Review: Alien: Covenant

Careful, it's slippery in here.

When a solar storm causes damage to their ship and the death of their captain, the crew of the Covenant, a colonization mission to a planet galaxies away find themselves a little hesitant to go back into hypersleep to continue their mission. After picking up a transmission of someone singing a song from Earth, the new captain Oram (Billy Crudup) decides they should make a pit stop to the planet it is coming from as the terrain looks almost similar to the planet they were heading too anyways. Daniels (Katherine Waterston) objects to the plan, saying it's "too good to be true" but is ignored. On this planet, the crew and their android Walter (Michael Fassbender, with a sexy voice) encounter the xenomorphs and the shipwrecked android from Prometheus, David (Fassbender again, with a creepy voice) Things go horribly wrong.

I had a discussion with someone recently, who doesn't like horror films as much as I do about "people making bad decisions to advance the plot." It has to happen in horror films, it just does. People have to make mistakes. If your lucky, you'll get films like The Cabin in the Woods, Hush, and the first Alien film to make them look believable. The problem with Covenant is that they don't. This is the same problem Prometheus had. Sure, lean over that alien pod after a dude you just met, who is acting shady as fuck leads you there. Watch out for that blood, especially when you're holding a huge gun. 

Covenant could've been so much better, but I felt like the writers forced too many events to make things end on their terms. And what this movie ends up doing to Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace from the previous film) is lame at best and offensive at worst. The final 3rd of this film is a predictable mess.

It's not a complete failure. Fassbender is great, I kind of hate myself for thinking his Walter accent was pretty hot, but the subtext between he and David was just weird. I felt like they were trying to insinuate two totally opposite ideas. Danny McBride, who I normally only like in small doses was probably my favorite part of the film. He had a lot of heart. Waterston, despite being given the galaxy's worst haircut does a good job in her Ripley-esq role. Though I can't help but think of her and get completely annoyed with what they ended up doing with her. 

Recommended: If you're an Alien fan. Or a gore fan.

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "What was that, sugar dick?" - Faris (Amy Seimetz)

Quick Ramblings: Documentary Edition



I've watched some very thought provoking documentaries lately. I haven't had a lot of time to blog, mostly everything I've been posting has been queued, so here are some quick thoughts on what I watched. 

Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992
When you think of the LA Riots and what you learned about them in school - you think of Rodney King. The names James Mincey Jr or Edward Song or Latasha Harlins don't come to mind, at least not at first. This documentary shows the unrest had begun long before King was beaten. The interviews conducted here are very in depth. (and in some cases, like the arresting officer trying to minimize Mincey's death and the affect it would have on his then expecting girlfriend was infuriating) They talked with several survivors, witnesses, police officers. They're each given adequate time to tell their stories as well and this is where the documentary excels. 

This is one I hope is shown in schools, or at least recommended to keep the discussion going. My only complaint was with my local ABC station. There was severe weather going on during our broadcast, so the weather indicator at the bottom was often covering up the names of who was speaking. 


I Am Heath Ledger
I knew this was going to be tough to watch. Heath Ledger was my favorite actor. At the time, I had never quite reacted to a celebrity death with such sadness as I did his. I still remember where I was, sitting at my office at work. 

I felt like a voyeur watching his personal footage. I see why they used it, but some of the times I just felt like they maybe could've used something else to get around that particular part. I liked the interviews with his friends and family. It was especially nice hearing from his personal non actor friends. Of course, no Michelle Williams but I don't see her talking about Heath in depth for a very long time. Over all, it did feel quite rushed. There were so many more people I wish we could've heard from.
B

The Keepers
Netflix's newest entry into their true crime series follows the murder of a nun named Cathy Cesnik in 1969. Over the course of the seven episode documentary, the subject shifts from murder to systematic abuse within the Catholic Church. It focuses less on who killed Cathy, but why her murder happened. All of this started because of two of Sister Cathy's former students started investigating on their own, and that's inspiring in its own right. There's conspiracy theories all over the internet but you can't deny that sometimes good comes from people pouring over case files on the internet.

This case is bleak. When I think about how I felt after watching Making a Murderer, and then this, that hope for resolve is missing. Most of the people who probably know the answers as to what happened to Sister Cathy are dead, and the ones alive likely won't talk. Of course, the Archdioceses isn't going be of much help either. The head of the sex crimes division at the time manages to be of even less help. 
A- 

I Am Not Your Negro
First off, it's ridiculous how long it took me to finally see this movie. You'd think earning an Oscar nomination would be enough to get this film in more theaters, but apparently not. It came nowhere near me and I had to wait for Netflix to get the DVD. This is about writer James Baldwin's unfinished text on race in America. He talks about the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. Malcom X and Medgar Evers. The documentary expands on them, which I think the film does very well. It made good use of historical footage and clips from films that were relevant to the discussion. (Although I wish I could unsee that Solider Blue clip)
A

Indie Gems: Small Crimes

That has to be a new record.

Joe Denton (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is a former cop who is released from prison after a six year sentence for attempted murder. His folks (Robert Forster and Jacki Weaver) don't really know what to make of him. While he wants to do right by everyone so he can see his daughters again, he gets sucked right back into the same mess by his former partner Dan. (Gary Cole)

Movies like this are fairly predictable, but that's okay. I like seeing Nikolaj in a role like this after watching him as Jaime Lannister for so many years. The rest of the cast was good too. Even though you had an idea of what was going to happen, I was interested through out and still managed to be surprised by a few events.

Macon Blair, who also has a small and very memorable part in this is proving to be a really interesting writer. I can't wait to see what he does next.

Grade: B

Watched on: Netflix Instant

Memorable Quote: "It hurts. I carry it." - Joe (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)

Thursday Movie Picks: Time Travel - TV edition

It's another TV edition at Wandering Through The Shelves. This week she asks us to choose TV shows that feature time travel. I know there's a lot of shows with this theme. Here's what I came up with. 

1) Are You Afraid of the Dark?

While this show was technically about teenagers telling scary stories around a camp fire, there were a number of those that dealt with time travel. The one I'm thinking of is when a student finds a necklace in her locker, she's able to travel back in time and see an explosion that killed the fellow student who was wearing it nearly 30 years before. 

2) Inuyasha

This anime is about a girl who falls through a well and transports herself back to feudal era Japan. It's kind of ridiculous but it's my favorite anime. 

3) Futurama

Fry is a pizza delivery man who ends up frozen in 1999 and wakes up in 2999. This show was always stupid fun. 

2017 Blind Spot Series: Sleepers


What I knew going in: The entire plot. 

Shakes(Joseph Perrino), Michael (Brad Renfro), Tommy (Jonathan Tucker), and John (Geoffrey Wigdor) are four friends growing up in Hell's Kitchen. When a prank they play goes disastrously wrong, they're sent to a reform school where they are subjected to an unspeakable amount of violence. We cut to more than 10 years later and they're all grown up. (and played by Jason Patric, Brad Pitt, Billy Cudup and Ron Eldnard) They plan on taking revenge against the guards at the reform school, but they need the help of the one stable adult in their lives, Father Bobby. (Robert De Niro)

This was one of those films where I had heard so much about it and had seen bits and pieces that I felt like I had already watched the entire thing. I'm glad I finally sat down and got it in one sitting, but man is this film long. They could've shaved off about 30 minutes of it.

The story was harrowing but so fascinating. They did a good job of balancing the story between past and present, even though it got a bit long. Personally, I wanted more from the court room scenes. What I loved was the use of narration. I know that gimmick isn't popular but I love it, especially when it's done right like it is here.

Despite the strong cast, acting wise the only one that really stood out to me was Robert DeNiro. His face when Shakes tells him what happened at the reform school was heartbreaking. Watching him try to keep it straight while processing all of that information was extraordinary. Don't get me wrong, everyone is good. But De Niro knocked it out of the park.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I always keep the stubs." - Father Bobby (Robert De Niro)

My Movie Alphabet Part Two


Mettel Ray's "My Movie Alphabet" is what lead me to her wonderful blog in the first place. I had a great time participating and now she's hosting another one! Head over to her blog for a full list of rules. Like she suggested, I didn't look at my original alphabet before posting. I had 5 1/2 repeats. (Yes, I'm counting the X-Men one as a half because I just used a different X-Men film) Most of them being my long time favorite actors. I did bend Mettel's rules quite a bit in the last one so actually following them this time around probably helped. 

Here's my new alphabet. I apologize if some of the photos are blurry, I actually ended up doing most of this on my phone so I'd meet the deadline.



((500) Days of Summer, 10 Things I Hate About You, 50/50)

 
(Amy Adams, Adam Driver, Arrival, Anton Yelchin)

(Brie Larson, Brad Pitt, Brick, Brooklyn)

(Captain America: Civil War, Cronenberg, David, Colin Farrell, Christine)

(Dreamland, Danai Gurira,the Dark Knight)

(Evan Rachel Wood, Ellen Page, Ezra Miller)

(Franco, James, Factory Girl, Freeman, Morgan)


(God Help The Girl, Gangs of New York, Gone Girl, Green Room)


(Harry Potter, the Handmaiden, Her, How To Train Your Dragon 2)

(Idris Elba, In Bruges, Inception, Infinitely Polar Bear)

(Jaws 2, Jurassic Park, Jackie, Jesse Eisenberg)

(Kidman, Nicole, Kill Bill vol 1, Kids Are All Right, Kate Winslet)

(Lord of the Rings, Lion, Looper, Laura Linney)

(Mahersala Ali, Michael Kenneth Williams, Moonrise Kingdom, Mad Max: Fury Road)


(Never Let Me Go, Nick Fury, Nocturnal Animals )

(Olsen, Elizabeth, Odd Thomas, Oduye, Adepero, Obvious Child)

(Paul Dano, Paul Rudd, Prisoners, )

(Quicksilver, Quiz Show)

(the Ring, Rogue One, Room, )


(Song of the Sea, Se7en, Sicario, Scorcese, Martin)

(Trainspotting, To Kill A Mockingbird, Tallulah, Tilda Swinton)

 (Up, Usual Suspects, Universe, Marvel Cinematic)


 (Viggo Mortensen, Viola Davis, V for Vendetta)

(Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Whitaker, Forest, Wolf of Wall Street, What Maisie Knew)

(X2: X-men United, X-Men)

(Y Tu Mama Tambien, You guys (no seriously, you fellow movie bloggers. You're the best)

 (Zombieland, Zero Day)


 Thank you for hosting, Mettel Ray! Here's to many more blogging years for you. 


Indie Gems: I Am Michael

Changes

Michael Glatze (James Franco) was a gay activist who wrote for a popular magazine in San Francisco before moving with his boyfriend, Bennett (Zachary Quinto) to Halifax. While living there, he has a health scare - which turns out to be nothing more than panic attacks but that is enough for Michael to find God and denounce the fact that he's gay. 

I didn't know who Michael Glatze was until this film popped into my recommendations on Netflix. Going from gay activist to an anti gay pastor is a big deal. So I held off on reading more about him until after I watched this. It made me realize how incredibly naive I can be because I went into this 100% expecting him to go back to the way he was at the beginning of the film. He doesn't. 

I'm a fan of James Franco. I know he's pretty weird but I've always admired his talent on screen. He's very good hear, but it's Quinto that steals the show. All of the pain on Bennett's face is evident with Michael's betrayal. Emma Roberts also receives top billing on this as she eventually becomes Michael's fiance, but she doesn't actually appear the final 20 minutes of the film. She's not given much to do at all.

The film is surprisingly fair on how it treats Glatze. It could've easily demonized him, and that would've been earned for the things he's said. By the end of the film, I certainly didn't believe this version of him was being genuine. My biggest complaint is I kept waiting to hear another side to the sexuality vs religion argument and this film wasn't the place for it. 

Grade: B

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "Why are you calling me?" - Bennett (Zachary Quinto)

Thursday Movie Picks: The Renaissance

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is about that word I always misspell: The Renaissance. Seriously, I don't know what it is about that. The only rule is you must choose films between the 14th-17th centuries.  Here are some of my favorites.

1) A Knight's Tale

I love Heath Ledger in this movie about a poor man who enters a jousting tournament. All the actors had fabulous chemistry, I always sit down to watch this whenever it's on TV.

2) The Crucible

My favorite thing to yell when when I'm having an argument with someone is "I saw Goody Procter with the devil!" It's an excellent tension breaker. 

3) Pocahontas 

I was obsessed with this movie when it came out. Then later on when I read the real story of her I was kind of horrified by the whole thing. Disney made it seem so pure. 

Bonus: My favorite Pocahontas gif

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2

The Galaxy ain't gonna save itself.

When we meet up with the Guardians, they're doing a job for a species called The Sovereigns. Their payment is Nebula (Karen Gillan) as a prisoner. On their way out, Rocket (Bradly Cooper) swipes some batteries and the Sovereigns go after them. They're saved by a man called Ego (Kurt Russell) who reveals himself as Peter's (Chris Pratt) father. When he takes them to his mysterious planet and explains why Peter is so special, it doesn't take long for Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to realize something is wrong. 

There is so much going on in this movie that I have to separate it by likes and dislikes. Sorry this is getting forum-y.

LIKES
*The cinematography is gorgeous as always. That's one thing that's always stood out about the Guardian's films. Only Doctor Strange has come close to looks as beautiful.
*Gamora and Nebula's sibling relationship. I like that the film took the time to explain Nebula's feelings towards her sister and her father. It was very complex
*Mantis (Pom Klementieff) was a nice addition and I liked her scenes with Drax (Dave Bautista)
*Speaking of Drax, and Rocket as well, both character got more development. 
*Yondu (Michael Rooker) is the absolute highlight of this film. Rooker is an amazing talent.
*They didn't go overboard with Baby Groot like I expected them too. There was really only one scene of pandering.
*The humor was excellent, even if they went a little too hard with Drax a few times.

DISLIKES
*Peter's story with his father. It's sad when the star of the show and the leader of the Guardian's has the worst story. The movie wants us to see this as the main event, yet the progression of it felt like a deus ex machina. It also didn't pack the same emotional punch as the others. Even though some of the other side stories were better, if they wanted this one to work, there should've been less going on.
*The Sovereigns felt pointless. I know after one of the (5) end credit scenes that they set up Guardians 3, but they were an annoyance.
*I couldn't care less about Sylvester Stallone's cameo or purpose. Even though he had a small amount of screen time, it should've been spent on something else.
*And that dude needs subtitles.
*Chris Pratt's acting has somehow gotten worse. Baby Groot's CGI tear was more heartfelt than his. 
*I've seen bad Marvel movies before, but I've yet to see one that felt so...pretentious. This one did at times. 

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 doesn't offer much that's new. It's saved by its supporting cast and comic relief, but its leading man and the story revolving around him falls flat. It's still good for a few laughs, but it could've been so much better.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "Did you grow a penis?" - Drax (Dave Bautista)

Review: Colassal

And you thought you had problems.

Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is a party girl who hasn't held a job in over a year. Her boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens) breaks up with her and kicks her out of her apartment. She's forced to move to her hometown in Maine where she meets up with Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) an old friend. When a giant monster starts terrorizing Seoul, South Korea. Gloria realizes she's strangely connected to it.

Colassal might be one of the most original films I see all year. It's funny in retrospect that the producers of this film almost got sued back in 2015 for this being "too close to Godzilla" when their only connection is "Monster in Asia." Obviously, it's a bit silly, you have to know that going in, but it ended up being very different than I expected it to be.

It feels like forever since I've seen Anne Hathaway in something, and she's great here. She somewhat channels her Rachel Getting Married hot mess. Jason Sudeikis may seem like he's playing more of the same at first, but he eventually steps out of his comfort zone.

The film does have one, well, colassal problem with it. Aside from it being a bit of a stretch that Gloria never tells Tim about the monster, she actually tells three people total, then two of them spend the rest of the film doing absolutely nothing about it. Despite - without spoiling anything - being in a position where they could've stopped a lot of damage from happening. It was so forced that it became distracting as the film drew closer to its end. There was no excuse for it.

While not a perfect film, Colassal is different from a lot of things we'll see this season, and should certainly be watched. Its take on a certain type of relationship (again, avoiding context due to spoilers) is actually amazing. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable quote: "These people are looking at us." - Gloria (Anne Hathaway)


Indie Gems: Toni Erdmann

Father/daughter bonding? No, thank you.

Winfried (Peter Simonischek) is a music teacher and frequent practical jokster who stages an impromptu visit on his highly successful and very busy daughter Ines (Sandra Hüller) in Bucharest. She's trying to secure a contract with a very important client and isn't having any of her dad's jokes. So he makes up a persona, Toni Erdmann, with a bad wig and fake teeth and poses as her CEO's "life coach." She's too embarrassed to say anything so she plays along and ends up bonding with him more than she expected. 

It might seem strange that I'm recommending this after I say the following sentence, but this movie is way too fucking long. At 2 hours and 47 minutes, I feel like there were a few times that had I got up and walked away and came back 10 minutes later, I wouldn't have missed much. It's like last year's American Honey in that sense. But Toni Edrmann is strangely engrossing for most of its run time. 

I was worried I'd get dad joke overload but that didn't happen. I ended up feeling sad for Ines and Winfried instead when they just couldn't connect. It made me root for them, and also made me paranoid that something terrible was going to happen to ruin it all.

Director Maren Ade has a great eye, I loved her previous film Everyone Else. I also had it as one of my Indie Gems a while back. She directs Simonischek and Hüller into very good performances. If you've got the time, this film has moments of pure brilliance. 

Grade: B-

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "I thought it would be good team building.." Ines (Sandra Hüller) 

Thursday Movie Picks: Deserts

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is about films that take place in deserts. They can be hot or cold. Not gonna lie, I misread this theme as "desserts" at first. I think that topic may have been a bit easier this one was tough for me. 

1) Mad Max: Fury Road

One of the most gorgeous shots of Fury Road was Charlize Theron dropping to her knees in the desert. I never expected to like this movie at all, and it felt good to be wrong about that. 

2) Tracks

Mia Wasikowska's Robyn treks across Australia's deserts with her trusty dog and camels she's learned to train. This was a very quiet film but I enjoyed it. 

3) 10,000 B.C

I actually hated this movie and only saw it because I like Camilla Belle. If I recall, there were desert scenes. Now I'm annoyed all over again that Belle isn't a bigger star. I blame Taylor Swift slut shaming her.