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Posts Tagged ‘J.J. Abrams’


I remember sitting in the movie theater when I was 13, watching the trailer: “In space no one can hear you scream.” What a line! I had to see that movie. A legendary series that saved the movie studio was born. Ripley was the heroine, a strong woman in a world of men fighting the perfect killing machine. But she wasn’t just fighting the Alien, she was fighting “the company” who mysteriously knew about this creature and wanted to use it for military purposes.

Though the first two movies were very different (Ridley Scott’s was a suspenseful horror film that slowly turned up the tension while James Cameron directed a non-stop action movie) but both were successful. The two that followed lacked a strong hand at the helm. The third, suffering from numerous re-writes and directorial changes. Its confusing vision resulted in the worst David Fincher movie every. One thing it did reveal was that the Alien borrowed some DNA from its host during incubation. The series, like the original Jurassic Park, struggled with the tendency to separate science from ethics. The pursuit of how or if blinded humanity to whether it should be done.

There was really no where for the franchise to go after Alien Resurrection, unless you wanted Earth to become extinct. Enter Ridley Scott and the decision to go back instead of forward.

He began with Prometheus whose main characters were Dr. Elizabeth Shaw and a synthetic named David. The rather convoluted story with a proto-Alien involves an alien race first seeding (panspermia) planets and then destroying the life they produced. Scott, who is reputed to be an atheist, avoids many who resist creation with this ridiculous premise. Dan Brown’s novel Deception Point floats the same theory. The problem is, where did the aliens come from? So you may explain life on Earth, but not LIFE. The movie ends with Shaw (another strong female lead) and David flying off in our “creators'” space ship with a payload of the virus intended to destroy life on Earth.

Alien: Covenant begins with Weyland and the newly created David prior to the trip on the Prometheus. David is nearly human, reflecting his creator in a reflection of Adam’s creation by God in His image. We see glimpses of David’s arrogance after he plays Wagner’s Entry of the Gods into Valhalla. He wants to throw off his creator’s shackles.

The location shifts to the future, post-Prometheus, on the ship Covenant. It is headed to a far off planet to colonize it. During a recharging stop, an accident occurs which wakes up the ship’s crew and loss of life including the captain. Most of the 200 colonists are safe in cyro-sleep. and the 1,000+ embryos are safe as well. We are introduced to the new captain (a Christian or person of similar faith) as well as the original captain’s surviving wife. The captain is dogmatic in his orders, fearing they, like the company, won’t respect a man of faith. If there is a mistake to be made, this man will make it over the course of the movie. The grieving widow? She is the strong female lead similar to Ripley and Shaw. There is a new synthetic, named Walter, who looks like David and is also played by Michael Fassbender. Improvements have been made we learn by depriving him of David’s creativity.

While outside the ship performing repairs one of the crew is outside the communications’ buffer and receives a transmission. They soon discover it is a human being singing Country Roads by John Denver. Tracking the transmission they discover a closer planet that seems even more suitable for human life. With a crew afraid of cyro-sleep the captain decides to investigate, and so the fun begins.

There are a number of twists and turns in the film as we discover the ship that once carried Shaw and David, and a new way to “catch” the alien virus. So there is some novelty in the midst of the familiar. Now stranded on the planet, they are rescued by David and slowly discover what David has been doing since being stranded on this planet. Like man, he is a creation turned destructive seeking to destroy his creator. Apparently everyone hates humans in Scott’s universe. We discover that David has turned the virus which produced proto-aliens into the form of alien we see in the original films. We also see the Captain who fails to destroy David after his collusion with one of the proto-aliens, fall for the trap David sets for him so the alien we are all familiar with finally appears.

The movie has a shocking ending after Daniels and and Tennessee kill an alien that inexplicably shows up on the Covenant. The movie ends as it began, with Wagner’s piece playing. The gods have entered Valhalla to continue the quest to destroy humanity.

I thought is was a good movie with enough new material that it was not stale and predictable. It also had enough similarities that it felt like an Alien film rather than a generic science fiction thriller. Ridley Scott had to walk a tightrope similar to that of J.J. Abrams with the new Star Wars triology. It was not as good as the originals, but that is a high bar. It was certainly better than Alien III and Alien Resurrection (not difficult). Rather than being built around Ripley (Signorney Weaver) this series of movies is built about Michael Fassbender even though they have a different strong female lead in each film. It is not as confusing as Prometheus and more enjoyable.

 

 

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I am not an official Trekkie.  I saw most of the movies with the original cast, but preferred the Next Generation show to the original show.  What I did appreciate was the bond of friendship that existed between Kirk, Spock and Bones.  This became more prominent in the movies.  Those movies were better than the Next Generation movies.  A bit odd, isn’t it?

I was excited to see a reboot to the Star Trek series (rather then delving into the continuing to deteriorate TV series).  That J.J. Abrams was tabbed to direct was a good move in my book.  But the question was how to reboot a series like Star Trek?

J.J. Abrams and the screenwriters came up with a great idea- an alternative universe with all the same characters, but one in which not all will be as it was.

Eric Bana plays the “best”villain since Khan.  He is one ticked off Romulon miner who seeks to gain talonic justice (he thinks) against Spock. In some ways I wonder if he’s meant to represent a Muslim who becomes radicalized after his people are attacked.  Just a thought since this is how some people think this has played out in the Middle East.

This sets the stage for the backstory of how the crew of the Enterprise comes together for future adventures.  Slowly the various characters meet one another to fill out the crew.  The last is Scotty, who adds quite a bit of comic relief.  Chekof’s attempts to master English is funny too.

But Kirk starts off by alienating Spock.  Apparently it was Spock who programmed the “no-win scenario” that Kirk beats.  What they have done is tap into the Star Trek lore and came up with details about those events in the characters’ histories.  This should add to the fun for those who have followed these characters.  One of the more interesting details was the sub-plot of how Kirk supplanted Capt. Pike as Captain of the Enterprise.  Pike was the Captain in the pilot, and then disappeared (surfacing in a later episode).

But it is not all fun and games.  There is a villain to be vanquished.  Kirk and Spock chase him across the universe before he can complete his revenge by destroying Earth.  In so doing, he tries to use the technology of the Federation, the Vulcans to be precise, against it.  Huh?  Again parallels to events in the Middle East over the last few decades come to mind.  In the process they must learn to trust each other, and not give in to their own desire for vengeance against Nero for the pain he has inflicted on their families.

During the opening sequence, and must of the movie, actually, something Jesus said kept coming to mind: “a man has no greater love than  this, to lay down his life for his friends.”  This is a theme that seems prominent.

There was much to like about this movie, and I really enjoyed it- despite not being  wild about all the casting choices, and some questionable acting performances.  Still, much better than any of the Next Generation movies, and most of the original movies.  This could be a very promising series of films.

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