Alien: Covenant (2017) Review

Alien: Covenant (2017)

**Spoiler-free ranting below**

Directed by Ridley Scott

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this brief and of course spoiler-free as I know Alien: Covenant isn’t yet out in America.

I’m a huge fan of the first two Alien films. I’ve never talked about them on this blog because I’m not a good writer and I find it hard to review the films I love the most (I made an attempt to review favorites, which I called CPD Classics, but gave up after a while as it took too long to write those). I can’t find the right words to express the awesomeness of those first two films. The H.R. Giger designs (above all else), the mood, the horror, the mystery, the action of the second film plus a great set of characters, Hicks (hottie), the knife/hand thing and, of course, a kick-ass female. Those first two films are perfection. I suppose that’s why every Alien film since those has been such a huge disappointment. How can you top those? You can’t. And Alien: Covenant is yet another massive disappointment.

I didn’t read any reviews at all before seeing this but the main comment I couldn’t help but see several times on Twitter was that “it starts out okay & almost feels like an Alien film but then turns into Prometheus 2“. That’s exactly right. If you liked Prometheus, you’ll probably like Covenant. If you hated Prometheus, I doubt you’ll like this one. I’m no fan of Prometheus. To be honest, I barely remember it now as I never watched it again after going to the cinema to see it. I wouldn’t say I hated it as I will probably always watch each & every movie that explores the Alien universe as it’s an overall idea that I absolutely love but, man – I wish they’d stop f*^king things up so much!

You know what? I actually think I like Prometheus slightly more now. Compared to Covenant, it’s probably the better of the two. Yikes. It’s like having to choose between two horrible candidates & having to go with the lesser of two evils. Prometheus kept things slightly more simple whereas Scott feels like he’s aimlessly & pointlessly overcomplicating things now. The mystery of the alien race in the first film is a big part of what makes the entire Alien universe so horrifying. Stop trying to explain everything. Stop showing us too much. Stop all the pretentiousness. Make an Alien film. Stop making Prometheus films, dammit. How are so many filmmakers & studios so damn clueless as to what the public actually want?

Okay – maybe it’s time to stop making these films altogether. Or perhaps let someone else take over again (Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 looks fairly promising so far). Either way, I’m pretty good at blocking things out of my mind when I want to and these sequels & prequels have yet to ruin the legacy of the first two films for me. But I grew up with the first two during my early teen film-loving beginnings. How much are these newer films damaging those first ones for the current generation?

I can’t be bothered with this “review”. I’m just annoyed. BUT, I did go in with very low expectations (I’m not stupid). Therefore, I’m not as annoyed as I seem since I got what I pretty much expected. Like with Prometheus, I didn’t exactly hate this film. I just try to think of these films as a separate sort of thing (kind of like with the Star Wars prequels). They mostly suck but there are moments that I enjoy thanks to my love of the original films (the moments that feel like an Alien film & not a Prometheus film and there are a few of these, luckily). Michael Fassbender (hottie) is very good. He steals the show. I just wish they could’ve made us care about this set of characters as much those in Aliens (but that wasn’t Scott). Other than Fassbender, everyone is very one-dimensional & their relationships felt forced for added drama (most of the those on the Covenant are married to someone else on the ship – what’s with all the romantic connections?).

Oops – I was trying to end with only positive comments to help explain why I’m not giving this a lower rating after all my bitching. Um. There’s a Xenomorph. There’s a facehugger. There’s bursting. That’s why the score isn’t lower. God I’m shallow. If they make another one of these movies, I know I’ll still watch the damn thing even though it’s 99% likely that at least 75% of it will suck. 😉 But if I had to rank all these now (not counting those AVP ones), Covenant is probably at the very bottom. That’s so not what I wanted. Why do I continue to live in the hope that there could ever be another good Alien film?

My Rating: 6.5/10*

*I’m being way too generous. Because it’s an Alien film. Sort of. But not really. Damn.

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Steve Jobs (2015) Review

Steve Jobs (2015)

Directed by Danny Boyle

Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin

Based on Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.

My Opinion:

My husband dragged me to this movie. Are any fun movies going to come out at any point? I hate this time of year! They always drag out all the “worthy” films at this sort of time. I need braindead veg-out movies for the crazy holiday season. Like… Road House! I wrapped some presents last night while watching Road House for the first time. Holy shit that movie is f*%king hilarious. Why did no one tell me how awesomely bad that movie was?! I think it may be my new yearly Christmas-present-wrapping movie. Anyway, Steve Jobs was better than I was expecting for a “biography” film about an unlikeable guy & technology gobbledygook.

This movie was a hard one to get into at first but, by the end, I really liked how they chose the run-up to three big product launches to tell his story. To my satisfaction, any gobbledygook technology talk was kept to a very bare minimum. The movie really doesn’t show you anything of the beginnings of his career, though (or the final years & his biggest products).

If you want a very detailed & in-depth look at the career of Steve Jobs, I wouldn’t say that this movie is the place to start as it only highlights part of his career. I have no problem with this, though – you can read books about all that. This movie focuses much more on his personal life and his behavior toward work colleagues and, especially, his relationship with his daughter. I find this sort of thing much more interesting and was happy that the movie chose this direction and that it had some great performances from everyone involved.

I’ll state the obvious & say that Michael Fassbender looks nothing whatsoever like Steve Jobs. Not that I’m going to complain about getting to look at hottie Fassbender but it was a little distracting & I can’t say that I at all felt like I was watching “Steve Jobs” up on that screen. Maybe it didn’t help that I knew nothing whatsoever about Steve Jobs (and still don’t, I suppose – but I can say that this movie definitely doesn’t try to make you like him). Fassbender did a very good job as always, though – I guess it’s not his fault that he’s just too hot.

The true highlights of this film were Kate Winslet and, surprisingly, Seth Rogen. Oh yeah – and Jeff Daniels was very good too! Nice seeing him again as I can’t think of the last thing I saw him in. Speed?? Which makes me think of Keanu Reeves. Which makes me think of Patrick Swayze in Point Break. Which makes me think of Road House again. Seriously – if any of you haven’t seen Road House, you NEED to. Sam Elliott is such a stud. Anyway, Winslet, Rogen & Daniels are all truly fantastic in Steve Jobs so I certainly can’t fault any of the performances. There’s some damn fine acting in this. Unlike in Road House…. Good lord!

Summary:

Steve Jobs is a very good film but it’s not for everyone. It’s one you should watch if you are a fan of any of the actors as they’re all at the top of their game here. Just be aware that it focuses only on the relationships that Jobs had with the most key people in his life and that you see only a pretty small portion of his years on this Earth.

The direction that the film chose, to have everything revolve around three product launches, may not work for everyone but I thought it was a simple yet very effective way of telling his story. His life DID revolve around his work (so far as I can tell from what very little I know of him) so I think it was a very fitting way to tell his story. The people in his life had to fit around his primary focus, which was his career and his products. I should also point out that this movie very much felt like a play, which some will love & some will hate. I have to say that I liked this film more than Sorkin’s The Social Network and it’s the best thing Danny Boyle has done in a while.

Steve Jobs admittedly deserves a slightly higher rating than I’m giving it but I have to admit that, while it’s good, it’s very unlikely that I’d ever watch it again. Unlike Road House! That’s a multiple-watcher!

My Rating: 7/10

Review written on my iPhone

Top Ten Actors I’d Watch In Pretty Much Anything

Here we are! My final list of the four started by the fabulous Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are. You can see her list of “The Top Ten Actors I Would Watch In Almost Anything HERE. This is a great thing you started, Abbi! I believe others have made similar lists so let me know if you want me to add your link. I know Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger also did her list of actors HERE. 🙂

I did my most annoying actors & actresses last week but, surprisingly, it took THIS LIST of my favorite actresses to piss people off the most (yes – I grew up with Drew Barrymore & I love her. So sue me!). 😉 Thanks for all the wonderful comments on these – I’ll be replying to each & every one of you soon.

Now here are my Top Ten Actors I’d Watch In Pretty Much Anything (in no particular order plus I’ve narrowed it down by only including living actors):

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Leonardo DiCaprio
Best Movie: The Wolf Of Wall Street

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Jack Nicholson
Best Movie: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

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Morgan Freeman
Best Movie: The Shawshank Redemption

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Chris Hemsworth
Best Movie: Rush

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Tom Hardy
Best Movie: The Dark Knight Rises

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Michael Caine
Best Movie: The Prestige

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David Bowie
Best Movie: The Prestige but I also love Labyrinth & The Man Who Fell To Earth

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Christoph Waltz
Best Movie: Django Unchained

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Michael Fassbender
Best Movie: Shame (is he wearing an Iron Maiden shirt?? We’re meant to be!) 😉

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Ian McKellen
Best Movie: The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy

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Patrick Stewart
Best Movie: X2 or Star Trek: First Contact

**That’s 11 but Ian McKellen & Patrick Stewart count as one! 😉

X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014) Review

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X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014)

Directed by Bryan Singer

Starring:
Hugh Jackman
James McAvoy
Michael Fassbender
Jennifer Lawrence
Halle Berry
Anna Paquin
Ellen Page
Peter Dinklage
Ian McKellen
Patrick Stewart

Running time: 131 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The story, inspired by the 1981 Uncanny X-Men storyline “Days of Future Past” by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, focuses on two time periods and Wolverine being sent to 1973 to save the future of mutantkind.

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My Opinion:

Review number 3 from my 4-Movie-Marathon from last week! I still say Edge Of Tomorrow was by far the best, A Million Ways To Die In The West was last (but still fun). I really thought Days Of Future Past would be my favorite but, unfortunately, it was a not-very-close second…

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I’ll say it for the millionth time (hey – you never know when I might get a new reader here!), I enjoy comic book movies but have no knowledge of the comic books themselves (well, I read Watchmen but that’s it). When the X-Men movies came along, I LOVED them. I thought the characters were great & they just felt very different to a lot of other comic book movies that had come before them. Plus… Patrick Stewart & Ian McKellen! Those two are fucking legends. Love them love them love them!!! They’re still my two favorite characters as well so, don’t get me wrong – it was wonderful seeing them together in this. And I think James McAvoy & especially Michael Fassbender are perfect as the younger versions of these two greats. So no complaints when it came to the scenes involving either generation of these two characters – those were my favorite bits. (And god Michael Fassbender is sexy).

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Wolverine was… Fine. Maybe I’m just a bit Wolverined-out (and I’ve not even seen The Wolverine yet – the only one I’ve missed out on). Hugh Jackman is still great but he just wasn’t my favorite character in this one. (And was he always so veiny?!). I liked Quicksilver and a couple scenes with him were probably the highlights of the movie. I don’t really have any complaints about Jennifer Lawrence in this and I liked Peter Dinklage (hey! I’ve finally made a start on Game Of Thrones, people! DON’T TELL ME ANYTHING! I’ve only seen 4 episodes!). So… All these things I’ve mentioned were good. Or at least okay. But………..

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I thought the story was a bit of a mess. Sorry! Sorry! I’m sorry! Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful! (Lol – you may all be too young to get that reference). Like I said in my Edge Of Tomorrow review, that film had the more complex plot yet it managed to pull it off nicely whereas Days Of Future Past just felt totally convoluted. I didn’t really think the future scenes worked at all & it kind of threw me out of the film whenever they’d go back to those scenes. But without them, there’d have been no Stewart & McKellen, so… that would have sucked, I guess. I just wish those scenes had worked better.

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Plus there were these new characters thrown in there that I didn’t know and they weren’t introduced at all so they meant nothing to me as I don’t read the comic books. We got zero character development on the new “future” characters yet we’re meant to care about their fate (well, Storm was there but who actually likes Storm??). Also, I often get a little annoyed at “time travel” in movies that aren’t actually ABOUT time travel. Or aren’t sci-fi. Well let’s just stick time travel in any ‘ol movie then! So, the overall plot here is what didn’t really work for me. I still love these characters. I still love the X-Men universe. This movie certainly isn’t the worst of the X-Men films (I’d personally place it as the fourth best) but it was a weaker entry than I was hoping it would be.

My Rating: 7/10

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Inglourious Basterds (2009) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Josh of JJames Reviews. He’s already done a review of Apocalypse Now (which you can read HERE). Thanks so much for joining in, Josh! Now let’s see what he has to say about Inglourious Basterds, IMDB rank 113 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE. See the full list & links to all the films that have been reviewed HERE.

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Inglorious Basterds (2009)

Written and Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

Starring
Brad Pitt
Christoph Waltz
Melanie Laurent
Eli Roth
Michael Fassbender
Diane Kruger
Daniel Bruhl
Til Schweiger
Gedeon Burkhard
Jacky Ido
BJ Novak
Sylvester Groth
Martin Wuttke

Running Time: 2 hours 33 minutes

Plot Synopsis

In an alternate history mash up, two different groups of assassins plot the murders of important Nazi leaders, including Adolf Hitler (Martin Wuttke) and Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth). Meanwhile, Hitler, Goebbels and Nazi detective, Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) hunt The Basterds, a group of special forces assassins led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt).

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My Take

Inglorious Basterds bears Quentin Tarantino’s trademarks, mostly in good ways. Using at least three storylines and an episodic chapter structure, it is always fun and suspenseful. Soshanna Dreyfuss (Melanie Laurent), Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) take turns as the film’s protagonist, and each proves capable of carrying the movie, in no small part because all three of the actors are spectacular. Waltz won an Oscar for Inglorious Basterds, and it is easy to understand why, but his is not the only award-worthy performance. This might be Pitt’s best acting since 12 Monkeys (1995) and Laurent shines, as well, especially when she’s opposite Waltz or Daniel Bruhl (Frederick Zoller).

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Even still, the performances are not Inglorious Basterds’ greatest strength. Editing is. Tarantino and Oscar-nominated editor Sally Menke piece together the separate storylines sparklingly well, cutting away from each at exactly the right moments. Even more impressively, they time many takes and shots a heartbeat or two longer than we subconsciously expect, a decision that creates tension and heightens our anxiety. Consider the movie’s opening scene, when Landa arrives at Pierre LaPadite’s (Denis Menochet) home in search of hidden Jews. When the former first meets the latter’s daughters, he politely compliments their beauty, at which point Menke and Tarantino use a wide-angle shot from behind the young women, one that frames Landa’s face with the female’s bodies, thereby ensuring we see the intimidating glare the Colonel gives them. At that point, we expect Menke and Tarantino to cut away from the shot, probably to a close up of Landa, or perhaps LaPadite, but they don’t. Instead, they hold it an extra moment, just long enough to make us feel Landa’s threat. Later in the same scene, the Nazi is centered in the frame as he drinks a glass of milk. While he’s drinking it, we expect the director and editor to show us a reaction shot of LaPadite or one of his daughters. They don’t. Instead, they hold the shot of Landa until the milk is gone, a decision that once again increases our anxiety. Why? Because now we know that Landa can and will do anything he wants, that the LaPadite family is powerless to stop him, and that soon all of them might be dead.

Such brilliant editing continues throughout the movie. Menke lost the Oscar to The Hurt Locker, but she unquestionably deserved her nomination and would have been a fitting victor.

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Tarantino makes other standout directorial decisions. Inglorious Basterds is visually striking, and the sound design is very good. So too are all of the director’s casting decisions. Daniel Bruhl is excellent as the flirtatious but frightening Frederick Zoller, and Michael Fassbender is scene-stealingly good as British soldier Lt. Archie Hicox. Diane Kruger (Bridgit von Hammersmark), Jacky Ido (Marcel) and Sylvester Groth (Joseph Goebbels) all give memorable supporting performances, as well.

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With excellent acting, near impeccable direction and some standout technical elements, Inglorius Basterds has potential for perfection. Unfortunately, Tarantino’s screenplay is uneven. Yes his dialogue is witty and sometimes funny, as it is in everything he writes, but the way he tells this story fundamentally prevents emotional attachment to the characters, something that is all the more disappointing given each of the protagonists’ potential to be memorable. Shoshana is a tragic anti-hero if ever there was one. Raine could be, too. And Landa could be a complex opportunist, whom we never completely understand and therefore whose actions we cannot predict.

But instead, Tarantino chooses to gloss over his three lead characters, assigning each of them one or two traits, and never further developing them. Then, he introduces a bevy of minor characters, some of them historical figures and others not. He gives these secondary players as many traits as the leads, which guarantees that no one is well developed. That, in turn, means we do not care about any of the characters.

And so we do not extrapolate important life lessons from their experiences.

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Conclusion: Inglorious Basterds, then, is a prime example of style over substance. It is entertaining and darkly comedic, just as it is incredibly well made. But, thanks to underdeveloped characters, it is not thematically resonant. Though we can enjoy it, we are not inspired by it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Shame (2011) Review

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Shame (2011)

Directed by Steve McQueen

Starring:
Michael Fassbender
Carey Mulligan
James Badge Dale
Nicole Beharie

Running time: 101 Minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Michael Fassbender is a sex addict and isn’t shy about walking around fully nude.
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My Opinion:

Seriously – I’ll make this a quickie (Ha!). Because, obviously, I’m not mature enough to do a proper review for this. But I have at least decided to not grab a thesaurus and use the word “large” in as many ways as possible throughout the review.
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Michael Fassbender plays a sex addict. So it’s already a movie I can’t relate to in the slightest (TMI?). He struggles with this & it’s very serious & it’s ruining his life and OH MY GOD he’s walking around FULLY NAKED! And I totally didn’t rewind that & freeze frame it & actually take a picture of the TV screen. Who would do that? That would be immature.
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Then Fassbender’s equally messed-up-in-the-head sister Carey Mulligan comes to stay with him unexpectedly (and totally uninvited). And OH MY GOD we see her fully naked too!!!!

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Seriously, though, Fassbender’s acting in this is very very good. I hate to say that I was slightly disappointed with Carey Mulligan, though. Oh I hate saying that as I do like her! But this is the second movie recently that I DIDN’T like her in (The Great Gatsby being the other one but I think that was mainly the fault of the script). She’s fine – she’s not bad in Shame but… I don’t know – Maybe she wasn’t quite right for the role. And I think she just couldn’t out-act Fassbender. They had a good creepy incestuous sexual tension thing going on that worked, though. I guess. Ew.
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Summary:

Does Shame really explore sexual addiction & do we learn anything by the end of the film? No. Only that no addiction is ever a good thing. Oh, and that most of us are totally f*&ked up in some way but some are better at hiding it than others. So the movie only states the obvious and I suppose it was successful for A) a truly great performance from Fassbender and B) being a bit racy, which always gets attention. Heck, it turns into almost full-on porn there for a scene toward the end (I think. I’m not an expert on porn).

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Is it good? Well, yeah. It’s a bit artsy, it’s filmed well (not that I know anything about filmmaking but it all looked very good), and it has some great acting including a very memorable performance from Fassbender. Did it change my life? No. Did it ruin my life? No. Am I glad I watched it? Yes. And I have a picture saved on my phone of my favorite part.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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