Alien: Covenant, 2017

Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender
While I ultimately have a lot of mixed feelings about Alien: Covenant, my main takeaway is that I quite enjoyed it. Certainly more so than its overly confusing predecessor Prometheus. My short review: if you’re a fan of the Alien franchise, then go watch Covenant. It’s pretty good, and answers many more questions than Prometheus ever did. If you’re not a fan, this one probably won’t change your mind.
 
To get into some more specifics, I walked in not knowing how direct of a sequel to Prometheus this would be. If I had I probably would have been less enthused to go see it, but nonetheless the film captured my attention with its dedication to world-building. Like no other film in the franchise, this one successfully expands the world of they inhabit and revitalises an interest in its history and intricacies. This is so much the case, that it almost makes Prometheus feel like a prequel to Covenant, rather than the other way round. I walked out of the movie simultaneously satisfied by what I had learned about the universe of the franchise and wanting to know more, which I see as a really good thing.
 
However, I didn’t come to watch two hours of lore, I came to watch a movie, and on that front I can only call it good, but not great, with a few really great bits. H.R. Geiger’s design work resonates strongly, and I liked the aesthetic of the new world and new creatures. I also thought that Michael Fassbender was fantastic, twice as good as the last one (watch the movie, you’ll get it). It looked and sounded great overall, and I can’t think of any bad performances. It had some really excellent tension, I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat, holding my breath for bits and that’s very commendable.
 
It also had an overall quite forgettable peripheral cast. Gone are the super charismatic and memorable side characters from James Cameron’s Aliens, centred around the notably great action hero Ripley. I only really remember the characters by their stereotypes, especially the incredibly on-the-nose Tennessee (who is actually pretty enjoyable, to the film’s credit). The entire premise is kind of meh, and the story hinges on one character continuously making some terrible terrible decisions. Yep, unfortunately this movie made me want to get up out of my seat and yell “DON’T GO INTO THE BASEMENT YOU MORON” and considering this is from the same director as Alien, one of the most influential Sci-Fi and Horror movies ever, I can’t give it a pass.
 
So yeah, mixed bag. Overall, it is a good time, and definitely worthwhile for fans of the series, but it’s a far cry from the first two films.

Get Out, 2017

Directed By: Jordan Peele

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams

IMDb

Get Out is the best film that I’ve seen this year so far. I highly recommend you go see it. If you were avoiding it because you don’t like horror, rest assured that is more of a thriller, featuring more comedy elements than it does horror.

The characters and writing were great, and I really enjoyed the genuine suspense the plot had me in. I had no idea exactly where the film was going to go until it went there, but it didn’t cheat, there were plenty of clues. I don’t get that experience very often, so it was a real treat.

I also enjoyed the film’s aesthetic, using classic horror-esque techniques in colour palette, soundtrack and cinematography to get the audience on edge. The use of comedy in its first two acts to establish the racial themes in a lighthearted manner, before twisting them into the horrifying reality in the third is freaking brilliant.

Speaking of Comedy, the comic relief character is fantastic, one of the best parts of the movie. It really shows that the writer/director, Jordan Peele, is a comedy veteran. The more intense tones aren’t undercut by the comedy though, the balance is masterful.

Go see Get Out. Please. I want Jordan Peele to make more movies.

Split, 2016

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson

IMDb

Split was pretty damn entertaining. I quite liked the idea of the premise and despite the occasional M Night Shyamalism, I think it was pretty well executed.

Credit must be given to James McAvoy’s performance, which he just nails, playing a man with a Dissociative Identity Disorder (sort of) and thus has to perform as many diverse characters, sometimes interacting with one another. He nails it. Once you’re familiar with the characters he plays you can tell which one he is usually just from body language alone.

Anya Taylor-Joy, as the protagonist, also does quite a good job, I certainly enjoyed the exploration of her character and spending time with her. The other two leads, however, were actually quite crap. Fortunately we don’t see too much of them.

Anyone familiar with Shyamalan’s work will know that the vast majority of his recent films have ranged from bad to terrible, so it was encouraging to see some clever and competent film making here. However there are still issues. The one that stood out to me was tonal dissonance. Clearly the film was trying to be taken quite seriously and to keep the audience quite tense. Despite this, the film kept throwing funny moments in there. Totally ruins the tone, but makes the film all the more entertaining.

Something that should be addressed is that the film doesn’t even attempt to portray DID as a realistic disorder. I know absolutely nothing about the matter, but early on it becomes pretty clear that the film isn’t trying to do so anyway, so I just rolled with it and enjoyed the ridiculous spectacle presented to me. Trust me, I got some pretty good laughs in the climax of the film as a result. I think it’d be pretty interesting to see a film tackle the topic in a more serious manner one day though, as it is pretty intriguing and I think it has a lot of potential in the medium.

If you’re at all interested by the trailer then check it out, I think you’ll enjoy it.

P.S. it’s not scary at all. The trailer kind of implies that it is, but this simply isn’t the case.

The Girl on The Train, 2016

Directed by: Tate Taylor

Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson

IMDb

The Girl on the Train was something few mainstream films are anymore: unpredictable. I honestly had no clue where it was going to go for most of the runtime, which I feel was a successful attempt to get the audience identify with the protagonist, who spends most of her time simply trying to interpret what the hell is going on. The unpredictable storytelling is the film’s greatest accomplishment. However, I can’t think of anything else that really stood out to me as amazing or unforgettable, but I can’t think of any real weaknesses either. It drags slightly in the middle but that section was ultimately quite brief. Overall I really liked it.

I’m aware that everyone makes this comparison, but it really does remind me of Gone Girl, at least in tone, theme and some story elements. That said, Gone Girl was a better movie overall.

So yeah, I recommend The Girl on the Train to anyone who enjoyed Gone Girl.