Monday, May 22, 2017

Movie Review: Alien Covenant

I really don’t know why I choose to see this movie. I’d seen Prometheus a few years back and didn’t really enjoy that. Something about space horror movies often gets my attention and this seemed to be no exception. I’m not sure if AMC tricked me with their movie times, but I just grabbed the earliest showing and ended up in fancy reclining chairs and spectacular surround sound. That was worth the $12 alone, even if the movie was a bit of a slow burn.

If, for some reason, you’re utterly unfamiliar with the premise of any and all Alien movies, fast forward a thousand years or so, space travel is normal and people are always searching for either new resources or new places to live. Without fail, the people end up finding some spooky abandoned something or another and end up getting found and attacked and ultimately killed by the Alien. In the first few movies, the ones from the 1980s, a lot was left to the imagination. There was no origin story for the Alien itself, which made for an even scarier premise. If you’re a video game fan at all, think the first Dead Space game vs. the third one. This is a similar de-evolution as the further the story goes into the lore, the less scary it becomes and more campy it becomes. This is very true for this movie.

Covenant is set ten years after Prometheus and there may be moderate SPOILERS after this. The new ship we’re on is a colony, looking for some far flung planet that people can move to. On the way there, they hit some sort of solar flare and have to stop to do repairs, overhearing a transmission that they decide to investigate. Needless to say, I’m like, no, how about you just stay on course and get going, but they decide the planet should be investigated since it is hospitable. Once they land, we see the space ship that crashed there during Prometheus and you pretty much know where the story is going.

The predictability of the story was really what made the movie drag. I almost enjoyed the slow burn of the beginning of the film, being introduced to all the different characters. I did find Katherine Waterston only slightly less likable than Rooney Mara, from the first movie. I am still waiting for a strong Ripley-like character to emerge from the lore, but so far, sad substitutes. The opening sequence with the crew was filled with senseless death and more of that followed. If anything, this movie played more like a slasher movie than an Alien movie. If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll want to see it, but otherwise, I’m not sure there’s much to see.

As for the test of diversity and strong female characters, I’m going to have to give this movie a soft fail. Yes, the main character was a woman, but she had to be saved, more than once, by the straight white male characters. There was hardly any diversity, or at least the few people that weren’t white didn’t have too much to say or contribute. At least they weren’t the first to die, but it was close. Ultimately, having only white characters survive is also a sure sign that the writers/directors didn’t concern themselves with diversity. Overall, the movie was a disappointment.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy 2

A sequel can rarely, if ever, live up to the original. The fact that the source material for this piece is so little known helps with the overall effect. I didn’t know anything about Peter Quill and crew until seeing the first movie and was pleasantly surprised where the second movie picked up where the first one left off. If you’re unfamiliar with Guardians of the Galaxy, you might be missing out on a diamond in the rough of oversaturation of comic book movies. On the one hand, I do wonder if Marvel and ABC are just bringing anything and everything out because they can make it marketable. On the other hand, the movie is well done and the characters are fully developed, even if we don’t always know as much as we would like of them.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 picks up with the group working for some superior alien race, protecting their batteries from another alien. It isn’t long before wackiness ensues and the team breaks up into smaller groups, only to be reconnected later in the movie. I will do my best to avoid any SPOILERS, but there could have been far more scenes with the core cast than there were, yet still, the breakoff groups were equally effective. It was nice to see more from Drax and a newcomer, Mantis. Together, those two were quickly stealing the scenes that were previously stolen by Rocket and Groot. Seeing a baby Groot made things cute, but also made me wonder about the whole BB-8/Groot dynamic, having a character that can’t really communicate but is cute. Isn’t that a staple of everything Disney?

I really had little to complain about. I would say, as far as the Hina test goes, this barely gets a passing grade. Most of the movie centered around white men. There were other alien races, but for the most part, they were either wearing tons of makeup or looked white/gold. The Alt Right was perfectly represented by the golden aliens from the beginning. Even if Gamora had a prominent role, it still felt like she was firmly in second place to Peter Quill. I couldn’t tell someone not to watch this movie, but by that same token, I couldn’t tell you it was must see either. I enjoyed it and that’s really all I can take away from the experience.