Alien: Covenant, directed by Ridley Scott, is the newest part of the Alien franchise and stars Michael Fassbender, Michael Fassbender, Katherine Watherson, and Danny McBride among others. Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, members of the colony ship Covenant discover what they think to be an uncharted paradise. While there, they meet David, the synthetic survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition. The mysterious world soon turns dark and dangerous when a hostile alien life-form forces the crew into a deadly fight for survival.
How must it feel to see a franchise you love go above and beyond the wild curve?
I didn’t grow up with the Alien movies. By the time I watched the first movie, I have seen the xenomorph in countless other pop culture, and it wasn’t scary anymore.
I bring that up because that may be a key component of why some people absolutely despise this movie, while I for the most part thought it was alright.
Alien: Covenant is not an Alien movie. It’s a weird diatribe on humanity and life. What Ridley Scott has done is take a beloved franchise he himself created, and turned it into his own loudspeaker to the world. I refrain from calling it a “bastardization” of the *Alien* series on the sole belief that he didn’t do it under any motion studio’s will; it’s his own choice.
With that said, I completely understand anyone that hates this movie. Whatever terror the classic creature could’ve instilled has been completely thrown aside for Scott’s ramblings on man. I never found the xenomorph scary in the movie, because the xenomorph was exposed to the point of redundancy.
Looking at it, it runs deeper than just the xenomorph. The central characters, the ones that we should care about, felt like last minute additions. The actors themselves weren’t the problem, it was the script. The colonists in this movie are stupid people who do stupid shit and get themselves into stupid situations where they eventually die because of their own stupidity. God bless Katherine Waterson and the others for trying her absolute best, their efforts deserve a better movie.
So, do I hate this movie? I probably should, but goddamn does Ridley know how to shoot a scene. At least he stills has that. Seeing this old man musing about philosophy is utterly fascinating to watch. I’ll admit I was bought in by it, I was along for the ride. But then I get reminded how utterly inane the characters are, and I get thrown off.
So yeah, I should hate this movie, but goddamnit it’s so fascinating.
In conclusion, Alien: Covenant is definitely an experience. It is an experience to go through it, and you get off on the other end a changed person. On most accounts it blows chunks, and they have a point, but to this humble reviewer it was just too mind-boggling to completely dismiss it. I’d say…wait for the Blu-ray. When it’s on sale.
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, directed by David Yates, is the first film in a new series that plans to bring the people back into the wizarding world of Harry Potter. It is 1926, and one Newt Scamander comes to New York for a stopover. He has just finished finding and documenting exotic creatures of the wizarding world, and everything would’ve gone smoothly, had a normal Muggle, a.k.a. No-Maj, not accidentally took his briefcase which just so happened to contain his beasts, and whose discovery may spell trouble for both the wizarding and Muggle world.
As usual, I shall start with where I stand in terms of source material familiarity.
I guess I am in the category of the “Harry Potter fan”. I’ve read all the books and watched all the movies, and while I am not as crazy as some hardcore fans, I know my Harry Potter. Like, I knew who Newt Scamander was before the movie was announced.
But since it’s been 5 years since Deathly Hallows Part 2 ended the series, I like to believe that I entered this relatively bias-less, and uh…the end product…leaves something to be desired.
Oh, and one last thing, I’ll be going into spoiler territory for this one, so reader beware.
With that said, let’s start.
This movie…has problems. Lots of them. Very protruding ones. But before I delve into negativity, let’s talk about the good things first. Get them out of the way.
It felt great to go back into the world of Harry Potter again, even though Voldemort and the Boy Who Lived was still a generation away. I loved hearing the iconic theme in the beginning, and I loved seeing the spells coming out of wands again, the magic and all that. And as a fan of the Roaring 20’s myself, the few times Mr. Yates really basks in that era, with the nightclubs and the clothing and the general atmosphere, I too thoroughly allowed myself to indulge.
Also, Dan Fogler as the Muggle-yes I’m calling them Muggles not No-Majs’ that’s what I grew up with-Jacob Kowalski whom unwillingly is hurled into the wizarding world was easily the best character of the movie. By far. He serves as the audience’s proxy, his face a constant one of shock and awe, and I loved every minute of him. He was funny, he was likable, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t tear up at the end of his story-arc. I don’t know if he’s returning for the sequels, but I sincerely hope he does.
And also, I actually really bought the villain. No, not Colin Farrell, and not the other guy, but Samantha Morton as Mary Lou, basically the wizard’s version of the KKK/Nazis. I dug her because, if a wizarding world actually existed, there probably would be some people who would be like that. It was refreshing to see a very much human villain after the whole magic-ness of You Know Who.
And lastly, the titular beasts are great when they’re on screen. I absolutely loved the designs, and I really want to see more of them after the movie was over.
Shame they’re only in like half the movie.
Now we come to the problems. Where to start…
…okay, since I ended with my appreciation for a character in the last paragraph, I’ll start with my “eh” of another character here. Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander is fine. The problem here is not the actor nor the character. It’s the character’s story. He does not go through any arc, remains pretty much the same throughout, and in the end feels very much to be desired. His reason for coming to New York is glazed over, and in fact, almost every introduction to our new characters feel half-assed. It’s just like “boom, there they are”. No explanation or anything before they start their adventure. Granted, they explain it later on, but by then you’re already more “oh” than “ooooh”, and the magic is gone.
And speaking of lame character introductions…hello Johnny Depp. Okay, it’s not the twist that Graves was Grindelwald in disguise that made me go “what”, it’s the fact that they built up the twist so badly. Literally, the only time Grindelwald is talked about is in the beginning of some newspapers flying past, and literally one or two lines. That is it. And those happen rather early on in the movie, so by the time the twist occurs, you’ve long forgotten about him. Now I had the privilege of knowing who Grindelwald was before watching, but I can only imagine the sheer confusion of seeing Colin Farrell turn to Johnny Depp in the ending fight, not helped by the fact that Farrell had actually built quite a presence, while Depp had no presence what-so-ever. Maybe he’ll actually be awesome in the coming movies, but here, he’s lame.
Oh, and Katherine Waterson is some witch who was fired from the U.S.’s version of the Ministry of Magic. I don’t have much to say about her, because neither does the movie. She’s just there, helping Newt and Jacob. Oh, and her sister’s telepathic.
Now that was the main complaint, so from here on out things might seem nit-picky, but just stick with me. There’s no weight to the plot, the location and settings, for the most part, dull and unimaginative, and by god, some of the CGI is just lazy. There’s one scene especially, near the end, when a deus-ex-machina solves everything, Newt pats a huge bird creature on the neck. It is so blatantly CGI is amazing. His hand doesn’t cast a shadow on the bird! Fucking werewolf Lupin from Prisoner of Azkaban felt more real, and that was over a decade ago!
…but I digress. I can ignore that kind of CGI, as long as the monsters themselves were cool, and they were, but man…that one shot…you’ll know it when you see it.
Okay, in conclusion, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is mediocre, and I hate saying that because I love the world of Harry Potter, and I want to be amazed by it again. But no, there was only a little bit of it here, and that’s probably nostalgia talking. A resounding “eh” from me.