Archive for ridley scott

‘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!

Exodus: Gods and Kings

Posted in Action, drama, Foreign, Historical, Movies, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2015 by aliciamovie

Exodus-Gods-and-Kings-Poster-Bale-and-Edgerton

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: 20th Century Fox

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Director: Ridley Scott

Review Rating: 7

The life story of Moses and his brother Ramses, and the legendary conflict between the Egyptian kings and their Hebrew slaves.

It’s important to note from the outset that the movie, being a Ridley Scott opus, gives us a unique point of view to look at Moses from – that of a warrior standpoint. Everything starts off with Moses as a young man, preparing to go to war with his adopted brother Ramses, Prince of Egypt, against the Hitites. Moses is played by Christian Bale, with messy hair and a beard for most of the film, and an accent I found odd, if not I guessed appropriate. Ramses is played by Joel Edgerton, in all his kohl-eyed and golden glory. Pharoah Seti (John Turturro) treats both his sons well, though he evinces doubt about Ramses ability to properly succeed him. But off they both troop to war, where Moses manages to rather publicly and blatantly save the life of a, let’s face it, far too prideful Ramses. Moses has a strange meeting with some literal underground Hebrews led by Ben Kingsley as Nun, where certain unpleasant truths are brought to light. Those truths begin circulating and as soon as there’s a royal death and Ramses wants to lay those rumors to rest, more unpleasantness is had and finally, Moses is exiled into the desert. He has slim hope of survival.

Or does he? Because it turns out that, despite not knowing how to survive in the desert and supposedly done for, someone left Moses his sword and he still has enough oomph to use it to kill some bad guys and save some ladies at a watering hole. This is how he meets the future wife. Fast forward a little montage and Moses is now a married shepherd with a son, and happy. He makes no bones about the religion of his wifes people, but will not claim them as his own, and has reservations about his son being brought up that way. He espouses no particular religion, until the night of a massive storm and some lost livestock, Moses finds himself the victim of a landslide and next thing you know, it’s a burning bush.

Or is it? Yes there is a burning bush sitting there, burning merrily away. But a young boy in a simple robe sits near it, and he speaks for the He that Moses has a rather blunt conversation with. This He, if he can be believed to be the manifestation of Moses’ God to talk with, is Old Testament-style wrathful, and wants his chosen people freed via bloodshed, with Moses as his General, as soon as possible. Moses is awed and reluctant, but sets forth to begin training the men of his settled village in arms. Ramses, who put a bounty on Moses after learning he was alive, begins a campaign of killing Hebrews, usually a family at a time, in public executions as a discouragement to aid Moses. This turns out to be too much for the child-God, who tells Moses he’s about to step up the timeline. And suddenly there’s a flurry of activity.

There’s this glorious scene on the Nile where monster crocodiles swarm a whole bunch of hapless humans in a feeding frenzy and then proceed to turn on eachother, making the waters of the Nile run red with blood. The blood contaminates the water and the fish begin dying. This further contaminates the river and now there are demonic flies everywhere. Demonic flies lead to, you guessed it, sickness and finally death. Oh, it’s miserable everywhere in Egypt. The frogs are everywhere, the locusts are coming too, the food and crops are gone, the waters are toxic, even the High Priestess is sickly. But that still isn’t enough. Moses pleads with the child-God for that to be the end of it, but is curtly refused, and so he tries to warn Ramses, pleading as much as he can for Ramses to simply end this thing and let the Hebrews go already. Because if he doesn’t, something worse than all these other plagues is coming. Cue those poor lambs, the doorframes and lintels, and a sweeping darkness of death that covers the land like a curtain. Out of the darkness comes the sounds of mourning from many throats, as a whole lot of children were just extinguished like candles, including Ramses own beloved son. Pharoah finally, weeping bitter tears holding the shrouded body of his son, remonstrates Moses soundly and bids him take the damned Hebrews and go, already.

So, finally, we have the exodus! Numbers are sketchy, the Egyptians and the Hebrews can’t seem to agree on just how many of them are leaving, but we know it’s somewhere in the several-thousands. And where are we going? Well apparently Moses has a plan, to get all these people and their children and stuff around mountains and across the sea when the tide is at its lowest point. Back in the death-shrouded city, Pharoah Ramses seems to have finally lost his temper and orders his army after Moses and the Hebrews! Ramses wants no truck with delay either, ordering those ridiculous chariots over treacherous mountain paths because they’re faster, and of course begins losing men at an alarming rate. Meanwhile at the coast, Moses and the Hebrews have indeed made it, but the tide is high and noone knows what to do now. The child-God is silent and Moses tosses his Egyptian sword into the drink in a fit of anger, only to pull it out later like the plug from a huge drain, causing the waters tide to pull out just enough for the Hebrews to cross. Sadly, there is no epic scene with a staff (he left it with his son, remember) and Moses parting the waters. Nope, he just pulls the plug and the water drains out, it’s very anticlimactic. The Hebrews cross and of course Moses is more or less last, Ramses chasing him all the way even after all his soldiers have stopped, they can see the tide coming back in and want to live, damnit. Both Moses and Ramses take a turn in the drink and come out more or less unscathed, leaving Ramses to contemplate his folly and Moses to continue his work.

This means it’s off to the village where his wife and son are waiting for him, Moses straggles in leading a few thousand or so homeless Hebrews and attempts to impress upon his wife his newfound shared faith in their God. Then (boy, does this thing ever end?) Moses wanders off to a forbidden sacred mountain retreat, where he shares a last few bits of rueful wisdom with the child-God while he carves certain important stone tablets. Because, as the child-God says, man may falter but stone does not. And the last we see of Moses is an old man with the white hair and beard, being carried in a wagon with his sacred tablets while the children of Israel walk alongside him, forever searching for their home.

Whew! Yes the film is a tad long, considering all the biblical stuff they wanted to cram into it, coming it at about two hours and thirty minutes or so. That’s why the review is a tad long too. I don’t recall the terms “Jews” being used anywhere in the film, they’re always called Hebrews. The whole child-God slant was interesting, especially at the end of his first appearance, when he simply said in response to Moses’ demands for identification, “I AM.” The bloodthirsty child-God who rains misery on the heads of the Egyptians and demands all kinds of mayhem and death from his chosen General Moses, that is a very bold stance for Ridley Scott to take. Bale brought a kind of exhausted vulnerability to warrior-Moses, he generally seemed to ooze the plea, “can’t we all just get along?” Edgerton only gets a few good rants as Ramses, which is kind of a shame, because I wanted to see his face contort and have him start screaming about himself being the Morning and the Evening Star. It is a great and epic movie, though I still think they could’ve just called it Exodus and left it at that. There’s only one real King or God of note in the film, that being Ramses himself and the child-God of Moses respectively, but I suppose it’s still better than calling the movie Exodus: Ramses vs. Moses. Oh, and look out for an easter egg in the form of the actress playing Ramses mother.

Robin Hood 2010

Posted in Action, drama, Historical, Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2010 by aliciamovie

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Universal Pictures

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Director: Ridley Scott

Review Rating: 7

Warning! Spoiler Alert!

A very different take on the story of Robin Hood, wherein an archer in the army of King Richard takes up arms against invaders of his homeland, and becomes a legend.

Why, oh why Mister Ridley Scott, famed director of such amazements as Kingdom of Heaven, Gladiator, and Bladerunner, present us loyal fans with something like this? It seems cruel. Your movies have never needed an ending so abrupt you might as well have splashed TO BE CONTINUED in big Back to the Future font on the screen. The grit and realism that Russel Crowe brought to Gladiator has no place in a movie that’s supposed to be about Robin Hood! The legend of Hood, despite the real deaths that do go on, is generally considered light-hearted and free-spirited, not this take-the-money-and-run vigilante you’ve got going on. The Sheriff is barely involved, and when he is, he’s a figure of ridicule, not fear. Prince John becomes King John, sure I’m with you, but Hood is only declared an outlaw officially by almost the very end of the movie, and that’s over a matter of jealousy on King John’s part. Wow.

Too much realism! Robin Hood really doesn’t need to be about England versus France, John versus his mother (Eleanor of Aquitaine, double wow), and all that nonsense. Sure we have the gang: Will Scarlett, Alan A’Dayle, Little John and Friar Tuck and all that, but their attempts at humor and comraderie seem to fall short during the big epic battle scenes where everyone’s dying all around you. Robin doesn’t even get a Moorish companion this time, aw. Cate Blanchett delivers a fine performance for Maid Marion, although rightly she should be called Matron Marian at that point. Being married and all. *thud*

It’s big, it’s epic, as most of Ridley Scott’s films are. But for those of us who’ve loved Robin Hood since childhood, it’s a rather dark and depressing take on a Hero!