What Movie Have You Seen Today?


#1

Same topic as back at the old place, a place for movie reviews and discussion on whatever you’ve recently seen.

Alien: Covenant
dir. Ridley Scott

A crushing disappointment of a movie if there ever was one. After leaving the alien creature out of Prometheus for all but a very brief cameo, instead opting to explore heavy philosophical questions about the meaning of life, where we came from, and all of that jazz, one would have thought that the creature’s return to title billing would have meant that we’d get a healthy dose of said creature.

Nope. The movie that I came to see, and that I think the movie that they marketed to the general public, is crammed into the last half-hour or forty-five minutes of this snoozefest that otherwise picks right up where Prometheus left off, bashing the audience over the head with how smart it thinks it is. Where this mostly worked in Prometheus, it fails here because of the film’s intentions to try to cater to the Alien faithful by trying to weave some of those horror elements back into the frame.

The film’s ill-conceived philosophical angle is built around the storyline of David and his twin android Walter, both of which are played by Michael Fassbender. Fassbender turns in a terrific performance in both roles, but unfortunately he can’t make a dull story better than it is. And, sadly, it’s all there to set up the most obvious twist I’ve seen in a film in quite some time. Seriously, if you didn’t guess how Alien: Covenant was going to end, then you’ve never seen a movie before.

Fassbender aside, the rest of the cast is dull, as though they know they’re in a bad movie and are there for the paycheck. Several talented actors (Waterston, Crudup, and McBride) sleepwalk through this film, seemingly as though they know that the only portion of the film that anyone is there to see is the slasher portion of the film, which ends far too quickly, and that the philosophical overtones that Scott has attempted to cover the film in are so simplistic that they are almost self-defeating for the film.

A lot of interesting things could be done to set up a line of prequels that lead into Scott’s original Alien, but neither film has fully worked so far, and have in fact gotten worse as we have gone. I’d love to see them get this franchise back on track, but I don’t see it happening without some changes in the creative direction.


#2

I also was disappointed in this film. Sure, it looks splendid, Scott is a marvelous visual director. But I´ve said it before and will say it again: without the right script he is lost.

This film, IMO, is a rehash of all the ideas of PROMETHEUS, sprinkled with some ALIEN creature moments. And as you say, the basic idea remains unsurprising and used up already. So why make another film about that? (And due to the bad box office performance we´re probably spared the two other prequels Scott wanted to make.)

The great thing about ALIEN was that the mystery of the origin of the creature was not explained.

Scott now has used two films to explain it in the most disappointing way.

Which goes to prove once again that backstory does not need to be filled out, it just has to be given the right amount of hints for the real story to work.


#3

I can’t say that I really have a problem with Scott trying to use the franchise to ask deeper philosophical questions, but I would have to agree with a review I read of this film that this and Prometheus do so in the most superficial ways possible, touching on things, such as the song David plays in the opening pre-title scene, that are just obscure enough for the bulk of the general audience that it seems “deep” but when in reality it’s fairly shallow.

I think that something interesting could be done with the basic premise of the two prequels, but it was just botched so badly that they can’t recover that opportunity at this point. What I’d like to see at this point is for them to jump to somewhere after Alien Resurrection on the timeline and do a film or two that works towards what they were promising us around the time of Alien 3, which was for the aliens to reach Earth. Maybe do a film or two set in space that takes the franchise back to basics (either a straight up horror film like the original, a more action-oriented film like Cameron’s entry, or something completely different), and then head for the big finale where Earth has to deal with the creature(s).

Whatever they do, though, I can’t say that I have any desire to see the Blomkamp’s take on the franchise. I think Scott was right in going ahead and developing Prometheus and Alien:Covenant as a means to try to keep those films from happening.


#4

I would have loved to see a fllm really dealing with the planet on which those Alien creatures were conceived, with the obligatory human explorer crew trying to find out exactly that. This would not have needed to be a prequel but could have been a sequel coming after Alien Resurrection.

However, the basic idea of an Alien movie might have been used up. Because even a crew heading to the origin planet or the Aliens reaching Earth, the end result will always be: creatures decimating humans, humans fighting back.

Maybe it´s better to let this franchise played out as it is and move on to new ideas.


#5

What they should have done is create a series of films exploring those deeper philosophical, beginning of life questions, which I find very interesting in and of itself, and not try to shoehorn it into the Alien franchise. They are two different things and the creature feature stuff just keeps interrupting it. The last 15mins of Covenant felt like it was from another movie.


#6

Alien Covenant feels like a sequel to the movie I wanted to see. At the end of Prometheus, I wanted to see Noomi Rapace confront the Engineers. During Covenant we find that already happened offscreen! Alien movies like to do this (cough ** Newt ** cough.)

There’s a line in Aliens where Ripley remarks in dismay, “Did IQs drop sharply while I was away?!” But given the bonehead decisions of both crews in the two prequels, it’s hard to imagine them being much lower. When Danny McBride isn’t the dumbest character onscreen, that’s saying something. None of the characters made a lasting impact on the viewers like Bill Paxton’s “Game over man!”

It seems this franchise will never pull off that successful third film. For now, the best bet of a decent trilogy watch is Prometheus-Alien-Aliens.


#7

Yeah, I can’t believe they deleted all the Noomi Repace scenes.

And I still can’t believe Danny McBride is the one writing the new Jamie Lee Curtis starring and John Carpenter produced Halloween movie :hushed:


#8

I think they probably wanted to distance the film from everything that was Prometheus. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the title was originally just supposed to be “Covenant” and the studio forced “Alien” into it to further distance themselves from what they perceived to be a disappointing film.

And, yes, I can’t believe that he’s writing Halloween. Probably doesn’t matter, though. That film is going to be a trainwreck. I’m excited for a new film in the franchise, and will go see it, but I don’t hold any hope that it’s going to be anything north of awful that will do more damage to the timeline and will force a third reboot in three films.


#9

Today I just watched pirates of the Caribbean - dead men tell no tales. Movie was not up to the mark. Now I am gonna start some drama cool type stuff. I am just sick of Hollywood crap films.


#10

I saw Paddington 2 today, featuring of course none other than Ben Whishaw.

Absolutely brilliant. Will definitely be checking out the original film.


#11

Gerald’s Game (2017)
A Stephen King adaptation that isn’t awful. Actually, this one’s pretty good, which is a bit shocking since the story itself doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the big screen in a particularly obvious way. In what is essentially a one-man play, Carla Gugino does a terrific job of carrying the film as a woman who finds herself handcuffed to her bed after her husband dies in the middle of things in the bedroom.

The Dark Tower (2017)
If you didn’t know better, you’d think that this film was a joke. Condensing a 7-novel series down into a 90-minute film was always going to be a bad idea, but it turns out even worse than anyone could have ever imagined. A terrible, terrible film.


#12

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Okay, I am a Kenneth Branagh fan. So it did not surprise me that I loved this film. But the very big audience I saw it with also seemed very well entertained, laughing and gasping at the right moments. It really is a crowd-pleaser, this adaptation, and Branagh skillfully maneuvers the great cast through the familiar story, changing it with just the right amount of tension-filled additional scenes and poignant humour.

If EON really is still looking for a director for BOND 25 Branagh would be a perfect idea, IMO, a very British one as well. And I would love to hear what his composer Patrick Doyle would do with Bond.


#13

A Doyle score would be a treat.

Am always curious to know - any of the audience surprised when it got to who the killer was in Murder on the Orient Express?


#14

Hard to say. I knew the reveal, course, being old enough - but lots of people who never read the novel nor saw the Lumet-adaptation must have been surprised.

In any event, the way the reveal is handled offers so much more than just the shock. It´s the emotional impact of what went down that is the killer twist here, for me, and Branagh expertly delivers that.

Happy to read today that the box office success has triggered development of the “Death on the Nile”-remake with Branagh again.


#15

Justice League

No spoilers:

Well well well! After the critical mauling BVS got in the press, I had high hopes they would take on the criticism and make JL a smash. Particularly after Patty Jenkins’ wonderful Wonder Woman, which is far and away the best DC film to date, JL had to be good.

And was it? Zack Snyder dropped out of directing duties after the tragic death of his daughter, so Avengers supremo Joss Whedon was drafted in to do re-shoots and finish off the film. And it shows. The film is disjointed and the tone is jarring. However, seeing all the superheros on screen together is wonderful, the action sequences breathtaking and Ezra Miller’s The Flash is a highlight of the film.

There is a lot of CGI in this film. LOADS of green screens too, and none of it looks good, which is baffling since this film had a budget of about $300 million! Steppenwolf as the villain is a CGI construct, mo-capped by Ciaran Hinds, but still looks shit.

But, there are some truly jump out of your seat moments in this film, which I won’t spoil. And there are jokes in this film, unlike the dour BvS. But is it better than BvS? Yes and no. The film feels rushed at times, since it is only 2 hours long. A lot of the scenes needed to breathe more. I’d love to see an extended cut on DVD.

Overall though, there is much to enjoy. Being a DC fan, it just left me wanting more.

7/10


#16

Spider-man: Homecoming

Well done. Funny. Different from the previous two takes on the character. Nicely integrated into the Marvel movie universe. Great actors. Intelligently written. Fast paced.

And yet I felt underwhelmed. The reason for this I can find in every contemporary comic book film and too many action films, too.

People have become invincible.

They can suffer the heaviest blows, falls, whatever - they still shake it off and immediately can go on punching.

In the case of a super hero that might be a given. However, how can I feel for them if nothing can hurt them? It all becomes arbitrary. Like a kid smashing his playfigures against each other, filmmakers coneive every action sequence with no consequences. In the end heroes and villains just are too strong.

And in the case of this Spider-man it is especially a pity since the filmmakers go to great lengths showing his many weaknesses in his private life. Also, there is one scene in which he clearly is hurting and does not know how to go on.

But this is just for a few seconds. He only has to summon all his willpower and off we go to the next overtuned action sequence.

Do audiences still want to feel sympathy for their action hero or do they just want to see them smash and get smashed?

CraigBond was a hurting human being in his first three films - but SPECTRE already showed him as an invincible power.

Call me crazy, I like my action heroes to be human beings I can feel scared for.


#17

The Babysitter (2017)

A little Netflix Original from director McG that I decided to give a chance to at about 4:00 this morning because I couldn’t sleep and had nothing else to do. Not nearly as bad as you’d think it would be, although that probably has a lot to do with the fact that expectations are already lowered a bit going in when you know it’s a direct-to-streaming film rather than something that spent some time in the cinema.

The basic premise here is that 12-year-old Cole is constantly bullied, one of such instances we witness in the opening, when he’s saved by his babysitter Bee. Part of the reason that he is bullied stems from the fact that he still has a babysitter at the age of 12, and it’s established early that Cole is afraid of just about everything. He’s forced to get over that fear when he stays up late one night to see what goes on with his babysitter when he’s asleep, only to find out that she’s the leader of a satanic cult.

Hilarity and a lot of gross-out moments ensue from that point forward. The performances are generally good across the board, even that of Bella Thorne, who is seemingly game here to kind of poke fun at herself a bit in terms of how she portrays her cheerleader character.

There is no new ground broken by this film whatsoever, but it’s an entertaining enough romp of a horror-comedy that you don’t feel as though you wasted the 80+ minutes of its runtime on it.


#18

The Founder. Good film with a terrific performance from Michael Keaton. 9/10.


#19

This is another one that I’ve been meaning to getting around to watching but just haven’t managed to yet. Great to hear more praise for both the film and for Keaton.


#20

JUSTICE LEAGUE

"I don’t not like … " Batman replies to Superman in JL, and that’s how I feel about Justice League. I was tempted to review this movie with quotes from it as there was a comment from Wonder Woman that sparked that idea, but I’ll be damned if I can remember it now. Still, I didn’t regret the $6 or 2 hours I spent watching the movie. Part of it was enjoying how bad some of it is … mustache-gate for one, gaping plot holes for another–e.g. Atlanteans and Amazonians take great pains to secure/protect the Marvel Infinity Stone McGuffian Mother Boxes, while mankind just buries theirs in a few feet of dirt! The resurrection scene is possibly some of the worst footage ever shot in a superhero movie. But there are some very enjoyable moments. Though out of place, the humor is quite good, though it doesn’t jive with Batman’s motives from BvS. It’s clear Ben Affleck wants out. And he should go. Some scenes are quite uncomfortable in light of the sexual harrassment scandals plaguing hollywood (Brett Ratner’s company is among the film’s producers) and Affleck’s own brush with it. It doesn’t help that Snyder’s camera angles completely objectify Gal Gadot’s Diana character after Patty Jenkins’ superb take on Wonder Woman. Aquaman is surprisingly enjoyable, and Ezra Miller’s Flash makes me want to see a Flashpoint movie, though that appears unlikely. And truth be told, nothing the Flash did was as good as the similar Quicksilver in either X-Men feature or even Age of Ultron. Cyborg’s abilities are key to moving the story along, but there’s nothing that makes one want a feature length movie about him.

Having Danny Elfman compose the music with themes from Tim Burton’s Batman, as well as quoting John Williams’ Superman, makes one wonder if JL occurs in the Batman-Batman Returns universe. Warner Bros.’ marketing is quite questionable–no Superman in the poster or CD cover, but he opens the first scene and Henry Cavil is listed second in the credits. That might have helped their bottom line.

And that is the DCEU’s biggest problem. Whereas the MCU is concerned with story telling first and foremost, even correcting for continuity glitches (see Ragnarok’s hilarious Gauntlet retcon), it’s painfully obvious DC/WB just wants our money. And I wouldn’t mind giving it to them for the most part (except for Suicide Squad). At this point, I’m not sure they can or should salvage the DCEU. Wonder Woman should be a solid franchise to come out of this, and next year will render judgment on the already filmed Aquaman (Jason Momoa made him quite likable.) But Zack Snyder was never a good match for Superman/DC to begin with. And the rest of their decisions–Batfleck, Eisenberg as Lex Luthor–dared us not to watch them. Meanwhile, Marvel’s made hits out of Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, talking trees and raccoons.