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Only The Brave – film review

ONLY THE BRAVE

Oblivion helmer delivers profoundly moving, hugely affecting third feature.

Reviewed on Saturday 2nd December 2017

Directed by Joseph Kosinski. Screenplay by Ken Nolan and Eric Warren Singer. Starring: Miles Teller, Josh Brolin, Taylor Kitsch, Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Connelly. Running time: 134 mins.

A true-life account of a legendary squad of Arizona wildfire fighters known as The Granite Mountain Hotshots who, on June 30th 2013, faced the biggest challenge       of their lives – survival.

Helmer Joseph Kosinki has quickly established himself as a one of the most exciting directors around today. With his previous films Tron Legacy and the insanely underappreciated Oblivion already demonstrating a keen eye for impressive visuals and the ability to effectively immerse an audience within the worlds depicted. With this latest offering, Only The Brave, Kosinski here demonstrates he is also more than capable of engaging an audience emotionally with the characters on screen.

Despite some clunky expositional dialogue early on, the screenplay by Ken Nolan     and Eric Warren Singer (based on a GQ magazine article) – does a nice job             of steering well away from cliched melodrama in the depiction of the various relationships the principal characters have with their significant others. While     Jennifer Connelly once again demonstrates why she is considered one of the best actors of her generation – here essaying Josh Brolin’s headstrong love interest.

Set over a period of several years, we are given ample opportunity to see these characters evolve – as we ultimately develop a genuine fondness for each of them. While essentially an ensemble piece, the success of this film really rests squarely   on the shoulders of Miles Teller – here playing a recovering junkie, looking to reform and clean up his act after the birth of his daughter. And Teller does a exceptional job in generating sympathy for his character in the face of his character’s major flaw. While Josh Brolin is equally solid in his role as the determined squad leader – a man also dealing with his own demons. And the great Jeff Bridges is, as always, a joy to watch – here delivering one of the best lines in the film, in a scene where he pep talks the Granite Mountain squad, prior to their all-important evaluation, “The only place you’ll find sympathy here – is in a dictionary. Somewhere between shit and syphilis.”

Utilizing his training as an architect, Kosinski possesses a heightened ability to stage spatially-coherent action sequences – so we know precisely where we are geographically at any given time. And the seamless blending of practical and CG effects (not to mention the impressively immersive sound design) – really does give us a sense of being right there – in the middle of the action. The beautifully-staged aerial sequences, involving various water bombing aircraft (both fixed wing and helicopters) are also a major draw card – making it apparent why Kosinski has been rumoured to be on-board with the Top Gun sequel for Tom Cruise. And based on his achievement with this film alone, things are looking very good for that long-awaited movie, if he is indeed attached. The surreally-handled reveal of a Sikorsky helicopter sucking water from a man’s swimming pool, which happens within the first few minutes – was the moment this film hooked me and didn’t let go.

And the ending. Oh boy, the ending. Being completely unaware of the true-life     story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots (and deciding not to research the subject beforehand) – this made the finale, for me anyway, all the more devastating. I highly recommend any prospective viewers of this film shy away from knowing anything about the actual events before going in, particularly if you want to experience the visceral gut-punch of the film’s final minutes to their full effect.

Only The Brave is a superbly-crafted and compelling illustration of the best aspects of the human condition – best experienced on the biggest screen possible.

4 stars out of 5

Star ratings: 1 – poor / 2 – below average / 3 – good / 4 – excellent / 5 – unmissable

Viewed at the Wallis Cinemas Mitcham, Adelaide, December 2nd 2017

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-fi thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.

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Blade Runner 2049 – film review

BLADE RUNNER 2049

This Blade Runner does the biggest thing the original failed to do. It moves us.

Reviewed on Friday 6th October 2017


Directed by Denis Villeneuve. Screenplay by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, story by Hampton Fancher. Starring: Ryan Gosling, Robyn Wright, Ana De Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Harrison Ford and Jared Leto. Running time: 163 mins.

PLEASE NOTE – THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE

First up I have to say I was there when the original Blade Runner was released in theatres in 1982. And even though I was aware of all the meddling that had been     done to it in the lead-up to seeing it (being an avid reader of advance genre news magazines such as Starlog, Starburst, Fantastic Films and the like) – I still came away feeling somewhat disappointed. Actually, to be perfectly honest – it left me kind of cold. For me anyway, there is a certain aloofness to Ridley Scott’s third feature which makes it an oddly empty and un-engaging experience (quite the polar opposite to his previous film Alien). For a story about empathy it confusingly doesn’t make me feel anything for anyone in it and, to this day – I’m not entirely sure why this is. Perhaps this is why I revisit it so often – to try and figure out why it fails to engage me on any real emotional level.

There is no denying Scott’s film is visually impressive. And his gritty, almost insanely detailed depiction of a future Los Angeles has indeed impacted massively on the sci-fi genre (both books and films) in the decades since its initial release – so I can appreciate Blade Runner on this purely aesthetic level. But meticulous world building alone is not nearly enough to invite emotional investment.

Although he has his own particular visual aesthetic, Denis Villeneuve’s sequel is as equally gorgeous – with every frame again a work of art. And it undoubtedly looks, sounds and (most importantly) feels like a genuine expansion of the Blade Runner universe. However, the overriding difference between this Blade Runner and the ’82 original is the sense of emotional inclusion we have with the characters. Scott’s original is bizarrely distancing; giving us the sense that we are merely passive observers to events and not active participants. In this film we are right up close and personal with the characters and emotionally invested in their fates. This new Blade Runner has clearly been made with a lot of love and respect and honourable intentions. And having the original’s primary screenwriter Hampton Fancher (the man charged with adapting Philip Dick’s source novel into the movie which became Blade Runner) – on board for this is a major coup and hugely instrumental in maintaining thematic integrity with the original film (and indeed the voice of Dick’s source novel).

As far as the actual plot is concerned, I’m reluctant to go into it in any detail for fear of spoiling the experience. So all I’ll say is – whereas the original Blade Runner is essentially a straightforward chase film, Blade Runner 2049 is first and foremost, at its core, a compelling mystery to be solved. And the mystery to be solved at the heart of this film is the significance of the date 6.10.21. Is it a birth date? A death date? And if so – who’s is it? After a succession of effective plot twists and turns,     the answer is satisfyingly revealed.

There is a very definite and cohesive vision to this film – a combination of the talents of screenwriter Fancher and helmer Villeneuve. It feels like a solid story well told. And who could ask for more than that? Fancher’s sensibility perfectly fits hand in glove with Villeneuve’s aesthetic and it would be great to see these two team up again on other unrelated projects (sorry – my inner fanboy slipped through).

This is without a doubt the best performance Harrison Ford has given since his heyday. And despite the limited time he appears on screen, he is given plenty of scope to showcase his emotional range as an actor. Perhaps this is why he felt Fancher’s script was the best he’d ever read. Likewise, Ryan Gosling is also very good in the lead and perfectly cast (for reasons which become readily apparent). Actually – much like the ’82 film – this one is extremely well cast overall and again features a bevy of visually fascinating actors in the various supporting roles.

The breathtaking cinematography by the Cohen brothers’ resident DP Roger Deakins beautifully recalls Jordan Cronenweth’s landmark lensing of the original. And utilizing that atmospheric, swirling, soaring signature Vangelis sound to great effect – the music score by Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer perfectly emulates and effortlessly captures the feel of the original score – while injecting something fresh and new into the mix.

Dedicated nerds may also get a smile from the clearly deliberate inclusion of the waste dumping ships from David People’s (Paul WS Anderson-directed) 1998 Blade Runner spin-off Soldier – again cementing the idea that this much underrated Kurt Russell-starring film is in indeed canon.

As I post this, it’s been several days now since leaving the cinema positively overwhelmed by the experience and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about           it – always for me a surefire sign of a great film. In future retrospect, I see a time when Blade Runner 2049 will be looked upon fondly in that much-coveted, but limited pantheon of superior sequels to highly-regarded movies.

5 stars out of 5

Star ratings: 1 – poor / 2 – below average / 3 – good / 4 – excellent / 5 – unmissable

Viewed at the Event Cinemas Megaplex Marion, Adelaide, October 6th 2017

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-fi thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.

Travis Milloy on Infinity Chamber – interview

Writer-director Travis Milloy gives us the low-down on the release of his new movie Infinity Chamber as well as potential new projects he has in the works.

With the hotly-anticipated release of his new sci-fi thriller Infinity Chamber on iTunes and Amazon Prime, I again had the great pleasure of sitting down for a skype chat with writer-director Travis Milloy. Having seen and reviewed the film last year (under its original title Somnio) – I’m so very excited it is now finally out there to be seen.

Greg: So congratulations on the imminent US release. Exciting news!

Travis: Thank you! It’s been a long road, you know. So we’re finally almost there.

So how did finding a distributor come about?

We hired a sales agent who knew my manager. And he went out to several companies. And we only had two offers – a bigger company and then XLrator Media. But XLrator were offering a better deal. So we went with them. And you know what, they’re probably perfect for our movie coz they kinda’ do, you know, low-grade, low budget movies – so we fit in there pretty good.

Well that’s not to say that Infinity Chamber is low-grade by any means.

No, but meaning – no stars, low budget. So, you know – we know where we sit. But they’re excited about it. So we’ll see what happens.

How did the title change from Somnio to Infinity Chamber come about? Was it suggested by the distributor – or was it a decision you guys came to?

Yeah, they knew – right out of the gate when we started talking to them, they said they wanted a title change. And I wasn’t surprised by it. You know, I kinda’ expected it. I always knew that from the beginning coz Somnio was – it’s a little bit of an abstract title – so it doesn’t appeal to what they’re trying to do with marketing. You know, when people are scanning through Netflix or whatever, Infinity Chamber is probably a better title – just for that purpose alone. And the funny thing is – the whole time I had been involved with that movie, every time I would tell someone – when they’d say ‘What’s the name of your movie?’ And I’d say ‘Somnio’. Everyone would say ‘What?’ But when you say Infinity Chamber – they get it. It might not be the greatest title, but it works better from a selling point than Somnio did.

So was it a title which you came up with?

Yeah, you know what – they were pretty cool about it. We submitted probably a dozen titles. And then they came back – they picked a few of ours and then they had a few of their own. And then they let me pick – which was nice. The one they had – I didn’t like. So at least I got to go with something I had submitted to them. So that worked. They’ve been good to work with – they let me cut the trailer. So I did that all myself. So yeah, it’s been a good experience working with them.

Did they have input into what would be done with the trailer?

Yeah, a little bit. A little bit. Actually, they gave me the choice. They were gonna have a company to do it – they hire people to do those kind of things. But we woulda’ had to pay for it. So I was like, well I might as well try and do my own version. So I did one cut and I submitted it to them. And then they had a few notes, and I improved upon it and then it slowly became what we ended up with. The only down side was – I didn’t have very much time. I had to do it in about a week. So I would’ve liked to have more time to work on it. And actually, it’s funny coz I’ve improved it since – but that’s not the one that’s out there (laughs). But that’s okay. We’re getting a pretty good reaction from it. So it’s been good so far.

Having viewed the film again just recently, it really struck me this time round that there are several ways to interpret the ending and there appears to be a certain ambiguity built into it.

Right. It’s interesting, coz I love talking to people who have seen it. And it’s split pretty much down the middle about what they think that ending meant. It could be this or it could be that. But I like people to accept the ending they want to imagine. Just the fact that there’s a debate about it – is great. The key for me is that whether you like a film or you don’t, as long as it gets you thinking and it makes you think about it after that viewing – coz, you know, to watch a movie and it’s like uh, okay – I’m done thinking about that and I have nothing to say about it – nothing to talk about – that’s not the kinda’ movie I like.

So apart from finding a distributor for Infinity Chamber, what else have you been up to since we last spoke?

You know, I’ve been keeping busy. I’ve been writing a lot. Writing some new scripts. I’m trying to find the next movie to do. I’ve also been working on some commercials and just some other video production stuff and some other scripts. So, just been keeping real busy on the keyboard – writing a lot.

What is the status of Monstrum? I love that script and it’s a great read and it would definitely make for a fun movie. Are you still planning on making that one?

Thank you! Definitely, that one’s on my radar. How and when to do that movie – honestly, right now I’m planning on that one being – if I continue to make movies – to make that my third film. But first I wanna do another smaller film. I think that one demands a certain budget level to do it right. And I know how long that process takes and so if you’re gonna spend that amount of money, you definitely need name actors and that’s such a long process. So I’m gonna do another movie and I’m gonna try and go into production as soon as I can – this next spring – and shoot another film. But it has to be another very self-contained lower budget project – where, I’m gonna try and get names of course – but I’m gonna try and keep it at a lower budget – just because I know how to do that and we can have another film shot and improve upon what we did before and then move towards bigger projects like Monstrum for sure. I tried creatively to think of a way to do that movie for a lower budget, but even the lowest possible – like sacrificing a lot of stuff – you get a certain point where it starts to hurt the movie more than the project, so its like, yeah, definitely to do that movie and to do it right you definitely need a few million at the minimum so, that’s why I’m gonna hold onto that one and hopefully do it as the third project or one that’s further down the road.

So can you tell us anything more about this other lower budgeted project?

It’s interesting, I’ve been writing a lot and I can’t really – I’ve been a little scattered – coz I’ve been a little gun shy on what project to commit to next – because I know how long of a road it is. So I’ve been writing a lot of sporadic stuff – where I’ll start on an idea and I’ll just dive in and get all excited and I’ll write twenty or thirty pages and then I kinda’ set it aside and then see if it sticks with me – if I can’t stop thinking about it then I know something’s there. So I’ve been doing that a lot – especially over these last six months; writing just these kinda’ random crazy ideas. So I’ve got some interesting stuff in the works – just nothing that’s like – okay, that’s the one. I’ve got a few scripts that I’ve got my eye on, that I’m interested in – but none of them are ‘the one’ yet. I’m close, but its like – do I commit that much energy and time. It’s gotta be perfect. So I’ve been second-guessing myself more than I normally do and I think its just because of what we went through to get that one movie made. There’s so much time and energy spent on it, I’m just gun shy to commit and say okay – this is it.

Tonally the script for Monstrum is quite different from Infinity Chamber and also Pandorum. Was this a conscious decision?

For some reason, with this next project – I’m looking at doing stuff that has a bit more levity to it. I don’t really know what it is. I think that once you go through that whole thing and then – I think it was watching Infinity Chamber with a crowd, I felt – for me personally – I felt like the movie could have been scarier. Or it could have been funnier. You know what I mean? So its like, I wanna push more extremes. There were a lot of times when I was in that theatre with a crowd, and I kept thinking – oh I could’ve really got them there if I woulda’ went this way. I could have really made it scary if I wanted to. Or I could’ve made it a lot more fun. So for some reason, I’m leaning towards things with levity – like Monstrum. Monstrum I think is the perfect example – to do a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously; that has some good laughs and is a good thrill ride. Those are things that are appealing to me right now. So we’ll see.

Infinity Chamber is available on iTunes and Amazon Prime from September 26th with other streaming platforms to follow. For updates and further information on current and future releases of Infinity Chamber, please visit and bookmark the official website here:

https://www.infinitychamber.com

And join the official facebook page here:

https://m.facebook.com/infinitychambermovie/ 

article copyright © 2017 Gregory Moss

not to be reprinted either in part or in whole without prior permission of the author

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-fi thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.

Infinity Chamber (formerly Somnio) Now Due For Release

Having spent the best part of a year seeking a distributor, the latest directorial offering from Travis Milloy – writer of cult sci-fi fave Pandorum – is finally set for release next month. Showcasing a powerhouse performance from celebrated indie icon Chris Soren Kelly (best known for Ink and The Frame) – an actor whose star is definitely on the rise, this smartly-written, tightly-directed psychological sci-fi thriller has undergone a title change (previously Somnio – now Infinity Chamber) – and sports brand new poster art and a compelling new trailer.

I’m looking forward to catching up with Travis for a chat soon to learn more about these exciting developments. So stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, do check out my original review of Somnio/Infinity Chamber from June last year:

https://mossflm.wordpress.com/2016/06/22/somnio-film-review/

Also my previous interview with Travis in August 2016 – where he talks in-depth about his experience making the film:

https://mossflm.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/travis-milloy-interview/

And be sure to check out the brand new trailer here:

And the official facebook page here:

https://m.facebook.com/infinitychambermovie/

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-fi thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.

The Osiris Child – film review

THE OSIRIS CHILD

Ambitious Aussie indie gem raises bar for home-grown sci-fi.

Reviewed on Thursday 18th May 2017

Written & directed by Shane Abbess. Starring: Kellan Lutz, Daniel MacPherson, Isabel Lucas, Luke Ford, Rachel Griffiths and Temuera Morrison. Running time: 95 mins.

A renegade military pilot embarks on a perilous race against time across a distant planet infested with vicious monsters in order to rescue his only daughter before a nuclear meltdown destroys the capital.

Independent Aussie helmer Shane Abbess first burst onto the genre scene with his debut feature Gabriel in 2007 – a calling card which subsequently opened doors for him in LA, where he found himself toiling away for several years in development hell on a slew of big studio projects including a Dark Crystal spin-off and Source Code (a movie ultimately helmed by Duncan Jones). Somewhat disillusioned with the mostly generic material he was being offered during this time, Abbess returned to Australia to make his second feature – the self-generated sci-fi thriller Infini in 2014. Now, three years later, we are presented with Shane’s latest eagerly-anticipated offering.

An action adventure set on a distant planet, The Osiris Child is essentially a sci-fi western road movie which, much like the recent and equally excellent bushranger epic The Legend of Ben Hall, features impressive production values well beyond its limited budget – again demonstrating that one doesn’t necessarily require big studio money in order to create fully-realized and highly-detailed worlds. Utilizing the ‘used universe’ aesthetic made popular in the original Star Wars, the overall look of the flm, as realized by seasoned Aussie production designer George Liddle (Dark City, Day Breakers) is surprisingly homogenous in its mix of design elements seen previously in other flms – the aforementioned Star Wars, along with The Empire Strikes Back and the oft-cited Mad Max series in particular.

The action scenes are well-staged and coherent, while CGI is used sparingly with an emphasis on real locations and practical creature effects lending the flm a sense of realism rarely seen in contemporary sci-f fare. And the cratered vistas of Coober Pedy (an opal mining town in outback South Australia) are beautifully captured by     DP Carl Robertson (Road Kill, Infini).

The film employs a non-linear narrative which is effectively used to reveal aspects of each character’s backstory when necessary – without resorting to actual fashbacks within scenes; potential confusion side-stepped with the use of chapter headings. This non-linear narrative indeed allows for some truly effective character reveals (especially towards the end) – which add greatly to our emotional investment in the piece. The characters themselves are nicely-drawn and appealing, sustaining our interest and engagement in them till the very end.

Performances from the wholly Australian cast are uniformly excellent, with the standouts being Daniel MacPherson in the lead as Lieutenant Sommerville, Temuera Morrison as nefarious jail warden Mourdain and, sporting Texan accents, Isabel Lucas and Luke Ford as luridly-tattooed, gas-inhaling trailer trash. Eleven year old Teagan Croft is also very good in the titular role (her frst big screen appearance). While genre fans may also recognize Bianca Bradey (best known for her break-out role in Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead) in a small cameo.

As of this writing, The Osiris Child has yet to secure a release date in North America. But when it does, I urge all sci-fi fans – particularly those who are fed up with the banality of dumbed-down studio cookie-cutter fare to go check it out. As the full banner title Science Fiction Volume One: The Osiris Child implies, it appears this film may well be the frst in a proposed anthology of stand-alone movies. If the quality and passion demonstrated in the making of this film is anything to go by, then I for one hope Volume One is embraced enthusiastically enough to invite the potential for future instalments.

4 stars out of 5

Star ratings: 1 – poor / 2 – below average / 3 – good / 4 – excellent / 5 – unmissable

Viewed at the Event Cinemas Marion, Adelaide, May 18th 2017

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-f thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.

Alien: Covenant – film review

ALIEN: COVENANT

It’s another Prometheus – only ten times worse.

Reviewed on Thursday 11th May 2017

Directed by Ridley Scott. Screenplay by Dante Harper and John Logan, story by Jack Paglen and Michael Green. Starring: Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender and Billy Crudup. Running time: 122 mins.

Seeking a new life on a new world, the crew of the colony ship Covenant land on an uncharted planet where an alien craft had crashed ten years before. When two of the crew become infected by microorganisms; giving birth to terrifying creatures, the lives of all remaining colonists left aboard Covenant in hypersleep are threatened.

PLEASE NOTE: THE FOLLOWING REVIEW MAY CONTAIN MINOR SPOILERS

Ridley Scott’s street cred with Alien fans was literally hanging by a thread following the major letdown of the pseudo prequel Prometheus – a movie which did more to damage the integrity of the series (in explaining away the mystery of the Space Jockey) – than anything seen in the series’ undisputed nadir – the godawful Alien Resurrection.

Going by the trailers and ad campaign for Covenant, one would be forgiven to expect to see a full-blown, actual Alien movie this time around. Featuring snatches from Jerry Goldsmith’s original Alien score; gradually-revealed opening title typography and naturalistic acting, we are immediately lulled into believing that what we are about to see will indeed be an authentic addition to the original universe of Alien films. It is only thirty or forty minutes into it when all is shamelessly revealed that we suddenly realize to our horror – we have only been deceived yet again; anticipation turning to anger and dismay and a disbelieving sense of betrayal. We have been watching Prometheus 2 the entire damn time. The tone of the performances starts as naturalistic but inexplicably becomes theatrical and operatic – a clumsy shift from which the movie never fully recovers. This tonal shift coinciding with the anticipated appearance of the David character from Prometheus; this singular moment heralding the train wreck to come. The much ballyhooed, yet irritatingly smug performance of Michael Fassbender as nefarious android David in Prometheus only becomes increasingly more annoying here (to the point where he devolves into nothing more than a platitude-spouting super villain whose ultimate goal is nothing less than the extermination of humanity). And it is this hour or so of the movie (with the away team stranded on the planet dealing with the homicidal David) which garnered the bulk of groans and heavy sighs from the audience.

Where the film completely falls apart however, is in its depiction of xenomorph biology. In addition to Dan O’Bannon & Ronald Shusett’s original nature-inspired alien life cycle (egg/facehugger/chestburster/adult) – we are also treated here to some half-assed, nonsensical notion of microbial infestation resulting in the host incubating a chestburster (or laughably in this case – a backburster) – which then bursts forth. Gone however is the terrifyingly bizarre embryonic, snake-like chestburster – here ludicrously replaced in one particular instance by a fully-formed miniature version of the adult alien, none of which gels with anything we’ve seen so far. It is this seemingly deliberate disregard for already established internal logic which is the most infuriating aspect of this film. And with the original’s director back on board (enjoying complete creative control no less) – there really is no justifable reason for so brazenly (and consciously) messing around with the alien’s life cycle – especially to such a ridiculous extent as this. With his use of homages to James Cameron’s fast-moving facehuggers and the bambi burster from Alien 3, Scott appears to be tipping his hat to installments other than his own. However, his use of the quadrupedal bambi burster makes no sense here (being birthed from a bipedal human) – as the big takeaway from Alien 3 is the creature takes on the characteristics of the host. Indeed, there is so much confusion going on about what the actual rules are to this creature that we very quickly find ourselves throwing up our hands in frustration and disengaging from the movie entirely.

Unlike the pitch-perfect pacing of both Alien and Aliens (excellent examples of how     to draw an audience in and effectively escalate momentum) – the structure of Covenant is clunky in the extreme; lurching from one disjointed sequence to the next. It appears Scott is indeed attempting to follow the structural template of these previous entries – the gradual introduction of the various alien forms over the course of the flm; the changes in locale from act to act. But these radical shifts in tone between scenes involving David and the rest of the film are so jarring when they occur it really does feel like there are two films in here vying for supremacy. Indeed, by the time the film finally decides its an Alien movie and essentially replays the second half of Alien (albeit at breakneck speed with zero suspense) – we are way     too disengaged to even care.

Just prior to the release of Covenant, Scott hinted of his plans to direct at least   three more Alien films before he is finished. However, if this movie is anything to     go by – I guess all we can do is hope that someone whose opinion he respects will successfully talk him out of it.

If you live in a universe where Prometheus doesn’t exist. Then this one won’t either.

no stars out of 5

Star ratings: 1 – poor / 2 – below average / 3 – good / 4 – excellent / 5 – unmissable

Viewed at the Event Cinemas Megaplex Marion, Adelaide, May 11th 2017

Greg Moss is a flm school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-f thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.

Life – film review

LIFE

Despite visceral punchline CG-heavy monster flick is a generic yawn.

Reviewed on Thursday 23rd March 2017

Directed by Daniel Espinosa. Written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick. Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds. Running time: 103 mins.

A group of scientists aboard the International Space Station attempt to revive a Martian organism which has lain dormant for millions of years. Once it is revived,     the creature turns hostile and begins killing off the hapless scientists one by one.

About a third of the way into this generic ‘rampaging monster aboard a spaceship’ movie, I began to wonder when the penny was gonna drop; when that one cool idea which got the flm green-lit in the frst place would be revealed. Frustratingly however that one cool idea literally appears in the fnal moments of the flm (although, if one thinks about it – it doesn’t actually make a lot of sense), by which time anyway you may or may not actually give a shit.

Relying on dim-witted contrivances in order to place their characters in peril, writers Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick (Deadpool, Zombieland) appear to have completely ignored the universal lambasting Damon Lindelof received in his portrayal of scientists as idiots in Prometheus; opting instead for more of the same. Jake Gyllenhaal is undoubtedly a fine actor and he does his best with the material he     has to work with here, but overall the characters are shallow and unconvincing.

Again taking its cue from Prometheus, we have here the usual onslaught of CG blood and squid tentacles invading human bodies – but virtually zero build-up of tension and suspense. And although we are constantly told the consequences for humanity would be dire should the creature be permitted to escape to Earth, it is because we are never made aware (even obliquely) what legitimate threat the beastie actually poses to humanity (Does it reproduce rapidly? Does a nefarious corporation want it for its bio-weapons division?) – that the sense of urgency required to create tension in isolation stories such as these is severely lacking; resulting in our personal disengagement from the outcome.

Perhaps the biggest contributor to this ‘lack of suspense’ issue, however, is that we see way too much of the creature (something Ridley Scott wisely avoided in the original Alien) – both during the attacks and in between. Here we are subjected to endless long distance shots of the creature cart-wheeling through corridors and across the exterior of the station – as well as countless close ups of it (held for far too long) parading itself for the camera – to the point where it very quickly ceases to be scary. Jon Eckstrand’s overbearing score valiantly attempts to compensate, but ultimately comes across as shrilly desperate and annoying.

The visual effects depicting the exterior of the International Space Station are fine (if nothing we haven’t seen before – particularly in Alfonso Cuarón’s highly applauded Gravity). While scenes depicting the cast maneuvering through the station in Zero G do tend to look a little goofy at times, the biggest issue is the creature itself; both in terms of its design and execution. Resembling the squid-like monster Noomi Rapace gives birth to in Prometheus, this thing isn’t even remotely scary or convincing.

Disappointingly bereft of even a decent modicum of originality or suspense, Life is a lazily generic and ultimately superfuous addition to the ‘rampaging monster aboard a spaceship’ genre – of which Ridley Scott’s nearly forty year old Alien is still the uncontested benchmark. I recommend you go watch that film instead.

1.5 stars out of 5

Star ratings: 1 – poor / 2 – below average / 3 – good / 4 – excellent / 5 – unmissable

Viewed at the Event Cinemas Megaplex Marion, Adelaide, March 23rd 2017

Greg Moss is a flm school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-f thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.