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Alien Covenant Review (2017) | The Monstrosity Continues

Ridley Scott‘s Alien Covenant turns out exactly what we expected it to be. Filling in the shoes of a proper sequel Prometheus deserved. It is properly written in terms of story for the better half, then for the remaining half banks on mere cheap thrills to escape from what it aspires to be. Owing to that it ends up having a predictable story-line written to reach a certain end. And you see it coming from far away.

Ridley Scott does make great sci-fi and space movies. A wink at his last project The Martian of course. There’s no doubting him when there is the concept of space entailed. But it is that sense of complacency around this topic, I guess, that is making him a tad predictable. He has been overlooking a lot of things whilst doing so, and that’s not good news for his fans. For instance, he has tuned down considerably on horror. The concept of an alien on the ship is no longer giving us the chills. Why is that? Too much of it? I don’t know.

The Timeline of the Alien Franchise

Alien Covenant is on perfect lines of the Alien timeline which is appearing to be filling in all the right gaps. With the prequel Prometheus setting a new benchmark to pave a purpose, connecting everything has become a lot more fun. Alien Covenant answers a lot of questions and that makes delving into it an intriguing affair.

Here is the timeline we have so far:

93 AD – An Engineer sacrificing himself in a waterfall scene from Prometheus.

2023 AD – Weyland’s speech.

2089 AD – Discovering a star map in Scottish cave

2093 AD – Prometheus expedition.

2094 AD – Destruction of Prometheus. David and Elizabeth Shaw survive.

2104 AD – Alien Covenant film

2124 AD – Alien film

2183 AD – Aliens film

2184 AD – Aliens 3 film

2386 AD – Alien: Resurrection

Forgotten the previous parts? You can order the Alien Anthology from here:

Michael Fassbender as David: Case Study (Spoilers)

Michael Fassbender as David remains the heart and soul of the movie. Just like the prequel where he is the root of the evil, he imparts direction to the Covenant tale as well, showing up at just the right moment. Michael Fassbender also plays Walter who is an advanced android version of David, built to take care of the Covenant ship.

The conversation the duo has wherein David teaches Walter how to play a flute is deep in a way if you pay attention. David is trying to earn Walter’s trust, one of his own kind, at the same time trying to expand the dormant code in him. With Walter bound by his inabilities to channel creation, David helps him show that creation is possible for everyone.

It is poetic in a way if you realize that in real life too people are often convinced that they are not up for creation. But the truth of life is that creation is everything, and that’s what David intends to do. We can find him being mesmerized with the concept of creation when he helps a Facehugger incubate the captain.

The Crime of Our Species

David gets the primal truth behind it. The only setback is that he considers our species to be unworthy of existence. The poetic thing in this whole setup is that just like Engineers created us and then found us to be detrimental, they decided to kill us. In a similar fashion, we too created an android like David, and then by the end realized, his kind should be stopped too, like Walter trying to kill David on discovering about its deformities.

Michael Fassbender as David playing God in Alien Covenant movie

That’s the circle of life that keeps on going. It is befitting in a way as per Shelley‘s poem that David quotes:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.

The conversation David has with Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) in the prologue takes us back in time when David was created. With Weyland asking David to serve him and then asking him to join him in seeking answers about his creators has been beautifully presented. David chooses his own name by looking at the eponymous Michaelangelo’s statue. In a way, it depicts his power to be able to do wish for things the way he likes. He isn’t meant to serve, it’s clear from his gestures. His loathsome demeanour to be asked to serve him tea lets you feel how grand he wishes his life to be, and he hates being tied as a servant. He is quick to sense malevolence as well, and his reaction to it is well calculated.

Alien Covenant: The Plot Thickens

When you look at the plot of the movie it is in a way similar to that of the original Alien movie with a crew encountering a signal in space coming from a planet. In reality, they were headed towards Origae-6 as their mission to colonize a planet favourable for life. However, they encounter a radio transmission coming from a nearby planet that forces them to check it out since it promised an atmosphere resembling that of Earth.

On reaching there with a Lander to investigate, they find the crashed Prometheus ship (from the prequel) and discover that it was once piloted by Elizabeth Shaw. On their way back two of their team members get infected by alien spores. We are introduced to Neomorphs then who burst out from the infected people, and attack the rest of the crew. Their Lander gets destroyed in the process, Walter loses his hand trying to save Daniels (Katherine Waterston); that’s when David appears out of nowhere scaring the Neomorphs away.

They follow him to a temple like structure which used to be inhabited by Engineers on the planet. David claims that while arriving on the planet, one of the black goo containers accidentally dropped killing all the Engineers in the process. Also, that owing to the chaos, the ship had crashed and killed Shaw.

Neomorphs Return

One of the surviving Neomorphs attack one of the crew members, who is then later killed by Captain Oram (Billy Crudup) fuming David up. On demanding to know what was he doing on the planet, David takes Oram to a chamber of eggs where Facehuggers laid dormant. He reveals that he used black goo as a catalyst to experiment on wasps to create a Xenomorph the ones we used to see in all the Alien Movies.

He then coaxes Oram into taking a closer look, tacking him against a Facehugger that goes on to kill Oram and then later becoming a Protomorph – an advanced version of neomorph. Walter figures out David’s truth that it was him who had killed all the engineers on the planet by releasing the black goo, and Shaw too who had ended up being a mere sacrifice for his experiment.

Sensing danger David shuts Walter down and attacks Daniels. Walter being the advanced version of David, restarts himself and then confronts David, the fate of which we are deliberately not shown. (You think it was hard to guess?)

protomorph from alien covenant

Meanwhile, the Covenant arrives on the planet to extract the remaining crew with the help of some intermittent communication and a beacon that Daniels uses. The Protomorph follows them attacking the ship trying to make its way inside however is killed by Daniels who uses a crane arm to slay it.

Another Protomorph

There is a Protomorph loose inside the ship after the Covenant is inbound for Origae-6 once again. It had gestated in one of the crew members somehow and goes on to kill two more. With the help of Walter on the controls, Daniels manages to flush it out in space.

As the crew return to their pods for stasis once again, Walter is busy tucking them into sleep. With Daniels being the last one to go, she tells Walter about her dream to build a cabin on Origae-6. But when she realizes Walter doesn’t understand what she is talking about, she sees through him since she had confided about the cabin with Walter once. She realizes it was David all along!

David closes the stasis pod deliberately after which we find him planting two Facehugger embryos amongst the remaining human embryos as the curtain falls.

Major Drawbacks

I think in an attempt to meet what Alien had originally set out on achieving, Ridley Scott has lost focus from the primal question of our existence. While the reason to love Prometheus was to have that inquisitiveness in us to find out the true cause of our origin, with Alien Covenant that question has simply ended up becoming a riddle. While there was so much we could have done with how Shaw could have at least had a shot at knowing more about Engineers, Alien Covenant simply destroys everything in its wake. It doesn’t even let us have a good look at them, or to figure why did they make us in the first place. More importantly, if we were mere experiments like David, why were they bent on killing us?

Instead of answering or even venturing into that enclave Ridley chooses to thrill fans with cheap shots of a Protomorph attacking people in the bathroom, letting them bask in the gore of chestbusters and spinebusters, finding it important enough to show the cliched act of jettisoning, of deliberately keeping people alone to become bait meat and other such dispensable bits.

The predictable stuff that you see from miles away was David cutting his locks to look like Walter. And then Ridley Scott intentionally cutting off the frame to not show the fate, David and Walter were about to come across in their face off. It is almost like he thinks he is being clever but the whole world knows there was nothing subtle about it. You can see the movie being rushed towards its climax as if the only surprise Ridley wished to keep was David under the wraps. It would have been great if Daniels had seen through the android she was always around. But alas! she was too dumb to see through what we figured hours ago.

The Final Verdict

Alien Covenant is great when you have stories to connect. It sieves right in with the timeline it is successfully augmenting itself to. It feels great if you look at the plot from David’s perversion, he is on his way to become a creator himself after all. The flick almost makes you want to question, what if our creator is a monster akin to David?

The movie is great in terms of theatrics, gives you ample focus to focus on, and is well written. But at the same time, it banks on those age-old cheap thrills which are no longer as breathtaking if you have been following the franchise up closely. We are way past waiting for an alien to show up from behind to sneak attack us.

You can check out the trailer of Alien Covenant here:

Underworld Blood Wars Review (2016) | Just Stop Already!

Underworld Blood Wars has been helmed just like its previous parts, except unlike, of course, the first one. And that is just when you look at its fast paced direction, the action and its poorly written screenplay. It gives you nothing but cheap thrills and is barely there to take the story forward.

Watching Underworld Blood Wars was supposed to help rekindle the lost memories of one of my favorite badass protagonists. To watch her kick some more ass in a war-ridden world trying to rip each other apart was supposed to be an exciting adventure. But alas! The movie is as stale as its yawn worthy action.

If you wish to revisit those forgotten enclaves, here’s a link to revisit all the prequels. Go binge-watch:

Plot of Underworld Blood Wars (Spoilers Ahead)

To constitute its plot Underworld doesn’t have much to offer. It’s like a ladder that leads to naught. So if you want to put things in a nutshell, you can say the title of the movie gives away the story. Yes it’s an ongoing war between the Lycans and Vampires, no doubts there. But remember (at least try!) how the last part had ended with Kate trying to save Eve, the hybrid child? Well she has been hidden, and even Selene doesn’t know her whereabouts. For the very fact that if she did, someone might extract that information through her blood.

The movie starts with talks about Marius portrayed by Tobias Menzies, him being the big bad beast of Lycans. The leader is planning a huge attack on the Vamps holed up in a fortress. Side Note: If it weren’t for his hubris and badassery the movie would have been even more punishing to watch.

still of Tobias Menzies as Marius in Underworld Blood Wars movie

Both Lycans and Vampires are after Eve trying to locate the gifted child to have an upper-hand in the war. The consumption of her blood would turn one into Vampire-Corvinus hybrid.

We have betraying creatures like Semira (Lara Pulver) and Varga (Bradley James) who stay constantly at the top of the pyramid of perversion. Charles Dance and Theo James reprise their respective roles as Thomas and David.

One of the most memorable scenes to watch out for is when Selene rips out the spine of Marius slaying him in the process. But right after that, Underworld Blood Wars seems to be galloping towards the end. It’s almost as if Anna Foerster, the director is shouting at the top of her lungs:

“Pack up! Pack up! Quickly!”

It just forces you to shake your head at how pathetic and unruly the rush is.

The Final Verdict

For once you think maybe Underworld might have learnt from its past mistakes, and this time, maybe just this time it would try to present the Lycans and Vampires story in a better light. But no! It only gets terrible with every release.

At the end of the day you realize Underworld is badly in a need of reboot, but trying to envision someone else filling the shoes of Selene is just not right. Kate is Selene! Period.

I just hope it finds a good director who decides to bring some calm focus to the tale, whilst rebuffing its action, and embellishing the drama.

I would recommend you watch it only if you are a big Underworld fan and can’t live without seeing Kate Beckinsale back in action again.

Check out the trailer of Underworld Blood Wars movie:

How to Be Single Review (2016) | All Those Things You Shouldn’t Do

For the better part of How to Be single, you are left to ponder, if the movie is trying to feed you how not to be single. That was a titular bummer right there. Then the journey of this weird girl Alice played by Dakota Johnson starts. Oh, the choices she makes! You can’t help but shake your head. Boy is she riding on a downhill or what? If it doesn’t make you want to step into the movie and slap some sense into her, then you are not really paying attention.

PLOT OF HOW TO BE SINGLE

How to be single is more like watching Alice make mistakes, thousands of them, and then feel sorry for herself in the end when things don’t work out. If you really try to figure things out from her perspective, you let it pass, because love’s a topic that messes with people. Alice is constantly looking for it, even when she unequivocally claims that she wishes to spend some time alone, and not sediment. But what is surprising is the fact that she is actually constantly scavenging for someone to baby her down.

still of dakota johnson as alice in how to be single

I need to know who I am alone.

Alice makes all the wrong moves and ends up in a muck of her own doing. It is hard to feel sorry for her, because she clings on to any flickering hope like a moth. This contrasting image in Liz Tuccillo’s story is something that is capable of miffing you up. On the bright side, to assuage things down, you have other characters in the movie that try to make the story less punishing.

CHARACTERS IN HOW TO BE SINGLE (POSSIBLE SPOILERS)

There is the sister Meg, played by Leslie Mann who is trying hard to have a baby. The coolest and the kinkiest Robin who is, hands down, one of the most interesting characters in How to be Single. Played by a psychotic Rebel Wilson, she remains the only one who tries to bide by the theme of the movie. Sadly she ends up becoming a cameo that shows up only when Alice is trying to bounce back to normalcy like a tilting doll. Oh by the way, Robin has an insane sense of humour. It is hard not to want her as your BFF.

still of dakota johnson and anders holm drink number count

Then there is Tom, the bartender, played by Anders Holm who likes to eavesdrop more than serving people. It is almost like he is never working. Always trying to push his zest before he would place a drink on the table. His story is like, well, another perplexing abyss that you don’t want to head towards.

There are childish things that are made into ‘things’ that get stretched too much. Like that ‘drink number’ thing that was totally uncalled for. Then at times the humour becomes clichéd, and suddenly you realize that the whole thing actually reeks of stark banality.

WHAT WORKS NEVERTHELESS

I think the humour quotient helps How to Be Single to stand a chance. Because there is always something witty in the corner waiting to lighten you up. In the vanguard is none other than Rebel Wilson who drops hilarious lines with her more than perfect comic timing. Alice comes around too at odd hours, showing us that she is not all cuddly and wobbly, that there is a unique cool side to her too. Other characters like Lucy played by Alison Brie and Tom often crack you up with their conversations, but you don’t really see a chemistry developing there.

David story taken up by Damon Wayans Jr. seems like an exercise in futility as well. The way he changes color is so inhuman like that you see through his act.

The best jests are hidden in the starting moments of How to Be Single, when Alice is creating an uncanny relationship with Rebel, and of course whenever Rebel shows up. In its eventuality however when things kind of settle, you do get happy feels.

THE FINAL VERDICT

It goes without saying that Alice’s irrepressible urge to find love is simply disappointing. Be prepared to hear you say this out more often, “Is she for real?” Also, watch her more than often try to struggle with her dress, which might force you to think why is she always getting into those clothes she is having trouble with. Then when you really think of it, it is more akin those choices she makes. It’s kind of an obvious way to say that Alice is always looking for someone to take care of her. When she scours naught, she cries in her misery.

As we reach the culminating crises, we finally come to realize that Alice gets to justify the movie moniker. For the first time in her life, she is not looking for someone and trying to finish unfulfilled tasks and learning to live with herself.

The thing about being single is, you should cherish it. Because in a week, or a lifetime, of being alone, you may only get one moment. One moment, when you are not tied up in a relationship with anyone. A parent, a pet, a sibling, a friend. One moment, when you stand on your own. Really, truly single. And then, it’s gone.

still of dakota johnson as alice in how to be single final scene

When the above lines are dropped you see Alice fulfilling her dream to witness the sunrise at Grand Canyon. But just when she turns you almost know that she has found someone yet again. Can’t this girl stay single like ever?

Anyways, you can watch this one as something light on your watch-list.

Check out the trailer of How to Be Single here:

Allegiant Review (2016)

What a rock-bottom! Allegiant is a big bummer!

From the enthralling tales that were so successfully luring us towards its nail-biting enclaves, comes another one, a rather dismissive twist that takes the plot to weird levels of alcoves from where there is no possible return. The movie franchise has met an ugly thud and now we are left with a stale taste in our palate. We are thinking can someone really revive this?

ALLEGIANT: A LOST PROJECT

Just an year ago, Robert Schwentke had wrapped us a thrilling sequel to the first part where things seemed really promising. It was a fast paced dig, au contraire, to the first installment and acquainted us to a fantastical world of simulations. I don’t know how his direction degraded for Allegiant to meet complete chaos.

The fact that we had a pre-written storyline in our baggage for Allegiant should have actually helped not played against Schwentke. His direction goes dodgy at so many occasions that it is hard to just pinpoint one. Also, the plot jack-hammers into a recess that we weren’t really expecting it to converge into. Even though it was supposed to be from Veronica Roth’s perspective, we could have used some better helming to ease into some mind-numbing revelations. The shoddy display at points where it mattered the most proves how little director cared about its eye-openers.

SPOILERS FLYING AHEAD

What messed with matters further was the dramatic quotient of Allegiant. The fact that Tori gets lost amidst a ruckus, and the next-to-absent “Evelyn and Johanna Reyes war” makes things even worse. Jeff Daniels plays a great David although his hands seemed more tied and his perversion not milked enough.

BETTER DIRECTOR?

Sometimes I think it is almost time to hand over the reins of the franchise into hands of a better TV show director. We could really use a better insight. You can watch it if you are inquisitive enough and are wanting to know what happens next.