Alien: Covenant [IMAX]
A consistently gorgeous, often exciting and occasionally philosophical - and theological - entry into the Alien franchise that reflected a back-to-form for good storytelling by Sir Ridley Scott. There were enough scares and excitements despite the predictability of the plot, but at least significantly less ridiculousness than "Prometheus". And this time there were double the Michael Fassbenders who really carried the film on his god damn perfectly composed shoulders.
From the opening shot and scene, Scott, his frequent cinematographer Dariusz Wolski and co-writer John Logan (he of the beautiful "Penny Dreadful" musings) established the aesthetics and theme of the film. Together with the ending, the short prologue beautifully bookend this film and heightens the expectations for the next instalment of the franchise.
One of the biggest challenges of this franchise really how to keep it fresh. By now, even the most casual fans will know how the Xenomorph (or its variants) propagates and their arrival almost usually means a death (or two or three...) of the cast. Therefore, Scott really has to work on the origin story and also amp up his game on delivery thrills without turning in horror cliches or turning into torture-porn. And at least this round, with Logan, he weaved a philosophical - albeit superficial - exploration into Creationism and Free Will.
Ultimately, kudos to Fassbender for effectively bringing this vision to life, alhough his experience in "Assassin Creed" must have came in useful. Nonetheless, Fassbender really has evolved into one of the more charismatic actors these days and he will often be the brightest spark in even the silliest and dullest film (see above "Assassin Creed").
The film's most beautiful scene was just an amazingly lensed, contemplative, long shot between two Fassbenders. The beauty was only broken by the nagging tug of "How did Scott et al shoot this scene?!"
David may be one of Scott's greatest character creation in a long time, and this prequel series (almost like a mini-Prestige TV series) will hopefully afford Scott and Fassbender (and ?Logan) to do a deep dive into this fascinating Synthetic.
Katherine Waterston carried on the mantle of the franchise's strong female lead but she fell more into the vein of Winona Ryder rather than Sigourney Weaver or Noomi Rapace. She was more believable in the quiet emotional scenes rather than the explosive badass moments. Her big fight moments felt under baked and victory undeserved - more luck than pluck.
Billy Crudup replayed his usual character that he has so often been asked to portrayed. The stubborn, self-righteous pseudo-alpha. His character had potential but somehow just ended up being more bluster than real action. I have a feeling that his religion would have been more in the forefront if Logan had his way.
Sadly, the rest of the crew were forgettable. Even Danny McBride's fourth-in-command was a thin sketch of a character. And if you had watched the pre-film teaser, don't expect James Franco to be any thing more than a blip; similarly, the LGBT couple had been scrubbed to "buddies" rather than lovers.
As mentioned, Wolski did a great job lensing the film and Jed Kurzel scored the film adequately. And Milford Sound was a gorgeous choice to set the film in.
When will the next film be out? And what will it be about now? Hopefully, maybe, Scott will turn the table around and do a quieter entry into mythology of the Xenomorphs.