Alien: Covenant (2017)

Alien: Covenant – IMDB

 

alien Covenant

 

As a fan of this beloved series, I read articles, watched interviews, and looked out for the anticipated teaser trailer released last Christmas. My hopes couldn’t have been higher. A return to the dark and dangerous universe of Alien. Prometheus opened a whole new world for us to explore and upon initial viewing I loved it, then hated it, then as time passed it grew on me and I have accepted it for being a stand alone film and an unique entry in to the franchise. With that being said, there was a lot to be expected from Ridley Scott taking yet another lead in the xenomorph franchise. And then finally, FINALLY. A full red band trailer was released. I watched. As the trailer for Alien: Covenant burst from its organic egg shell, revealing it’s gooey innards. I couldn’t help but be exposed to the spoilers on screen as one colonist after another were dying showcasing their deaths to entice and scare viewers demanding it’s attention. AND THEN, my questioning began, “Is this really going to be good, it looks like Alien? Should I lower my bar of expectations? Is this the sequel we deserve?”

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I see nothing but death.

I believe Ridley Scott listened to those shouting and screaming Alien fans and their hatred for Prometheus without consideration of those who spoke softly for their love of a film that took a risk in a new direction. Scott himself wanted to create something new that centered around creation and a story that provoked the thought of origins for life. And not just any life, but birth of the hissing xenomorph. I understood Prometheus was set in the same universe but placed far before the original. And it was this movie that many were apparently down right upset about. Movies age like wine, many show their true colors and morph into something flavorful later on down the road. The tick with this film is Scott took a chunk of Alien and a spice of Prometheus. When instead it should have been vice versa. It felt like he wanted to please the audience and new comers with an over cooked monster and playing it safe. When, in fact, I would have chosen the risky route. Continue Prometheus mission.

This is the biggest fault of the film. Alien: Covenant wanted to spring into an Alien movie so badly it left many ingredients that made it’s predecessor stand alone. There’s reviews that could go on about what Prometheus did wrong and what not. Yea, yea, we know. A great sequel would add to the first’s mystery, answer questions and then some. Frankly, the sequel does not. You want to know if Shaw gets any of her questions answered? Who cares. Want to know any more about the Engineers? Nah, irrelevant, they’re just a plot device. Alien: Covenant moves forward in a storm abandoning almost everything behind. Leaving a mess of a film.

There are good points in the movie and I will say it definitely is not a waste of time. By far my favorite is watching the androids, Walter and David, both played by the magnificent Michael Fassbender, interact with one another. Their conversations and differences make some compelling dialogue. They are by far the best part of the film. David is becoming more of a solid character in the franchise as Ripley. It’s exciting to think about. **Spoiler** Seeing as David’s relationship with Weyland is submissive in the the shadow of his creator, David holds the ability to create, and to create he does. The perfect being. And this is justified (if not hard to swallow) in the beginning  when Weyland talks to David on his initial creation. This bit I loved. Discussion of art, creation, and Gods. It is what is expected of a Prometheus sequel.

Androids were not the only ones who were good, those looking for a more serious role for Danny Mcbride actually has a good standing here. It was a pleasure to see him on screen and provide a drop of comical relief and play a driven husband to the end. A part I was looking forward to. And Katherine Waterston who played the down beat Daniels. She did good but nothing to stand out or even complain. She is in grief of losing her husband so her character hardly has an uplifting moment. With that to say the movie as a whole is quite atmospheric and despairing.

In relation to the other characters I really wish they were more fleshed out. Especially Oram and Karine. This couple could of had some deep conversations. Oram (Billy Crudup) could have used a lot more text and background on why and how he is religious. I think personally he is the most interesting character besides David. With Shaw out of the picture, Oram could have real conversations with David. If not him, Daniels or Tennessee about the future humankind’s path is set on or the Engineers’ purpose. Potential once again lost. Oram is just another guy with faith providing no meaning or value to his own asset to the story of origins. Like the trailer,  Alien: Covenant provided  meaningless scares and predictable deaths. There’s no exaggeration. The deaths are predictable, good acting, but predictable, signing on a new cast dying for a paycheck.

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Some effects I enjoyed but couldn’t help but feel it was a slight downgrade from Prometheus. Times I felt practical effects could have been used but weren’t. i.e. animatronics. The aliens themselves are creepy. Mainly the new one, the neomorph. The original isn’t welcomed like an old friend coming home. Not that it should as it’s history in terrorizing the screen for the past 30 years. We all know what you’re capable of alien, step aside. The neomorph is here and shows it’s origins but where is it on the scale of the Engineers’ existence? Where does it stand? We still know little about the goo from the previous movie. Why couldn’t we just get proper sequel instead of an Alien prequel? You are draining this series dry, Ridley Scott.

The music itself is terrific. With moments calling back to Alien and Prometheus scores gives a hybrid vibe of the universe that’s currently existing and was happy to hear. The additional music was also good, emanating a dark ominous howl. Creating a subtle hint of intense terror that’s not exploding in your face.

It’s interesting to see where the franchise is going.  Not to be sexist but I was hoping not another heroine in this picture. But it’s not all we got. And I hope she isn’t the only one. We’ve had a Ripley. Please, present something new. And try not to kill everyone in the opening credits, so learn from the mistakes. If by chance Scott listens and isn’t a crazed old man looking for a come back and says “F***  it this is how the story is gonna be” we can fix this average film into what the franchise needs: back to answering and asking questions Prometheus introduced. We’ve had our Alien films, bring us something else. Tease us with Alien, give us Engineers and a space to explore with new findings. Our minds are bigger than this. What is life without expanding our boundaries? It’ll be hard to trek back around this film and find our footing once again. Maybe in time this will grow but who knows. We still have stupid characters and a lazy, messy plot that wants to entertain with the occasional questionable dialogue.

I saw a lot of promise when Michael Green was attached (creator/writer of Penny Dreadful, writer of Gladiator). We’ll see where this takes us. Scott proclaims at this moment that the series is pinned for an additional three movies that lead up to the original Alien. Anything could happen. Am I worried? At this point, yea, I am. A Prometheus like sequel will be welcomed. Scott needs to figure out his vision for the future of the franchise. Do I still look forward to the next entry? Hell yea, I do. However, we need innovative ideas. It’s time for the reigns to be passed on Ridley Scott. If you need attention, get a dog.

In the end, I liked the movie. Since Aliens no Alien movie has been perfect. Close calls but no perfect specimen. If Scott plans to release these next few additions then he needs to find that vision and stick to it. Pleasing the audience with a cooked monster will do nothing. Possibly the goriest entry along with Alien Resurrection, we need more than shock and fright. Story much? Missing the chemistry David and Shaw had we can only look forward now after a grim experimentation. One can hope for the director’s cut. As I and fans alike look for the missing parts not already integrated into a film we anticipated for.

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Jurassic Park (1993) – IMDb

via Jurassic Park (1993) – IMDb.


I remember owning this movie on VHS and had my name written on it so people knew whose it was. Jurassic Park had a tremendous influence on me, as it did a whole generation and many to come; it was one of the reasons I fell in love with practical effects and creature features. Steven Spielberg didn’t intend for this movie to be a monster movie but more about what would happen if engineers brought dinosaurs to life and we walked side by side? Universal Studios bought the rights to Jurassic Park before it was even published, confident it would be a box office hit. Right they were. The movie was sold out for consecutive days. David Koepp, the writer, said: “I’m no expert, but I think this is a good movie.” We’re still under the shadow of this colossal movie, having the fourth installment arriving just days away, exactly 22 years after the first was released. It is much anticipated by fans and new comers to sink their teeth into but I feel it won’t have as much a bite as the first initially did. It is epic, beautiful, thought provoking, and a harrowing adventure that friends and families will remember for a lifetime to come.

We all know Steven Spielberg can handle any project he comes into contact with, he has an act for directing with a sense of warmth, suspense and adventure in his pictures. Jurassic Park is clearly a masterpiece. From the special effects to the subtle wit to the dramatic ferociousness and back to the overwhelming, spectacular effects. Stan Winston (Aliens) and his team out did themselves here, the effects are top notch and even subtle. Like when Lex shines a light into the T-Rex’s eye, it dilates; or when the raptor’s eyelids move or nostrils flare. The dinosaurs have so much life, you can see the weight and even their breath on glass. They seem so realistic it’s extraordinary to this day, and the CGI is better than a lot of movies today. The special effects won an award for their hard earned effort and same for the incredible sound. Without the sound, or music, Jurassic Park would have a big difference. The score is beautiful and adventurous and will stay in your head, I even whistle it randomly. The music and sound together adds to it’s over all atmosphere giving it a distinctive feeling, it’s a whole another universe to experience and yet it’s familiar.

In the first hour it’s all character development. The slow burning attribute helps the viewer become aware of what you’re watching and it makes you feel more. It draws you in with the sense of control Spielberg has on the development of the story. You are introduced to an engaging and varied sorts of characters. You have the creator of the amusement park John Hammond, played by Richard Attenborough who was good friends with Spielberg and fits his role. Hammond comes and invites two paleontologists, Dr. Sattler (Laura Dern) and Dr. Grant (Sam Niell), to visit his monstrous park. Sattler is ready to move forward in a relationship with Grant and have kids but he simply does not like them, must be the smell. Grant is also old fashioned and loves his work but sees technology is making his field more advanced. Although it helps with new discoveries, it takes away the whole experience of digging. Flying over seas via helicopter to an island 150 miles away from Costa Rica you meet Jeff Goldblum’s best fitting character Ian Malcolm, otherwise known as Dr. Chaos. There’s also the blood sucking lawyer, Genarro, who is greedy for money and only cares about convincing his investors; Hammond’s two grand kids who are stellar actors here, and the veteran hunter, Muldoon, who has a close eye on the velociraptors.

From the landing pad to becoming a dinosaur’s next meal is a fun experience on par with a theme park. Exactly one hour in is when the movie kicks in gear and you are treated to the infamous T-Rex scene breaking out of his paddock. Spielberg presents the terrifying creature with precision and horror, taking enough time to invoke this unstoppable fear that will cause chaos.
During filming, when it would rain, the T-Rex would malfunction and come to life and scared some of the crew. Shoot, I would, too, seeing it was a life size man-eater! The crew would give out warning when the monstrous king would step out onto the set since a sweep of it’s head flying by you felt like a bus passing by. Put that into perspective…

Jurassic Park will feed you some scary sequences. John Hammond, the theme park creator, takes his guests to the velociraptor’s paddock just in time to see it fed. You don’t see it, only it’s small area of confinement that’s covered with plant life. A cattle is lowered into the thick. And then the crunching and mauling sound of it being torn to shreds and the plant life shaking and swaying, reacting violently. The feeding scene is excruciatingly terrifying cause your imagination goes to work like the raptor does on the cattle. You also learn these animals have intelligence. What’s more terrifying than intelligence? Intelligence with memory, even more so when you find out it has escaped.

Man and dinosaurs were not meant to walk side by side. There are discussions and themes about it through out the movie. One of my favorite scenes, one that seems to be overlooked (and as a child I found boring) is after the raptor’s snacking when the group gather in a room to discuss the park and have a bite to eat. Although, no one touches their food. In fact Hammond is bewildered that the scientists don’t like the idea of free will to create this life that has been separated from humankind for 65 million years. Especially Ian Malcolm (who has the best lines), who has a morbid sense of humor but is also deep in thought; he is dressed in all black, contrary to John Hammond who is dressed in white. This is symbolic for the two characters. Hammond is a God-like figure. He has been present for every birth on the island and, like birds, they imprint the first face they come into contact with which helps them to trust him. Hammond has the power to create the illusion of life out of free will but failed to have the discipline and responsibility to gain this power therefore not fore seeing the actions he has put into play. Moving up from his flea circus, he wanted something tangible for people to see and touch. But he wants to control the uncontrollable; life finds a way, as Malcolm tries to convey to him the chaos theory. Malcolm has a dark approach but it’s reality. Telling Hammond that life breaks boundaries, painfully and even dangerously. You can not simply control something that wants to be free. It was natural selection that killed the dinosaurs and they were “[raping] the natural world” bringing them back. Hammond’s ignorance and Malcolm’s arrogance are the best of both worlds, providing us deep conversation with intrigue. 

Michael Crichton wrote Jurassic Park because of his fear of advancing bio-engineering technology and that one day dinosaurs will be back possibly for the sake of entertainment and profit. Something to think about of our future. Also, Crichton compared himself to Malcolm because of his outlook on life and Spielberg to Hammond. If that’s so, than I’m Grant cause I’m not really good with technology either.

We can’t even handle each other, what makes you think we can handle dinosaurs? Steven Spielberg has directed a genuinely smart, timeless epic that inspires me to read the book and will be loved by everyone to come into contact with. This magical movie leaves a message for us and after an unlikely hero saves the day, the ending moments leaves a sweet, melancholy filling. No words are spoken, just the beautiful score to help sink in our survivors’ weekend adventure.

Extra: I’d like to think Wayne Knight’s character Nedry, changed his name from Newman (Sienfeld) who was having financial problems but found a way to fix that. He left his apartment in New York and his post man job to do a gig for a company who wanted dinosaur specimens. His mission: to infiltrate the lab on Site A and acquire dinosaur embryos and return them for large amounts of cash. But when you combine money and greed, you become blinded by a toxic, gooey venom of evil.