Kevin McIndoe, Y’s movie critic, shares his thoughts on Alien: Covenant, A Family Man, Stratton and Dunkirk.
It’s one of the best horror franchises of all time, and the sequels (mostly) haven’t stinted on the premise of the original slogan, “In space, no one can hear you scream”, so why not squeeze another dangerous and delicious gore-fest out of it?
Now it is 2109 and the crew of the USCSS Covenant is transporting 2,000 colonists off to a new life on the planet Origae-6. En route, they get wind of an alternative option; a planet that is not only nearer but also offers better climactic conditions.
After a recent tragedy, the crew members decide to go to plan B and land in the untested environment.
It’s only when they disembark that Officer Daniels (Katherine Waterston) notices there doesn’t seem to be any wildlife or birds.
Then it doesn’t take long before there is a full-on gut-gorging, stomach-slashing onslaught as the protomorphs (aliens) start preening around the ship doing what they do best.
But how do you carry on without Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)? The woman who could keep calm in (a heck of) a crisis and keep her head still when the most horrible teeth imaginable had her on the ropes? She is not here this time.
Waterston is the tough if unstarry female lead this time, while Michael Fassbender makes a creepily charismatic David, the newfound planet’s only inhabitant who doubles up as Walter, another synthetic.
Despite being helmed by Ridley Scott, who directed the first in the franchise, this effort can’t quite match the tension and pace of its predecessors.
But could it be that familiarity with the aliens’ excesses means we have become used to them? I think so.
When headhunter Dane Jensen (Gerard Butler) locks horns with rival Lynn Vogel (Alison Brie) to head up their job placement company, his goals and aspirations end up clashing with the needs of his family. Jensen is up for the challenge but his vaulting ambition is thrown off track when his son is diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia.
This is the type of light fare that Hollywood likes to pass off as a morality tale but there’s a couple of powerful supporting performances from Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina to come to its rescue. It’s clichéd, sure, but enjoyable enough.
A terrorist cell is about to spread a biological agent over cities via a drone, and so Stratton (Dominic Cooper), a special boat service agent for MI6, and his US counterpart Marty (Tyler Hoechlin) are roped in to curtail the culprits. With such a Bond-esque action-spy-thriller feel about this film (based on the novel by former special security adviser Duncan Falconer) it should be a smash. But it isn’t. I’ve seen more action in your average British TV soap.
Cooper (a fine actor) lacks the physical might for the fight, on this occasion. Maybe 18th-century era duels are more his thing. Better read the script more closely next time, Dom.
For Y’s younger readers, Dunkirk was when the Germans (during World War II) forced Allied soldiers to wade into the sea off the coast of France either to drown or be shot at while boats hurriedly sailed across the English Channel to pick them up.
Now this bit of British history gets a movie outing with Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, for which I haven’t yet seen a preview DVD. No matter, with these two stalwarts the premise looks good.
Mind you, it will have to go some to emulate the battle scenes Steven Spielberg managed in Saving Private Ryan. One Direction’s Harry Styles makes his acting debut in this. Presumably, he had to cut his hair.
Oman Release Date: July 22