"Don't see an Alien sequel" is some of the most reliable moviegoing advice you can get, but Covenant looked gorgeous — and its reviews have been pretty good, too — so I went to check it out last weekend.
It’s really interesting how many elements Ridley Scott carries over from the original Alien. Covenant has an almost identical structure, one designed to warm you up to the characters, stress you the heck out, and then watch you squirm until it's all over. That's why I was so surprised by (and this is a minor spoiler, so skip ahead if you’re concerned) the introduction of a faster, more aggressive iteration of the classic alien.
Even though the film's structure is similar to the original, the pacing of the scary moments changes in such a huge way because Scott is able to dramatically ramp up the speed. Thinking back to the original Alien, I can barely remember seeing the thing move — now, with CGI, Covenant can show these creatures doing all kinds of a wild, dexterous things. In some cases, I think it works. But overall, I definitely prefer the super slow-burn tension of the original.
Check out nine trailers from this week below.
Murder on the Orient Express
I certainly didn't peg Murder on the Orient Express as a book likely to receive a star-studded film adaptation, but it's getting a seriously star-studded adaptation, capped off with Kenneth Branagh both directing and starring as the legendary fictional detective Hercule Poirot. The music in this trailer is kind of mismatched, but overall it's an interesting first look with a fun long shot through a train car with the film's cast all reacting to the titular murder. It comes out November 10th.
Oats Studios, Volume 1
District 9 director Neill Blomkamp is back with some creepy new aliens and a very interesting new project. Blomkamp has set up Oats Studios to produce a series of "experimental" short films that'll get released through Steam. The shorts don't seem to be "experimental" in an art film way; it’s more that they’re a way of testing audience reaction — if people like the shorts, they might then get worked into feature films. That's a smart approach from Blomkamp. His most successful film to date started life as a well-received short. It sounds like he's looking to replicate that with whatever Oats Studios puts out. There's no release date yet for whatever comes first, but it’s supposed to arrive soon.
Sofia Coppola just picked up Best Director at Cannes for The Beguiled, but it turns out she has a second project coming out this summer: a recording of La Traviata, an opera she directed last year. While it's certainly louder and grander than the typical Coppola piece, the sets and sensibilities all seem to have stayed in place. It comes out in the UK on July 9th.
The Mountain Between Us
This looks a little cheesy, but I'm super down with its premise: Kate Winslet and Idris Elba stranded on a mountain, with no one else around, trying to survive. It comes out October 20th.
The Putin Interviews
Oliver Stone, the director behind the hit film Snowden, sat down with Vladimir Putin to ask him about the 2016 election, Russia's view of the US, and Trump, in what's sure to be a fascinating interview series. That said, it's a wide-open question whether Stone is able to grill Putin, or if he'll fall for the notoriously manipulative leader's spin. The four-part series debuts on Showtime June 12th.
Yeah, so officially no one believed Steven Soderbergh would actually retire from moviemaking. And we should all be glad to be so right, because Logan Lucky looks like the kind of movie only Soderbergh could bring us: irreverent, serious, weird, normal, and just generally great. It comes out August 18th.
Hey, it's been all of 30 seconds since we heard from the Duplass Brothers, so here's a teaser for their latest project: Room 104, which appears to be a wild and kind of trippy look at the many, many things that occur in a single motel room. I love the concept. It starts July 28th.
The Last Tycoon
Apparently Amazon really likes the Fitzgeralds. It already has a series called Z that tracks the life of Zelda Fitzgerald, and now it's adapting her husband's final novel into yet another series. The Last Tycoon is about early Hollywood and the spectacle it strived to produce. It looks like a weird mix of salacious and corny, but maybe that's fitting. It hits Amazon on July 28th.
In lieu of a description, I'll just leave you with this quote from The Deuce (and The Wire) creator David Simon: “18 years at HBO, and I think I finally made something my mom can't watch.” It starts September 10th.