Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, “Alien: Covenant,” the return of one of the most fearsome alien species ever, the Xenomorph, the continuing adventures of Greg Heffley in “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul,” Liev Schreiber as the real-life Rocky in “Chuck” and the edgy rom com “The Lovers.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, the Xenomorphic Alien: Covenant,” the whimptastic adventures of Greg Heffley in “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul,” Liev Schreiber as the real-life Rocky in “Chuck” and the edgy rom com “The Lovers.”
Alien: Covenant is the second instalment in the Alien prequel series and the sixth film in the franchise overall.
That’s a lot of facehugging and chestbursting.
Since the 1979 release of Alien, a film Roger Ebert called “an intergalactic haunted house thriller set inside a spaceship,” audiences have been fascinated with the sci fi / horror series.
The latest movie sees a new crew—including Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup and Danny McBride—on a mission to colonize planet Origae-6. Along the way they abandon their original course, choosing a closer, apparently inhabitable planet only to be met with terror and acid-spewing creatures.
Covenant is the third Alien movie directed by Ridley Scott. I once asked him what it was that kept him casting his eyes to the skies movie wise.
“The fantasy of space,” he said, “which is now also a reality, is a marvellous platform and a form of theatre. Honestly, almost anything goes.”
The freedom of the sci fi genre is a common theme among creators. Denis Villeneuve, whose sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, now titled Blade Runner 2049, comes out later this year, remembers how his mind was opened by his first exposure to the genre.
“At a very young age one of my aunts came home one night and she had brought two or three big cardboard boxes filled with magazines,” says Villeneuve. “Those magazines were all about sci fi. Those boxes changed my life because the amount of poetry and creativity among the guys that were drawing those comic strips. They were very strong storytellers. They were all like mad scientists playing with our brains.”
Alien: Covenant has only been in theatres for a few hours and Scott has already announced another sequel he plans on filming in the next fourteen months.
Until that one hits theatres what other sci fi films should we have a look at?
Vincenzo Natali, the director of episodes of television’s Westworld and Orphan Black and adventurous films like Cube and Splice has some suggestions. “I could mention 2001, Star Wars and The Matrix, but we’ve all been there. I think there are some very worthy science fiction films that aren’t so well known.”
First on his list is Stalker, from master director Andrei Tarkovsky.
“It’s about a zone in Russia that may have had some kind of alien visitation and is highly classified. There are very special people called stalkers who illegally enter the zone and can take you to a place where your wishes can come true. No other movie ever made is quite like it. It is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen.”
Next up is The 10th Victim, a futuristic Marcello Mastroianni movie about a deadly televised game called The Big Hunt which becomes a replacement for all conflict on Earth, but at what cost? “An Italian film made in the ’60s but way ahead of its time,” he says. “It’s a satirical comedy, absolutely brilliantly made, filled with cool futuristic Italian design and it’s really funny. I cannot recommend it enough.”
Third is the animated La Planète Sauvage. “It takes place on a planet where humans are pets for a race of large aliens. It’s a kind of a Spartacus story against the aliens. Totally outrageous and very, very ’70s.”
Alien: Covenant is the second instalment in the “Alien” prequel series and the sixth film in the franchise overall. Its director Ridley Scott’s follow-up to his 2012 film “Prometheus,” and the origin story for one of the most fearsome alien species ever, the Xenomorph.
Led by the pious first mate Christopher Oram (Billy Crudup), the colony ship Covenant hurtles trough space to planet Origae-6, an Eden that offers a chance at a new life in the first large scale colonization mission.
Laden with crew—including android Walter (Michael Fassbender), terraforming expert Daniels (Katherine Waterston), biologist Karine (Carmen Ejogo) and crewman Tennessee (Danny McBride)—2000 settlers and 1000 embryos, the spaceship is damaged by an energy surge. During repairs they intercept a mysterious radio transmission from a nearby planet that suggests better living conditions may be just around the corner. Abandoning their original course, an exploratory crew is sent down. On the ground they discover breathable air, wheat, the only survivor of the ill-fated Prometheus mission, an android named David (Fassbender again) but Daniels is concerned. “Do you hear that?” she says. “There’s nothing. No birds, no animals. Nothing. What happened here?” Of course there is life on the planet, life in the form of nasty face-hugging, chest-bursting aliens.
All great sci-fi has to have a bedrock of strong ideas but this is an “Alien” movie, can’t we have a better balance between ideas and action? Scott kicks things off, appropriately enough (given the movie’s plot) with Richard Wagner’s “Entering of the Gods into Valhalla,” a stirring number that thematically sets up the story of Xenomorphs and a search for a new promised land. There is talk of creation—Where do we come from? We can’t be random molecules thrown together by chance—how humans may have already blown their one and only shot at existence (“Why give them a second chance?”), android love and whether it is better to serve in heaven or reign in hell.
Grand ideas one and all and each seems to take on more import as they are filtered through Scott’s dark and dreary atmospherics. It’s moody, with a growing sense of what is to come, but it takes almost an hour for the first alien to burst (in rather bloody spectacular fashion) onto the screen. In that time there are loads of cool images, Scott is genetically wired to make great looking movies—witness the beautiful and delicate way the alien spores are dispatched—but the film is at its best when the slimy Xenomorphs are involved which, unfortunately, isn’t enough of the time.
From the way the crew banters to the space intrigue to the chest bursting “Alien: Covenant” feels more like a throwback to the original films than to “Prometheus.” There’s more dark humour–“How do you know you’re infected?” “You’d know by now.”—and when Scott revs up the action there are some truly horrifying moments, but because much of the crew are the equivalent of “Star Trek” redshirts the alien kills don’t have much emotional impact.
“Alien: Covenant” is well made, although Scott over shoots the climatic cat-and-mouse-game, but feels perfunctory in the scheme of things. It tries to freshen up the formula—no spoilers here but the Xenomorphs aren’t the only villains—but despite the injection of a good dose of philosophy is still essentially a “run away from the monster!!!” movie we’ve seen before and better.
Idris Elba is a busy man. He’s released seven movies this year and has several more on tap for 2017. He’s on track to join Dwayne Johnson, Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio as one of the world’s highest earning actors after turns in the mega-grossing The Jungle Book, Finding Dory and Zootopia.
If you don’t know the name you haven’t been paying attention. Rev up Netflix and check out his work on TV shows like The Wire or Luther and movies like RocknRolla or Beasts of No Nation and become a fan. You should know he was once voted one of People magazine’s 100 Most Beautiful People in the World and more than one twitter friend of mine refers to him as a “pretend boyfriend.”
Not only busy but good looking as well! I was pleased to be granted a fifteen-minute phone interview to discuss his debut in the Star Trek franchise as Krall, a hostile alien who causes trouble for Kirk, Spock and company in Star Trek Beyond.
I don’t usually write questions but I thought I might ask him if he watched Star Trek as a child. Would he consider himself a Trekker? Did he have a favourite Star Trek character growing up? Did he wonder what Star Trek fans would think of the predatory new character? Are there parallels between the film—and his character—and our world today? Has he considered what being part of the legacy of the show means?
If there was time at the end I might even follow up on the rumours and ask if he even wants to play James Bond.
Then the first call came in. “Idris is running behind.” Cool. This happens all the time on press days. Then another call and another and another. My phone hasn’t gotten this kind of workout since a Nigerian Prince called over and over to solicit my assistance in moving his fortune to North America. Each time a publicist announced another delay with the assurance the interview would still happen. As the time wore on the actual length of my interview began to tumble downhill from fifteen minutes down to seven.
In all two hours passed from my scheduled start time until my phone rang for real.
“Hi Richard, I’ll connect you with Idris,” said the perky voice on the other end of the line.
A minute passed before Elba’s familiar husky London accent filled my ear. Hallelujah! Better late than never. We talk over one another. “Hello… HELLO… Can you hear me?” It’s a bad cell phone connection. It sounds as if we’re talking through two tin cans connected by strings but I’ll take it.
I ask him about his childhood memories of Star Trek.
“It was a show me, my mum and my dad watched together,” he says. “They both liked it. It was a show that really took your imagination places. That’s my early memory of it. It was a really imaginative show that showed space travel in a way that was different, you know?”
It took him 23 seconds to speak the 50 words that told me his parents liked Star Trek. I mention this because as soon as he stopped talking and I started asking the next question I heard a strange beep beep sound followed by… nothing. The great void. No more husky voice. And like that, poof. He’s gone.
“Are you still there? I think we just lost him,” the eavesdropping publicist said. “Let me get him back for you. Just one second.”
I had visions of the actor walking around Fifth Avenue desperately yelling into his phone, “Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?” but in my heart I knew that wasn’t happening.
Minutes later she’s back. “I’m so sorry. We lost him. I know you only had a couple of minutes to speak with him…” actually it was twenty three seconds… “Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with him.”
My interview with Idris was over. Still born. Terminated before it even really began.
Was I mad? Not really. Frustrated? Yes. Not only had I wasted the afternoon waiting for Idris but now I didn’t have a story to file.
My friends on social media didn’t exactly see it my way. “What do you expect?” wrote one person. “He is the hottest man alive.” Another chose to look on the bright side. “That’s 45 seconds more Idris than the rest of us.” (I hadn’t yet timed the actual quote when hit facebook to vent.)
In the end it’s not a big deal. I’m choosing to look at the bright side. I didn’t get to chat with him but I do have a contender for the Guinness Book of World Records for Shortest (And Least Satisfying) Interview Ever.
Give the shirt off your back for Christmas… or at least a t-shirt from ubertorso.com. They have dozens of styles features logos inspired by movies like “Kill Bill Volume 1” (Hattori Hanzo Swords) and “Prometheus” (Weyland Corporation), and of course, “Django Unchained” (pictured).
Thematically “Prometheus” is about creation and destruction. As a piece of entertainment goes, however, I’m not sure Ridley Scott’s new space opera will create lasting memories. It won’t destroy the goodwill of the first couple of “Alien” films, but I don’t think it will add much to the legacy either. For me there is very little big bang in a movie that is reportedly about the most significant discovery in the history of mankind.
The basic storyline of “Alien” is in place in “Prometheus,” just don’t this movie a sequel or a prequel lest you annoy Sir. Ridley. A group of hapless space travellers go head to head with some intergalactic nasties who give hugging a bad name. But these face huggers aren’t the movie’s main draw. Led by Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green, the expedition into the farthest corners of the universe aims to prove a connection between ancient human civilizations and extraterrestrials. They discover a link to creation and religion that is more Book of Revelation than Genesis, however.
“Prometheus” doesn’t degrade the legacy of Scott or his beloved “Alien” but it doesn’t add much to the franchise either. It’s an expertly made, but clinical study of dread and wonder which, despite the two-and-a-half-year spaceship journey, never takes flight.
It’s a slow build. Scott allows the intensity to build throughout the two hour running time, leading up to a climax that is best described in
(mild spoiler) four words: Do it yourself caesarean! It’s a memorable scene, well orchestrated by Scott, but the movie peaks there, despite the half-hour that follows.
It’s a mix of heady ideas—which are revealed in the film’s first half—the odd action sequence and dialogue that sounds left over from a bad late seventies sci film. I expected a higher level of writing from a movie that is more about ideas than action.
Having said that, I loved Michael Fassbender’s automaton space butler David 8. He’s got many of the film’s best lines and if they ever need someone to play the lead in The Peter O’Toole Story, he’s the guy.
I know it is wrong to compare movies in the same way it’s a bad idea to compare your kids to one another, but Scott has made a movie that feels like something he’s done before, just not as well. I expected more. Perhaps “Alien” set the bar too high for the director to leap over.
SYNOPSIS: The basic storyline of “Alien” is in place in “Prometheus,” just don’t this movie a sequel or a prequel lest you annoy Sir. Ridley. A group of hapless space travellers go head to head with some intergalactic nasties who give hugging a bad name. But these face huggers aren’t the movie’s main draw. Led by Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green, the expedition into the farthest corners of the universe aims to prove a connection between ancient human civilizations and extraterrestrials. They discover a link to creation and religion that is more Book of Revelation than Genesis, however.
Richard: 3 Stars
Chris: 4 Stars
Richard: Chris, thematically Prometheus is equally about creation and destruction. As a piece of entertainment goes, however, I’m not sure it will create lasting memories. It won’t destroy the goodwill of the first couple of Alien films, but I don’t think it will add much to the legacy either. For me there is very little big bang in a movie that is reportedly about the most significant discovery in the history of mankind. You?
Chris: I was blindsided. My expectations were low to none. I didn’t want Alien redux, I wanted something different and I got it. The visuals were so grandiose, the aesthetics so nightmarish and baroque that I was dazzled. Only when the pithy dialogue steered the ship did I reject it….but then something would ooze, a storm would rage and I was back in.And hey, it’s not 1979 anymore. We’ve seen it all and I’m pleased that Scott chose to dwell on dread rather than simple chest-bursting shock. But man…that dialogue! Yikes!
RC: It may not be 1979 anymore, but I agree, the dialogue sounds left over from a bad late seventies sci film. I expected a higher level of writing from a movie that is more about ideas than action. Having said that, I loved Michael Fassbender’s automaton space butler. He’s got many of the film’s best lines and if they ever need someone to play the lead in The Peter O’Toole Story, he’s the guy.
CA: Fassbender is fantastic, Rapace is scrappy…but for me, this was all about aesthetics. Then again, with Scott, it was always about aesthetics. Alien had no story, it found its power in dread, atmosphere and design. Blade Runner had no story, only a philosophy and a MacGuffin and again, exists as a testament to mood, music and architecture. With Prometheus, there are things in here that I havent seen or experience since…well, since Blade Runner, things I will never forget. And while there may be no chest-burster freak-outs, one word: Caesarean!
RC: (mild spoiler) Four words! Do it yourself caesarean! The movie’s slow build nicely leads up to that memorable scene, adding an element of horror to the heady mix of ideas but I expected more from Scott. Perhaps Alien set the bar too high for the director to leap over.
CA:I prefer to see it as Alien Vs. Predator draining the IQ of the franchise so that Peometheus appears like Potemkin by comparison. But in all seriousness, Prometheus gave me a massive sensory jolt. Great Scott, give me more!
Michael Fassbender plays David 8, a synthetic human automaton ancestor of Alien’s Ash, in the upcoming film Prometheus.
Prometheus, a prequel, or not a prequel? That is the question.
It’s a query many have made about the new Ridley Scott space opera. The trailer looks and feels like a chronological cousin to his 1979 classic sci-fi horror epic Alien but the director denies it is a prequel.
Here’s what we know. When Scott sat down to write Prometheus (with screenwriters Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, who calls it “an Alien/Blade Runner mash-up”) he had a prequel in mind featuring Xenomorphs, the acid-tongued space baddies who gave the first movie its name, and the giant dead alien nicknamed Space Jockey. But then he veered off into something larger; mankind’s origin story.
“Out of the creative process emerged a new, grand mythology,” he said. “The keen fan will recognize strands of Alien’s DNA … but the ideas tackled in this film are unique, far-reaching and provocative.”
Still, Prometheus, which is set in the same universe as Alien, seems to provide the backstory which points forward to the original film.
Firstly, Prometheus is set in 2085, 37 years before the Weyland-Yutani Corporation (which also appears in Prometheus, simply as The Weyland Corporation) sent the commercial towing spaceship Nostromo on its fateful trip from Thedus to Earth in Alien.
Next, while the Xenomorphs may not appear in the acid-spitting form we’re used to — “The sequels squeezed him dry,” Scott says, “no way am I going back there” — they aren’t completely absent. Artist H.R. Giger, who created the beasts in the first film, was brought back to “reverse-engineer the design of the Aliens in the film” to create a Xenomorph forbearer.
Also, Michael Fassbender plays David 8, a synthetic human automaton ancestor of Alien’s Ash.
Further evidence came in a trailer that shows star Noomi Rapace standing in front of two unworn Space Jockey suits, suits which will soon be donned, perhaps, by the hapless space jockey seen in Alien.
Finally Scott promises a scene to equal the horror of Alien’s “chest-burster” mindblower, in which an alien parasite exploded out of John Hurt’s torso. It’s an iconic moment that no prequel could be without, right?
“There is a scene that could be called the equivalent of that in this film,” Scott admits.
Even though the prequel debate rages on, the one thing nobody is questioning is how exciting it is to have Ridley Scott back in the sci-fi genre after a 33-year gap.