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‘Alien Covenant’: Not Another Movie Blockbuster Like ‘Alien’

Posted in Action, drama, Fantasy, horror, Movies, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2017 by aliciamovie

Alien covenant

Reviewed by Alicia Glass 

Director: Ridley Scott

Studio: 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

MPAA Rating: R

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

Spoilers will eat your backbone!

The colony spaceship Covenant is out here on a 7-year journey to Origae-6, a giant terra-forming monster staffed by a skeleton crew of 15 or so with a bunch of others asleep in cryo-stasis, and inevitably, one synthetic crew member to help this whole process along. The synthetic crewman, Walter, who just so happens to look exactly like Michael Fassbender’s David from ‘Prometheus’, is in charge of the entire ship’s maintenance, including the crew’s own cryo-pods and the embryo storage, while the crew is asleep. In the midst of malfunctions and space issues, a nearby planet is discovered to be potentially everything they were looking for, for terra-forming colonization purposes, which prompts a landing party but also the speculation, if this planet has everything we need, why wasn’t it included in the list of potential habitats when we began this venture?

We, those of us who dutifully sat through ‘Prometheus’ and tried to understand how the hell it connects to the ‘Alien’ films, could’ve told the terra-formers why: that planet from the prequel of a prequel movie, where we lost Dr. Elizabeth Shaw and damn near everyone else, where David is now holed up plotting revenge, the place crawling with proto-Xenomorph species, that’s the planet our heroes just discovered. The film dutifully even lays it out for the audience as the landing party goes exploring on the ground, how there’s no animal life of any kind, no birds either, not even insects really, well that’s because the seriously dominant predatory species wiped them all out. And that predatory virus has begun to infect members of the landing party already.

There is absolutely no quarantine that will save them now, and believe me, the landing party did try. I understand being completely frazzled and terrified by this albino monster in your midst that just exploded out of a guys’ spinal column, but the spaghetti gags of slipping in the blood pool twice and blowing up your own damn drop ship by randomly firing on the fuel tanks hoping to score a kill clearly demonstrates that maybe these colonists aren’t exactly humanities’ first draft pick. And it’s here, when all hope looks lost, that a savior that really isn’t shows up and saves the remaining landing party survivors, one of whom is mercifully the synthetic Walter. It’s only an actual mercy for Walter though, because David the synthetic from ‘Prometheus’, as the savior turns out to be, is as we all know far from merciful when it comes to humans. (Of course, the sterile opening scene between David and Peter Weyland makes a bit more sense now.)

Normally I’d be all for racial representation and freedom of an oppressed class of any kind, but but but, come on y’all. I find it hard to swallow that so many years ago when Ridley Scott basically spawned an entire new generation of Scifi-Horror with the original ‘Alien’ movie, he meant to have all this stuff tied together by a pissed-off synthetic robot. Legend has it, and this is somewhat supported if you watch the ‘Alien vs. Predator’ movies, that the alien species Xenomorphs were either discovered by or actually created by the Predators themselves, who seeded the baddies across the worlds as the ultimate hunting prey; I like that explanation soooo much better than this.

Synthetics have always had a large or at least significant role in the ‘Alien’ films, more often than not as reluctant bad guys. Sir Ian Holm as Ash was an utter amazement, Lance Henriksen blew me away as Bishop (and as older Weyland, don’t forget that), even Winona Ryder as Cole got to hang with the ultimate hybrid. But Michael Fassbender’s David does seem to rather revel in being a villain, and indeed, as he proceeds to just wipe the hell out of the Prometheus progenitor species the Engineers with the nastiest virus we can think of, we can see him smile. And sure, he has plenty reason to hold a grudge, who knows how long he served in slavery to those that built him; I do understand that. But existing in seclusion for more than ten years specifically to cultivate that same virus and prod along the evolution of the Xenomorph proto-species so that it can go out in the expanded universe and just kill kill kill and destroy everything in its path, is a bit much. When David gives the Ozymandias speech to Walter, I was reminded of a ‘Dogma’ quote: “Don’t allow eons of history and life to be blinked out of being just because you’ve got a grudge against your Creator.”

A great deal of time is spent on the odd relationship between Walter and David, and that whole flute-playing scene struck me as practically synthetic masturbation. Which would have been fine, I guess, if it had led anywhere profound or even subtle, which as far as I could tell it rather didn’t. Like any proud mustache-twirling villain, David leads one of the surviving humans around his personal laboratory, showing a decades worth of sketches (one of which was an attempt at an early Giger-like style and annoyed me because of it) and research into making the virus proto-creature the ultimate end-product of prodded evolution. To which I must ask, if one was going to make the ultimate evolutionary predator like the Xenomorph, why not give it eyes? Just a thought; we go on. The poor trusting fool got a face-ful of facehugger and before you can say bob’s your uncle, we have a fully-grown black Xenomorph of the type we all love and remember terrorizing everyone.

The scenes of Daniels hanging on by a single cable to the drop-ship fighting the fully realized Xenomorph is one of the few reminiscent of beloved Ripley from the entire movie, and yet looks rather unbelievable due to being shown in daylight with nothing but CGI-laden monster effects. Far as I could tell, the whole movie suffers from this same problem: when the Xenomorphs are finally shown, it’s nothing but CGI effects, no person in a monster suit only enhanced by CGI. (I know, it’s a long-standing issue of mine – I love practical effects.)

That’s another thing the movie suffers from: way too much of a good thing, as far as advanced movie-making techniques go. Just because you can use a thing, it’s totally available for use now when it was only a mere thought exercise thirty-odd years ago, doesn’t mean you should. Especially when trying to tie the clunky monitor green readouts of the original ‘Alien’ to the sleek and polished chrome-and-white-goddamn-everything of ‘Prometheus’. It honestly feels like the two halves of this particular movie-verse don’t belong together no matter what Ridley Scott does or says, and as much as there are a few good “’Aliens’ like we remember it!” moments, this is likely never going to become the fan favorite. Potentially even more reviled than the wishy-washy ‘Alien: Resurrection’, ‘Alien: Covenant’ will make you want to scream, and not in a good way.

See how the alien world began with ‘Alien: Covenant’ in theaters now!

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Evil Dead

Posted in Action, drama, horror, Movies, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2013 by aliciamovie

evildead

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: TriStar Pictures, Ghost House Pictures

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Fede Alvarez

Review Rating: 7.5

Five friends attempting to aid one of them in kicking her drug habit, spend the weekend in an isolated cabin, where they inadvertently encounter the Book of the Dead and unleash something horrible in the woods!

What we start off with is more or less what you’d expect from an Evil Dead movie: death, abrupt ranting monologues, and hey did I mention, more death? It seems the sacrifice at the beginning of the film explains what one needs to do in order to stop the unleashed thing from the Book of the Dead. The segment also seems to indicate that these folk are related to two of our five, brother and sister David (Shiloh Fernandez) and Mia.

Which leads us to present day, and the cabin. Mia (Jane Levy) wants to kick her drug habit, looks like heroin to me, and is heading to the cabin with friends in tow to help her. Trouble is, Mia’s done this before, with friends to help even, so this time the general consensus is that noone is letting Mia off the hook this time. Of course, this leads to Mia being the first one taken by the Evil in the forest, once Professor Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci)  and David discover cat-sacrifice land in the basement and the Book of the Dead there. Eric just has to bring the book up to the cabin and just has to peel off the barbed wire (?!) and morgue plastic bindings, and just has to read the silly thing, aloud even. Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) is David’s girlfriend, and while it appears she’s trying to help David with his sisterly troubles, she has all the personality of a lump of snow. And Olivia (Jessica Lucas) is the, I’m terribly sorry but I do have to go there, token black character who’s also the tough girl. She has maybe a breaths worth more of backstory and personality than Natalie does, but that isn’t saying much. This is our cast of characters, hardly a thimbleful of story amongst the five of them. Let us instead concentrate on the story of the Book of the Dead and what it does when the unleashed spirit proceeds to vine-rape (I kid you not) Mia and use her to take out the rest of the cabin dwellers in the most horrific ways possible!

So this demonic spirit has possessed Mia and suddenly she has makeup and contacts right from a mutant hellbaby spawn of demons crossed with The Walking Dead. Her voice gets up—or is it down?—graded, and suddenly it’s all about tossing Mia down the basement door with the reinforced chains and whatnot they had to open to go down there and find the Book in the first place. Let the hellacious twitching commence! Except now that demon Mia is stuck down there, the cell door gets lifted maybe a foot, enough for her to peer out of and make maniacal statements from, oh and enough for her to transfer demonic spiritual possession, but no not enough to escape from. Rly? Alright. The useless, lifeless girlfriend is first. Then it’s the tough girl, Olivia, and boy is she scaring the bejeesus out of the professor. That’s another thing: there isn’t enough screaming, yelling, or ranting from the supposed Protags. The only time a good solid ED style soliloquy comes to any of our cabin-goers, is when they’ve been possessed already. Come on, I wanted the quiet Professor to go ape-shit before he got possessed and went on a rampage! Well anyway. Inevitably it comes to a showdown between brother and sister, David trying desperately to save his demonic sister by following instructions from the Book of the Dead (cuz that’s worked out so well so far) but with a twist. He should’ve known, you can’t cheat the Deadites.

What it comes down to, is yes, if ED had been made first like this, it would still be a classic Horror film. But nowhere in here is the classic snark that made Raimi’s films so beloved. Even without Bruce Campbell, the zany Evil Dead series had a unique style all its own, and a lot of that heart is just missing from this new version. The long running shots from the evil POV are still there, as are the rants from the Deadites, the nasty Book itself, and yes they did leave it open for a sequel, but come on. There isn’t a single solitary thing to laugh at in this new Evil Dead, and even the Deadites need a laugh now and then.

Dark Shadows

Posted in comedy, drama, Fantasy, Historical, horror, Movies, Romance, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2012 by aliciamovie

Reviewed by Alicia Glass 

Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Director: Tim Burton

Review Rating: 8

Tormented vampire Barnabas Collins returns to his human family’s estate 200 years after his imprisonment, to save them from the machinations of the witch Angelique.

Most of the trailers and previews I saw for this movie made it look utterly slapstick and ridiculous. We have to remember to have faith in director Tim Burton and his multitude of previous film successes, and ignore the fact that he has little to do with the commercials for his movies. There are goofy moments, particularly the vampire with no reflection brushing his fangs in the bathroom and the like, but by and large the movie is quite serious and an actually fine romp through the darkness.

So way back in the 1800’s, the Collins family came from Liverpool England to settle in America, and built a booming fishing town on the coast of Maine, aptly named Collinsport after the family. Son Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has everything, a loving family, wealth in abundance, and did I mention girls? He’s fooling around with Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), who I gathered to be a servant in Collinwood manor, only to brush her off with the “I don’t love you” card after he’s had her. Soon thereafter, with Barnabas narrating, we learn that he’s acquired his one true love Josette DuPres (Bella Heathcote), and of course this pisses off Angelique no end, allowing us to learn that she’s actually a witch. She sends Josette to her death over a cliff, and curses dear Barnabas not only with vampirism, but incites the townsfolk to bury him in a shielded coffin. Fast forward a couple hundred years, and Barnabus’ coffin is accidentally found and opened in a construction site, where you know, he duly does apologize, and then proceeds to devour every single last hapless worker. It turns out that Angelique is still around in Collinsport, trying her very best to buy up every last port and boat on the fishing lines, and basically oust the Collins out of everything. Boy, witches hold grudges forever don’t they? Barnabas returns to Collinwood manor to take stock of whats left of the Collins family, and their fortune. Of course by now the fortune is all but gone, and the family is rather snarky with eachother. Elizabeth Collins (Michelle Pfieffer) is current acting head of the family, and while she might not be supernatural per se, you won’t find a stronger woman anywhere. Roger Collins (Johnny Lee Miller) is her weak and greedy brother, sans his wife, and his one child David, who they all think is emotionally disturbed because well, he’s talking to his mother. Who happens to be a helpful ghost. Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter) was brought to the manor to counsel David, but she most often spends her days in a drunken or hangover-y stupor, and seems to dispense lackadaisical advice to the whole family slapdash-style. Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz) is the resentful and delightfully blunt teenage daughter of Elizabeth, it turns out she harbors more than the usual pent-up teenage aggression – she’s a werewolf. And then there’s Willie Loomis (Jackie Earl Haley), jack of all trades servant to the family, whom of course Barnabus just has to make his first mindless servant, when he’s completely plastered of course.

So Barnabas the vampire is determined to save and restore the Collins family to their proper place, which he does with apparent gusto, even braving the outside during the day. With a lacy black parasol and tons of sunscreen, I adore the authenticity. He and the remade Angie came to arguments, then blows, then there’s the angry telekinetic sex scene, more recriminations, and eventually all-out war. Meanwhile, Victoria Winters the new nanny, who is of course supposed to be the reincarnation of Barnabus’ one true love Josette, has been spending time with everyone in the family and is now convinced she’s in love with him in return. I did wish, amongst all the funnery there was in the movie, that a shade more attention had been paid to the romance that was supposed to be fated between Barnabas and Victoria, but hey, there’s only so much one can cram into two hours. There’s a party at Collinwood manor that features the one and only Alice Cooper, the movie gods had Carolyn give the intro to one of Cooper’s more infamous songs, and I about died. Soon after comes the final confrontation between the Collins family and the witch Angelique, there won’t be any more spoilers from me here, but the ending rocked my little world!

Enjoyable despite, or it’s entirely possible because of, the movie’s darkness and gloom, Dark Shadows is a vaunted effort at a loving remake thatHollywood should truly learn from.