Alien: Covenant – Review

A solid return to the Alien franchise.

I enjoyed Alien Covenant. The film bridged some story elements between Prometheus and Alien, it answered some questions and asked a few more. Just when you thought you had the story worked out, some subtleties in the film made me doubt that I knew what was going to happen (a trait in a movie that I absolutely love).

The film brought some surprises from the first scene. I would recommend watching the two Prelude videos you can find on the Fox YouTube Channel. It sets up the film nicely. Visually, Alien Covenant has the tone and visual style of Alien and Aliens, mixed with the visual effects and cinematography of Prometheus.

The acting in Alien Covenant was solid. Katherine Waterston served well as Daniels, the protagonist, again, like the movie itself, a bridge between Dr Elizabeth Shaw and Ellen Ripley. Danny McBride worked well, despite my fears that he would add unnecessary comedic elements. The absolute stand out for me was Michael Fassbender as both David, the synthetic android from Prometheus, and Walter, a newer version of android, based on the David model. His performance as both these characters was incredible, his robotic movements are realised in different ways for each character, based on individual programming.

The different forms of Xenomorph we see are as usual, scary, deadly and familiar with just a slight twist – something I come to expect from the Alien franchise. While the action scenes with the various Xenomorph forms seem a little re-used, it feels that Ridley Scott wanted to establish more of the backstory in this film. Don’t get me wrong, some of the deaths are pretty wicked and violent, but in my opinion, nothing we haven’t seen already in Prometheus or the earlier Alien films.

All-in-all Alien Covenant is a good film that fits nicely in to the Alien universe. It gives more validation to Prometheus as an instalment in the franchise and sparks more interest in Ridley Scott’s plan for the future Alien films.

3.5 Stars

Alien: Covenant is in cinemas now.

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Prometheus – Review

Ridley Scott returns in all his epic moviemaking glory with his return to the Alien universe, Prometheus.

The year is 2089 and Dr Elizabeth Shaw and her small expedition team are on a dig in Scotland. Inside a cave they find a pictogram. The last peice to their puzzle. This pictogram resembles other ancient drawings from almost all of Earth’s early civilizations. The pictogram features a constellation that Shaw believes is a map leading to the Origins of humanity. Begin Project Prometheus. A trillion dollar expedition to the system identified in this map, Funded by Weyland Industries to explore the possible creation of us.

After a two year expedition on board exploritory vessle Prometheus the crew of 17 find the moon that according to long range scanners can support life. The Prometheus lands near some ‘pyramids’ that seem to be man (or something like it) made. So sure enough there is life on this world… Are they the engineers of our existance? The answer to that question is the least of the crew of the Prometheus’ problems.

After 33 years, its great to see Scott’s return to the the franchise and sci-fi films in general he helped create. Prometheus IS linked to the Alien franchise, do not listen to those who say otherwise… From the moment Weyland industries was attached to the online marketing it was obvious.

Now to the film itself.

Visually… Amazing!

The Sound… Cinema Shaking!

Narrative… Leaves a lot to be desired.

Shot in 3D this film is one to see with the glasses on, stunning. The narrative of the film honestly feels like half of a film where more questions are asked than answered. To avoid any other spoilers I’ll leave that there. Acting is brilliant! Four stand out roles seem to be the characters that are fleshed out the best. Noomi Rapace (famous for the Swedish Millenium trilogy films) plays the protagonist, the inquisitive Dr. Elizabeth Shaw who has a very interesting and powerful scene around about half way through the film. Michael Fassbender (famous for being born) eerily plays the android David who looks like T. E. Laurence of Arabia and successfully pulls off an emotionless android. If you’ve never visited the uncanny valley… welcome. Idris Elba plays the captain of the Prometheus, Janek who has a few laughs in the film as well as being very serious when the time comes. Finally to round out my favorite four Charlize Theron plays Meredith Vickers, a Weyland representative who is overseeing the mission… she’s definitely got an ulterior motive. Notible mention to Guy Pearce for playing an old guy… Peter Weyland… If you want to see Guy’s best as this character, see the TED talk.

Which brings me to the marketing. Very cool, very meaningful, lots of back story to the back story. Definitely worth a look.

Prometheus is a beautiful film, don’t get me wrong, I was in awe of the shots and the locations. The story left a bit to be desired, was sort of hoping for more… and to be honest, I still am. But all-in-all a good film.

3.5 Stars – Because of the entire experience: Marketing (Official and Viral), Hype, Visuals, Storyline (Somewhat) etc.

Prometheus is in Cinemas in 3D now.

Film News Friday Update

Release Date Set for Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Dimension Films announced today that the sequel to Sin City will open in the States on October 4, 2013. Casting is underway, with original cast members returning to work with directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, from their script co-written by Academy Award winner William Monahan. Academy Award nominee Mickey Rourke and Jessica Alba are already confirmed to return.

Juno Temple Joins Maleficent

The cast for Walt Disney Pictures’ reimagining of the “Sleeping Beauty” fairy tale, Maleficent, has been coming together over the last few weeks and the new name joining the cast is Juno Temple, who will play Thistlewit, one of three pixies along with veteran British actresses Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville.

These pixies are in charge of caring for Aurora, the actual sleeping beauty played by Elle Fanning, although they’re “neglectful and superficial.” Angelina Jolie plays the title character, the witch Maleficent who puts the curse on Aurora that sends her into a permanent sleep on her 16th birthday.

The film shoots this winter and is slated for a 2014 release.

Original Blade Runner Screenwriter to Write Sequel

Hampton Fancher is in talks to reunite with his Blade Runner director Ridley Scott to develop the idea for the original screenplay follow up to the ground-breaking 1982 science fiction classic, it was announced by execs at the film’s production company Alcon Entertainment.

Alex Proyas Setting Up Gods of Egypt at Summit

A few years back, I, Robot director Alex Proyas helmed the sci-fi thriller Knowing for Summit Entertainment, and it’s being said at the moment that they plan to reunite for Proyas’ Gods of Egypt project, an original story set in ancient Egyptian times that he’ll be co-writing with Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless.

Produced by Proyas’ Mystery Clock Cinema with Thunder Road (Clash of The Titans production company), the film is “the story of a common thief and a god on a magical quest set amongst the pyramids and sphinxes.”

First Look at Liam Neeson in Taken 2

Neeson returns as Bryan Mills, the retired CIA agent with a particular set of skills who stopped at nothing to save his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) from Albanian kidnappers. When the father of one of the kidnappers swears revenge and takes Bryan and his wife hostage during their family vacation in Istanbul, Bryan enlists Kim to help them escape, and uses the same advanced level of special forces tactics to get his family to safety and systematically take out the kidnappers one by one.

Click the Images for larger versions.

The Avengers Climbs to 9th on the All-Time Global List

Walt Disney Pictures reported today that Marvel’s The Avengers has climbed to the 9th spot on the all-time worldwide box office list, surpassing the studio’s own Alice in Wonderland ($1,024.3 million) and Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace ($1,027.0 million). The film has grossed $1,036.2 million worldwide.

The movie should easily pass up the next three films on the all-time global list which are all three Disney films – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($1,043.9 million), Toy Story 3 ($1,063.2 million) and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest ($1,066.2 million).

Contagion Writer Penning Rise of the Planet of the Apes Sequel

Heat Vision is reporting that Twentieth Century Fox has hired Contagion and Bourne Ultimatum writer Scott Z. Burns to pen the sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which earned $481.8 million worldwide last year on a budget of $93 million.

The site says the follow-up “is taking the story to the next level, with the apes on the path to emerge as society’s new rulers.”

The original film’s writers, Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa, were previously brought on board to write a draft of the sequel. Director Rupert Wyatt and Andy Serkis, who did the performance capture for Caesar, are set to return.

Red Band Trailer for Shark Thriller Bait 3D

Umm yeah…

Film News Update – Week 36, 2011

  • Lauren Shuler Donner provides some insight on the next X-Men instalments, Wolverine: will be viewed as a stand alone movie very independent of Origins. That is looking set to shoot next year some time. Deadpool: is being prepared at the same time, Ryan Reynolds will be returning as the hero. The film is set to be true to the comic books and character of Deadpool.

“We’re gonna give it a little bit of a different look. It’s a different kind of movie. If you know ‘Deadpool’ …it’s true to ‘Deadpool’. So you know, it’ll be violent, and outrageous, and funny, and all that.” – Shuler Donner. 

  • An X-Men: First Class sequel is in discussion. The team is trying to woo back the director of the original, Matthew Vaughn.
  • The Great Gatsby began shooting this week, Warner Bros. distributed a Press Release…

Principal photography began this week on Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ “The Great Gatsby,” the new big screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel from the uniquely imaginative mind of writer/producer/director Baz Luhrmann. The filmmaker will create his own distinctive visual interpretation of the classic story, bringing the period to life in a way that has never been seen before. Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the title role.

“The Great Gatsby” follows Fitzgerald-like, would-be writer Nick Carraway as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz and bootleg kings. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby, and across the bay from his cousin, Daisy, and her philandering, blue-blooded husband, Tom Buchanan. It is thus that Nick is drawn into the captivating world of the super rich, their illusions, loves and deceits. As Nick bears witness, within and without the world he inhabits, he pens a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams and high-octane tragedy, and holds a mirror to our own modern times and struggles.

Academy Award nominee DiCaprio (“Blood Diamond,” “Aviator”) plays Jay Gatsby, with Tobey Maguire starring as Nick Carraway; Joel Edgerton and OscarÆ nominee Carey Mulligan (“An Education”) as Tom and Daisy Buchanan; Isla Fisher and Jason Clarke as Myrtle and George Wilson; and newcomer Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker. Indian film legend Amitabh Bachchan will play the role of Meyer Wolfsheim.

OscarÆ nominee Luhrmann (“Moulin Rouge!”) directs the film in 3D from a screenplay co-written with frequent collaborator Craig Pearce, based on Fitzgerald’s book. Luhrmann produces, along with Catherine Martin, Catherine Knapman, Lucy Fisher and Academy AwardÆ winner Douglas Wick (“Gladiator”). The executive producers are Barrie M. Osborne and Bruce Berman.

Two-time Academy AwardÆ-winning production and costume designer Catherine Martin (“Moulin Rouge!”) also designs with the director. The editors are Jason Ballantine, Matt Villa and Jonathan Redmond, and the director of photography is Simon Duggan.

Luhrmann said, “Fitzgerald loved the movies and was a passionate believer in the power of cinema. “The Great Gatsby” has been adapted for the screen no less than four times. Fitzgerald’s story defies time and geography. The vision and the goal of our remarkable cast and creatives is to do justice to the deftness of Fitzgerald’s telling, and illuminate its big ideas and humanity. This is our challenge and our adventure.”

“The Great Gatsby” is being shot in Luhrmann’s native Australia. The filmmaker stated, “The opportunity to make the film in Australia with the Bazmark creative team is very important to us; the assistance from Screen Australia and the NSW Government has made that possible.”

The film will be distributed in 3D and 2D by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.

  • The Weinstein Company will move into the online market next year. They’ll be launching a VOD (Video On Demand) Label, early 2012.
  • Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski have been hired to write the script for director Ridley Scott’s big screen adaptation of Hasbro’s Monopoly.
  • A long-awaited Beetlejuice sequel may finally be moving forward, Deadline reports. Writer/producer pair David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith have just signed a two-year first look contract with Warner Bros. and among their first projects is a follow-up to the 1988 film.
  • To finish off, the new trailer for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy:

Film News Friday – Week 33, 2011

Here’s what’s been happening in the Movie World this week…

  • Ridley Scott to make a new Blade Runner film. No word as yet weather it’s a sequel or a prequel.
  • Will Smith is in discussions for Fantastic Voyage
  • With The Avengers almost complete, Robert Downey Jr. states that he’s excited to work with Iron Man 3 director, Shane Black.
  • Warner Bros. Pictures hits the $2 Billion mark again this year.
  • The Trailer for Underworld Awakening has been released.

  • The troubled film The Wolverine is set to shoot in Vancouver in November. It is essentially a sequel to Origins: Wolverine and it expected to be directed by James Mangold.
  • A synopsis of Man Of Steel has been released with a Vancouver Casting Call:

In the pantheon of superheroes, Superman is the most recognized and revered character of all time. Clark Kent/Kal-El (Cavill) is a young twentysomething journalist who feels alienated by powers beyond anyone’s imagination. Transported to Earth years ago from Krypton, an advanced alien planet, Clark struggles with the ultimate question – Why am I here? Shaped by the values of his adoptive parents Martha (Lane) and Jonathan Kent (Costner), Clark soon discovers that having super abilities means making very difficult decisions. But when the world needs stability the most, it comes under attack. Will his abilities be used to maintain peace or ultimately used to divide and conquer? Clark must become the hero known as “Superman,” not only to shine as the world’s last beacon of hope but to protect the ones he loves.

  • Films The Dark Tower and The Lone Ranger are undergoing some financial troubles for their respective production companies. The Lone Ranger may be able to get out of the woods by cutting back a science fiction/fantasy/Native American element.
  • Coming February next year is Daniel Radcliffe’s new film… The Woman In Black.