Friday, May 19, 2017

Alien: Covenant review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
The Xenomorph is back in Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant

            Director, Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Gladiator, The Martian) returns to the franchise that made him, Sigourney Weaver, and the term “Alien” household names with Alien: Covenant, the sixth installment of the classic Alien franchise and a follow-up to his 2012 prequel, Prometheus. After the much-disliked Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection, not to mention the Alien VS Predator movies, Ridley Scott manages to bring the franchise back on track with Prometheus and Alien: Covenant.
            No, it’s not nearly as amazing or scary as the first two movies but in terms of summer popcorn entertainment Covenant was a solid addition to the series. The film dives deeper into the mythology and origins of the Alien creatures and covers events that followed Prometheus, the acting is solid, the characters are developed well for a horror film, and the Alien action and scares are very effective.
            After the events of Prometheus, the film follows a crew aboard the colony ship, Covenant bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy in search for a place to call paradise. The crew consists of terraforming expert, Daniels “Dany” Branson (Katherine Waterston-Being Flynn, Steve Jobs, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), first mate, Christopher Oram (Billy Crudup-Princess Mononoke, Big Fish, Watchmen), chief pilot, Tennessee (Danny McBride-Pineapple Express, Tropic Thunder, This is the End), head of security, Sergeant Lope (Demián Bichir-A Better Life, Savages, The Hateful Eight), biologist, Karine Oram (Carmen Ejogo-Away We Go, Selma, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Tennessee’s wife and lander pilot, Maggie Faris (Amy Seimetz-The Killing, You’re Next, Lucky Them), medic, Upworth (Callie Hernandez-Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Blair Witch, La La Land), her husband, Ricks (Jussie Smollett-On Our Own, Ask Me Anything, Empire), Lope’s husband and member of his second unit, Sergeant Hallett (Nathaniel Dean-Always Greener, Farscape: The Peacekeeper, Wild Boys), security unit member, Leonard (Benjamin Rigby-Neighbours, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Lion), and Walter (Michael Fassbender-X-Men franchise, 12 Years a Slave, Steve Jobs), an updated android build in the image of David 8 of Prometheus.
            However, what the crew think is a possible contender for paradise turns out to be a dark, dangerous world inhabited by the horrific Aliens. Crew members get infected by mysterious dust that transforms into new Alien species, attacked by Facehuggers, Alien babies bursting out of their chests (John Hurt style), and a confrontation with the Alien in their attempts to discover dark secrets behind the Alien species and most important of all, escape from the planet alive.
            Overall, Alien: Covenant is a chilling and entertaining addition to the Alien franchise, even if it isn’t as terrifying or well-made as the first two films. The movie ignores the sins of the past and brings the franchise back to its sci-fi/horror roots as well as make more connections to the first movie since Prometheus left so many questions unanswered.
            The film has much more of a connection to Alien than Prometheus for one reason, it actually has the Alien and is filled with more references to the other films. While I thought, Prometheus was a decent film a lot of the Alien details and references were put in the background and it felt like it was trying harder to be a standalone movie with traces of Alien movie DNA.
            The acting is surprisingly pretty strong for a horror movie, Michael Fassbender reprises his role from Prometheus as David 8 as well as the updated Walter and he really knocks it out of the park with portraying them both at the same time, the best way I can describe it is if both sides of his Magneto performance took human forms. Katherine Waterston’s no Sigourney Weaver or Noomi Rapace but she makes a decent female lead that can kick some intergalactic ass, and all throughout the movie I was rooting for her to survive, I really appreciate the acting and writing in this film for making me care about the humans, not everyone is there just to die and you get emotionally attached to plenty of them.
            If you’re a fan of the Alien franchise (or at least the first two) you’ll have a great time with Alien: Covenant. It answers more questions about the origins than Prometheus while still delivering plenty of space action and terror to make you scream, especially if you watch it on a Large Screen or Motion Seat format, I saw it in the Regal 4DX format and it blew me away, this is one of those movies that really exploits the format and makes you feel like you’re really there.
            Don’t expect an Alien or Aliens but a satisfying addition to the franchise that delivers the space scares. Just remember “In space, no one can hear you scream”.


Friday, May 12, 2017

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: * out of 4
Charlie Hunnam takes sword in hand in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

READER ADVISORY: The following review contains some risqué humor and language    
Director, Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, Sherlock Holmes) tackles the famous Knights of the Roundtable story of King Arthur, the man who successfully removed the sword in the stone and became a legend in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. A unique failure and an unfortunate misfire for Ritchie as a director, There, Review’s Over!
            Nah, I wouldn’t do that to you but WOW is this movie bad? The movie takes this classic story that’s very interesting and thrilling and reduces it down to the most generic and laughably bad fantasy film you could find (Seriously, does a fantasy movie have to be J.R.R. Tolkien to be good these days?).
            This movie is far from being a king but I can definitely name it the Dungeons & Dragons of the 2010s. With a ludicrous plot that doesn’t make sense, poorly written characters with even worse performances by most of the cast, a chaotic overuse of CGI, and some of the worst pacing and editing I’ve ever seen in a movie…and yet it’s a delightful turd of unintentional laughter.
            The film stars Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy, Pacific Rim, The Lost City of Z) as King Arthur on his journey from the streets of Londinium to claiming the throne. After his father was murdered when he was still a child, his scheming uncle Vortigern (Jude Law-The Talented Mr. Ripley, Cold Mountain, Sherlock Holmes) seizes the crown and robs Arthur of his birthright without him knowing.
            Because of that Arthur grows up in the back alleys of London as an ordinary man but once he pulls the sword out of the stone his life changes forever and must find his true destiny with the help of an enigmatic woman named The Mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey-Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, I Origins, Alaska). Arthur must learn to master Excalibur, fight his traumatic past, and unite the people to battle his uncle and claim his place as king.
            The film also stars Djimon Hounsou (How to Train Your Dragon 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Furious 7) as Sir Bedivere, Aidan Gillen (The Dark Knight Rises, Maze Runner 2 and 3, Sing Street) as Goosefat Bill Wilson, Eric Bana (Hulk, Troy, Star Trek) as Uther Pendragon, Tom Wu (Shanghai Knights, Batman Begins, Skyfall) as George, Freddie Fox (The Riot Club, Pride, Victor Frankenstein) as Rubio, Mikael Persbrant (The Hobbit 2 and 3) as Kjartan, Lorraine Bruce (Dark Corners, Eden Lake, The Scouting Book for Boys) as Syrena, Hermione Corfield (Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation, Mr. Holmes, XXX: Return of Xander Cage) as Syren, Annabelle Wallis (The Tudors, Pan Am, X-Men: First Class) as Maid Maggie, Katie McGrath (Merlin, Jurassic World, Supergirl) as Elsa (No, not the one from Frozen!), model, Poppy Delevingne as Igraine, Kingsley Ben-Adir (Vera, Midsomer Murders, Trespass Against Us) as Wetstick, Neil Maskell (Basic Instinct 2, Atonement, Utopia) as Backlack, Millie Brady (Legend, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Last Kingdom) as Princess Catia, footballer, David Beckham as Trigger, and Michael McElhatton (Zen, Game of Thrones, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag) as Jack’s Eye.
            Overall, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is one of those special kinds of bad movies that you watch with your friends, have a few drinks, smoke a little weed, and laugh your ass off at how terrible it is. I cannot see anyone possibly defending this as a good movie but I can perfectly understand enjoying it because of how bad it is, at least that’s what I got out of it.
            The story is ridiculous and hard to follow, the characters are developed poorly, and most of the performances are awful but the saving grace of entertaining failure is Jude Law in one of the most spectacular failed performances I’ve seen in a while. I love Jude Law as an actor but here his performance comes off as pure lunacy and it’s funny to watch him go so over-the-top and not try to the point where he becomes the highlight of the entire film, imagine Jeremy Irons from Dungeons & Dragons with a splash of Eddie Redmayne madness from Jupiter Ascending.
            Besides hilarious overacting the film also delivers some hilarious underacting with Astrid Berges-Frisbey’s performance as The Mage. Nothing against the actress though I haven’t seen in her in that many films aside from Pirates of the Caribbean, her performance as The Mage is so half-ass and the accent she gives the character makes me burst into laughter every time she speaks, give her a Razzie because she’s like Tommy Wiseau with a Snatch *Obligatory Guy Ritchie Joke!*.
            The editing of this film is beyond terrible and some of the worst I’ve ever seen, constant jump cuts that feel very unnecessary and it looks more like you’re watching a compilation of trailers for the movie rather than the movie itself. It’s terribly stitched together and really needed a better crew, not to mention the timing of the opening credits is incredibly bad and I laughed the moment the title showed up…I’ll just leave it at that.
            Seriously what happened to this movie? A lot of talented people behind it and it somehow bombed big time. This actually could have been a much more fun movie if it wasn’t called King Arthur, Hell, the Jerry Bruckheimer produced movie was a more faithful telling of the King Arthur story, EVEN SONIC & THE BLACK KNIGHT DID A BETTER JOB WITH THE STORY, YES, I WENT THERE!

            If you’re looking for a so bad it’s good movie to watch with your pals one night, give King Arthur: Legend of the Sword a watch, you shouldn’t be disappointed. However if you’re not one of those people who like to make fun of movies and try to take films seriously, don’t even try, go see Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 or The Lost City of Z instead, at least you’re promised a movie.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** ½ out of 4
(From left to right) Drax, Gamora, Star-Lord, Baby Groot, Mantis, Nebula, Yondu, and Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2

            Everyone’s favorite space adventurers from Marvel Comics are back for a second dose of campy fun in the anticipated sequel to the 2014 surprise hit, Guardians of the Galaxy. I’ve already gushed over how much I loved the first movie so I won’t go into much detail about it aside from “Second Favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie After Avengers!”.
            So, I was hyped to see the sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 with James Gunn (Scooby-Doo 1 and 2, Slither, James Gunn’s PG Porn) returning as director and Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation, The Lego Movie, Jurassic World), Zoe Saldana (Star Trek, Avatar, The Book of Life), Dave Bautista (Riddick, Spectre, Blade Runner 2049), Bradley Cooper (The Hangover trilogy, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle), Vin Diesel (The Iron Giant, Fast & Furious franchise, XXX), Michael Rooker (JFK, The Walking Dead, Super), Sean Gunn (Angel, Gilmore Girls, Pearl Harbor), and Karen Gillan (Doctor Who, Oculus, The Big Short) reprising their roles. It would be hard to top the originality and brilliantly crafted wit of the first movie, then again not all comic book movie sequels need to be Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight, or Captain America: Civil War to be good.
            I would say out of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe sequels that weren’t as good as its predecessors like Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Avengers: Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 is the best one so far. Is it as fresh and funny as the first one? No, Is the pacing a little off at times? Sure, Does the story rehash the same familiar Marvel movie plot? Often, but the humor and imagination is still present and the likable characters and great writing ­­­­­are charming and funny enough to look past any flaws.
            After the events of the first movie we find Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Pratt), Gamora (Saldana), Drax (Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (Cooper), and Baby Groot (Diesel) officially labeled as the Guardians of the Galaxy and together they go on their own missions to save the universe. One day after an encounter with the Ravagers led by Yondu (Rooker), the Guardians encounter a strange looking man who claims to be Peter’s father named Ego (Kurt Russell-Death Proof, Fast & Furious 7 and 8, The Hateful Eight) and informs him about a goal to preserve the universe by using their powers (The same powers that allowed Star-Lord to hold the Infinity Stone without dying).
            Meanwhile a race of gold skinned Sovereign beings are on the hunt for the Guardians after Rocket steals some of their valuable and powerful batteries and the other Guardians realize that maybe Ego isn’t quite the person they thought he was. So, it’s up to the Guardians of the Galaxy with new members, Mantis (Pom Klementieff-Delicacy, Oldboy, Ingrid Goes West) and the unexpected recruitment of Gamora’s sister and arch nemesis, Nebula (Gillan) and Yondu to save the universe before a powerful entity destroys everything faster than you can say “I Am Groot”.
            The film also stars Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Everest) as Ayesha, Sean Gunn reprising his role from the first film as Kraglin, Chris Sullivan (The Drop, The Knick, Morgan) as Taserface (Brilliant name!), and Sylvester Stallone (Rocky franchise, Rambo franchise, The Expendables trilogy) as Staker Ogord.
            Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 is a satisfying sequel to a great comic book/sci-fi adventure movie. It’s not as refreshing the second time around because I knew what to expect when I walked into this movie, it’s hard for a sequel to add new takes on what made the original so enjoyable.
            Guardians of the Galaxy had a pretty simple story but the space action, humor, and characters were pretty much the highlights of the entire movie. However, there was definitely more story in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, we find out more about Star-Lord’s dad as well as Nebula’s backstory and why she became evil, I’m only scratching the surface, all the characters feel more realistic here than in the first movie.
             But more story doesn’t stop the movie from having fun, the action is still great, the majority of the humor hits bullseye, most of it coming from Drax, and the characters are still a lot of fun to watch. Not to mention the film’s climax is better and uses Cheap Trick better than anything in Pixels (If you’ve seen the movie you know what I’m talking about).
            One of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe movies of all time? No, but if you enjoyed the first Guardians of the Galaxy or the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe you’ll probably enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2. It may not be as thrilling or clever as the first one but for something as fun as this, it really doesn’t matter.