Get Off My Face! – Alien: Covenant

10 08 2017

Out in deep space, the ship Covenant is on its way to a distant planet on a colonization mission. After a tragic accident takes place, the crew of the ship discover a planet much closer by which appears to be an untapped paradise with more potential than the planet they are heading for. Upon landing on the planet’s surface however, they realize something odd about this new world, and that more importantly, they’re not alone!

Confession: I have not seen Alien. I have seen bits of it, from John Hurt looking at Eggs, to something strapped to his face and the attempts to remove it (plus the deleted scene where one crew member is being turned into an egg; which sort of lowers the uncivilized level of everything else in the world of the Xenomorph). I have though seen other films in the Alien franchise; I have seen Aliens (as close to watching the whole thing without doing it in one sitting), tiny bits of Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection (in the same capacity as Aliens), Alien vs Predator, Alien vs Predator: Requiem (again much like Aliens) and Prometheus. In fact, Alien: Covenant is the first time I have seen an Alien film on the big screen that features the word Alien in the title. But this does not explain much as to why I have not seen the first film.

It’s not like I have not had a chance too or lack of it being on either. It’s the case that the bits I have seen are the result of it being on TV. There was also the opportunity to watch it at The Dukes in Lancaster too, but I turned it down. So why have I not seen it: because I am not really a fan of gross levels of horror. I am actually rather squeamish, this is particularly true anytime and every time I have walked into a hospital or needed an injection. When it comes to these films, I know what I need to be getting myself into with its Chestbursters and its Facehuggers, but part of me is not really looking forward to those bits. But now you must be thinking; OK, then why watch any of the films in the first place then? Simple answer, I can’t help myself: thing is, I am actually, although rather grossed out by it, very interested in the Alien creature. I am a big fan of Monster Movies as anyone who knows me will testify with an especial passion for Godzilla films. While my Monster movie love though is mainly tied to giant monsters, I am still very interested in the Alien. This mainly comes in the form of its biology and how it comes to life. In the week leading up to the release of Covenant, I spent quite a bit of my time in a philosophical head space as I thought about the creature and came to the conclusion that the Alien creature is actually a rather tragic creation; but that is a story for another time.

Released in 2017 by 20th Century Fox and Directed by Ridley Scott; Covenant is the latest film in the mythical series of Horror/Action films that began in 1979 with the release of Alien. Covenant looks backwards in time, as it looks to continue to tell the tale of the events leading up to the original film, as well as look into how the species was possibly created. The film acts as a direct sequel to Prometheus, but also looks to set up its own future and possibly lead into something bigger.

First thing I would say about this film is something rather obvious from the get go. While the series is technically more of a horror series of films, Covenant lends itself more to that of an action film. It does have its shocking moments that will make you launch a bit, but there is not really a lot in terms of big out of the dark surprises. It’s more like the film makers decided to go from the launch pad that as we know what the Alien is, there is less need to surprise people with what they already know. The film does contain its fair share of visually disgusting moments that we have come to expect from the series such as its facehuggers and chestbursters, but at the same time also weaves in some new little bits to keep some bits of the series fresh. This aside though, it’s content and pacing really does lend itself more to a mini action movie than a horror movie. It comes with chase scenes, tense moments, and events involving large vehicular instruments as well as gun totting characters with a trigger happy attitude when confronted with something that wants to kill them.

The film’s story is nicely brought together as it looks to less provide a ride for the ages and to introduce the series and its elements to a new group of fans with help from those of the past (sort of on a level similar to the release of Jurassic World). On that note though, you do begin to wonder how this film is helping its own series continuity, and how far back the film makers can go in both setting and technology without the events of these films unconvincingly surpass the films that they are meant to be leading up to. The story in itself does have some very interesting use of characters, although those that do stand out early on do feel rather wasted and you are left with one character whose introduction early on shows that he is just going to be un-sympathetic and rotten and thus do not care the slightest what happens to him, in some manner of form it’s actually rather pleasing. Those that remain do their best on their own as much as they can to continue to provide (though it’s hard to mention whom exactly as I don’t want to ruin who gets a feasting). Characters of note include Faris (Amy Seimetz), Karine (Carmen Ejogo), Rosenthal (Tess Haubrich), and Upworth (Callie Hernandez), however my particular mention goes out to the three main stars of this film in my opinion, those being Daniels (Katherine Waterston), Tennessee (Danny McBride) and the combination of David and Walter (Michael Fassbender).

The switcheroo between David and Walter is rather fun to watch as the two different forms of the same looking AI go head to head. On the one hand you have the now rather psychotic David and the more natural butler like machine of Walter. Walter is already a far more pleasing performance than David, but David really does carry that dark sinister sense, where as in Prometheus he is very much just a hindrance, now though he is fully on Badness. Daniels meanwhile is the sympathetic and strong second leader of the team, whose sole job is to make sure the mission is completed on time. Given a tragedy at the start of the film she feels broken, but then comes out strong and hopeful. While her scenes are actually rather enjoyable and strong, she does suffer from not being on-screen more often. She is on more often than other characters, but as the film reaches its central point she is sort of side-lined for a lecture of human philosophy between David and Walter. She comes back on strong and ends nicely that way too, but it’s still something of a miss. For me though the real attraction is Tennessee. This guy is just fantastic. Loyal and respectful, but always working hard to get things done. He shows real levels of passion in the middle stages of the film, and becomes a hard nut in the film’s ending. He is the character to root for the most as you really get attached to how nice but also how practical this character is, and from the beginning of the third act becomes the film’s lead, at least from an audience perspective.

The Xenomorphs meanwhile, although still pretty well done and cool, does suffer from a case of Missing Alien Syndrome. When Godzilla was released in 2014; there was a lot of press which highlighted that the film appeared to have very little of the title monster. Now while I did not necessarily agree with that, I would say however that such comments should definitely be directed this way. For a film that even has Alien in the title, there does appear to be a definitive lack of the Alien creatures. Now, while you could argue that in the same sense that this film is a potential new launch platform for the Alien series and it is of course important to introduce them correctly, there does appear to be large amounts of time between Alien’s being in the scene, and returning to the film. It feels like whole passages of time are passing by as we wait yet again for one to appear. It could be the case that the horror sense of what these films are meant to be is hiding their appearances, but seeing as on occasion, the scene breaks to a shot of the Alien approaching, then why is it taking so long for them to arrive? When they are actively in the scene, they do become the central focus yes; but when not in it, you begin to wonder why their name is even in the film title (maybe it should be called Human: Covenant instead)? Although: there is one big thing however that does sort of get in the way.

The film really likes to talk on the subject of life in a philosophical matter. Talking about life and death and the importance of life given to a species and whether or not they live to that potential. It is something to think on and the film really works hard to slot it in there, to get us thinking and does become the basis of some moments and decisions that characters get involved with. But this is a horror/action movie, not a scientific lecture. It’s good to see certain parts of this film and its series, important points in the creation aspect get covered, but if it’s slowing the films pace down is it worth it? This part, slotted in there really is the bug that is slicing its way through the film. You will have a moment where something is happening and going on, only to then cut to a classroom somewhere to receive a creation and zoology based lecture on creation and the meaning of life. It’s interesting yes, but is this really the time. I mean, here we are, stuck inside a building, fending ourselves off from something that wants to mercilessly shred us to bits, and you want to deliver a scientific lecture David?

The film of course does come packed with a host of visual and special effects but which frankly does not heavily rely on them. The SFX in this film are more on hand to cover and create things which cannot be done with what is available, doing them to a great level of detail, but also only producing what is needed for the film to work. The Alien effects still look pretty gross however, but in a sense are pretty more bearable in comparison to previous films in the series, once again allowing it to lean much closer to action films, not horror films. The scenes are ones that will horrify you still, however they have been done in a format that looks less like a heart transplant given by an unqualified butcher, and more like something is just spilling out of a skin coloured sofa. The shots of space craft and flying ships are pretty well done and cool too, with the Covenant ship looking a bit like the Pegasus front in Battlestar Galactica. These scenes sometimes do feel like a post off cut of Gravity, but these do not distract from the scenes in hand, and don’t want make you feel dizzy, so you can save those feelings for later. There is also a soundtrack but once again feels like it has fallen into that trap of not actually being needed for the most part. Like the SFX, it’s there when it’s needed, but several sections of this film don’t even have much in the way of music, your unlikely to spot it, other than the constant uses of the theme from Prometheus.

Despite some of its issues here and there, Covenant does not really have much in the way of issues that will make you leap out of your chair and want to tear the screen down in anger; except maybe for the film’s ending. Although it is a rather clichéd film practice which leads up to it, the end of the film creates an unbelievable shock that will leave you reeling. It make you think aloud, begging for there to be more, as it just does not seem right. It leaves you on a sinister twist that I think is very similar to the ending of Gone Girl. It is an unjustified twist that makes it feel like there is more to come, but you desire it now, because it just feels so wrong to end like that.

Altogether, Covenant is a very enjoyable film: it contains its core Alien values as well as a few shocks, but does lack surprises, but in the end does provide a rather sinister twist in a similar vein perhaps to an episode of The Outer Limits. It does have some character development flaws as early characters with promise are killed off, but does allow some good ones to live on, if only for a short time. The special effects are nicely made and blend into the film rather un-noticeably, as does the soundtrack. Alien: Covenant really is more of an action film than a horror film: yes, it will probably gross out some audiences and is definitely not one for everyone (especially those under a certain age), but there is a minimalist approach in its delivery however to provide an allowance for some to try it, without needing an instant throw-up break every now and then. On the whole though you are really getting your money’s worth and more with this one as it really does give the Alien series a bright looking future as well as provide thrills and Chestburster spills for this outing at least.

GENEPOOL (Does anyone else think this film’s plot contradicts that of AVP’s?).

Advertisements




Other Films Of Note Due For Release In 2017

22 02 2017

the-last-jedi (Lucasfilm - 2017)

As you may know (or not know if this is the first time you have visited, in which case “Hello”), whenever a new year rolls around I like to celebrate my favourite movies of the previous year, and also look ahead into the coming year to see which films are taking my eye. I do this by doing some Top 5/Top 10 posts and choose a selection of which films I am most looking forward to. Sometimes though it can be the case that some films which I also like the look of don’t get much of a mention. This can be particularly sad if those said films turn out to be better than the ones I was looking forward too, and even more if I find out about them later on. Anyway, with a lack of decision-making in terms of posts to write about at the moment, I thought I would do a separate post, highlighting films due out this year that I am also currently looking into.

the-great-wall (Universal Pictures - 2017)

One thing I am going to do though is not rank them. These films look interesting, but at current details are still small in my mind and I don’t want to rank them based on very few details. Instead, I have ordered them by which ones I wrote down first to last when looking them up on Wikipedia (and moved one around for the benefit of the post). So this is more of a general post than a ranked post allowing each one to state their case more equally than based on favoritism. The other rule I have done is; that I think it would be a little unfair to name films that have already been released (at least according to my knowledge), as they may no longer be out and it’s a bit late to mention them (for which I apologize). Anyway, I hope you enjoy this post (I’ll try to be as brief as I can be) and maybe also gain some more insight into this year’s set of movie releases.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Warner Bros. - 2017)

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – Directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law and Eric Bana; Legend of the Sword follows a young Arthur on his journey to becoming the great King of Legend. Do you remember when back in the summer of 2009 a trailer was released for a Sherlock Holmes film starring Robert Downey Jr? I do quite fondly. It was an interesting idea seeing the American actor of Iron Man playing a role that was quintessentially British; either way it worked out really well. Sherlock Holmes was a terrific film and still stands today as a terrific film. While we wait in the wings to see if a third film gets made, it’s good to see that Guy Ritchie has been at work taking another quintessentially British character on a road leading to another big budget movie. This is of course not the first time that King Arthur has had his time on the big screen, but it has been a while. It’s interesting to see the perspective Ritchie has chosen for this film. Upon looking at the trailer, it goes more down the route of fantasy than historical, but also it appears to carry the traits of Ritchie’s earlier works in British gangster and heist movies, with Arthur being something of a rogue before ascertaining his royal lineage. It’s an interesting looking film so far with some great differences in perspectives and is shaping up nicely to become one of 2017’s biggest epics.

Alien: Covenant (20th Century Fox)

Alien: Covenant – Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Michael Fassbender; Covenant tells the tale of a colony ship which lands on a remote planet, where they discover a lone android and a race of monstrous creatures. Do you remember (again) when Ridley Scott announced plans to make a prequel film to his science fiction classic Alien? It was pretty exciting news, but the more details that were released before and upon release suggested that it was not exactly the prequel we thought it was, rather a film set some time before Alien and featuring a different mythology (I quite enjoyed it). Yes, while technically meant to be a sequel to Prometheus, Scott has decided that instead of taking a proposed long route round, it might be better just drop some Aliens on a planet and let the feast begin. From first looks, it does look pretty much like most Alien films released to date, but the setting looks a lot nicer being on an earth planet like surface with some foliage instead of an inhospitable wasteland made up entirely of rocks and craters. Popular elements of previous Alien films look set to return, but hopefully it won’t entirely involve the same old plot of someone wanting to keep the creatures alive for the sake of financial gain. From the looks of the trailer it’s looking like a nice combination of action meets real horror and it’s going to be fun to see where this one leads us next (maybe even allowing Neill Blomkamp to have a go).

Despicable Me 3 (Universal Pictures - 2017)

Despicable Me 3 – Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, and starring Steve Carrell and Kristen Wiig; Despicable Me 3 continues the tale of former evil genius Gru now set on his new path as a secret spy trying to bring down a former child star who is obsessed with the 80’s. When the first Despicable Me was released, I was not all that interested, but upon seeing it, I really enjoyed it and was excited to see more. Since then the Minion characters have become stars in their own sense (even though their standalone movie was pretty pants), but have stayed loyal to the series that made them stars. Given the way the story was told for the part of the small girls, with Margo having main light in the first film, and Agnes in 2, it would be nice to see Edith get her turn in this film maybe. Either way, given what the series has delivered so far, hopes are high as Despicable Me returns for a third outing later this year.

lego-ninjago-movie (Warner Bros. - 2017)

The Lego Ninjago Movie – Directed by Charlie Bean and starring Dave Franco and Jackie Chan; The Lego Ninjago Movie sees a group of teenagers hired by an old master to become Ninja Heroes and use spectacular vehicles to protect their home from an old warlord who desires revenge. In honesty I don’t know all that much about this Lego product, I have heard about it and have seen board games of it, but due to my lack of knowledge have not really looked into it. Then when I went to see The Lego Batman Movie last week and saw a trailer for Ninjago, I was mightily impressed. It looked like a good fun animated action film with some level of plot based comedy such as the hero son and villainous father (but not in a way that made me think of Star Wars Episode V, VI; and probably VIII); one thing though that I could not help but think was how similar this looked to Power Rangers.

ID1

Geostorm – Directed by Dean Devlin and starring Gerard Butler; Geostorm is about a man who goes into space to try and prevent climate controlling satellites from creating a mega storm, while back on earth; everything is not so rosy. Currently details are rather sketchy with this one, but I do have a major reason to be excited about this one. You see, this is the feature directing debut of Dean Devlin. While that name may not stand out for many people, Devlin does have over 20 years’ experience producing several major titles as a producer; with films to his name including Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla (1998), The Patriot and Independence Day: Resurgence. OK, yes he has worked a lot with Roland Emmerich, but given what this film currently looks like, and the projects he has worked on over the last 20 years, I think it’s going to be interesting to see how this film translates, and what kind of Director he becomes in the process.

wonder (R.J. Palacio - 2012)

Wonder – Directed by Stephen Chbosky and starring Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts; Wonder follows the story of a young boy born with a facial deformity who tries to fit in at a new school, and in the process teaches others around him that beauty is not constrained to the outside. When I was studying Creative Writing at the University of Central Lancashire, I did a module on Writing for Children, a module I still consider the best and most fun module I studied. During this module, one thing we did as a class was read the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio of which this film is based on. It was a very interesting book (which I managed to complete in one sitting) which really did show what it was like for someone to live with a facial deformity and how it impacted the lives of others around them. Upon hearing about this film earlier this year, my interest was immediately grabbed. It’s a very thought-provoking book and if the film does the same thing it could be an interesting film. One thing that grabbed my attention was the choice of Owen Wilson. Now given that I have not seen him much in a non-comedic role, my thoughts began to wander as to what this film turns out to be like. As I have not seen him in a non-comedic role it would be interesting to see how it turns out, but my one hope is that this film does not accidentally become a comedy for some audiences. One of the real beautiful things about the book is that even though you know the character of Auggie has this deformity, the book is respectful not to describe it, nor have other characters do the same; more just suggest it, keeping a level of respect for those who do. Having seen images of the film, it’s hard to really see how they are going to do it, but given that it appears to be in the third person, it does bring a level of worry and caution that needs to be respected throughout, as in my belief, this film should really be seen from the eyes of Auggie when he is in the scene, keeping that respect and magic from the book into the film, because in the third person I don’t know how respectful some audiences are going to be towards that character.

10-cloverfield-lane (Paramount Pictures - 2016)

God Particle – Directed by Julius Onah and starring Daniel Brühl; God Particle is about a group of Astronauts aboard a space station  who must fight for their survival after the Earth disappears, and a space shuttle appears. Yes, it does sound like Alien, and normally films like these don’t grab my attention, but this one does as it’s a part of the now finally running Cloverfield Franchise. While not a sequel to the wonderful 10 Cloverfield Lane or the first Cloverfield, a spin-off still gets me excited. Details are a bit low right now but one positive is that series creator J.J. Abrams is actively producing it. While it does sound a lot like the original Alien, given what the this franchise has delivered so far, I think it deserves the benefit of the doubt on this one and the allowance to speak for itself.

colossal (Voltage Pictures - 2017)

Colossal – Directed by Nacho Vigalondo and starring Anne Hathaway; Colossal focuses on a young woman who upon losing her job moves back to her hometown. Weirdly however she appears to be very connected with a Giant Monster (or Kaiju) currently in the process of attacking Seoul. This is a pretty recent discovery for me, which is strange given my love for Monster Movies. The trailer looks pretty good and the film is already set to be quite an interesting science fiction as well as a potentially laugh out loud comedy. It has some traits of Godzilla 2014 in its visual effects while also carrying elements of an inspired mix of both The Host and Cloverfield in its look and ideas. I don’t really have an idea of what this going to be like on the whole, but from what I sort of know and have seen so far, I am pretty, if only minorly, excited by this.

GENEPOOL (If there is anything else not mentioned here that you are looking forward to, please let me know).





Don’t Let The Big Bugs Bite – Mimic

30 12 2015

Mimic (Miramax - 1997)

Imagine the scene, there is a terrifying new disease-spreading throughout your home town, killing lots and lots of people…and there is no cure. What do you do? You could hang around and wait for a miracle cure, or you could find a way to stop the disease from spreading/catching further. It’s an interesting plan, and wouldn’t you believe it, it’s possible – just so as long you are sure it won’t come back to eat you in 3 years’ time.

M5

Released in 1997 by Miramax and Directed by Guillermo Del Toro, Mimic is a Science Fiction Horror Film based on the short story of the same name written by Donald A. Wollheim. Mimic deals with the subject of genetic construction and tampering in a similar theme and style to the written works of Michael Crichton, particularly his book and later film Jurassic Park. This time however it’s for the creation of a new species of bug, which then quite literally bites back when it goes out of control.

M1

In Manhattan, a deadly disease known as Strickler’s disease has struck, claiming the lives of hundreds of children. The disease has no cure, nor a vaccination; however what people do know is that it’s being carried by the common cockroach. To this end, Entomologist Dr. Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) is brought in by the C.D.C. to create a new species of insect (a cross between Termite and Praying Mantis DNA) which she and her husband Dr. Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam) call the Judas Breed. The insects are successful in killing off the Cockroach population, and with it Strickler’s disease. The Judas Breed meanwhile was designed to be unable to live and breed outside the lab for no more than 6 months, and so would die after 1 generation. Three years later, a reverend is chased and dragged underground by a mysterious assailant; the only person to witness it however is a possibly autistic boy called Chuy (Alexander Goodwin) who notices the strange sound the assailant makes, naming him Mr. Funny Shoes (Doug Jones, Bill Lasovich and Roger Clown). The following morning, the church building is cordoned off by C.D.C. agent Josh (Josh Brolin); who notices excrement hanging off the ceiling, inside of which has some buttons.

M8

Susan, now working at a natural history museum with her assistant Remy (Alix Koromzay), buys some bugs off kids Ricky (James Costa) and Davis (Javon Barnwell). One of the bugs in question is rather big and looks rather weird. Upon closer inspection, Susan begins to realize that the bug is a member of The Judas Breed and is also a baby. But before she can find out more, her office is attacked by an assailant, who only appears to take the bug specimen with him. Susan explains this to her Husband, and with Remy and the kids in tow, they try to get another specimen from a subway locker, but are stopped by Subway cop Leonard (Charles S. Dutton), who demands to see a Permit. Meanwhile, with some information from Susan, and the hope of making quick money, Ricky and Davis journey through the Underground and find an Egg sack, but before they can do anything, both kids are killed by a strange creature. In the subway meanwhile, Susan meets Chuy who is with his guardian Manny (Giancarlo Giannini). That night Chuy hears Mr. Funny Shoes inside the church, and goes looking for him, while Remy and Susan go to a water treatment plant where a large bug, is discovered. Susan’s boss Dr. Gates (F. Murray Abraham) examines the creature and summarizes that the bug is a soldier and part of a colony.

M6

Manny discovers that Chuy has disappeared, and goes underground to look for him after spotting some clues as to where he might have gone. Upon getting a permit to look in the subway locker, Leonard, Peter and Josh head underground to find another specimen, and find traces of more hanging excrement. Susan meanwhile waits outside in the station, looking through some photographs. In the station though, is one of the assailant figures, who transforms into a large man-sized bug, which then takes her deeper underground. Peter and Leonard fall into an old subway station, and Josh runs off to find help, but is then killed by a large creature. Susan meanwhile comes to, and tries to call for help from the city above, but nobody listens. One of the large insects does however, and comes after her. She is eventually rescued by Manny, who after finding Leonard and Peter asks them for help. They take refuge inside an old Coney Island subway car, but Leonard gets injured by an insect that manages to get inside. Upon killing it; Susan explains that by increasing their metabolism, The Judas Breed were able to both reproduce and mutate very fast, despite being unable to biologically reproduce at all. To this end, the creatures have begun to evolve, and Mimic their main predator: Man. At that moment, the car is swarmed by big insects, smelling the blood coming out of Leonard’s Leg. Using the dead one’s smell glands, Susan coats the windows in the smell of the dead creature insides, causing the other to flee, making the insects think the train is one of them. With the insects gone, the group formulates a plan to move the car down the tracks to a possible escape. Peter is sent to get the power back up, while Manny is sent to switch the tracks.

M4

Inside the car, Susan believes the Mimic Insects could spread out of the subway system and colonise anywhere they choose. She describes to Leonard that one way of preventing them from doing this would be to find and kill the colony Male, who will be the only one capable of allowing the Judas Breed to reproduce. While out to switch the tracks, Manny finds Chuy but is killed by one of the insects. Peter manages to get the power back on, and finds Chuy, and Susan, who left the car to look for Manny. They are however cornered by a group of Mimic Insects. Knowing he hasn’t got much time left, Leonard uses the smell of his bleeding leg to distract the insects long enough for Susan and Chuy to hop into a dumb-waiter and escape. Peter then sets off to find a way to stop the creatures while they are still down there. He gets chased into a room which turns out to be a colony nest. Using a pickaxe, he quickly releases gas into the room, hoping to use Manny’s lighter to set it alight, but the lighter has stopped working. With next to no time left, he uses the axe to cause a spark on some railings, causing the room to catch fire, killing all the bugs, and sending a fireball throughout the immediate subway area. Escaping from the Fireball, Susan goes to look for Chuy, but runs into the male Bug. Using her own blood to attract it, she has it chase her; just ducking out of the way from an oncoming Subway train, crushing the Male Mimic. On the surface, the area is in Anarchy after the subway fireball. Dr. Gates explains to Susan that after combing the area twice; ensures her that nothing could have survived. Peter meanwhile had a lucky escape diving into a pool of water, and is reunited with both Susan and Chuy on the surface.

If you look through the filmography of director Guillermo Del Toro, particularly at the films he has directed; many films immediately come to my mind and are at the forefront of his directing career. Films of course like Pan’s Labyrinth, the Hellboy films, Blade II, Pacific Rim, as well as a host of films directed in his native Mexico (that I have not yet seen). On this list however you will also find MIMIC. Back when Pacific Rim was due for release, I remember reading inside VUE Cinema’s prevue magazine a piece about Del Toro and his output, and MIMIC stands out in his filmography, but the main reason for this is due to the film not making back its budget, and when compared to the success of his later films; MIMIC is held as being something like a Black Sheep in his career output. I don’t think that kind of statement is very fair however; because I think MIMIC is very good. It’s is Tremendously Terrifying. I have known about this film for years after seeing the beginning once back in between 2005 and 2008 and after finding out what it was have kept on eye on it since, but recently it was the first time I had watched it all the way through. It carries a lot of frights and scares throughout, while also maintaining a level of creepiness, because bugs are creepy, plus the science fiction story genre element works and is explained well. It’s not like 1950 American Monster Movie explanations where it is done rather quickly; MIMIC instead explains it bit by bit by the relevance of it as the characters begin to explore it. The science fiction side also makes a nice break/change from most monster horror fiction too as it goes into talk about the need for the bug species, but then how while science in the lab can be controlled, the real world can’t. The idea of this film being like a Michael Crichton novel was actually something my Lecturer suggested (who as far as I am aware has not seen it, but suggested such when I mentioned it), and when you look into it sort of does. The mention towards Jurassic Park is very apt I feel, as both stories talk about the new future for science, but in the real world, nature cannot be controlled so easily.

M9

I don’t know if you have watched The Strain or not (I can’t see why you wouldn’t have watched it, since the demise of Top Gear it is officially the best show on TV), but I find that in terms of the handling of its characters, Mimic has some rather similar similarities. The Strain is of course the TV Series adaptation of a book series written by Guillermo Del Toro himself about the release of a Vampire Virus. While Mimic has a similar feature in that sense, that is not what I am going to talk about right now. Mimic has an assortment of characters, all of them in varying different ways of life, the kind of people you wouldn’t necessarily think of associating with each other. Much like The Strain where you have some people who know and work on the Virus but then only to join up with others and create a rag-tag group of people which includes themselves, a pawn shop owner, an exterminator and a computer hacker. This sort of thing happens in Mimic also with characters ranging from an Entomologist, agents of the C.D.C., a subway cop, a shoe shiner, and his Autistic Ward suddenly converge on each other.

M10

Thankfully the major part of this cast is small so I am not going to get bogged down like the Independence Day review last week. Anyway; Mimic, sort of like Independence Day again, does work hard to incorporate and make good tertiary characters all the way through the film. So automatically within the first 10/15 minutes you get characters like Ricky and Davis who to begin with get a big role, but eventually, and something I feel of as a departure for the film, don’t survive and become early victims to the Mimic Bugs, but they’re not in the background, they are upfront, and so their death scene becomes a big moment for the film. Then you get characters like Josh, characters who meet the true meaning of supporting characters. He is the film’s light relief, a sort of comedy character. Another person who meets a grim end; but lasts longer than most. He spends most of the film complaining about his role/job and you don’t really connect with him, but for the sake of comedic relief he is ok. Next to him you also have characters like Remy and Dr. Gates. Gates presents the moral side of science, the character you need in a story like this. Someone who questions the true motives behind the uses of science to create the Judas Breed. But at no point does he lose his temper, but tries to show a logical understanding of what goes on and does what he can to support Susan. Remy meanwhile is a character I like, and consider an unfortunate casualty, as while she is a good character, and someone you want to see more of, she has very little in the way of appearances. So while she has a very positive start to this film, she does sort of get ignored from the half-way point onwards and I find that rather sad and a bit disappointing.

M3

Leonard is an odd one. He is a character that is very strong throughout this film and is very good at his job. Compared to most other roles played by Dutton, Leonard stands out more. He is something of a narrator, a historian more like, and who talks about the legends of the Mimic creatures before he even knows about them. Tells the tales of strange people called Long john, but also knows a lot about the underground area. As things begin to take a turn he becomes something of a guardian and a sacrificial hero to the group. He is an enjoyable character, and his singing is rather fun, I just wonder if his death is more a punishment for his unpleasantness, or if he is really needed to die at the end? In something of a similar character to Leonard, you have Manny, the shoe polisher. Much like Leonard he is very down to earth, works hard to both put food on the table and look after his ward in Chuy. He is an interesting character in that he is one of the films very few anchors, one of those people who in the midst of all the science fiction explaining, that brings it back down to a more common human level. He is very caring of Chuy, although finds him possibility a little bit irritating due to his condition, but in a similar vein to Leonard, you wonder if he is really needed as he just gets killed off like everyone else. Chuy meanwhile I find hard to think about it. Much like other characters in this section he has an interesting part, making friends with the bugs, rattling on his spoons, knowing everything about shoes. He has an interesting dynamic, but for the most part; particularly towards the end, he just becomes an alternate character to look out for and for the main characters to save, keep out of harm’s way. He is someone who is good, but as to why is the real question.

Peter Mann, someone who I cannot put my finger on, not in the sense that he is a good character, more in the form of I cannot figure why he is in this film. He starts out as the scientific boss and husband to Susan who then runs on a trail to discover and eventually annihilate the nest of the Judas Breed, but…this turn of character in him does not feel right. He doesn’t seem caring, more a sort of grumpy, he is not a connectable character, more a sort of supportive character that gets some attention. Yes his scenes underground leading to the big bug massacre is good, tense, thrilling and scary, it’s just for the most part, I just don’t get him. Which is entirely the opposite compared to Mira Sorvino’s character. What is a lovely strong female character throughout this film, you have someone who like many of the above loves and enjoys their work, but is the creator of the film’s main antagonist in the Judas Breed. Yes, there was plenty of reasoning to create them, to help wipe out a horrific disease, but just when she thinks they are all dead over, she begins to discover that isn’t necessarily the case. As things develop further, she gets thrusted head first into the situation, eventually meeting the mutated, evolved form of her creation, to then ultimately wiping them out, the one person who needed to do it. She doesn’t raise much of a smile throughout the film’s events, and is embroiled more into the case the more it develops, soon realising the real results of her work, and going from keen professional scientist, to a near nervous wreck at the devastation and death caused by the miracle bugs. So of course she has to end it all with one final, and possibly sacrificial last stand against the creatures, in the end saving humanity once again from the bugs she created to save them once before. Sorvino’s performance is brilliant in Mimic, she stands as the archetype and central figure throughout as a character that stands the rest of the film, not one who becomes a great hero, or an underdog, but someone who stands as a hero to begin with, but ultimately becomes a pre-underdog type character, being brought down to her knees on the result of her creation. A terrific performance by a true; but unfortunately, lesser (at current) titan of cinema.

M2

Let’s not forget however the film’s other characters. The Mimics. The Mimic Creatures in this film are nicely designed monstrosities made for a purpose but ultimately become a new threat, somewhat similar to a species of creature they were supposed to wipe out. In explanation, they were designed to kill off the common cockroach to aid in the killing of a deadly virus striking down the children of Manhattan Island. The end result of that being the death of the virus, but due to an unfortunate misunderstanding, the Mimic bugs themselves, become a new bug threat. While not a virus, like the one they helped rid the city of, still a very dangerous one. Mimic’s, so named for their ability to imitate their main predator/prey in man is a wonderful idea, one that chills the spine, but sets them up as human like characters until they eventually reveal themselves true and proper, not as humans, but as ferocious bugs. Their design is brilliant, somewhat held back by some dodgy late 90’s CGI, their appearance is still terrifying with a hint of realism, and the fact that the way they are shown of pursuing the humans like Prey adds another detail of character, not in something that is to be ignored or does ignore, but rather a merciless killer.

The special Effects are a bit hit and Miss in Mimic. As stated above, the CGI suffers a bit and doesn’t stand out as well as effects delivered in films of its time including Independence Day one year earlier, and The Lost World: Jurassic Park released in the same year as Mimic. The film’s quick scenes and quick moments of movement on part of the Mimic’s sort of make up for it. Yes; while there is still the odd dodgy bit here and there, for the most part in how they used, they look alright, and still don’t ruin the incredible level of design that went into the creature designs. Sadly though due to the lack of well-done CGI, the effects have not aged too well, and these days it’s only the real in shot stuff that still works, and the CGI looks rookie in vain to today’s standards, it’s just so lucky that everything else pretty much works in terms of the film making. But while the CGI falls a lot short, the close up uses of suits/animatronics/puppets/masks/whatever they are is brilliant. The effect of having something there and visible in camera, with added detail such as odd hairs and prongs on the arms and claws are well done. In a similar style to the Alien creatures in Aliens, if it was just the, whatever it was they used, it would have been superb throughout. Add to this the level of additional props and set pieces, like the underground sections, the cart, and of course the icky sticky, very unnerving egg pods. Those in the final scenes in the nest are really creepy, and add to it the bug like sounds, you have something that while in the main part is a horror film, still has room for moments of a horrible, repulsive, disgusting and off-putting by far, nature. Another addition I would quickly like to mention is the several uses of city skyline shots, there are only really 2 I can think of, but both of them are lovely on-screen shots that help to break up the film, but anyway back to the Bugs.

M7

But while the Special Effects may fall short, the soundtrack (composed by Marco Beltrami) certainly doesn’t. The film’s early sounds from scenes such as the release of the Mimic’s and attack on the priest present a very mysterious yet monstrous feel to them. The entire soundtrack on the whole sounds more operatic and monstrous more than anything else, especially the opening and closing credits. They present something of a mystery, like something is hiding, then reveals itself, and is a stark, terrifying monstrosity standing in front of you, and all that you can do, is just stare and scream, there is no running. It’s almost setting your eyes upon a Frankenstein like creature, standing in front of you; Ominous not moving, just pure terrifying. And that is just the soundtrack. Yes it works in tandem with the film, but just to provide a sense of that in listening to it, and also being memorable enough to still create a sense of that is remarkable.

Truly Terrifying: that is the best way to describe Mimic. A terrifying experience all worked into one film supported by all directions by horrifying looking creatures, great characters played by a wonderful cast, horrifying soundtrack and a gripping, thrilling story with a mix of Science Fiction to make Mimic not just a Horror Film, but a really spine tingling mystery. While maybe not standing out as much as Del Toro’s other well-known films like Pan’s Labyrinth for instance, that does not mean that it should be overlooked. Mimic is deserving of another chance, I don’t mean a remake (although a TV series could be interesting), I mean having another watch. Sure it has on and offs, and maybe t’s not Del Toro’s greatest piece of cinema art work, but for the sake of watching a horror film that both creeps you out and nearly scares you to death simply from the ideas that it generates I think is worthy of giving it another look. Now when I think of Del Toro, I am going to think of this film more in detail and equality of mention to his other works. So, Night Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t Let The Big Bed Bugs Bite, Hopefully See You In The Morning Light.

GENEPOOL (Happy New Year).





When I Think Of Orange, I Think Of Cockroaches

17 12 2014

Cockroach

Yes, it’s a bit of an odd statement, but true. You know how certain colours trigger in the mind as certain objects; so Blue is water, Green is grass, Red is blood and Pink is lipstick. Well for me, Orange is Cockroaches. So when I see orange or do something which involves the colour of orange I immediately think of Cockroaches. I was playing a game of Perudo 2 or 3 weeks ago and when the choice of colours was either Orange or Yellow, I chose orange and mentioned Cockroaches. So, you are probably wondering why I think of Cockroaches. Well, it is  rather easy to explain.

Perudo

Basically back in the mid 1990’s, when Channel 4 used to show Godzilla films every now and again (which they sadly have not done since about 2001/2002 and no channel in the UK seems to air the original Japanese films), one night they had a triple bill of films from the 1970’s. Godzilla vs Megalon, Godzilla vs Gigan and Terror of MechaGodzilla. The first one I watched was Godzilla vs Gigan, quite a dark and terrifying entry in the series. The plot goes along the lines of a children’s based theme park is constructed with the centrepiece being a tower that looks like Godzilla. An artist is hired to work for the company that owns it but is drawn into a conspiracy involving some missing tapes and the owner’s attempts to make world peace. After getting the tapes back, the owners use them to call and control King Ghidorah and Gigan to destroy the world. All of this however has not gone unnoticed by Godzilla and Anguirus who arrive in the nick of time to defeat the galactic threat and save the day.

Godzilla vs Gigan (Toho Co., Ltd. - 1972)

By this point you’re still probably wondering what all this has to do with Orange and Cockroaches. Well, the owners of the children’s based theme park are Alien Cockroaches from another world who have taken the form of humans as a form of uniform, and on top of that, they both wear orange suits. Even the henchmen have orange neck chiefs. And it wasn’t like a general orange, no; it was the same shade, striking fiery orange. Since then, when I have thought about or have seen the colour the colour orange, my mind has instantly drawn a connection to that film and the villainous, alien cockroaches from Godzilla vs Gigan. Now I don’t actually know much about why it was the colour orange. It has been a number of years since I last saw the film, so there may be an explanation in there somewhere. I wonder if Cockroaches actually have an affinity with the colour orange, who knows? But thanks to that film, for me anyway, I instantly think of Cockroaches when I think of or see the colour orange.

Oranges

GENEPOOL





Movie Preview: Prometheus

24 05 2012

Next month one of the biggest films of the year gets released. It came in 10th place on my list of Most Exciting Films Of 2012. From the director (Ridley Scott) of the original Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator and Robin Hood comes his first Sci-fi film since Blade Runner. However this is more than just a Sci-fi film, it has a connection with one of the most legendary of all film series, a film series he started, if you have not figured it out yet, it’s Alien. It is important though to point out that while this film will have an essence and DNA of Alien, it is not Alien, it is something else. I bet it is more than likely that there will not be a single Alien Egg, Face Huger, Chest Burster or even The Alien Creature itself in the film. There may be the odd Easter egg pointing towards this that only the die-hard fan will notice (a sort of nod) but it is important to realise that Prometheus is its own film entirely. Technically the only potential sign of The Alien Creature that has been so far is something that is spotted in the trailer.

While there is no sign of The Alien itself there is another Extra-terrestrial. In the original Alien there was a scene where a creature was discovered in a derelict space ship. The Creature has come to be known as the Space Jockey, throughout the trailer scenes can be seen of this creature, so it is fair to say that this is the alien creature in Prometheus, an additional creature is also spotted attaching itself to one of the characters arms. The film’s premise is (according to Wikipedia) “In the late 21st century, a star map is discovered within the archaeological imagery of several otherwise unconnected cultures, including Magdalenian, Mesoamerican and Mesopotamian civilizations. The crew of the vessel Prometheus is sent on a scientific expedition, sponsored by the Weyland Corporation, to follow the map to find the origins of mankind. Exploring the advanced civilization of an extraterrestrial race, they soon face a threat to humanity’s existence”. This is backed up in the trailer as a group of people find an Invitation to the Stars and then a Big Spaceship (which looks kind of familiar) is found which is heading to Earth.

The film’s main stars are Noomi Rapace who is better known as the original Girl With The Dragon Tatoo and Simza Heron in Sherlock Holmes: AGOS. Then we have Michael Fassbender who recently appeared in X-Men First Class as Magneto. Then we have Charlize Theron who was in Æon Flux as the lead character (I really enjoyed that film). There is also Guy Pearce who seems to be almost appearing in everything, including The Count of Monte Cristo, The Road and The Time Machine. But the Big Star for me is the Fantastic Idris Elba (or Big-Dris as I like to call him) who of course won an award at the Sam’s Rant Film Awards, has appeared in The Wire and is the lead character in the Fantastic BBC Crime Drama Luther (one of the best Dramas in recent years) Prometheus is shaping up to be one of the cinema highlights of the year. While it is based on a previous film series it is going to delve into its own mythology and who knows maybe this film will be the start of a legend in it’s own right (and not because it is connected to another film series, which more than likely is how it will be remembered instead of being remembered as its own film, however there is a similarity between the trailers for Prometheus and the original Alien). One thing I need to mention before you watch the trailer is that everytime a new trailer for Prometheus come out it gets even more terrifying, this is the most terrifying to date.

GENEPOOL








%d bloggers like this: