Month: May 2017

June film preview

So June is right around the corner and as we reach the mid point of the year, here’s a look at some upcoming films for the next 30 days as summer film season really gets into gear. US release dates by default.

Wonder Woman – released on the 2nd of June

Directed by Patty Jenkins

Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston.

Origin story and the latest film in the DCEU sees Diana Princess of of Themyscira (home of the Amazonian warriors) discover herself as a person, accidentally coming into contact with American pilot Steve Trevor during WWI, shes goes with him to London to try and end the war, with her having a bit of a culture shock along the way.

 

The Mummy – released on the 9th of June

Directed by Alex Kurtzman

Starring: Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B Vance, Russel Crowe.

Reboot of the horror franchise of the same name, set in London as the ancient force of Princess Ahmanet is unleashed by archaeologists accidentally, including Nick Morton who seems to be being targeted by her personally as she tries to take over the world, Nick seeks the help of organization ‘Predigium’ in order to fight off Ahmanet and save the world.

 

It Comes At Night – released on the 9th of June

Directed by Trey Edward Shults

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbot, Carmen Ejogo, Riley Keough, Kelvin Harrison Jr.

Psychological thriller set in a cabin in the woods, a families meticulous home balance is off set by a young man looking for refuge, all the while everyone is paranoid about something potentially outside and the dangers it may bring.

 

Cars 3 – released on the 16th of June

Directed by Brian Fee

Starring: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Armie Hammer, Larrie the Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt, John Ratzenberger, Tony Shalhoub.

Third film in the Cars series sees Lightning McQueen struck by tragedy after an accident in a race, he strives to race in the Florida 500, training and rehabilitating with Cruz Ramirez, while facing off against a generation of newer, faster cars.

 

Transformers: The Last Knight – released on the 21st of June

Directed by Michael Bay

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Stanley Tucci, Josh Duhamel, Anthony Hopkins, Isabel Moner, Santiago Cabrera, Jerrod Carmichael.

The latest film in the Transformers series sees war ensuing between humans and Transformers, following Optimus Primes’ long absence from earth, Cade Yeager teams up with an English lord and university professor to find out why the Transformers keep coming to earth, while an arising evil forces threaten to take over the planet.

 

Baby Driver – released on the 28th of June

Directed by Edgar Wright

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal, Eiza Gonzalez, Sky Ferreria.

Crime thriller centred around exceptionally talented get away driver Baby who suffers from Tinnitus but drowns it out with music, he works for the mysterious criminal ‘Doc’ but after meeting a certain girl, he strives to get away from his life of crime and run away with her, though this escape from his lifestyle may be harder than he thinks.

 

Despicable Me 3– released on the 30th of June

Directed by Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda.

Starring: Steve Carrel, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Steve Coogan, Julie Andrews.

Animated comedy set around the formerly evil Gru, who re-unites with his long lost and more successful twin brother, Dru who wants Gru to suit up for one last heist for the two of them.

Pirates of the Carribean: Salazars’ Revenge – review

Salazars’ revenge or Dead Men Tell No Tales depending on where you live, is the latest entry in the now 5 film spanning Pirates franchise, we see Captain Jack Sparrow return to his swaggering intoxicated escapades, now working with Henry Turner, son of Will Turner in order to survive, they need to find a mythical, powerful artifact as they are pursued by Captain Salazars ghostly crew, who are out for revenge against Jack. The film stars Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario.

Ah May and a new Pirates film, it’s sort of a common association in recent years and the newest instalment has some of the old musings and tropes of Pirates films gone by but with new characters that definitely inject some more enthusiasm and life into proceedings, namely in Henry (Brenton Thwaites) and Carina (Kaya Scodelario), the two are generally pretty good in their roles and have good chemistry, also playing well off of Johnny Depp. Though I’m sure Depp makes it quite easy to be played off of with his years of experience as a character actor and it is fun to see Jack Sparrow make his return, despite it being for a film that no one really wanted to be honest, Jack is once again endearingly naive, humorously all over the place and still fun to watch, even 14 years after first seeing him on screen. And interestingly, you get a little back story with Sparrow as well, which was a surprise.

Other long standing characters also make their returns including some of Sparrows original crew, Captain Barbossa played excellently by Geoffrey Rush and even with Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley reprising their roles, although not in a substantial way and do not see the film just for them because you will be disappointed. Javier Bardem takes centre stage as Captain Salazar, a very CG heavy villain with pretty stereotypical vengeance on his mind against Sparrow and with an actually believable slant for his story, his tale of revenge just feels played out and a bit generic, as the whole plot does in general with characters needing Jack Sparrow to find a magical Maguffin item to do X, Y or Z.

I mean, not every Pirates film has followed that plot structure but most of them them have and seeing that trope now feels way too familiar, along with betrayals, double crossing, the evil British trying to capture Jack and so on, you’ve seen it all before. That being said, seeing some old things return makes for some fun viewing, the set pieces are actually kinda entertaining and inventive for what they’re worth, with passable action but nothing as memorable as sequences from the initial trilogy. And at 129 minutes, this is somehow both the shortest film in the series but also the longest feeling, in my opinion anyway, due to some some poor pacing and an initial first third that really takes a while to get going, with stretches of nothing really happening strewn in the plot.

Anyway I personally love sea fairing films and the romanticism of piracy on film, with some great visuals in the film just simply of the horizon from the view of ships and so on but that’s not quite enough to get me to really be into Salazars Revenge, a pretty generic entry into the series, practically using plots, introducing new characters but not quite capturing the excitement or freshness from some of the previous films. It does sort of feel like Disney has run out of ideas with the films and that’s okay, the franchise doesn’t have to go on forever guys…. guys… oh damn they’re already making Pirates 6 aren’t they.

6/10

. Plot is very by the numbers, re-uses tropes, plot structure

. Certain ‘surprises’ feel forced, predictable

. Some set pieces are fun, inventive. Film retains the series sense of humour

. Poor pacing, film feels like a slog in parts

Fast and Furious 6 – review

Dom Toretto and La Familia are back in Fast 6 as the franchise takes its next step into a more conventional action direction, the action this time takes place in London with the team working together to take down a group of ruthless mercenaries led by Shaw (Luke Evans). The main cast from the last 2 Fast and Furious film returns and it is an ensemble action thriller for all intents and purposes, the plot takes a different route to Fast 5 but is still good, with some of Doms’ team having to take part in actual shootouts and physical fights.

And there is a lot more emphasis on action this time around as the series as a whole progresses in a good way, this new element to the Fast and Furious franchise is a mostly good touch and the action is done convincingly well, carried heavily by the out and out action star Vin Diesel and the presence of Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). Who is a great addition to the franchise, Shaw is a menacing and formidable foe for the team

Also back in the film in part was actual street racing, a nice throwback to the franchises roots and foundations and while there were elements of it used in Fast Five to service the plot, it feels a bit more natural and is cool to see again. The racing coupled with the at times tense action made for some good set pieces and raised the stakes with some of the team being in serious danger with guns, a lot of guns being used throughout the film. At points in the plot you wonder just how Dom and co are going to get past certain obstacles that just seem unbeatable like you know, a tank vs some fast cars but the crew does what they do best, they improvise. And seeing the good guys work their way around seemingly impossible situations and get through them is great viewing, the set pieces in Fast 6 are bigger in scope, some of the biggest in the franchise while also being some of the most unbelievable, including the longest runway of all time.

The film also hits with its’ emotional moments in what happens to Gisele, something I definitely didn’t see coming. And another big part of the film is Lettys’ re-introduction to the story, with the big surprise being that she’s still alive (of course) but has memory loss and has been brainwashed… okay the explanation around her apparent demise and story up to now is a tad convoluted but it was good seeing her back in the story.

The film has a satisfying enough conclusion however, providing the thrills, twists and turns we’ve come to expect in a Fast and Furious film and while it’s not the best individual story from the franchise, the action is fenetic and the set pieces crank the tension up a few notches, keeping your attention and engagement in what’s going on but that being said, on the whole the film just isn’t that memorable and doesn’t quite stand out among most recent Fast films.

6.5/10

. Set pieces are big, good spectacle

. Nice to see the return of actual street racing in the films

. Films’ plot isn’t quite as memorable or interesting as Fast 5, Fast 7

Happy 40 years of Star Wars!

So yeah this is a bit of an off the cuff post and it may have flown under the radar but a little known indie franchise called Star Wars is actually 40 years old today in fact, opening on May 25 1977, busting blocks and setting alight the imaginations for many filmmakers and directors. Oh and it’s also my favourite franchise, a series that has gone on to monumental heights, permeating and reaching every aspect of popular culture, from TV, to merchandise, to cosplay to comics and the list goes on. So, hat do we have from the series, oh just Luke Skywalker, Han, Chewie and Leia, one of the most iconic film villains of all time in Darth Vader, not to mention some of the most recognizable and iconic space ships in sci-fi. Whether you’re a fan or not, Star Wars has had a lasting impact, effectively helping to invent the blockbuster and change the way Hollywood used special effects and defined the concept of a summer film or ‘blockbuster’, the series has been a real trailblazer.

There’s just something special about Star Wars in the way it drums up both nostalgia and genuine excitement in fans around the globe, it’s so visceral and real, coming from a place of true fandom appreciation and you see it pretty much every time something new is announced – and to still get that sort of reaction after the prequels and 40 years after the films debut is quite something, something a lot of franchises out there would love to have I imagine.

And with The Last Jedi just 6 months away give or take, it’s a great way to cap off the anniversary of a great, iconic franchise. And sure, it’s had its ups and downs, its high points in well, the original trilogy, The Clone Wars series, but more recently in The Force Awakens and Rogue One and its notable low points in the prequels (though Revenge of the Sith wasn’t that bad and Phantom Menace is watchable), it’s an overall beloved series and deservedly so.

Seriously, where would the genre and many, many filmmakers even be without Star Wars? Who knows… but we know what the film industry is like with and here’s a sincere thank you to George Lucas’ mind and imagination for creating the whole thing, people may have their beef and what not with you George but I salute you.

To wrap things up, my favourite film in the series is the best one of course, that being A New Hope. But anyway, here’s to 40 years of Star Wars and many more years to come!

Ghost In The Shell – review

Ghost In The Shell, directed by Rupert sanders is a live action adaptation of the manga and series of films of the same name, set in a futuristic Tokyo in which a lot of people live with cybernetic implants or wholly robotic bodies, being able to plug into electronics, we follow the Major, an anti-hacker operative as she comes to question her own existence while taking on a sinister presence, the film stars Scarlett Johansson,

GITS  was actually one of my more anticipated films of 2017, a live action anime adaptation from Hollywood, what?! I asked myself last year, while looking forward to its release, with Scarlett Johansson being cast, I had my hopes up, then I watched the film…. and admittedly the film is a bit of a weird viewing, just because it’s a live action version of an anime I’ve known about for ages. But also because of the direction of the film, being ironically very flat, lifeless and dull, much like the Ghost shells that people live in in the world of the film, the aesthetics are great and seeing a futuristic Tokyo is cool and all, but there’s a distinct lack of atmosphere in a lot of scenes, even in some of the action scenes.

This is in part due to the rather dull colour palette of the film and because of any real atmosphere in scenes, which makes some dramatic moments and action sequences feel a bit flat but that being said, certain set pieces you’ve probably seen in the trailers are done decently. In terms of acting, the cast is passable, Scar-Jo does her thing and fits the role of Major quite well, being driven and motivated to achieve her goals, whilst also being a bit emotionless and flat and while this does play well for the character somewhat, it makes her hard to empathise or engage with. It’s a shame because the film looks great and it’s definitely an ambitious effort for it to even exist but the plot simply fails to be engaging enough to really get you invested, due in part to poor story telling that just doesn’t quite endear you enough to Major. There really is a lot of story to tell with Major and I feel that a single live action film just doesn’t quite do her story justice, though you could look at this film as just one adaptation of a story, certain things feel a but rushed.

I won’t fault Ghost In The Shell for a lack of ambition or direction but I will fault it for poor execution, seemingly failing to capitalize on an interestingly thematic anime series, sure the futuristic elements are cool and all but that’s not all GITS is and while mostly faithfully portraying elements of the series, the film feels a bit flat, lifeless and uninspired.

6/10

. Has some good visuals

. Plot is quite dull, not as engaging as it could have been

. Acting is ok, nothing special

RIP Sir Roger Moore.

I woke up to some sad news today, in that the British icon and screen legend passed away today at age 89 so I just wanted to pay respects to sir Moore and his family, of course best known for playing James Bond of course, he was a true gentleman and will be sorely missed. RIP Roger Moore.

Ranking the Marvel cinematic universe (updated)

So this is an ongoing feature that I’ve been doing for the MCU as we tend to get 2-3 Marvel films a year and with the most recent Marvel film, Guardians 2, I thought it was high time to update it and yes, Spiderman is out in July but I’ll update the post for it then…. and again for Thor: Ragnarok, damn there really are a lot of films in the MCU now aren’t there?

Captain America: Civil War – 9/10

My actual new favourite film of the MCU is.. well the best I say, an excellently well crafted film with twists, turns, a very engaging plot and a level of stakes and depth that’s brought into the Marvel films (well developed on I suppose) with actual loss and a feeling of responsibility put upon The Avengers, the drama is palpable and hard hitting, changing characters relationships forever, the action is spectacular, memorable and very well choreographed. Civil War feels like a crescendo of events since the first Avengers in a logical way and plays out pretty believably actually, it hurts to see your favourite characters fight and that goes to show the level of investment the MCU has over you, this is the pinnacle of the MCU so far in my opinion and deservedly so.

 

Guardians Of The Galaxy – 9/10

So I previously had some serious thinking to do with picking my number 1 but since Civil War, the original Guardians is down to number two, with it being one of the most well received films in the MCU and one of the most well put together ones as well, it’s so easily re-watchable and it just about sums up both the tone that Marvel’s been going for with their films and the reason why a lot of people love Marvels’ films. The cast is great and they play off each other both naturally and entertainingly, couple that with an interesting plot, great writing and visuals and you have Guardians, the band of misfits in a feature film that really shouldn’t have worked but did.

 

Avengers Age Of Ultron – 9/10

I love Age Of Ultron,  no joke, probably more than I thought I would and the magic of seeing The Avengers on screen again wasn’t lost for me but just enhanced with seeing even more characters, Ultron is a great, flawed villain who got more depth to him in the movies than in comics. And the new additions in Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver didn’t feel like overkill, the character interaction was great and it has some of the best writing in a Marvel film with back and forths, jokes and general dialogue and while the third act may have felt a bit rushed, the feeling of peril and tension is prevalent and the action is top notch. And I’ve actually re-watched AOU at least 4 or 5 times, a few times more than The Avengers actually.

 

Captain America The Winter Soldier – 8/10

The Winter Soldier is an excellently crafted film, bringing a needed darker and grounded tone to the MCU, it’s very much a spy thriller and it plays out similarly to a few non comic book spy films with the premise of the main, good organization being compromised or infiltrated but with some of your favourite Marvel characters in the fray, not too many comic book films have tried to be conspiracy thrillers so the ambition is here for sure. The action in it is some of the best in any Marvel film and it’s great to see some depth added to Cap and a great nemesis for him in Bucky/The winter soldier who Cap simply won’t put down… and who’s also just about a match for him physically. The plot was thrilling and engaging throughout and it had a good pay off at the end.

 

The Avengers – 8/10

The Avengers was everyone’s’ favourite Marvel film until Guardians and or Age Of Ultron and deservedly so, it was awesome to see some of Marvels’ most iconic heroes fighting… each other initially and fighting together, the writing was brilliant and you can tell Whedon really had fun with the characters and their interactions, which made for half of the films entertainment value. Loki was/still is a great villain and while he was overcome a bit easily – villains being beaten easily is a weakness for the MCU as a whole, he was a highlight of the film. The plot flowed really well and the pacing was brilliant, culminating in a really well made film.

 

Iron Man – 8/10

Iron Man holds a special place for many Marvel fans for being the starting point of the MCU and the introduction of RDJ as Tony Stark and Iron Man to the mainstream, the film isn’t over the top or flashy but it just works really well nonetheless, it has great characterization and excellent writing. And a great balance of drama and humour, driven by RDJ as Tony, a role he seems to have been born to play..

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 – 7.5/10

The latest Guardians film is a right blast, maybe not to the heights of the original Guardians or Civil War but it’s a great thrill ride nonetheless, seeing the Guardians return to their dysfunctional ways and now with added members, sort of…. in Nebula and Yondu, the crews interaction again is the heart of the film and the humour has definitely been elevated, with the jokiest MCU film yet. The stakes are also upped this time around in a surprisingly deep and hard hitting turn that you probably won’t see coming, the visuals are also fantastic in easily the most colourful and vibrant looking Marvel film yet and that’s not forgetting the new, great soundtrack of course, bravo Mr Gunn, you’ve made another hit.

 

Doctor Strange – 7.5/10

An entry in the Marvel films that full on brings in the mystical and magical aspect of the comics, Dr Strange is a pretty solid film overall, first of all having a incredible cast and great casting in Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange, the film brings something different to the MCU in the way Ant-Man brought something different with its heist element and Ant-Mans powers. Magical powers, fantastical and mind bending visuals to name a few things that make an appearance in the film, the plot is engaging and well balanced between action, drama and humour, like any Marvel film.

 

Ant Man – 7/10

The film in the MCU that no one really talks about anymore is a spin on the tale of the Ant Man and with Scott Lang taking on the mantle, the film is a lot of fun and brings new action and inventive visuals to the MCU, as well as a different type of hero. It doesn’t stray too far from the Marvel formula but that’s not a bad thing as the film is a good, entertaining watch, the cast is great and Paul Rudd in particular feels like a perfect choice for Scott Lang.

 

Thor – 7/10

Thor is a film I really enjoy and a film I end up wanting to re-watch the most apart from Guardians and The Avengers and it’s because it’s such a well made film, visually it’s stunning an seeing the locales of Asgard in its’ colourful, alien looking world was great. The plot is great and has an almost theatrical structure to it, coupled with the dialogue and great performances.

With Loki and Thor playing off each other, Tom Hiddlestone is fantastic as Loki and Chris Hemsworth is great as Thor. It’s also a very comedic film even for Marvel but it was balanced with drama and serious moments, expanding the MCU into other realms and worlds and bringing magic into play, in a way, paving the way for films to come like GuardiansDoctor Strange.

 

Captain America – 7/10

Captain America is a perfectly good film, very well cast, especially Chris Evans as Cap and Hugo Weaving as Red Skull but I suppose it’s just not as memorable as some of the other MCU film for me, but in saying that, it’s still a well made and enjoyable film. With some good performances, Tommy Lee Jones was great as a cynical, war weary general and seeing a different time era entirely in a Marvel film was cool as was chronicling Captain Americas’ story, which was quite compelling in itself, in relation to WWII and his fictional role in it.

 

Thor The Dark World – 6.5/10

Thor The Dark World was actually a pretty fun film, visually great like the first Thor but with added stakes, Hiddlestone gets to expand his role as a complex and damage Loki, though he’s sort of playing characters in the film the entire time for his own needs. While Thor and Jane go through some issues, they more or less make up like half way into the movie, Thor is given more of a challenge and a better villain to fight in Malekith and their final fight is great to watch with its’ dimension bending but it was a bit short. Other than that, the side characters were good comic relief for the film and made it an entertaining ride.

 

Iron Man 2 – 6.5/10

Iron Man 2 is regarded by quite a few Marvel fans as being outright bad but I disagree, the film is well made and has a tight story, RDJ is in his element as Tony and rocking the cocky billionaire persona but I suppose the film falls short of being a great film for its’ lack of a great villain, which Whiplash definitely wasn’t. The action in the film is great though and Tony /Rhodes playing off each other are still some of the funniest scenes in the MCU.

 

The Incredible Hulk – 6.5/10

The official start of the MCU, The Incredible Hulk is also ironically one of the lesser memorable films, though it does provide a solid, good portrayal of the Hulk and has some good performances in it, namely be Edward Norton and Tim Roth, the film isn’t bad but it’s not necessarily great by any means either. It also misses out on being the definitive layout for Marvel films to come in combining good humour, action and great pacing, though it does look great and it has some great action scenes.

 

Iron Man 3 – 6/10

Iron Man 3, where to begin… unfortunately the film was a misstep and just didn’t quite work for me, Tony Stark is still a great character but odd misdirection regarding Killian and The Mandarin who should just have been the actual Mandarin in the film was just unnecessary. The acting was good but trying to give Tony a dark streak and have him battle his inner demons was at odds with the tone present through the movie in general, showing Tonys’ vulnerablity is a nice idea but it also isn’t really fun to watch. Also I wanted to see Iron Man in action and doing his thing, motor mouthed and arrogant but that didn’t quite happen which was a shame.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2 – review

James Gunn directs Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2, following on from the events of the first film, the Guardians are now an expanded team with Nebula and Yondu joining the fray, they go about taking on missions as mercenaries for hire, now going on an adventure with Star Lord as he comes to find out the truth about his father. The film stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Kurt Russell,Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Elizabeth Debicki.

The Guardians are back, big, brash and crude as ever and boy have we missed them, we follow the gang just a few months after the events of the first film, with them now being well known as a force for good, the characters and chemistry you remember is back and the dynamic between the characters makes for about half of the film, Drax with his dry sense of humour, Rockets’ crudeness, Gamoras conciseness, Star Lords playfulness and (Baby) Groots’ cuteness. The appeal is all there and it’s no surprise the film has done well and now with an expanded team of sorts with Nebula (Karen Gillan) on board, things feel a bit bigger in scope, straight away you can see the cast is enjoying themselves playing these characters and they’ve really grown into them, they all bounce each other well and make for a great dysfunctional family returning for another ride.

The acting is once gain solid for a Guardians film with characters filling in their specific role but upping the emotional ante as it were, when needed and in fact, Vol 2 is quite surprisingly emotional with some pretty hard hitting moments that build more depth for some of the Guardians, said moments may feel a bit cliché and predictable but the heart of the scenes is present and well, it works, giving extra dimensions to characters that you may not expect any depth from. The film is brimming with style, mainly aesthetically with James Gunn experimenting with a range of colours, use of viewpoints and so on, this is easily Marvels most colourful and vibrant looking film, which is a welcome change from some of its other films and this goes hand in hand with the stellar side to the story, with interplanetary travel and space battles, which are great to watch. And speaking of style, the writing is brilliant, the humour is dialled up in one of Marvels most joke heavy films, with a lot of back and forths but also a lot of genuinely funny jokes that work, though not everything is fun and games as we do get more emotional and heavy moments for levity and one again Marvel manages to balance light and dark just about right to create an entertaining picture.

If there is a criticism of Vol 2, it’s that it’s a bit meandering and the story isn’t quite as concise as as the first Guardians, though that being said, the plot is still engaging from the get go and manages to keep your interest, people may also bemoan the amount of jokes as it may take away from any drama but I think it was well balanced. I also give Vol 2 credit for further exploring other themes like dysfunctional relationships and without going into spoilers, the film goes to surprising and deep cutting places. Ultimately Guardians Vol 2 is another great romp in the MCU with characters we know and love, the humour may be laid on a bit too thick for some and while the plot is arguably not as great as the first outing, it’s still an enjoyable ride with a lot to offer, not Marvels best but still quality entertainment.

7.5/10

. Engaging story with interesting twists

. Great aesthetic appeal, full of style

. Characters are explored in more depth

Ranking the Alien franchise

Ridley Scotts baby, the Alien franchise is now 38 years old, bursting from his che-… err his wonderfully imaginative mind and now with 6 films on and a lot of lore, death and mystery, I think it’s high time to rank the series according to how I view it anyway, here goes. Oh and P.S., I haven’t seen Alien: Resurrection, thankfully, as I hear it’s an abomination but if I had seen it by now, it’d probably be bottom of the list.

And no, Alien Vs Predator does not make this list either.

Alien (1977) – 9/10

The original film of the franchise, the progenitor of it all, the facehugger that birthed…. ok you get the idea, anyway Alien is both a staple in horror and sci-fi, being one of the best space horror films of all time with solid acting, an easy to follow plot, inventive use of mis-en-scene to contribute to tension and suspense and importantly, a use of simplicity for effective scares. What makes the film so great? That it doesn’t try so hard to be good or to make any real point, the xenomorph is just there and things happen, it’s as visceral as it gets and easily the best in the franchise, full of twists, gory moments and a memorable plot.

 

Aliens (1986) – 8.5/10

Aliens is a peculiar sequel, a sequel many think is better than the original in fact, taking things in a wildly different direction and effectively spawning the space marine sub-genre, with memorable acting, good action set pieces and great pacing, the ante is definitely upped and things are just as scary with multiple xenomorphs as opposed to one, which serves to make things even more tense at times in fact. This is how a sci-fi action film should play out imo and it serves as a great template for action for films even to this day.

 

Prometheus (2012) – 7.5/10

Probably the most divisive film in the franchise but one I actually quite enjoy, Prometheus is big scale, scope and its ideas, though following horror tropes, it asks questions over humanity and its existence, while still exploring the origins of the xenomorph, I like it because it was something entirely new to the franchise, from the engineers and their weapons, to brand new moons, the plot felt exciting and fresh and it also looked fantastic visually. And with a strong cast to boot, it’s just a pretty engaging ride with one of the better plots in the franchise with some interesting twists and turns, despite some silly horror stereotypes, they don’t detract too much from the film as a whole for me.

 

Alien: Covenant (2017) – 6/10

The most recent Alien film is pretty much Alien re-treaded, with Aliens thrown in for good measure, answering maybe 1 or 2 questions from Prometheus and leaving a whole bunch of others hanging, it just felt  bit too generic for me, especially compared to the last film in the series, despite a decent cast and some tense moments, I couldn’t shake the feeling of having seen it all before, with nothing new or exciting present apart from a revelation that changes the tone of the film and does nothing more really. Covenant feels like a misstep, one that could have easily been better but went the generic sci-fi horror route, bringing nothing good to the series.

 

Alien 3 (1992) – 5/10

The 3rd film in the series is…. an odd one, going to interesting places as I think the writers were running out of places to put the xenomorph, it lacks the production values and quality of Alien and Aliens clearly and just feels a bit by the numbers, though Ripley returns, the acting is dire, the plot is predictable and it just looks really bad, with some of the worst CG I’ve ever seen, hell Aliens looks better.

And there it is, my ranking, a range of scores and an unfinished list with the next Alien film on the way, set to start filming next year and where that one falls in the list, who knows… but I can’t wait to find out.

Alien: Covenant – review

Ridley Scott directs the latest instalment in the Alien franchise with Alien: Covenant, sequel to Prometheus and prequel to Alien, with us now being on a journey with the colonising ship the Covenant, bound for a planet with the aim of well, colonising it, travelling to a seemingly perfect planet throws the mission into jeopardy as alien creatures are discovered. The film stars Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, Billy Crudup, Carmen Ejogo.

Ah the Alien franchise, it’s many things, a long running series of high highs and very low lows, films of varying quality to say the least but I’d hoped the more recent films would turn things back around and raise the quality a bit, Prometheus did just that I think, a great thinking persons’ film with action, suspense, great visuals and a lot of mystery and intrigue to be continued… and what we get with Covenant is sort of the continuation to that, but not exactly.

You’ll need to watch the whole film to really understand that point but if you’re looking for answers for most of the questions you had from Prometheus and the bigger picture, you will be probably disappointed, though what is present is an Alien film, very much in the vein of Aliens with the set up and how things play out and while that’s not a bad thing per se, (Aliens is a great film), Covenant just feels like retreaded ground. Ridley Scott’s now adept at making Alien films but I found myself wanting something a bit more following on from the big scale of Prometheus, with the final result of Covenant being a pretty generic horror film that just isn’t that satisfying.

And horror film this is, deaths are predictably gory and if that’s your thing, you’ll like it, with the sort of new xenomorphs doing their usual thing and being creepy as ever.

What’s somewhat good about Covenant is its ambition, with some big themes that are a bit on the nose, there are some great visuals and generally good acting, Katherine Waterston is good, as is the now dual Michael Fassbender as the new android Walter and the incumbent David, he gives a good performance, as robotic and steely as in the last film with a real presence about him, though unfortunately other characters barely get fleshed out and serve as nothing but easy targets for you know what.

Ultimately I feel like Covenant is a bit of a missed trick, a film a lot of Alien fans were looking forward to, to delve more into the mythos of the world Scott created and while things are touched on, the reveal around the xenomorphs and a twist in the final third is a decidedly wet blanket, changing the tone of the film and watering down the tension and making everything feel far too formulaic. It’s almost as if Scott felt like he had to take the the film in a certain direction to adhere to horror tropes and keep the audience on their toes but things just felt far too familiar, uninspired and a bit aimless, how this film ties into Alien is beyond me and at this point, I’m not sure what else there is to explore in a subsequent film. I feel it’s a shame that Covenant didn’t resonate with me and I left my viewing only looking back more fondly on previous films like Prometheus.

6/10

. Has some solid acting

. Feels far too tropey, formulaic, retreads parts of previous Alien films

. Addresses parts of Prometheus but not all which will feel dissatisfying