REVIEW: “ALIEN COVENANT” (2017) 2OTH CENTURY FOX

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So here we are 10 years after “Prometheus” and a whopping 38 years after the original, we have Ridley Scott’s continuation of the well-known “ALIEN” film series with “ALIEN COVENANT.” Question proposed here – is there really anything new to add to the saga?
You know the formula of these films by heart by now. There’s usually a spaceship, an unknown planetary destination, a crew – most of whom will not survive, a diversion of some sort, and lastly..the Alien itself. It’s how well they are done and actually take the story forward (or in some cases backward), that make the film. Here the crew of the colony ship “Covenant” is on the way to a remote planet at the other end of the galaxy. There they discover something that first appears like an undiscovered ‘paradise’, which in this case means an atmosphere humans would be able to survive in and colonize. When in fact, it turns out to be a dark and dangerous place when they discover what and whom it’s actually occupied by, we are not really surprised.

Without going into any spoilers, which by the way you will be able to figure out within the first hour, we open with a rather creeped out scene set before the events of the previous film between Guy Pearce’s Peter Weyland and David (Michael Fassbender), who is fresh off the assembly line. Thankfully it gives us a touch into the idea of what’s to come but still doesn’t really answer why David does what he does. Also we do find out what happened to Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and the severed android head of her android David, but it’s not all that compelling and for those of you who can remember all of Prometheus I give you kudos, because I couldn’t.

As for the cast, you’ll get to know them pretty quickly and effectively even if you won’t remember them all by name because the casuality list is long and fast. Mercifully they are not made to look like dunces in the way that the crew of the Prometheus ended up as. Danny McBride as Tennessee is one of the stand outs though, working surprisingly well in a serious role as a cowboy hat wearing pilot, along with his wife Faris (Amy Seimetz). Katherine Waterston as Daniels tries aptly enough to fill Ripley’s shoes here as the the ships second in command, and the main character for most of the action in the film.

Billy Crudup also delivers a solid performance as Captain Oram, who is thrust unexpectedly into that role during the opening space mission scene and is constantly at doubt with himself when it comes to decision making. The constant reminders that he is a man of faith and is often at odds with the rest of his crew on those decisions does get a little heavy handed at times. But it is because of exactly this reason, he is also one of the few crew members you will actually remember along with Sgt. Lope (Demian Bechir) as the head of the security unit. And lastly, oddly enough the cameo from James Franco as Jacob Branson, the start-off Captain of Covenant, will remain in your head throughout the film.

When it comes to Fassbender, without spoiling anything let’s just say that he builds upon his creepy with the dual roles here. Watching the David/Walter scenes together though are some of the most slow, too lengthy moments of the film with even their fight scene coming in at a sort of head-shaking weird.

Lastly, the aliens themselves..well I won’t lie to you, they are pretty typical for a film of this type. There were moments of the eyeroll type laughter from the audience when and how they first appear. You also won’t find the type of tension here that you found when you saw the previous Alien films – you know – the whole ‘not knowing’ buildup of tension & excitement. There are no surprises nor really just any of that edge of your seat/don’t look tension here. You know when and how they are coming and who’s not going to make it pretty quickly in. A solid enough sci-fi thriller, with some gory jump scares about sums it up perfectly with the final scene being the best, and of course leading you into the next film in the series.

Grade: C+
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Media Screening Review: Friday, May 5, 2017 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Nationwide Release: Friday, May 19, 2017

FINAL DAY: COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ “BEST PICTURE”

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WE ARE HERE!!! The final day of my Oscar Countdown and I’ve saved the biggest and best for last. While this is a very good slate of films, and most of them deserve to be here, for the first time ever, I don’t have a picture that I truly ‘LOVED’ this year in this category as Nocturnal Animals wasn’t nominated. I liked them all, again, some more than others, and while I still have a pick – there is no one clear choice for me. That and my pick has no chance of winning whatsoever. So with that being said…I always hope for a few fun upsets!

BEST PICTURE

Arrival
While I really enjoyed this film, one of the best Sci-Fi movies I’ve seen, but can I roll with it for best picture? nah, but it is worth a watch, especially if you like this genre. It also has a very relevent message for this day and age of politics that we now live in. It shows that hate for something or someone different, really doesn’t need to be. Truthfully right now, I would trust an alien more than the circus clown act we have in charge at the moment.

Fences
While I liked this film at points, on other points it just lagged or went to fast as they literally took every single word from the play and put it into the film. I get it, you don’t want to mess with the original sometimes, but in this case, trimming it down some would have been beneficial and the movie suffered as a result of not doing so.

Hacksaw Ridge
Let’s face it, the first 45 minutes of this was an absolute cheese-fest. The remainder – sort of a gore-fest. And while it did good at the points of making you flip-flop on what you wanted that main character to do, it also gave us some Brits & Aussies doing terrible attempts at southern accents.

Hell or High Water
While it’s good to see a film be remembered from earlier in the year, and I liked the film, it just really never struck a chord with me as award material when watching.

Hidden Figures
I enjoyed this film a lot and it was about time something was done and made about these three fantastic women and what they contributed to our NASA space program in the 60’s. It had some big ups and a few downs with the tone of it all.

La La LandWINNER
With an opening scene that I just loved and so well done, you would think the rest of the film was going to be just as good. It’s not. Mind you it’s a good watch, but far from a great one and just a little to far-fetched, cutsey perfect for me. But hey, WHIPLASH was so damn good and was what a jazz story could be, that well, I guess I’ll give a groan when this wins, but I can’t hate on it completely.

LionMY PICK
While far far from a perfect film, the first half delivers big and is terrific, but it’s second half drags a lot until you get to the last 10 minutes or so. Again, I’m not in love with it. Having a great post Q & A with Dev Patel and first time director Garth Davis probably helped me some, but it did move me as a wonderful story of hope. And with that, I picked it even though I know it has absolutely no chance of winning.

Manchester by the Sea
For me, the film isn’t terrible – but honestly, I had no idea what as happening in the first 20-30 minutes. You just knew the guy was angry, but no clue as to why. It took 2 hrs. to get to the point and those 2 hrs. seemed like many more at times.

Moonlight
While watching this film, I couldn’t help thinking I’ve seen this story before..and I have – noting the fact it was done much better on the ‘The Wire’ and I think I would have liked to see three episodes of that again vs. this film. It was more than a tad inconsistent, with the first two thirds much better than the last third, and I was distracted by having characters played by multiple actors who looked nothing alike. That being said, it’s a good film considering the shoe-string budget it was made on.

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Thanks all for taking the time to give this a read. Let me know your thoughts on if you agree or disagree with my picks. Don’t forget to give this page a follow or a follow on twitter as well @pegsatthemovies. Cheers!

REVIEW: “STAR TREK: BEYOND” (2016) Paramount Pictures

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The storyline… well let’s face it.. you know the story line. We all do as it is after all, a Star Trek movie. In case you don’t, bascially a Space ship is roaming the galaxy, runs into problems, has battles, etc etc.. BUT it is how well done these same plots can be that can make all the difference in the world.

While starting off on a bit slower pace, it picks right up with our usual crew: Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Bones McCoy (Karl Urban), Lt. Urhua (Zoe Saldana), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho), & Chekov (Anton Yelchin).
Add in a minor villian in Kalara (Lydia Wilson) who then of course, leads them to a major villian, Krall (Idris Elba). Throw in the requisie new character ‘star fleet member’ Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) and you have rounded out the cast all of whom work well enough together. As I’ve stated before, an important part of these films are the villians and for me, you are only as good as your villian. While neither one excels here, it’s mainly because I think it’s hard to really come off as a villian you love to hate with such dramatic costuming & make-up, so taking that into note, I will say both Elba & Wilson did well.

Ostar trek 1n a technical level, the film is stunning visually with brilliant CG and I didn’t mind the 3D as much as I usually do, though I will say, there are a lot of shaky-cam moments, which I was not expecting and which is not very appealing to me motion-wise. One of my favourite personal highlights is the Enterprise fighting scene with Beastie Boys – Sabotage underlaid. An amazing score once again composed by the brilliant Michael Giacchino does bring some brilliant moments back.
star trek 2
Two things to finish this up as first: I simply loved the fact they went ‘old school here and brought it all back around to what we all remember was just a simpler time in space!! hahahaha
Second: My guest hadn’t seen any previous Star Trek films, though knows the jist of it and whom the characters are. He did like it and noted that he felt that wasn’t necessary for someone to watch or enjoy the film. Good thing! though he did question the doubles of each character when they went ‘old school. Ahh..well..you can’t explain it all to them. 😀

Grade: B-
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This review is dedicated to Anton Yelchin..one of our best and brightest young actors..one of my personal favourites, who passed all too soon. Rest in Peace Anton.

Review Screening: Wednesday, July 20, 2016 ~ Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Release Date: Completely worldwide ~ Friday, July 22, 2016