Alien Covenant Review

The Saturday morning blog is back! This time I am armed with a review of the new Alien film which was indeed a sequel to Prometheus which was indeed sigh worthy but I went into the cinema with partial hope.

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First of all; I don’t listen to film review people, as far as I am concerned they are full of sh** , let’s face it they are. You know that and so do I, they are either so far up the rear end of a film or the quite the opposite. Here you will read an honest review with a focus on what was good and what wasn’t so good. I think we all owe Ridley Scott some respect for sticking to a series of films and his overall contribution to cinema should never be overlooked.

And that’s where we will start; Alien, Prometheus, Gladiator and now Alien Covenant to name a few. Ridley Scott makes some awesome looking films, you’ll never see him skimp out on production value and this especially goes for the world he has built with Alien. The industrious environment of spaceships and far off planets are always created with a realism in mind. I guess I shall have to nod towards production design as well as a director or writers vision. But in order to make a good film you can’t rely on visuals alone, you need story, performance, tone, theme and plot.

Quite honestly Alien Covenant ticked many boxes but it also fell short in some ways. For much of the beginning portions of the film I felt as if this was an Alien remake, and look we are in the days of constant recycling of material, stuff that works I guess and initally Alien Covenant worked.

First of all we are shown our first billed actor Michael Fassbender his performance as a robot is arguably the best we have seen in this series so far, without treading on the likes of Bishop (Aliens) and Ash (Alien). And a very strong theme in this film is robots or at least Fassbender’s character. So what seems like an intriguing start the main narrative of the film then begins.

A colony ship called the Covenant is on it’s way to a distant planet, events turn quite unlucky and dark at the very beginning so the crew are awakened out of hyper sleep. As they recover from the events and begin repairing damage there comes a distress type signal with it’s origin not far from them. Already this formula sounds rather familiar with some changes and of course comfortable stuff that stays the same throughout an Alien film. We see a diverse range of characters who make up the crew of Covenant including a Captain seemingly out of depth with the arising situation and some familiar faces from recent film which all put in believable performances.

Eventually the crew arrive at the source of this distress type call, that being a distant habitable planet. At this point the build up and introduction of the story is paced well with the ever important element of mystery in the story. What is this getting to? What’s coming? are the sort of questions you ask yourself at this point.

The unlucky element of this arriving crew strikes again with a sinister level of disaster. In moments everything falls apart for them, two members become infected with a new type of organism (which is very alien like) but not shown before or explored in this world and that’s what I feel Ridley Scott is trying to do here, he’s trying to bring his Alien story full circle and with this film we are only half way there.

Eventually the connection to Prometheus kicks in but don’t let that put you off, everything is explained with in this film’s narrative. Soon enough Michael Fassbender is face to face with the character David he played in the previous outing and this was done well. The whole robotic morality thing is touched upon here as they meet but the sinister edge turns even more as this crew are taken in by David.

As much as I would like to give the rest away, that’s not how we do reviews on here. So let’s cover the good and bad.

The good

This felt a lot more like an Alien film as opposed to Prometheus. There was suspense and real tension. The scenes didn’t jump around and most of the time Covenant focused on one story instead of trying to tell five. This means all of the scenes shown were indeed necessary. Prometheus didn’t know what it was but this one was a horror film.

The characters: many of these personalities we have seen before but they were great, Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts) and Danny Mcbride (Pineapple Express) all stood out to me.

It continued on from Prometheus and was way better than it. This time we saw an actual Alien we all know well and this time around it seemed more lethal than ever. This may have been due to the use of computer generation of the Alien but gave it an Alien Isolation (video game) feel.

The visuals and sets were awesome as always and kept to the theme of previous films.

The music choice this time was better than Prometheus, and nodded to Alien more.

Robots in this were more of a big deal and less of just a side threat.

The not so good

Bad is a big word to use for a film and Alien Covenant wasn’t. But there were things that weren’t so great.

It was predictable, most of the time we knew what was coming. There were only a few Alien related things we hadn’t seen before.

There were a few moments where things didn’t get explained or where they expected you to fill in the gaps ( don’t do that in a film).

The twists nearer to the end could have easily been called from early on. You could even say some twists just shat on the audience at the end.

This doesn’t wrap up the series: unfortunately we aren’t there yet folks!

Conclusion

For what felt like an Alien Remake to begin with this film took it’s own identity but continued to nod towards the original. If you use Jurassic World as an example, that film nodded to the original but cut its own path more. Alien Covenant just felt as if it was up Alien’s ass too much.

Most importantly for any Alien fan and to my conclusion its worth a look! Prometheus was a solid 3/10 this one is north of 5/10.

 

Any Other Business

Next week things are really going to hot up towards my next book arriving. Darke Blood should hopefully get a cover reveal at some point! I have also started a sale on my first book Open Evening which is available as an e-book for £0.99! 

Free Pre Release Content is available if you sign up via email to this blog. I’m talking free books for loyal followers!! Sign up today peeps!

Power Rangers Review

It’s been over twenty years since many people of a certain age would have first seen the Power Rangers. I was in my second year of school when the first film arrived and before then the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers in all its 90’s greatness was probably the first television show I followed as a child.

pr 2.PNGBack then it was everywhere seemingly, and the merchandise that went with it was of course always sold out including the original mega zord or those dolls which you could flip the head. But things move on and times change. One thing that remained and carried on through many different versions was indeed the Power Rangers. Whether it be Turbo force, Dino Thunder or Zeo, the power rangers series has managed to cultivate and capture generations of kids imaginations all looking for their Saturday morning fix of heroes.

To me the idea of a rebooted Power Rangers film (about the first series) has been something I have been waiting a very long time for. The concept of 5 teenagers chosen by destiny to save the world was very much lost in the cartoon style of the original and of course we shall try to forget the disappointment the first film came to be. So for a 90’s kid like me I was in full support of this reboot which is in fact much more than that. It’s a re imagining and expansion of  the original concept story and has been given the modern cinema treatment.

The films opens with the back story of old. Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) betrays Zordon who’s dying act is to send her packing deep below the ocean. This happens in what later becomes modern day Angel Grove.

Next comes the gradual and detailed introduction of the five main characters; the rangers. Jason, Kimberly, Billy, Zack and Trini. All of them high school kids and all them with the many problems that come with that age. You could even call them a group of misfits that don’t really like one another and that’s where this film becomes interesting. Back in the original there was a hell of a lot of less detail about why these kids were actually friends.

The film succeeds in displaying what modern age kids are like and some of the struggles they have to deal with, such as bullying and just trying to fit in. Jason a once star football player has to face not being that anymore. Billy; the clever kid on the ‘spectrum; Kimberly who just had a rough break up and is involved in a photo texting scandal. We also see Zac who’s mother is sick who he has to look after and of course Trini who’s always the new girl in town.

I thought the introduction of these new kids as the iconic parts previously played was vitally important to get right and the young actors and actresses very much did that along with giving these characters a depth I never thought they had.

After some time they find 5 previously buried colored rocks known as power coins which teases they eventual stumbling of their way to the command center; a crashed space ship in which Zordon (Bryan Cranston whom voiced characters in the original series) is somewhat imprisoned in the ships computer. Of course we see the re-imagined robot Alpha 5 (voiced by Bill Hader) and things start to roll towards these five misfitting kids becoming friends.

Rita Repulsa finds her way back to land and to life and so the real threat becomes apparent. The five kids must become Power Rangers to save the day.

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Verdict

I have only chosen to mention selected parts of this film so I don’t spoil it for anyone wanting to go and see it. I recommend it highly and so comes my verdict.

For any fan of the old show you will indeed like this film if you are willing to wait and see everything unfold. The action doesn’t get going straight away and this is a slow burner which works towards these kids becoming the rangers. When the action does happen its explosive and sort of like a controlled transformers action sequence. Fan boys and girls will smile at the homage to the original opening sequence of the TV show as the zords arrive.

The power ranger suits I thought looked modern and was a far cry from spandex and the helmets of old. Above all what I enjoyed the most was comradery of these 5 kids who are chosen unwillingly to save the world. Bryan Cranston although mainly a voice impressed and inspired with his performance. Elizabeth Banks played Rita without the cartoon- esque demeanor her character is known for and very much impressed me. Overall this film was enjoyable and although it didn’t hit number 1 in the charts this is probably because Beauty and the Beast was released at a similar time and was equally as impressive. 

Go go power rangers and hopefully soon we shall hear the announcement of a much needed sequel.

Beauty and the Beast: Review

It seems to be movie season yet again or shall I say movies that I want to see are coming out thick and fast. This past weekend I had the pleasure of watching the live action ‘remake’ or ‘reboot’ of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast…

Let me say first of all, the two words ‘remake’ and ‘reboot’ don’t really fall into my thoughts of what this film was. In fact I was very impressed and don’t have much at all to really criticize.

I think it’s very bold of Disney to try and reinvent and re imagine their previously successful tales especially as it hasn’t really been that long since the animation came out. As a child I saw both the animation and a stage production on a school trip which always left a lasting memory and fondness for this tale older than time.

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The film verdict

It gets going straight away with the very familiar telling of how the beast came to be. This time though we get a more detailed version instead of just a brief skip over. Life before being a beast is shown and depicted effectively with some impressive looking sets, costume and cinematography. I did struggle to tell the difference throughout the film at what was clever computer camera stuff and real stuff.

Then of course the movie flashes forward to the present and we are treated with the famous opening number from the animation. Now don’t let the homage to the original animation put you off if you haven’t seen it, this doesn’t really matter. This opening number impressed me no end and it was an effective way of introducing main characters and minor characters who were all equally impressive. In and out of song we went with Emma Watson proving herself not only to be the perfect fit for Belle but to also have an impressive singing voice.

I think for the first time she actually stood out in a film and I know she had a massively successful tenure in the Harry Potter films, I will boldly say she fitted better into the role of Belle than she would ever as Hermione Granger ; simply because she could express herself more into what her character meant. Bare with me here but in Harry Potter she spends most of the time reigning in Harry and Ron with the casual viewer developing a somewhat toleration for her being there. However with Beauty and the Beast I think we actually see Emma Watson for the first time and you don’t have to be ultra glamorous to be a Disney standard princess and this is the wonder of live action, these are real people and it feels more real.

Again I must say how well the cinematography was throughout along with the sets and costume. Disney weren’t messing around with this one and meant business. The full cast was decorated and a full ensemble of Hollywood’s then, now and future.

The main ‘baddie’ type character came via the flash arrogant Gaston who was wonderfully brought to life by Luke Evans. He was joined by Josh Gad who played by the equally as funny and different LeFou. Belle’s father came to life by the veteran actor Kevin Kline who fit into that role perfectly. Lower down the pecking order of major to minor characters you had Ian McKellen (Cogsworth), Ewan Mcgregor (Lumiere, who I give full credit to as I didn’t know that was him especially with the french accent), Emma Thompson (Mrs Potts) and Stanley Tucci ( Cadenza).

Now for what was mostly a great film there is one minor or major flaw that bugged me ever so slightly. The Beast throughout was mainly computer generated from what I can gather. Now he was voiced well and I believed his character throughout but there were just some moments where the animation of him seemed a tad clunky, this was the only real thing I had which could be classed as a problem but everything else was, well let’s say awesome. Dan Stevens did great as the Beast but the computer effects just let it down a tad.

There was action, tension and detail where there previously wasn’t in the past version. Emma Watson has officially arrived as an actress who should no longer just be known for Harry Potter and Disney have taken a well calculated risk which has indeed paid off. This film has something for everyone, as long as you like the occasional song and well choreographed dancing number. Everything that Disney are known for being good at is in this film.

My final rating for this film is 4 Roses out of 5!

 

Fantastic Beasts Review

The year 2016 seems to have zipped by, sometimes without any remorse and even with a political brutality, but waiting for the end of November to roll around actually felt like waiting forever. It has also felt like an eternity since we’ve had a new film based upon the magic of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and all I can say is… ABOUT DAMN TIME!

Fantastic Beasts is suited to an audience who have all graduated from the school of wizardry and Witchcraft and are now finally set free into what is a fully expanded world of magic.

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We go back to New York city in the 1920’s and in convincing style with wonderfully constructed detailed sets, costuming and camera work. Immediately an aura of threat and mystery is teased as themes along with elements of a classic crime thriller. Watching this film for some of it didn’t feel like just a magic film with spells and wands, it had a sometimes gritty and even dark tone which has allowed me to name Fantastic Beasts a magical crime thriller in genre.

Having a ministry of magic in the UK which is indeed underground and away from the prying eyes of ‘muggles’ is very much a semi -realistic thing that could be covered up. But having a separate American magic society under the watchful eyes of millions of New Yorkers, well that’s a great feat JK Rowling has pulled off. Realistically those who aren’t magically inclined are given another name, no-maj. And it is with details like this that I really appreciated of course with the other big stuff.

Eddie Redmayne leads a very much star-studded cast as Newt Scamander and plays him as an endearing eccentric you can only get behind and want to succeed. He has arrived in New York after just completing a global excursion to document an array of extraordinary creatures. He quickly crosses paths with a no-maj known as Jacob Kowalski and after a mix up of brief cases the film begins to roll and unfold. They develop a friendship along with trying to track down many of the mistakenly released creatures Newt had in his swapped brief case.

As much as I would like to give everything away in what I thought was a breath of fresh air for a Harry Potter style film, I won’t provide any spoilers. And I say a breath of fresh air because the magic element of this universe has so much potential for expansion beyond Hogwarts and that is what Fantastic beasts delivers upon. We are shown creatures never before seen in this world and there is one particular sequence in which we see Newt introduce Jacob to this group of said beasts, which left me somewhat open jawed and feeling like a kid again.

We see magic in completely different scenarios, ones where it is fully out in the open. The hustle and bustle of New York wont stop the magic, it only heightens and somewhat romanticizes it.

Credit must go to a cast with great depth, appearances from Colin Farrell and John Voight. And I must give credit to Katherine Waterston and Dan Fogler who did support Eddie Redmayne through out the film. Any reservations I had about Redmayne have very much been put to bed now. His character provided the ultimate mix of mystery and ‘your not the run of the mill every day hero’.

So my conclusion…

What I enjoyed the most was the freshness of this new story with a familiar magic theme. Seeing wand vs wand action is indeed something with a lot of action potential. And saying that the action was spread out, well delivered and well-paced along with everything else in the film. This to me felt like Harry Potter grown up, with a real crime type feel that even looks more towards an adult audience which is what this universe is cleverly appealing to. Kids will enjoy it too as I feel there is something for everyone in this film although some elements are a little dark, but no darker than the exhaling ways of the dark lord who won’t be mentioned.

For what is the beginning of Christmas Blockbuster season Fantastic Beasts and where to find them will definitely heavily contend for film adventure of 2016!

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