Alien Covenant: Review

alien covenant

For a start, Alien Covenant provides some much needed answers to the end of Prometheus, and helps to explain quite where that film was heading. In a way, the answers that we receive in the newest instalment provides a new purpose and interest to Prometheus which that film was lacking, as despite all its talking, little progress was made. However, Covenant helps to complete Prometheus’ story, but also set up some new questions: did they ever make it to Origae-6? What happened to the Alien and humans once they were there? With Scott not ruling out further expansion in the series, one feels these questions could very well be answered.

Alien Covenant also saw a much needed return of action and horror that was sorely missing in Prometheus. Some of the scenes are so intense and the part seen in the trailer, with quarantine regulations in the medical bay, was one of the best scenes of the film. The tension that was built during this was immense and it showed Scott was still able to create the same horrifying grip that the original held on audiences. Sadly these moments of action or horror/tension are often then spoilt by extended dialogue between two characters to explain what is going on, as if it wasn’t entirely plain at points, and ultimately this is a failure to show the audience and have them work out the points from shots, something that made the original so good. These long periods of speech dull any fear that has been built, and at points get very weird: the whole Michael Fassbender on Michael Fassbender action is straight from fan fiction, and ultimately drawn out too long.  This being said I do think that Covenant does a good job of creating tension and fear, despite the now well known Alien no longer having the shock factor it originally had due to the success of the franchise.

Covenant also shows a nice mix of Alien and Aliens in its genre, combining the horror of the original with elements of Aliens’ action packed, shoot-up style. This movie meets in the middle of the two and this works nicely for it, as it helps to show that this is still an Alien film, despite the different settings that the characters are found in compared to the originals, where they are more confined to buildings or spaceships.

Perhaps the biggest issue is with the number of crew there are on the ship. There are 15 members of the crew, compared to the 7 of the original (and cat), each married to another crew member, and the sheer volume of them leads to them treading on each others’ toes in regards to the role they have in the movie. As a result each of the characters lacks depth, and this is compounded by the films gleeful willingness to kill them off; essentially this is the most evidence of “crew expendable” yet seen in one of these films. Danny Mcbride’s Tennessee is the best of the characters with his cowboy hat, while Katherine Waterston’s Daniels is overcome with grief, but the film really struggles to show her character until the end. Had there been less crew members then perhaps each character would have had more depth and so their deaths could have been more shocking. Instead we are left with crew members dying and not really anyone missing them.

Alien Covenant is a nice return to some of the aspects that made the original Alien so scary and brilliant. A mixture of Alien and Aliens is presented and creates a story that moves along with jumps and scares, sadly to be bogged down by the heavy handed dialogue that made Prometheus dull. This combined with a forgettable crew are the main issues, but Alien Covenant is very enjoyable and should be seen by any fan of the series.

67/100

Road to Chess Mastery – Part 1

I understand this deviates from my other articles, but is more about me and, of course, chess. I love chess, and have played it for a couple of years now, though never with any serious intent. However, having just finished my first exam series at University and now having some time on my hands in the holidays,  I thought that it would be interesting to try and improve my ability in chess, and take back this study plan to University and continue there.

The aim of this is to improve my chess, which is currently mediocre, at around about a Class C player, though without ever having played an official tournament this is an estimation based off of online ratings. The aim is to hopefully reach a master level of chess eventually, but to generally improve enough to make the University team in the next 2 years, which would require a level of Expert or higher.

The aim of this blog is to give updates on my progress, recommend training tips and books that I find useful, and hopefully to provide some game analysis as well on the side. Hopefully this will be enjoyable, and I will be successful! I hope to update you soon with some progress!

Movies to look forward to in 2017

With 2016 drawing to a close the dawn of a new year approaches and, quite frankly, the films coming out in 2017 are quite incredible. Here are just a few which I am most excited for:

LOGAN

The final instalment for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine having done 9 X-Men films in the past 17 years. Logan is a new look for Wolverine with the now aged hero living in a dystopian future for mutants. this movie is gritty and looks to provide closure for fans of those who have followed the X-Men movie franchise from its very beginning in 2000. Charles Xavier is once again played by Patrick Stuart, and Dafne Keane joins the crew to play Laura, and perhaps provides a future for mutants after all. Logan is out in March.

LALA LAND

Ok, so for Americans this movie is not a 2017 one, however it is not out until January 13th in the UK, and the hype being built about it from the States is enough to make me very excited. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling play Mia and Sebastian, an aspiring actress and jazz musician. They fall in love and the film follows their romance as it is challenged by the rising success of each of the characters. Directed by Damien Chazelle who has apparently done an incredible job in bringing the film together, LaLa Land is a film to see, and one which is set to claim many Oscar nominations.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

A real version of the classic Disney Princess movie from 1991 which was the first Disney cartoon to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. Emma Watson and Dan Stevens come together in this modernised retelling of the story released in March, and early opinions are very positive about it.

JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2

Keanu Reeves returns as the hit-man John Wick for a second film to be released in February. The success of the first movie, both commercially and to critics was enough to convince the requirement of a second, and although the plot is not known, it can be guaranteed to be another action packed, thrill ride adventure.

LEGO BATMAN

Following the surprise success of Lego movie, the Lego Batman movie is perhaps not as surprising as it would first appear. Will Arnet returns as Batman/Bruce Wayne with Ralph Fiennes as Alfred and Michael Cera as Robin. Chris McKay directs and his involvement in the Lego movie suggests the project is in the hands of a man who knows what he is doing. The early trailers for this movie have been great, very funny and the character Batman seems to me to be like a more PG version of Archer. Due to release in February, Lego Batman looks like great fun.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOL.2

The return of the entire original cast as our favourite band of space saviours, Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldama, Bradley Cooper and Dave Bautista, is very exciting indeed. The original film was great fun and with a fantastic soundtrack to match was a surprise hit for a not so very well known comic book made into a film. The trailers for the new film look as though they continue the fun and energy found in the first film; with a release date in April 2017, the new film is one to look forward to during the cold winter months of the New Year.

WONDER WOMAN

The disappointment that was Batman V Superman did give some positives, one of which was Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. The success of her character has now been followed with a solo film for her, and I believe is the first female lead super hero movie in this new generation of super heroes.  Wonder Woman is drawn into war from her seclusion following the crash landing of American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). He informs the unknowing Amazons of the global catastrophe and Wonder Woman is left with no choice but to follow Trevor and go to war for the sake of humanity. So many reasons to be excited for this film, but we must wait until June.

ALIEN: COVENANT

Director Ridley Scott returns again to the sci-fi genre on which he founded himself. Alien Covenant picks up where Prometheus left off, but a few years down the line. A crew on the ship, Covenant, are travelling across the galaxy when they see a planet which presents itself as a possible paradise, but which is in fact a hell hole, and the planet on which the events of Prometheus took place. With Fassbender and Noomi Rapace returning the film must intend to provide explanation to what took place in the inbetween years from Prometheus to Covenant, and also aims to link more definitively with the Alien movies. Due to be released in May.

So there are just a few of the great movies to look forward to next year and I, for one, cannot wait! Have a great New Year!!

Pacific Heat Review

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Pacific Heat is a new animated show made for Netflix about an Australian police squad who, despite their best efforts to do good, lack the brains and ability to do good. An interesting starting point and of course it immediately lends itself to comparison with the beloved show Archer. Unfortunately, Pacific Heat fails in a number of ways and rather than trying to simply emulate the success of the show Archer, it is quite clear that little imagination has been used to develop a new and unique idea that is separate from Archer.

One issue which I have with Pacific Heat is the quality of the show’s appearance. The animation is styled differently to Archer, slightly, with more angles and lines which is in itself quite attractive. The issue arises when effects are needed, such as explosions or fire, and here the lessened quality really shows and looks highly out of place with the overall appearance of the series’ style. The appearance of the show though is the least of its problems, and a constant falling point is the lack of main character. Following around the team of four main characters, there are times when a main character is implied, but one never steps forward. This leaves the story without focus and I found led to none of the characters really developing properly. The lack of character progression through the series left each episode lacking any reason for me to keep watching, and by the end of the series it was a struggle to keep going.

There were some funny points though, and some of the humour was good and provided me with some chuckles. Again, though, a few major issues arise with the show’s idea of fun. The thematic jokes that occurred in multiple episodes were lacking any real laugh value, and their recurrence was not appreciated. The biggest problem though was the seeming confusion between offensive and funny. This is a line which Archer runs very finely, but he seems to be forgiven for it, as either the ruder stuff can be dumped on the main character for being an abhorrent human being, or the jokes never really go too far in to out right offensive. Pacific Heat was much less concerned with subtlety, and there were points where i physically cringed as dubious sexism and racism was splurted out with little attempt to hide it. The women of the show are consistently used to sex up an episode by them removing their clothes to work “undercover”, and the criticism of certain foreign characters’ English speaking skills are just a couple of points where the mute button and duvet seemed to be the only solution to rid the festering scenes which were unfolding.

Ultimately the show is one which is trying to pick up on the success of another, but seems to misunderstand what made Archer successful, resulting in an unfunny and offensive turd of a portrayal of entertainment.