Sunday Movie Roundup (5/28/2017)

Chew on these.

Alien:  Covenant (2017)

Director:  Ridley Scott

Saw this today at the local theater.  All in all, this is worth seeing if you’re a fan of the franchise.  A nice recovery from the last one, the extremely disappointing Prometheus (2012).  Ridley Scott has finally taken the helm and delivered some retro Alien thrills that resonate.   This in fact feels like a return to the very first Alien movie of 1979:  a ship in deep space answering an unspecified beacon from an unknown planet, an evil “artificial person” doing evil things, and the expected moments of terror and trauma.  The plot:  the crew of the colonist ship Covenant thinks they’ve found paradise on a remote world.  It seems to be deserted except for a too-calm-for-comfort synthetic human (Michael Fassbender) who claims he wants to help them.  Too late does the crew realize that there is more going on than meets the eye.  A lot more.

There is a whole cottage industry devoted to discussing the convoluted backstory of the Alien franchise, with Engineers, evil androids, Weyland Corp., and the like.  I won’t attempt any of that here.  If you really care, look up the backstory on YouTube.  For me, I don’t care enough to go into it in that much detail; I prefer just to enjoy it for its visual spectacle, and as an exercise in horror.

Special effects have come a long way in the last ten years, and it really shows here.  But Alien:  Covenant doesn’t just rely on effects:  the story is engaging and coherent, and there is at least some attempt to develop the personalities of the characters.   The film is not as good as the first two Alien movies (of course) but the directing is first-rate, and director Scott gives us a real house of horrors to mull over.  I’m still a bit uncertain what precisely the android’s role in all this is, but I suppose that only adds to the sense of dread.


Eden (2014)

Director:  Shyam Madiraju

A weak ripoff of Lord of the Flies for the millennial generation.  The plot:  a soccer team crash lands on some Pacific island somewhere.  Despite living for days on little food and water, they look like muscled Olympic athletes with well-kept hair.  There are a few attractive women on the island, too, and they have a few sexual encounters with the other castaways, amid sand and buzzing flies.  They yell at each other and throw coconuts at each other for a while.  Then they realize that their food and water supplies are being depleted.  This triggers a schism in the group and the two sides battle it out to see who will survive.  Whatever.

The action scenes are badly staged, the dialogue is insipid, and the acting feels more like something you’d find in a TV drama.  If you like clichés, you will love this film.


I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore (2017)

Director:  Macon Blair

This one straddles the boundary between drama and comedy; I’m still not sure whether I liked it.  The plot:  a lonely, marginalized woman is living a lonely, marginalized life somewhere.  Her house is broken into by an intruder and some of her belongings are stolen.  Somehow she enlists the help of a dorkish neighbor (well-played by Elijah Wood) to track down the stolen property once she realizes that the police don’t give a shit about her predicament.  This quest brings the dynamic duo into contact with some strange and violent characters.

Not really sure what to make of this oddball film.  It was entertaining enough for me not to turn it off, but I don’t know if I would call it a good movie.  It seems to be trying too hard to be a cult film:  and this is a problem.  A movie can’t try to be a cult movie; it just has to become one on its own.  The graphic violence at the end of the film seems disproportionate when compared to the mood created in the first half, and this seriously unbalances the film.  But there are some good scenes and some decent acting, so I’m going to recommend this one, if only because Elijah Wood saves it.