Alien: Covenant (Ridley Scott, 2017)

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Alien: Covenant, like the many offerings of that benevolent hydra known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, depends to no small extent on the foreknowledge of its filmic predecessors, both directed by Ridley Scott: the landmark sci-fi horror touchstoneAlien, of course, but more obviously the unjustly maligned Prometheus from 2012. Fittingly, it borrows strands of DNA (as it were) liberally from both, melding the basic structure of both with the grimy, generally no-frills mode of the former and the sense of wonder and existential doubt of the latter. The result is something slightly uncanny, as initially shocking as the notably CGI aliens (a far cry from the hulking suit of the original film), but thrilling and hard-hitting all the same.

What sets Alien: Covenant apart from its forbears is its method for unleashing hell. Functionally speaking, it takes a two-pronged approach, conveniently divided into two halves. The first concerns the various crew members of the Covenant, a deep-space colony mission diverted by a mysterious transmission issuing from a heretofore unknown planet that seems completely suitable for life, including acting captain Christopher (Billy Crudup), second-in-command Daniels (Katherine Waterston), chief pilot Tennessee (Danny McBride), and android Walter (Michael Fassbender). The second picks up neatly after various survivors of the initial alien attack are assisted by David (Fassbender again), the android figure from Prometheus who has been dwelling on the hostile planet for ten years.

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This Week at the Multiplex

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After ten days in Vancouver and another couple of weeks trying to recover from ten days in Vancouver, I’d fallen quite a bit behind on the early stages of autumn multiplex season, the time of year when superheroes and cartoons recede from Seattle Screens to be replaced by middling movies for grownups, long shot award hopefuls, and films that star actors people like me (old people) grew up with. So over three trips to the multiplex this past week, I caught up with five of the first wave of what will amount to the (self-proclaimed) best Hollywood has to offer in 2015. More of the same will follow between now and then end of January, when the stragglers of Oscar season will finally make their way onto Seattle Screens, but if the early returns are any indication, this is shaping up to be a solid year for the American cinema. And when you consider that it’s also a banner year for international film, the year in film 2015 is shaping up quite nicely indeed.

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