Alien: Covenant Review

Alien: Covenant movie posterSynopsis
The Covenant is on its way to the remote planet of Origae-6 to start a new human colony. Along the way, the ship is hit by a neutrino burst from a nearby star, forcing the crew to wake up early from stasis to make repairs. After repairs are made, the crew receives a distress signal from a nearby planet and travel to the planet’s surface in search of the signal’s origins.

Review
The Alien movie franchise is an interesting one. It spans nearly four decades, while consisting of only 6 films. The first two are two of science-fiction’s best films, which are then followed by three mediocre films. In Prometheus, Ridley Scott returned to the franchise to begin delving into the origins of his mysterious Xenomorphs, but ended that film with more questions than answers. Scott returns yet again to direct Alien: Covenant, which is inching closer to where we first met them at the beginning of Alien.

With the exception of Aliens, each film in the franchise after Alien has attempted to recreate the horror aspect of the original 1979 film. This film has so far been the closest to recreate the horror that made the first film so engrossing. Although this shouldn’t be much of a surprise given both are directed by Scott, the visionary behind the franchise. He understands that it is the fear of the unknown and mystery surrounding it that makes Alien great. Having several decades to become familiar with it, that atmosphere cannot be replicated, which is why the sequels have failed. However, that style can be honored. This movie still draws on the fear of the unknown for its tension but rather than the Xenomorph, it looks towards a fairly unexpected place.

What did surprise me, and what I really enjoyed, was that the horror didn’t always come from the alien but rather David. David is a truly twisted being and that is where a lot of the tension come from. He is an android who has no emotion and is only seeking perfection on life. And to him that requires sacrifice, sometimes at the cost of others if need be. His distorted view on life and the pursuit of perfection is sure to keep your attention. It’s a different kind of villain but one that works amazingly well.

Of course, a lot of David’s memorability is due to Michael Fassbender’s excellent portrayal of the character. It was an excellent idea to keep him in the franchise after Prometheus because he was the highlight of that film as well. He also plays another android, Walter, an updated model of David. At first I wasn’t sold on the accent he gave the character but after a while it grew on me, especially after a few scenes of the two androids together. Fassbender portrays the two characters in two very distinct ways that really highlights his acting ability.

Although it may be difficult to remember, there are other cast members besides Fassbender. Katherine Waterston as Daniels gets the most development and keeps the Alien franchise’s bad-ass heroine streak going. Danny McBride’s Tennessee also gets quite a bit of screen time but not as much development. Everyone else pretty much exists as Xenomorph fodder, just like in all the previous movies. However, with this kind of a movie, and what has become expected of the franchise, that’s alright. Not every character needs a deep rich background, especially if they aren’t going to last long anyway. Scott understands that we are there to see one thing: the titular Alien. And if we get a great character like David along the way, then that’s just icing on the cake.

I thought Alien: Covenant was GOOD πŸ™‚ The Alien franchise has had its ups and downs over the years but it seems to be finding a groove. The β€œalien” is slowly becoming less and less the alien Xenomorphs and more of an android alienated from humanity. If Michael Fassbender keeps up the great work as the android David, then that is completely fine with me.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Ridley Scott – Director
Jack Paglen – Story
Michael Green – Story
John Logan – Screenplay
Dante Harper – Screenplay
Jed Kurzel – Music

Michael Fassbender – David / Walter
Katherine Waterston – Daniels
Billy Crudup – Oram
Danny McBride – Tennessee
Demian Bichir – Lope
Carmen Ejogo – Karine
Jussie Smollett – Ricks
Callie Hernandez – Upworth
Amy Seimetz – Faris
Nathaniel Dean – Hallett
Alexander England – Ankor
Benjamin Rigby – Ledward
Uli Latukefu – Cole
Tess Haubrich – Rosenthal
Lorelei King – Mother (voice)
Goran D. Kleut – Xenomorph / Neomorph
Andrew Crawford – Neomorph

Advertisements

Lightning Review: Airplane II: The Sequel

Airplane II: The Sequel movie posterSynopsis
During the maiden voyage of the first commercial flight to the moon, a faulty computer sends the shuttle hurtling towards the sun. Ted Striker (Robert Hays), who is aboard the shuttle to win back Elaine (Julie Hagerty), must once again assume control after the captain become incapacitated.

Review
Airplane! is one of my favorite comedies of all time. I think I have been staying away from Airplane II: The Sequel because I have heard it pales in comparison to its predecessor. After finally seeing it for myself, I would have to agree. Honestly, how could it not be? When Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker created Airplane!, they caught lightning in a bottle and that type of film is really hard to reproduce. Airplane II reuses many of the same jokes as Airplane!, which is not unusual for a comedy sequel. Many of the new jokes were either hit or miss. I did found myself laughing out loud regularly but not as many jokes hit this time. One of the best aspects about Airplane! was the rate at which the jokes flew at you. Even if one missed, they were already at the next joke and you didn’t have time to dwell on it. The jokes per second didn’t seem as high this time so if one missed, it lingered around longer. It was very self aware, making fun of itself and that it was a sequel. Plus William Shatner has a great cameo that pokes fun at science-fiction, which is priceless given his history with the genre.

I thought Airplane II: The Sequel was OK :-|. Airplane II: The Sequel has its moments but it can’t escape the big shadow of Airplane! and ends up feeling it is trying to ride a wave it can’t stay on.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Ken Finkleman – Director / Writer
Elmer Bernstein – Composer

Robert Hays – Ted Striker
Julie Hagerty – Elaine
Lloyd Bridges – McCroskey
Chuck Connors – The Sarge
Rip Torn – Kruger
Chad Everett – Simon
John Dehner – The Commisioner
Peter Graves – Captain Oveu
Kend McCord – Unger
James A. Watson, Jr. – Dunn
William Shatner – Murdock

Ultimate 80s Blogathon Wrap-Up: Airplane! (1980)

I have had such a blast hosting the Ultimate 80s Blogathon with Kim.Β  Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.Β  Earlier today, Kim wrote her blogathon wrap-up and now it is my turn.Β  For my wrap-up of the blogathon, I am reviewing what is hands down one of the best comedies of all time: Airplane!.


Airplane! movie posterSynopsis
Ted Striker (Robert Hays) boards an airplane hoping to convince his girlfriend, Elaine (Julie Hagerty), to not leave him. While in the air, many of the passengers and crew get sick and it falls to Striker, an ex-fighter pilot who has become afraid of flying, to land the airplane safely.

Review
I am honestly surprised no one chose Airplane! as their pick for the blogathon. This commonly tops many β€œbest of” comedy lists. And for good reason. Every joke and gag lands perfectly, even after at least a dozen and a half viewings later. My friends and I are constantly spitting quotes from this film. Airplane! blends quick-fire jokes with hilarious visual gags. I wanted to include a favorite quote section in this review but it is really hard to come up with a favorite quote from the film because there are so many great ones to choose from. I’ve always known Leslie Nielsen as a comedic actor but apparently that wasn’t the case at all before Airplane!. This movie completely changed his on-screen persona. He nails every line with his deadpan delivery. The two leads, Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty, play perfectly off each other. There are a slew of cameos, many of which went over my head since I am removed from that era of Hollywood, but that doesn’t matter because they still hit their mark. The whole time writing this review I had to stop regularly because I keep laughing just by thinking about this movie.

I thought Airplane! was GREAT :-D. Airplane! is slapstick at its finest. Every joke is on point and every visual gag is sure to make your sides split. It’s incredible that a spoof written over thirty-five years ago can still garner as many laughs as it does and still constantly gain new fans. That’s the definition of timeless.

Also check out my review for Airplane II: The Sequel.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Jim Abrahams – Director / Writer
David Zucker – Director / Writer
Jerry Zucker – Director / Writer
Elmer Bernstein – Composer

Robert Hays – Ted Striker
Julie Hagerty – Elaine
Leslie Nielsen – Dr. Rumack
Lorna Patterson – Randy
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Murdock
Lloyd Bridges – McCroskey
Peter Graves – Captain Oveur
Robert Stack – Kramer
Stephen Stucker – Johnny
Robert Stack – Rex Kramer
Barbra Billingsley – Jive Lady
Otto – Himself

Lightning Review: White House Down

White House Down movie posterSynopsis
John Cale (Channing Tatum) is a Capitol Policeman and Afghanistan veteran who is applying to be in the secret service. After the interview, he takes his daughter on a tour of the White House. During the tour, the White House is attacked by a group of mercenaries trying to kidnap the President (Jamie Foxx). Cale manages to elude the terrorists and goes to search for his daughter (Joey King).

Review
White House Down works best if you go in with the mindset of accepting the absurd. The plot is just ridiculous; Each new twist is more silly that the last. It is riddled with cliches and tries to act as a call back to the cheesy action movies of the 80s. At the very least, it is aware of this and isn’t afraid to poke fun at the absurdity of itself. There are many funny moments throughout the film and Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx each get their fair share of one-liners, which are hit or miss. However, some of best bits come when those two are bantering back and forth. I was hoping that given the cast (Tatum, Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods), director and writer (James Vanderbilt also wrote The Amazing Spider-Man) that it would have turned out better. As long as you go into White House Down understanding it is nowhere near Emmerich’s best film and expect a lot of cheesy dialogue, the action, one-liners and buddy-cop-like chemistry between Tatum and Foxx make it more enjoyable than it otherwise would be.
Β 

Rating
3/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Roland Emmerich – Director
James Vanderbilt – Writer
Harald Kloser – Composer
Thomas Wanker – Composer

Channing Tatum – John Cale
Jamie Foxx – President James Sawyer
Maggie Gyllenhaal – Carol Finnerty
Jason Clarke – Emil Stenz
Richard Jenkins – Raphelson
Joey King – Emily Cale
James Woods – Martin Walker
Nicolas Wright – Donnie Donaldson
Jimmi Simpson – Skip Tyler
Michael Murphy – Vice President Alvin Hammond
Rachelle Lefevre – Melanie
Lance Reddick – General Caulfield
Matt Craven – Agent Kellerman

Lightning Review: The Day After Tomorrow

The Day After Tomorrow movie posterSynopsis
Paleoclimatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) and his team, Frank Harris (Jay O’Sanders) and Jason Evans (Dash Mihok), discover global warming will cause catastrophic climate shifts in the future, they report their findings, only to be dismissed by the Vice-President (Kenneth Welsh). However, when the weather begins to go awry as Hall predicted, he heads to New York to reach his son, Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal), before the world enters a new Ice Age.

Review
The Day After Tomorrow is a disaster movie that has many of the genre’s cliches. The dialogue is corny and the characters overall are fairly forgettable. Then there are the staple comedic character and love story. Dash Mihok is the comedic relief of this movie and is pretty funny, but the love story between Sam and Laura Chapman (Emmy Rossum) felt like any other teen romance in similar films. Special effects are where The Day After Tomorrow truly excels. But that isn’t much of a surprise since it is directed by Rolland Emmerich and his films usually have impressive visuals. Speaking of Emmerich films, apparently when the Vice-President is a central (or somewhat central) character, he is always a jerk (just wanted to state my observation). If you can put logic aside and don’t take this movie too seriously, The Day After Tomorrow can be a fun and entertaining romp through the disaster genre.

Rating
3/5