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The lingering issues in ‘Alien: Covenant’ (Spoiler Warning)

Published by: Anthony Wallace


xEMPIRE_AC_PAGE_70_CROP.jpg.pagespeed.ic.ssHt4qHtROHaving given my thoughts on ‘Alien: Covenant‘ in my review (click here) there was plenty to think about as credits rolled. I spoke fairly positive about the film as far as the acting by Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, and even Danny McBride. We also got to see amazing cinematography and production design with space and the eventual arrival on paradise (a.k.a. the Engineer’s home world). And lastly, the suspense and terror were coupled by a talented sound artist in Jed Kurtzel. Where the film struggles however is in its identity and where  Ridley Scott and the studio want to take the series next.

To begin the search we examine the moment when the Covenant ship arrives on the Engineer’s home planet. It’s here that we find a beautiful landscape that hides a dark and dangerous agenda by David. Once David makes his presence felt he then leads the surviving colonists to a safe haven where we they discover the terrible truths. The problem though is that the Engineers are hardly mentioned and the citadel where they live is barely searched. This was an opportunity to learn who, what, and why the Engineers decided to create humans as we learned in ‘Prometheus‘. By the end of the film it’s learned that the Engineers were to go back to earth and destroy their creation.

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It’s almost a tease to the fanbase who loved ‘Prometheus‘ that the Engineers would not play a bigger role in ‘Alien: Covenant‘ and were consequently non-essential. The second half of the film we are reintroduced to David who reveals his desire to create life and how humanity’s actions have led him to believe that the human race does not deserve a second chance. Thus he’s been experimenting with the ampules and the black goo we saw in Prometheus. It leads us to David needing living hosts to breed a pathogen that to him is considered the perfect organism. All is well when it comes to Michael Fassbender and his character’s intrigue and horrifying viewpoints of how he perceives his creators and his creations. My issue comes to how and why the Engineers were eradicated without even a mention of what he learned from them as he and Elizabeth Shaw journeyed to their home world.

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The next issue is in the discovery of where the Aliens originated. It becomes clear that David engineered the embryos and would then spawn blood-thirsty monsters. But the discovery is all too obvious and is almost eluded to in ‘Prometheus‘ because of David’s curiosity and a desire to become a god himself. In point, everything happens so fast and the revelation to the origins of the Alien are non-suspenseful. Had we seen some of the experimentations or the progression of his final product it would have been more fulfilling. But a quick explanation to Oram (Billy Crudup) devoids the mystery we’ve come to enjoy and almost feels like a cheap way of furthering the mythology in the Alien franchise.

It feels like much more can be developed when it comes to the Engineers and I certainly hope we’ll see more of them in the next installment. There are many elements to this film that are enjoyable but I would have preferred a more fleshed out script that didn’t feel like rushing through its big ideas and thus leaving behind what could have been. ‘Alien: Covenant‘ is enjoyable and is one of the more solidly made entries in the series.

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This leads me to my last point and that is the studio should not always react to the fanbase. After ‘Prometheus‘ left so many critics and audience goers divided than ever before the studio’s hand changed the direction in which Ridley Scott was going with the story. After watching ‘Alien: Covenant‘ it’s evident that the movie feels half of a ‘Prometheus‘ and ‘Alien‘ sequel. Because of that we get a movie that doesn’t know its true identity. In the end, it cheats itself from being a great ‘Alien‘ movie and thus resulting as an apology to the fanbase.

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Alien: Covenant (2017) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


IMG_20170323_0950491It was 38 years ago that movie watchers were introduced to ‘Alien‘ back in 1979. Director Ridley Scott would go on to terrify audiences with a gut wrenching, hair raising cat and mouse game when space truckers encounter a deadly beast in deep space. A first of its kind that would spawn rip-offs that pales in comparison to a horror masterpiece. Then 33 years later, Scott would return to the universe that solidified his career with 2012’s ‘Prometheus‘. His return was met with praise and frustration as the movie had high production value but lacked in answering it’s big questions.

This now leads us to the follow-up in ‘Alien: Covenant‘ where Ridley Scott promises to bring back the Xenomorphs and the carnage fans came to love. And he also provides answers to the many lingering pains that were left unanswered in ‘Prometheus‘. After months and months of anticipation the time has finally arrived where fans look forward to a much needed Alien sequel. What one has to wonder is if fans will be satisfied for what has been a tumultuous journey up to this point.

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As a colony ship, the Covenant, advances towards its destination of a new home they are hit by a neutrino burst. The crew awakens from cryo-sleep to then intercept a signal from a nearby planet that closely resembles earth. While investigating this new world they discover what turns out to be a deadly game of survival when death and chaos awaits their arrival. The film stars Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, Billy Crudup, and Danny McBride.

I was in the minority of those who enjoyed ‘Prometheus‘ and praised the direction and production that was put into the project. The idea of the Engineers was clever as it brought about the idea of creators of mankind who then turn on their creation. Michael Fassbender’s David makes a strong presence as the newly created android by the Weyland Corporation as his ability to be curious takes on a life of its own. Going into ‘Alien: Covenant‘ I was looking forward to another strong performance by Michael Fassbender as this time around he plays not only David but the Covenant’s new android Walter.v1.bjsxNTM1OTU4O2o7MTczNDI7MTIwMDs0NjYyOzMxMzk

The way to describe ‘Alien: Covenant‘ is a little frustrating because as much as it tries to be an Alien movie it also tries being a sequel to ‘Prometheus‘. And a lot of it has to do with Ridley Scott trying to appease the fan bases in both camps. Starting with the positives the movie is beautiful to look at. If there’s one thing everyone can agree on is that Ridley Scott knows how to produce and direct. From the external shots of the Covenant ship to the landscapes of the Engineer’s home world they are breathtaking to watch. Even the cast do a decent job while falling one by one to deadly pathogens.

Lead actress Katherine Waterston plays the distressed co-captain alongside Billy Crudup’s Oram. The director’s belief in casting strong females for the role has proven to be true as was the case of Sigourney Weaver. Except she isn’t meant to surpass Weaver’s performance in the franchise rather to demonstrate the tenacity as she fights for her life. Unfortunately, a large chunk of the runtime is dedicated to Michael Fassbender’s David/Walter as he continues to explore the idea of creation. But that’s what saves the film from floundering into familiar gasps and terror. David takes things to the next level and that’s when he truly becomes a terrifying menace.

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Now we come to the difficult part because as much as we’re entertained by Michael Fassbender and the visual prowess of Ridley Scott, the film struggles to balance in tone. When we explore the terrain of an uncharted paradise it’s hard not to forget ‘Prometheus‘ and the scientific expedition that took place as they journey to find humanity’s origins. Then there comes a point when the monsters arrive, a.k.a the back-burster, and the many other creatures that show up in the film. The creatures almost seemed to take the backseat or were merely around to make an appearance. A good chunk of the film glides around the questions of the Engineers and how David survives a hostile environment. There never were smooth transitions between the terror and the grand ideas set by the script. It’s unfortunate because the lack of substance behind the Engineers is something I was hoping to see more of.

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There’s going to be disappointment and that’s because the script tries to please everyone but not in a satisfying way that we’d hope. Great performances by the cast; more specifically Michael Fassbender and even the one and only Danny McBride. There are terrifying moments in the movie and I wouldn’t even say its the aliens themselves. If you were put off by the religious and scientific garble in ‘Prometheus‘ then don’t expect it to go away. In fact, it may be more blatant as the movie does explore the ideas of heaven and hell. If you’re a fan of the aliens then you will also be disappointed because their mysterious beginnings may spoil the lore that fans have enjoyed for many years.

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It may take subsequent viewings to change my perspective on ‘Alien: Covenant‘ as time goes on. But in the way I was thoroughly in awe of ‘Prometheus‘ on its first viewing it may be a tough mountain to climb. This is not an easy review because although I tried not to go in with expectations I still ended up feeling somewhat let down. The last thing I will mention is the sound score by Jed Kurzel. He did a great job by mixing in the sound of Jerry Goldsmith’sAlien‘ with this movie. There was a great use of buildup when things started going awry. It made me feel like we returned to Ridley Scott’s world and bringing back memories of how great the original ‘Alien‘ was. Though the latest entry in the franchise isn’t a deal breaker it certainly reminds us how special a filmmaker is able to explore the unknowns while terrifying its audience in the process.

Rating: 6.5/10

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What do you guys think of ‘Alien: Covenant‘? Do you plan on watching the movie? How would you rank the films in the franchise? And would you rather have gotten a Prometheus sequel or an Alien sequel? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


Mike_and_Dave_Need_Wedding_DatesFrom 20th Century Fox comes a comedy from Director Jake Szymanski that stars Zack Efron and Adam Devine. After a fallout between Mike and Dave’s parents over their unflattering family gatherings and the impending wedding of their sister Jeanie, Mike and Dave are put to the test to find reasonable wedding dates to end their relentless shenanigans. But when they encounter two up-to-no-good women themselves it takes us on a ride where respectability becomes too much for them all and may draw disaster yet again. The movie also stars Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Sugar Lyn Beard, and Sam Richardson.

If there’s one thing I’m sure about, it’s that this movie is much more tolerant then ‘Dirty Grandpa‘ (Read review here) which starred Zac Efron and Robert Dinero. We see Zac Efron return in a new comedy with co-star Adam Devine as they search to find two grounded women to go with them to Hawaii in preparation for their sister’s wedding. What follows is a combination of laughs mixed with oh they didn’t just go there moments and an ending that has been played out in so many other films that you can see it coming from a mile away. Although it wasn’t a terrible experience it also wasn’t memorable either as some of the performances were over the top with head scratchers to go along with it.

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What’s interesting by now is how Efron has been in few other comedies prior to this release and how he seems to be type-cast for these roles. His performance as Dave Stangle, who’s the brother along-side Mike Stangle, was not as distracting as some of the other characters whom we’ll get to in just a bit. Dave was more of the compassionate one of the two whereas his brother would resist to change as his parents had hoped for. By the end you were rooting for Dave then you were for Mike when he along with the girls try to mend fences for the bride to be. As far as the performance by Adam Devine, he was just a little too much for my liking as he would overreact to certain situations or would come off as a whiny brat when things don’t go his way. For the co-stars, the brother battle shall go to Dave.

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This leads us to the two females we encounter with Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick who lie their way into getting a free vacation to Hawaii with Dave and Mike. It’s been said before in ‘Dirty Grandpa‘ and now in this movie but Aubrey Plaza plays these over the top snobs who puts herself out there in demeaning or unflattering ways. She wasn’t fun to watch nor did I care for her. Her co-star in Anna Kendrick could be said the same but in a different perspective. When it comes down to it, both Tatiana and Alice were unflattering from the start. But it isn’t until you learn why Alice has fallen so low to the point of her personal hygiene and antics reflecting her sorrow that she gives herself the chance to right the wrongs from previous relationships. For the co-stars, Alice wins the battle single-handedly.

There were some funny moments in the movie that had me and other audience members laughing pretty hard. One scene in particular takes place inside of a hotel hallway between Mike and Tatiana in an ear to ear conversation. Another moment takes place inside of a day spa where the bride to be gets an unexpected surprise from a male masseuse. Finally, don’t leave once the movie ends because the end credits have gags that will leave you rolling to the exit.

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Unfortunately it’s difficult to get behind any of the characters even with Dave and Alice who ultimately lead the performances. Because both the male and female pairs are trying to play it off as decent individuals yet are totally the opposite in their own ways it was difficult to see even Mike and Dave believing Tatiana or Alice were innocent. Worse yet is the fact that both parties were acting so that they make everything seem okay when in fact their behaviors were so off the wall. How could anyone not notice the warning signs considering their personalities are almost identical.

With some character development towards the latter end of the film it doesn’t make up for the outlandish antics that ran from the start. There were moments of laughter that kept my focus but it all just didn’t seem believable for me to care for any of the characters. Not enticing nor a total letdown, you’re going to get what you’re asking for when it comes to ‘Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates‘. Let the decision be yours.

Rating: 5.8/10

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What do you guys think of ‘Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates‘? Are you planning on watching the movie? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Eddie The Eagle (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


eddie-one-sheetBased on an inspiring true story, Eddie Edwards is determined to make it to the olympics all his life while growing up. After everyone’s touting him that he wouldn’t make it, he finds a friend in Bronson Peary who coaches him by his side. Together they prove to everyone that getting into the olympics is not all about the successes but the struggles getting there. The movie is directed by Dexter Fletcher and stars Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton.

I was very much looking forward to ‘Eddie The Eagle‘ due to the fact that Taron Egerton is an up and coming actor who’s previous involvement in ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service‘ was ¬†awesome. This time we find Egerton playing the role of a rookie ski jumper who’s able to get into the 1988 Winter Olympics with Hugh Jackman in a supporting role. This movie was really good and the direction by Dexter Fletcher added to it with the production as it took place in the 1980s. From the background music to old footage of the Olympics in 1988 you truly felt you were in that time period. And the performance by Egerton was great as he not only played Eddie Edwards figuratively but mentally as well.

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There were some great moments in the movie with one of them being when Eddie decides to try the 40 meter jump for the first time. He was successful with the 15 meter jump that he thought nothing would be different this time around. And of course when he attempts the jump it doesn’t turn out so well. It was the over-confidence of Eddie that made him crazy and inspiring to watch all at the same time. Some of the camera shots were from such great heights that as a viewer you get butterflies as he makes his descent. To imagine doing a jump from 40 meters is nothing in comparison to a 70 or 90 meter jump as we’ll see later on. It’s a dangerous sport that even the greatest ski jumpers have been known to take hard falls.

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As good of a performance we get from Taron Egerton we also get from Hugh Jackman. His portrayal as a former ski jumper who struggles with alcohol abuse was so good that he was able to balance the two very well. Both Egerton and Jackman had good chemistry together that towards the end of the film their characters found a mutual respect for each other. Nothing can be said about the acting as both of them did a really great job telling a story that found respect in the portrayal of Eddie Edwards in real life. There were some minor issues with the film as one of them being a scene where Eddie walks into a sauna where Slovakian ski jumpers stood bare naked. The scene was meant to be funny which it was when Eddie first walked in. However, as the scene went on there almost was a homosexual vibe where it almost became awkward. At the end of it your still not sure if it was implied that they were gay or if was the direction of the scene that gave it that effect.

With great direction and production by Dexter Fletcher, ‘Eddie The Eagle‘ is inspiring to the story of a rookie who’s dream of getting into the Olympics came true while proving everyone wrong. It was great seeing Taron Egerton paring with Hugh Jackman as we got to see two action stars come together and giving it their best. And before I forget, the movie does such a good job flowing with ease that the hour and 47 minute run-time went by like nothing. Had the movie been longer you wouldn’t have noticed because the pacing was superb. This is definitely a feel good movie anyone could enjoy as I highly recommend giving this a watch.

Rating: 7.5/10

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What do you guys think? Are you planning to watch ‘Eddie The Eagle‘? Comment below and share your thoughts. And if you enjoyed reading this post please click the like button and subscribe.

Deadpool (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


deadpool_ver9The highly anticipated Marvel comic-book action movie has arrived with Ryan Reynolds in ‘Deadpool‘. After finding out that Wade Willis has cancer, he is reached out to participate in a series of tests that can not only cure but make him capable of having super strength. When things go bad, Willis is out to seek the man who is responsible for his transformation and save his companion. The film is directed by Tim Miller and also stars Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, and Ed Skrein.

Wow! This is possibly one of the best comic book adaptations we’ve seen in some time since ‘Captain America: Winter Soldier’. Given the R rating that everyone clamored for it gave the movie a gritty edge in violence and humor; all staying true to the comics that is ‘Deadpool‘. All of this mounting to a refreshing contrast to the Marvel cinematic universe we all have been used to seeing. Fun is the word you would describe this film; especially the performance given by Ryan Reynolds. Fans of the Marvel universe will be happy to know that the studio did justice to the character and didn’t hold any punches in the process.

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One of the great things about the movie is the pacing as your constantly jumping from action scene to events leading up to what is just transpiring. There is never a dull moment because if it’s not the action your seeing it’s the backstory of Wade Willis that keeps you in tune. I thought Morena Baccarin (Vanessa) as Willis’s love interest had good chemistry with Reynolds and made you feel for the both of them. Both of them were odd in their own ways which worked for them as a couple. And Wade’s closest friend Weasel, played by T.J. Miller wasn’t terrible either. For the most part everyone did a good job.

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What could’ve been elaborated more was the intentions of the underground establishment and the testing of live hosts turning them into enemies of the state. The casting of Ed Skrein as Francis was good but would’ve liked to have seen more on the development of his character. With the tight runtime it sometimes felt like there wasn’t enough time to explain events that takes place in the movie. However, again, emphasis was put on the action and humor involving Deadpool as he tries to save Vanessa as so much of the complaints can become overlooked and forgiven.

Some of the great moments I took from the movie were the references to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. The opening credits alone gets you some laughs cause you don’t see it coming. It’s hard not to bring up the X-Men as we see Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead take part along-side the ever so complicated hero. You sense there will be a connection at some point where we will see Deadpool team up with X-Men in the future. And lets not forget a small cameo appearance by Stan Lee that’s priceless to watch. Many people in the theater that I attended cheered on for Mr. Lee. This man is a legend and will always have a place in the Marvel universe if we hadn’t noticed already.

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Everything one could have asked for was received as ‘Deadpool‘ delivered on all the goods. Ryan Reynolds is a great addition to the Marvel cinematic universe as we wash away the backlash from ‘Green Lantern‘; although more of the problems were in the script and not Reynolds himself. So he redeems himself here and promises a franchise as it will be interesting to see him cross-over to the X-Men universe somewhere down the line. Overall this is a movie you will definitely want to watch that not only is action packed but is sure to give you a few belly laughs.

Rating: 7.8/10

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What do you guys think? Do you plan to watch ‘Deadpool‘? Comment below and share your thoughts. And please click the like button if you enjoyed reading this review.