted just six days into a thirty day mission.

There is more in the story but I really don’t want to say too much because it may lead to spoilers. Even if they’re only minor I don’t want to ruin anything for someone who is about to read this book. I went into it knowing only the basics and that added to my enjoyment.

I haven’t had this much fun with a book in a long time, please check it out. I’ll include the link to the StarShipSofa podcast episode where Andy Weir was interviewed. It’s a free podcast, so what have you got to loose? ūüėČ

http://www.starshipsofa.com/blog/2014/12/31/starshipsofa-no-368-brent-knowles-andy-weir/

Prometheus (Spoilers)

******SPOILERS******

 

I’ll admit that I havent read any reviews or spoken to anyone about this film yet so hopefully my views on it is not influenced by anyone else.¬†¬†I liked this film, but it’s not the film that I was expecting it to be.¬† If Ridley Scott (The Director), ¬†Jon Spaihts¬†and Damon Lindelof (The Writers)¬†had taken away the Alien element that we are familiar with it I think it might have been a better film.

The cast of characters was pretty good.¬† I’m a fan of¬†Charlize¬†Theron but it seems rare that we see her in films and I like the way she played the bad corporate Scrooge here.¬† Michael Fassbender¬†is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors.¬† I have only seen a couple of his films but he seems like an actor that has a wide scope of what he can do.¬† As the android David in this he does very well playing it straight and like the other androids in this franchise we’re never quite sure where his intentions lay until ter on in the film.¬† The rest of the cast is pretty good.¬† It’s great to see Guy Pearce is always good and Noomi¬†Rapace did well dealing with the enormity of her role.¬† Idris Elba is beginning to pop up more and more which is not bad either.

The plot is quite simple really; a team of experts go off to a distant star system to find the beings that created mankind.¬† Obviously it does not work out like that and lots of chaos and death follows.¬† As I said at the start I am confident that if Ridley Scott and the two writers had removed the alien element then it would have still worked as well.¬† For me it took away from the original¬† Alien¬†films because¬†for one it reveals the origins of the monster of all these movies, but also there is better technology in this film then the originals.¬† Now I know that’s because our technology has improved but¬†as I was watching Prometheus I could not get away from that single fact and that is the lasting impression of the film for me.¬† There is¬†no reason why the film could have been made with a¬†similar look and feel¬†to the original films as far as technology is concerned.¬† Making it look retro would have tied it into the universe so much better as well.

I will be buying it when it comes out on DVD and I do like this film a lot but I am not sure that I will ever get past the crew of the Prometheus having better technology than those who follow in later films.

Book Review : Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky

In this book we follow the journey of A young man called Artyom as he travels to the heart of the Moscow Metro system where mankind has taken refuge after A nuclear war.  Artyom is given A mission by the mysterious Hunter to tell the authorities in Polis, at the heart of the Metro, of A new threat that is creeping down into the Metro from the radiation covered city above them.

I found this A really fascinating read.  It showed me A world that I had never encountered before.  I am still a relative novice when it comes to reading and this is the first novel that I have read which has not been written by someone who is U.K. or U.S. based.  I got sucked in by how Glukhovsky pulled this world that he has created together.  He explains A lot very clearly, but also very subtly.  There are no times during the novel that I felt that I was having background information shoved down my throat.  There is little of why mankind has had to surrender the surface of the planet.  Glukhovsky drip feeds very little about the nuclear war and I did find that A little frustrating.  I want to know why the bombs fell, what were the triggers and so on.  But I appreciate that it is not needed for the story that is being told.

Everything we see of this world is through the eyes of the young Artyom.  He has never really ventured to far from his home station, VDNKh, which is near the edges of the Metro system and A little isolated.  So we as readers get introduced to much of this world through the eyes of someone who has only experienced life from his own small part of the Metro.  There were A few moments where I felt he was A little easily led, and there are others times where he makes A stand in the face of oppression.  There are more than A few times where his life is hanging by a thread.

His journey could not have been made without the aid¬†of the people that he encounters throughout the book.¬† Most help him but some just try to draw him into what will benefit them and give no consideration for Artyom’s¬†mission.¬† Some of these people try to make him part of their religion, or need him to find some artifact.¬† Glukhovsky¬†breaks society down very nicely in places.¬† There are obviously those who are religious, others who are communist, a Fourth Reich¬†exists¬†underneath Moscow in this world.¬† Along with the Hansa group these, as I recall, are the most prevalent¬†communities¬†that Artyom encounters.¬† There was only one group of people within this world that I was not totally convinced by, but It is a good example of how mankind will accept anything that we are told just to be accepted and have some of our freedom removed.

I have always been found of the lack of information of A horror.¬†¬†In Ridley Scott’s film ‘Alien’ we do not encounter the beast until we are a fair way into the movie, and when we do we don’t¬†really see the creature in all its glory.¬† So I was chuffed to find that this novel did not give us readers much to see when it came to the mutants. In the early stages of the book there is little to no given details of these creatures.¬† It is not until Artyom¬†gets to the centre of the Metro that he comes face to face with these¬†bogey¬†men that haunt the inhabitants of the¬†subterranean¬†Moscow.¬†¬† I feared for our hero at many stages during the book, even when I had a fair chunk of the novel to read I found I was worried that Artyom would not survive.

 

This whole story could easily become reality.  Not only are the characters very real but the world that they live in could become real in a blink of an eye.  As I said Glukhovsky never really explains why mankind pushed the button that led to the missiles flying through the skies to rain down not only death of mankind but also A crippling aftermath that mother earth will take more years than we can count to recover from.  This world that has crawled underground after this apocalypse sucked me deep down into it, I lost myself when I was reading and was able to truly escape into it.

I did not see the ending coming, and I found it especially spectacular in its own way.  I have so many questions that have not been answered but that did not leave me feeling unsatisfied.  The ending worked amazingly well.

I cant wait to read Metro 2034.