Archive | May 2017

Alien Covenant: Review

alien

Last Thursday I decided to forego sleep and see a late showing of Alien Covenant. I’ve been dying to see this ever since it was announced, which was bolstered by Ridley Scott’s promise to have listened to the fans and delivered where Prometheus did not. My spoiler free review of this movie is as follows: As far as a standalone movie, it’s decent and watchable. It’s an entertaining film, but it doesn’t really stand out in any significant way. As far as Alien canon goes, for those who adore the franchise as I do, it’s a disappointment that they used too many tropes and ridiculous decisions to shit all over the established canon and diminished the franchise as a whole.

NOW FOR THE SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OK, from a standalone movie (not caring about canon), this movie is at best entertaining yet unremarkable. It starts out with a scene between Weyland and David (the android from Prometheus). Problem is, since the scenes with a young Weyland were cut from Prometheus, there’s no real way for most people to know who the fuck that is. The scene is foreshadowing for the reveal towards the end, but it drags and is a very boring start to the movie. Also, it’s apparent from this conversation that David is “off”, so it’s odd that Weyland chose to keep him around, even after his model was upgraded. It’s also odd that David was unaware of this upgrade. Were they somehow able to create and produce self-healing androids in the short amount of time between the two missions? Just seems odd, but we’ll take that one on faith.

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Sorry Hudson, but it is…and it gets worse….

Next you’re sort of introduced to the crew. Some good shit happens here. The scene where the original captain dies in his cryo pod is cool (pun totally intended). After that, they work to fix up the ship and you get some interaction. Problem is, most of it feels kinda disconnected, weak, and forced. The banter between the characters doesn’t really point towards any sort of cohesion as a group. Also, the whole fact that they were a bunch of couples really didn’t have any use or place in the plot whatsoever, aside from Daniels giving exposition about the cabin her and her husband were gonna build. Fassbender did a great job acting, as usual (sans his ‘southern’ accent), but I really didn’t give a shit about any other character. There was very little actual connection. People died, and no fucks were given. In contrast, I was bummed when many of the characters in Aliens died (especially Hudson and Vasquez), and when some of the characters in Alien 3 died (especially Dillon). This is because the script was there, the scenes were there, and the acting was on point. I think Covenant had a good cast, they just didn’t have as much to work with. Then they marketed it as if Daniels would be similar to Ripley, and she wasn’t. She was stronger willed, but she lacked the conviction and confidence that made Ripley who she was.

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He’s in the film in his cryo pod for about 20 seconds, then dies. Such a waste.

Crew aside, the decisions in this film are also stupid. They decide to veer off course to investigate a planet they know nothing about, while also putting thousands of lives in jeopardy in the process. They go to the surface and don’t take any samples or readings before going out without helmets on, knowing that any alien world could be host to unknown diseases they’d have no immunity to, and could bring back to the colony ship. They split up at just about every chance they get, on an unknown world and with an android that is an unknown quantity.

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My reaction to most of the crew’s decisions…

Finally, we get to the destruction of the Alien canon. This, for me, is the part that breaks my heart. So first (timeline-wise), David and Shaw go to the Engineer home world, dock over a huge courtyard, and bomb the shit out of them. Originally, they went there for answers, but nope, bomb time. Also, for an advanced race such as them, their “city” looked like ancient Rome, and there weren’t many of them at all. Maybe a few thousand. Not what one would expect from such an advanced civilized race. Also, they were allowed to dock without any apparent communication. No “unidentified craft, please respond”. Nope, just come on in with your doomsday ship, and we’ll all line up under you like a bunch of fuckin’ idiots. Now, for some reason, before the Covenant arrives, David kills Shaw and dissects her. This appears to go against what is seen in the online video of them that was released just prior to this movie. She put him back together, they seemed to care about what happened to each other and had some sort of friendship. However, out of nowhere, boom, she’s dead. I don’t think he experimented on her with a chest burster due to the fact that there are no other aliens on the planet when the Covenant arrives.

Now the Covenant shows up, and we have people stepping on the spores that impregnate people with these neomorphs. This whole process, in my opinion, was great. I liked how it went into them, gestated, and burst through their spines. Very cool shit. The only not-so-cool thing was the trope of the dude getting sick, feeling sick, and saying “nah, I’m fine, nothing’s wrong”. They’re on an unknown world where diseases can easily affect them, why wouldn’t he bother saying something. The scenes could have had just as much impact, and it wouldn’t feel cheap. Then we move along to the shit with David. Apart from him killing Shaw and taking her apart, we find out that HE is the one that created the Xenomorph (It’s not exactly the same, but extremely close to the classic ones). He lures the captain down to his egg chamber, the idiot captain puts his face in the egg, and BOOM! Facehugger to the grill. Then, an insanely short time later, he wakes up and almost immediately gets his chest cracked open by his new baby Xeno. Now, there were many atrocities during this whole bit. First, facehuggers stay attached for a long time, not a few minutes. Second, when the remove themselves, it’s at least a few hours before the chestburster comes out. Third, the chestburster is more of a snake-like creature and not just a miniature NECA figure of a warrior alien. Finally, to top it all off, it starts mimicking David is some silly ass scene that was just so ridiculous that I almost laughed in the theater.

So there it is. David created them. No idea how, with no queen and no hosts aside from Shaw, whose body didn’t appear to have hosted anything. The entire space jockey/engineer story is washed away and ignored so we can see the android create the Xenos, thus David fulfills his foreshadowing scene in the beginning saying that creators get killed by their creations. How very Mary Shelly. This just irks the shit outta me, and goes against much of the other established canon, even from Prometheus. For example, Xenos and a queen are seen in the ship in prometheus, so how did he create them when they existed before?

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Damnit Ridley, you’re following the wrong example!!!!

Now we get to the Xenos themselves. They did look pretty cool, for the most part. The CGI wasn’t all that great, but the design was good. Sadly, they were kind of stupid, and not all that scary. During the fights with them, I didn’t really feel like the crew were in mortal peril. There was just so very little tension in the scenes. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat, and honestly I felt more excitement during the neomorph battles in the wheat. They seemed smarter, which goes against the whole perfect organism thing. Another thing that really helped with the previous films, sound and music. The others used both to set the mood so incredibly well, and this movie just falls short of that. There weren’t really any memorable moments in the score or sound effects that I recalled even when walking out of the theater.

Now, the ending. First, how’d they kill the Xeno? Yup, you guessed it, right out the airlock. Also, that scene was just a bit silly, with her dodging at the last second as if it couldn’t see the huge ass fucking bulldozer approaching from behind her. Then, she is seen joking around with Tennessee, the dude whose demeanor is NOTHING like someone who just lost the love of his life, and most of his fellow crew. Finally, Walter. He puts her in her pod, and she then realizes that it’s really David. First, David can’t heal and Walter can, so she should’ve known earlier when she was stapling his face. Second, the hole in his chin mysteriously disappeared. And finally, C, his hair is a different color and cut. Did he hit up the salon on the way? I don’t think the engineers had much use of hair care products. It was such a ridiculous and stupid trope to throw in there, and so incredibly obvious, that it was downright insulting at this point.

Some will say that this is all butthurt because this wasn’t the Alien movie we all wanted. I call bullshit on that. This was more like the TV show Lost. It seems like there were all sorts of different directions he wanted to go in, so he went in all of them, and couldn’t decide which would be the official story. Then he expects us to be OK with him choosing the dumbest and most cliché direction of all, and ignore all the plot holes and the shitty change of tone that now affects the entirety of the franchise. Changes to canon like this are like the butterfly effect, they bloom outward and change the rest of canon, for good OR, in this case, bad.

 

 

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Fighter practice update 5/16

I’m gonna start using this to log info from my practices, as a way of keeping my progress and letting me know who I met and when. Last night I attended my 5th overall practice. I also attended practice last Thursday, where there were 7 people in armor, which was cool cuz we learned a little about melee. I’ll take this piece by piece.

Last Thursday’s practice had me doing some 1 on 1 with the woman who I sparred with the week before. I started out by fixing my shoulder cop, which had come off a few days before. My shield also needs new edging, but I haven’t gotten to that yet. Anyways, 1 on 1 was good. I felt more in control of my defense and didn’t let as much in. She advised me that I should use my height advantage more, but I’m still hazy on how to actually do that. Next we did some small melee training. This was 3 of us noobs and the woman I’d been sparring with against the 3 more seasoned fighters. We went 1 for 3, which I take as pretty good. It was TOTALLY different than a straight up fight. Much more craziness and disorder, hard to stay together and control the pace. We ended off with some 2 on 2, me and another noob vs the woman and a noob. We won the first round by getting them both. Second round, my partner got tagged early, so it was 2 on one. I got lucky and tagged the newer fighter so it was just a 1 on 1, which she said we could stop without finishing since we’re trying for melee stuff. The end of the night, I found Brad, a gent a little taller than me, but much faster and far more skilled. He used a two handed ax. I did ok, and was able to avoid getting creamed until his gauntlet took a hit and the joint froze. We couldn’t un-stick it so we called it a night.

Last night I started out talking to a guy named Will, and sparring an older gent who was just getting back into the game. Throughout the night, I fought him, a woman who went by the name Purple, Tor, and Tycho at the very end. Tor and Tycho are both lefties, and I’m MUCH worse fighting them. Tycho and Purple were only there to get authorized, so they probably won’t have repeat performances anytime soon. Against the two righties I think I did ok. Not great, but a solid OK. I was able to stay alive for a fair amount of time, usually, and got a few shots through here and there. Against the lefties, not so much. I’m leaving myself far too open on my right side, and leaving my elbow to far out. Thankfully both gents were kind enough to not abuse the openings too much, and just threw out a few “reminders” that my blocking still sucks. My biggest issue, though, seems to be my shot mechanics/technique. I just haven’t had the time to spend working at the pell to practice them, and my lack of upper body strength is certainly a factor as well. I’m very slow, and don’t usually hit hard enough to kill. Will showed me how to do proper wrap shots, though the motion feels awkward and weak. Still, overall I wouldn’t consider it a “bad” practice. I think, at this point, any practice where I don’t get really injured is a good one. I just have so much to learn, and I need so much work. I’m hoping by going twice a week that I’ll start to actually see some improvement before war in a few months. If nothing else, just for endurance and strength. My arms get VERY tired after awhile, and I get out of breath pretty quickly.

The only thing that kinda worries me is the thought that when I hit the peak of my ability, that I’ll still be so bad that I won’t enjoy myself any longer. I’m having fun now, and I really enjoy the sparring and learning. But I know myself from the other arts I’ve done, and my lack of a drive, that killer instinct, always held me back in those. Maybe I’ll be able to get over that. Only time will tell.

Getting into the swing of things

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“A story of thicking and wraps to the ass…”

Well, it finally happened. I finally got enough armor together to start learning to fight in the SCA. There are a few practices that happen near me, so I reached out to pretty much everyone to see what my options were. First, the Thursday night practices. I went to those a few times a few years back, but only worked on pell work. The one time I tried on armor there, it didn’t really fit me and I couldn’t do shit. Second, is a Sunday morning practice. I tried going to that a few weeks back, but issues with my helm, and the fact that it was freezing cold, caused me to abort. Since then my weekends have been jammed and I haven’t been able to go back. Finally, there’s a Monday practice which an old friend of mine was able to get me into. Keep in mind that each practice is with different people, and not the same group.

So, two weeks ago I attended what is, for all intents and purposes, my first real practice. I went to the Thursday one and geared up. There were only two others in armor there, but we worked on some basics. Stance, blocks, footwork, etc. All in all it was good, and everyone was really cool about everything. The following Monday I went to the other practice and worked with my friend and another guy. I missed Thursday and Sunday that week, but went again to Monday practice last night and had another good practice (by my standards).

All in all, from the feedback I’ve gotten, I’m apparently going relatively well for a beginner. Not great, but not awful, and I’m learning. That said, my body getting used to this is rough. After the first few practices, my muscles were so sore I had trouble getting around. After last night, my muscles are sore again, but nowhere near as bad. The only parts that hurt are the unarmored areas that got hit cuz my defense is sorely lacking (SORE! PUNS!).

I must say, though, when I first attended practices years ago, my experience wasn’t as good. There were people there who gave off a vibe that put me off, and I’ve learned by now to trust my instincts. I could have continued going, even without a kit (armor), but I chose to back away instead. These past 3 practices, however, have been very different. The people there are mad cool, patient, and helpful, and really seemed to express an interest in getting me up to speed. In return, I’m doing my best to push myself and not be myself too much, in an effort to prevent me from saying/doing anything to rub others the wrong way.

So now starts the work, and I need quite a bit of it. According to one guy last night, my defense is good for a noob, which I take as a big win. My offense is sorely lacking, but I knew that’d be an issue. I was always more of a defensive fighter, even in martial arts. I see other fighters being aggressive, and one of my biggest concerns is that I’ll never be able to get to that level of aggression. I just never had that killer instinct. Still, I’m approaching this from a place of pure honesty with myself. If I have fun and enjoy doing this, which I currently do, then I’ll keep at it. If I start not liking it, I’ll just pass my gear onto someone who needs it. I’m also going to try and not let others discourage me. I know there will be people who will talk shit, make comments, throw out some put-downs, etc. I’m gonna do my best to brush those aside and not let it ruin my enjoyment. So far it’s been good, and I hope it stays that way. I’ve got a pretty long road ahead, but I’m actually setting myself a realistic goal, and a not-quite-so-realistic one. I’d like to make it to the quarter finals in a tourney, which I think may be possible with a few years of hard work. The other would be to win one, which I think would require a perfect storm of good luck to achieve. Either way, I hope to one day learn enough to be able to teach others and pass it along. You know what they say, those who can’t, teach. I’m ok with that, so long as there’s fun to be had!