Archive for michael fassbender

‘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!

San Diego Film Festival presents 12 Years A Slave

Posted in drama, Historical, horror, Movies, Romance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2013 by aliciamovie

twelve_years_a_slave_xlg

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Plan B Entertainment

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Steve McQueen

Review Rating: 7.5

Based on a book written by a black freedman kidnapped and sold into slavery, and his experiences in the late 1800’s.

Solomon Northup is a fine upstanding black gentleman in upstate New York, with a pretty about-town wife and two fine free children. Solomon appears to be blessed with natural talent to play the fiddle, so when his wife goes off with the children to take in seasonal work, Solomon takes on an offered job as a musician to a traveling circus. This is a better job, better paying at least, for a black freedman in upstate New York than anything a great many of the other negro folk can find south of the line, and it shows when Solomon is duly kidnapped and sold into slavery. First it’s the cramped hiding in the wagons, then the atrocious conditions on the ship, and of course the humiliations endured at the dock and the slavers stables. Then it’s on to life on the New Orleans plantations, and the Hell that awaits there.

Actually, it’s not so terrible on the first plantation. Master Ford is a relatively gentle administrative soul, as such things are measured. He does employ a slave master, but the hardened man is about as fair as one can get in such situations. The trouble is the slave masters assistant, a jumped up Irishman who seems to be gunning for the slave masters job and has a hardon to pick on Solomon, or Platt as he’s now been forcibly dubbed. After several fairly small confrontations, the Irishman takes it upon himself to torture Solomon with the hangin rope, leaving our man to dangle and bleed, only barely able to keep himself alive by continuously digging his tippy toed boots into mud. This scene in particular seems to be trying to torture the audience too, or at least visually mug a great deal of them. The camera pans back as the day winds on, Solomon gagging and bleeding and digging his boots in the mud, while children play near him, women work at their chores, men mutter but lift not a single finger to help, and only one single person has the nerve to spare him a furtive drink of water. Bowed bent and broken, noone will help Solomon, for fear what will happen to their own skins if nothing else. It’s as though the scene makes one not ashamed of their skin color, but ashamed of this whole situations lack of humanity. Master Ford actually comes riding to the rescue, of the hangin rope at least. But Ford informs Solomon that in order to save him from the Irishman, he’s sold the man to a nearby plantation owner, admittedly a right hard bastard of a slave owner, but frankly noone else would have our man Platt, who’s managed to garner a reputation over this whole incident. Off we head, from sugarcane to the cotton fields.

Here at the cotton plantation is where things get really bad. A pretty little slave known as Patsy, always collecting more cotton than any of the other men, who dimples sweetly when Master Epps compliments her for it, has caught the Master’s eye, and his wife knows all about it and despises the girl for it. The slaves are woken in the middle of the night and forced to perform for the Masters entertainment, by dancing to played music from Solomon’s fiddle and sampling the Mistresses “largesse”. The Master is drunk more often than not, subjecting his slaves to ownership tirades, while his wife despises Patsy all the more for his desire and continually tortures the girl. Solomon is sent to a neighboring plantation, where the white Master lives openly with his free black wife, and any who speak civilly are welcome, to fetch Patsy back for the Masters drunken lust. Confrontations inevitably ensue, over a ball of soap of all things, and when the drunken Master can’t keep it up long enough to whip Patsy himself, he orders Solomon to do it. This particular scene as well, reminiscent of the climactic scene in Roots, flays pain of the human soul directly into the audience. One’s reaction to watching such a scene, whether it’s “Just kill her already, end her suffering” or “This is horrible and every last one of you should stop”, can tell you a lot about yourself.

I don’t want to give away the ending, but it is a fairly safe bet that the audience won’t necessarily see it coming. Brad Pitt’s film company Plan B produced the film, so of course he has a small but pivotal role in the film, as enlightened Canadian Bass. Benedict Cumberbatch is Master William Ford, he does a very fine job for the role. Michael Fassbender is Master Epps, bringing his signature manic style out for a horse-galloping romp. And Chiwetel Ejiofor is the pivotal role of Solomon Northup, displaying the entire gamut of emotions in a way that will make your heart bleed. I question the wisdom of having such a heavy movie as the opening night film, as I overheard that several more sensitive members of the audience had to walk out. Nevertheless, 12 Years a Slave evokes strong reactions and should not be missed.

X-Men First Class

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Fantasy, Movies, Romance, Sci-Fi with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2011 by aliciamovie

 

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio:  Marvel, 20th Century Fox

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Review Rating: 9 Mutations

Young Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr, aided by the government and a band of mutants, take on Sebastian Shaw and the Hellfire Club, to try and prevent a World War between the Americans and the Russians!

I am actually greatly impressed with this movie. Better, in my humble little opinion, than the third X-Men movie, not that that was terribly hard. Director Matthew Vaughn, who brought us such gems as Stardust and Kick-Ass, has given us a movie that started off as a diamond and only got better. A happy compromise between those things we know and love of the original X-Men and just have to keep, versus rich new ways of telling their stories in a very Star Trek Zero style.

We begin with a meeting of boy Charles Xavier and our blue gal pal Raven (Darkholme) inside what will become the X mansion, where Charles demonstrates his lifetime commitment to aid all mutants however he might, even at such a young age. Conversely, young Erik Lensherr is being tortured in a Nazi concentration camp, especially when a certain Schmidt observes his burgeoning powers and decides to take a direct interest. I know, Magneto is more or a less always a villain, but I simply can’t help but cheer when boy Erik crushes Nazi helmets with heads still in them! Cut to much later, Charles is now Professor X, a delightfully charming young man with a vested interest in what he now calls Mutants. Whereas Erik is now hunting down the man who was Schmidt, now calling himself Sebastian Shaw, and this is where our two Icons finally meet. Shaw and the Hellfire Club (Azazel, Riptide and Emma Frost) are on the point of settingAmerica and the Russians at eachothers throat by….some nonsense about stationing missiles in Cuba and not crossing water lines – who cares right? Accurate history is fine and all, but I want the story and the Mutants!

So, aided by a reluctant Erik and his sister Raven, Charles embarks on a quest to gather Mutants and train them as a kind of counter force against Shaw and company. The Man in Black, who never gave an actual name, is the one who offers the new recruits a place to live and train, introducing the genius Mutant Hank McCoy, and the earliest incarnation of Cerebro! And we get to watch the new recruits – Banshee, Darwin, Angel, Havok, Mystique and Beast – train their burgeoning powers in anticipation of fighting. Personally, I love the training montages and can never get enough of them in the X-Men movies. Plus finally Banshee gets a, more or less, starring role – I always thought he got a bum deal when it came to the X-Men movies. Inevitably, yes there is a cameo for Wolverine, they of course try to recruit him and of course he turns both Erik and Charles down very bluntly. We have to train, because the Hellfire Club is coming, and sure enough, while X and Erik are away, the new recruits are attacked by Shaw and a clear dividing line is drawn. Everyone who’s left has to go back to the X mansion, where training continues in the first version of the Danger Room, to stop the final battle the Hellfire Club is trying to start!

The dynamics between Erik and Charles, always a loving and strained relationship, is truly given grand screen time in this movie, and I thought that was wonderful. James McAvoy as the Prof was fantastic and Michael Fassbender as Erik was just marvelous. Didn’t much care for the makeup they gave Beast when he did finally blue and fur himself, but the actor who played him as human-ish, Nicholas Hoult, did a lovingly awkward job. Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique was awesome too, although I personally thought she looked much hotter all blued up. Lucas Till of Battle: Los Angeles fame is Havok, also known as Alex Summers, his training made me laugh out loud. Jason Flemyng as Azazel was a really strange choice, but you can see echoes of Nightcrawler in his tail. And of course let us not forget Kevin Bacon, the man of degrees himself, as Sebastian Shaw! He sure doesn’t physically look like Shaw in my opinion, but he sure pulled off the attitude! X-Men First Class gets a rating of 9 Mutations, because as Mystique is fond of saying – “Mutant, and proud!”