“Alien: Covenant” Review

It’s slow, it’s stupid, it’s sinfully bad.

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To put it bluntly, nothing happens in the first hour. There’s minimal characterization of the cannon fodder, lots of scenic shots of nothingness and absolutely no plot. Then, when we do get to the plot, we get the most underwhelming origin story explaining the xenomorphs’ creation, effectively ruining every other movie in the series. Then there’s an abysmal finale that tries to recapture the magic of the original Alien but utterly blows it, making a tense alien hunt no more than a five minute ordeal (and I do mean ordeal; it’s a minor inconvenience for the characters) that you’ve already seen the entirety of in the trailers. And that’s the thing, there are some cool shots in the trailer that never even make it into the movie.

Here’s the scoop: Ridley Scott thinks he’s made a very smart movie–but really, it’s a smattering of glorified philosophy 101 topics served to you across two and a half hours of lackluster horror. That, coupled with the most inept team of space colonists ever as the emotional “pull” of the flick, leaves you with a forgettable, damning piece of evidence as to why Ridley needs oversight on these projects. Or, better yet, hand the reigns off entirely to Neil Blomkamp and watch him make a far superior Alien 5.

Review of “The Accountant”

Let’s get right down to it, shall we?mv5bndc5mzg2ntyxnv5bml5banbnxkftztgwmjq2odawote-_v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_

Pros:
-Strong, mysterious slow-burn first act and a half (the highlight of this entire stretch is Wolff solving a math problem and it’s fantastic)
-Flashback sequences are amazing, very powerful and well-executed backstory
-Solid score
-Great tonal consistency with some well-timed humor sprinkled in
-Great performances all around, Ben Affleck and Jon Bernthal really kill it
-No cheesy romance subplot

Cons:
-Last act gets a bit cartoon-ish/wacky
-More or less the entire federal investigation subplot is unnecessary and cheesy
-Handling of the autism plot element got a bit out of control at the halfway point. It starts out as just an element of Christian Wolff’s character but halfway through they start hammering home “this is what autism is and does,” making it his defining feature rather than a supplementary one. It’s unfortunate, given how maturely they touched on it throughout the first half.

Review of “Superhot” for PC

It’s super not.superhot5.jpg

For those of you who know the background info regarding this game, let’s get right to it: the “time only moves when you move” thing is a gimmick. It’s not a revolutionary mechanic. It’s an—admittedly, very entertaining—gimmick. It’s a single power-up that could easily be incorporated into any other FPS. Fun enough while it lasts, but hardly earth-shattering.

The campaign is meme-baiting, wannabe-meta nonsense and it lasts a short, sweet three hours at most. And while the inclusion of challenge modes is a nice gesture, it really doesn’t amount to much. The core of the game is hollow. The gimmick of Superhot isn’t enough to keep the game magnanimously heated or superlatively toasty; much as it wants to be.

And if you’re wondering why the short review, I’m just trying to simulate game length. In text.

“The Magnificent Seven” — A Magnificent Bore

Fun fact: Antoine Fuqua, the director of this two-hour snooze fest, is getting to handle the Scarface remake. That’s right, from one pointless and decidedly inferior remake to the next, this guy has us covered.mag7header

Here’s the deal: it’s not an offensively bad movie. It’s just got a piss-poor script, a weird tonal structure and some of the worst pacing I’ve had to suffer through in a long time. I fell asleep twice, for frame of reference. Fuqua allows so much time for pornographic shots of mother nature and pointless banter between characters that any space for real character development is completely wasted. But make no mistake–there could’ve and should’ve been time for it. Easily. As it stands, the only two characters who get any real development are Goodnight and Billy, the sharpshooter and assassin respectively. Even when it came to the villain and side characters, all were paper thin archetypal cut-outs. Though, in the cast’s defense, all of them clearly gave a good effort.

As far as that tonal complaint went, here’s why I’m pissed: the trailers sell it as a fun western. The original Magnificent Seven was a fun western. This thing, on the other hand, takes itself waaaaaaay too seriously towards the end. Like, Batman V Superman sort of serious. Ugh.

Honestly, I recommend you just ignore this movie all together and not waste any money, but if you’re really, really hankering for some form of a western, well, who am I to stop you?

TIFF Film Review: “La La Land”

It’s gay in the most traditional sense of the word. It’s Rock of Ages without the edginess. It’s good old-fashioned musical fun.14117802_576769779176293_2599566161976372387_n-750x278.png

Let’s get the basics out of the way. First, the music, it’s very, very cute. The stars (Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling), they’re absolutely stellar. The script is surprisingly witty and tight. The moral of the story is a crock of shit. It’s everything you’d expect from an A-grade Hollywood movie-musical drama.

It’s as simple as this: If the above nine sentences struck a good note with you, look forward to watching an expertly staged musical in December. Damien Chazelle’s done it again.

8/10

TIFF Film Review: “The Autopsy of Jane Doe”

You want spooks? This one’s got ’em in spades.janedoeposter.jpg

The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a pants-shitter unlike any other this year. Filled with forty-five minutes of nonstop, gruesome morgue body-splicing and another forty five of psychological trauma, this one ain’t for the faint of heart. Those afraid of internal organ slicing, steer clear.

Without spoiling anything, it’s a father-and-son horror flick that breaks some pretty standard genre conventions, making it a LOT more tense than, say, Lights Out which is predictable from start to finish. Safety’s not an option in this movie–and the angle for the madness revealed to be the cause by the end of the flick is an interesting twist on an already spine-chilling hour and a half.

Pros:
-Utterly brutal morgue content
-Tight, clever script
-Great actors
-Fantastic horror genre convention overturns
-Genuinely tense

Cons:
-Almost pissed myself

While it wasn’t quite scary enough to give me nightmares or even follow me out of the theatre, it’s easily the strongest horror movie that I’ve seen this year. So, when it rolls into cinemas come December, get ready for a hell of an autopsy.

9/10

TIFF Film Review: “City of Tiny Lights”

Riz Ahmed is the glue that holds this pretty solid Brit-noir flick together, the entire thing hinging on his mad acting chops. He handles that pressure well.

That and the interesting flashback side story are the good aspects of City of Tiny Lights.city-of-tiny-lights-riz-ahmed The bad are the shoehorned, convenience-laden plot and painstakingly poorly-shot action. The former means that every time Riz’s private detective needs to find a clue, someone conveniently dies or reveals the path for him, minimizing any work he’d actually need to do to solve the case. And the latter, well, it’s inexcusable. All the action is shaky-cam ridden, motion-blur hazed garbage deliberately designed to hide that the actors can’t throw down for shit. It looks awful. Not to mention the camera randomly zooms in on people during routine over-the-shoulder shots and it’s the most obnoxiously distracting stylization choice I could never have imagined.

In the end, as stated above, Ahmed ultimately carries the flick with flying colors–but the plot is sloppy at best and the action middle-school grade amateur at worst.

7/10