Watched – 27 May 2017

For the past few weeks I’ve been working through the Alien series as prep to Alien: Covenant. I’ve left my thoughts on the film a few places, and this week’s Movie Dudes, which I’m in the process of editing, spent a good chunk of time talking about it, but I’ll drop some more down below. And since I enjoyed that series rewatch so much, I decided to do another.

On to this week’s viewings.

Alien: Covenant – 3*

With the exception of Star Wars, few film franchises are as near and dear to my heart as Alien. Alien was my first horror film and it as one of the major reasons I have become a lifelong fan of the genre. I really liked Prometheus and while I get why Alien fans were disappointed in it, I felt that it expanded the universe in interesting ways and left me pondering some fascinating questions. Because of this Alien: Covenant became one of my most anticipated films behind only the new Star Wars films. So, it pains me a little to say this but, I left Covenant very disappointed.

Covenant is two different things spliced into one movie. Where Prometheus was just a cool sci-fi film set inside the world of Alien but not necessarily an Alien film, Covenant is very much an Alien film. But Covenant is also a sequel to Prometheus. The film brings back David (Michael Fassbender) and despite feints early on, this is a film just as much about his view of creation as it is a horror film with a cool Xenomorph (Protomorph?). I like David as a character and Fassbender is great in dual roles here but instead of answering the questions left by Prometheus, Covenant makes David into a Doctor Moreaish character and answers questions nobody (me) was asking.

Covenant is a violent and gory, beautiful looking Alien film. It has a wonderful female lead in Katherine Waterston and her portrayal of Daniels makes for another worthy entry next to Ripley and Shaw. But it is also a crappy sequel that is going in a direction I don’t necessarily care for.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl – 5*

Pure adventure films seem really hard to come by anymore. Fortunately the first Pirates of the Caribbean film holds up amazingly well. It is fun and smart, with great performances on great characters and visuals that still look great. Say what you will about the sequels, and I will say somethings, but this first film in the franchise is a masterpiece in adventure film making.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – 3*

Want to know how to take a great film, make it bloated and at the same time suck all the life out of it? Look no further than Dead Man’s Chest. This sequel is overlong, less charming, and less fun than the original by super large swaths of space. The only thing saving this from the discard pile are the performances of everyone not named Johnny Depp (he’s fine but Jack is also at his most narcissistic and unlikable here) and the handful of exciting set pieces. Oh and Jack dies, so that is kind of cool.

The Windmill – 3*

Continuing my weekly Wednesday horror foray, this week I watched The Windmill. Alternately called The Windmill Massacre, this film set in the Netherlands centers around a Dutch myth that basically amounts to, the Devil has sent Death to collect the souls of people that have committed horrid sins and it all centers around a Windmill on a tour of historic Dutch Windmills. Death here is a Jason Vorhees looking, scythe wielding creeper. The story is pretty simple but with strong performances for the genre, the kills are mixed levels of quality and have a special feel to them as they center around the sins that the victim committed, and the ending is a bit surprising. All in all, it is a fun time, if nothing super special.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – 4*

So Dead Man’s Chest was a bloated mess of mediocrity. At first glance one might assume At World’s End is equally as bloated because it clocks in at nearly three hours. But it’s not anywhere near as bloated or as messy as its predecessor. In fact At World’s End is kind of an awesome, if super long, pirate film. The first half of this film is super trippy as the crew heads to the underworld to find Jack and the second half is mostly a beautiful naval battle with some lighthearted swashbuckling and some heavy bits thrown in for good measure. It’s kind of awesome.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – 4*

On Stranger Tides, which has a horrid Rotten Tomatoes score, is my second favorite in the film. Shedding the bloat of the Davy Jones storyline in favor of a more direct adventure to find the Fountain of Youth, this one is the most like the original. And it has mermaids and Ian McShane as Blackbeard. It too is kind of awesome.

So, that is what I’ve been watching this week. I’ll be catching Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in theaters and maybe Baywatch as well. Let me know if you’d like me to watch something and more importantly what you thought about some of these if you’ve seen them.

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4 thoughts on “Watched – 27 May 2017

  1. So my thought on this Covenant was the nod to H.R. Geiger, the creator of the alien aesthetic (and other insanely intricate art with people and machines doing some “weird stuff” together). In a sense, Geiger is like the real life David, who experimented with art in a twisted way, that well, gave birth to the idea of a xenomorphs. I have no idea about Geiger’s personality or anything, so I can’t say for sure if it’s just a nod or a hidden character analysis embedded in the film that reaches at bringing the whole of the series together. At least the film reached for something, that’s what I say, and I enjoyed it 🙂

    1. I’d agree with that and as a tribute to Giger, it works wonderfully but I’m not sure that is where Scott was intending to go with it. A lot of Covenant seems reactionary to the criticisms of Prometheus that it wasn’t Alien enough. It just feels hedged, like I want to do this one thing but you all want it to be this other thing so I’m going to split the difference. I certainly don’t think it is bad just disappointing for me right now. I may come around on it more in the future.

      1. You’re right, it does seem really reactionary in this sense, like its a clean-up of the mess that Prometheus made. It’s a beloved series and it’s hard to get it right, I imagine. Rather than trying to clean stuff up, something truly unique could have been done, perhaps. I like how Rogue-One did something different in the franchise. It’s felt like a return to form and fresh at the same time. This didn’t really feel that way.

  2. I always felt Dead Man’s Chest was sort of a bridge movie, as in a bridge between the first and the second. When I thought POTC was going to be a trilogy, I put it into the second camp of those. I’ve found that trilogies either go really compelling introduction, explosive/action packed second, and denouement third for the first type and compelling intro, bridge, action packed conclusion. So it’s kind of more of duology than a trilogy (Dragon Age kind of falls into this camp), but since they’ve continued to make Pirates movies, I can’t use that as an excuse. I haven’t seen the 5th movie yet!

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