On Christmas Eve 20th Century Fox released the first trailer for Ridley Scott’s next gory chapter in the Alien cycle, Alien: Covenant. In a bit of a deja vu, only four years ago we saw the first trailer and images of Ridley Scott’s touted reboot of the Alien franchise in the 2013 theatrical release Prometheus. Like the trailer for Prometheus, we are left scratching our heads. Alien: Covenant is the sequel to Prometheus, and prequel to the original Alien, yet the trailer makes the new film look an awful lot like the original Alien. Is Scott really releasing a cloaked remake of Alien, banking on some idea similar to the formula J.J. Abrams succeeded with in last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens (a remake of sorts of the original Star Wars)?
Assuming the trailer reflects the final film, which admittedly is not always the case, Alien: Covenant may appeal to fans of the horror and sci-fi shocker Alien. But what about the fans of the Alien sequel Aliens, which focused more on the action above the science fiction and horror components?
Viewers are left to assume that blood-and-gore horror is going to take center stage in Alien: Covenant, although we’ll no doubt get some bits and pieces of sci-fi and some action along the way. The story revolves around the crew of the colony ship Covenant. The crew encounters a planet that is not what it seems and a familiar face–Michael Fassbender’s synthetic borg David, survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.
Check out this trailer for Alien: Covenant:
A new seventeen-part sci-fi/horror series begins next month from Dark Horse Comics. Predator: Life and Death is a four-part series that begins a cycle that spans the worlds of Predator, Aliens, Aliens v. Predator, and Prometheus–similar to Dark Horse’s popular Fire and Storm cycle. Writer Dan Abnett will interconnect four stories, and we have a preview below of the first issue for borg.com readers.
Colonial Marines on the planet Tartarus battle extraterrestrial hunters over the possession of a mysterious spaceship. Weyland-Yutani is after the ship, and the marine captain wants to protect the crew. But neither is likely to get their way when a band of Predators attacks.
Artist Brian Thies and colorist Rain Beredo have created a look that mixes Michael Golden’s The ‘Nam series with classic Sgt. Rock. Issue #1 of Predator: Life and Death is a great looking war comic. Check out a preview after the break:
Not to be confused with Brian K. Vaughan’s successful alternate world comic book series, a very different Ex Machina will soon be on the big screen at a theater near you. From first-time director Alex Garland, writer of 28 Days Later and Sunshine, comes what appears to be a very incredible looking sci-fi movie with a creepy, suspense-filled twist. And it will prep viewers for Star Wars Episode VII with two male leads who soon will star in that eagerly awaited film.
The latest borgs to be interpreted to screen conjure other recent attempts to show us our future via bipedal, human-robot beings. We saw similar, incredibly rendered borg with Spielberg and Kubrick’s A.I., Artificial Intelligence, with Will Smith in I, Robot, and more recently in the Bruce Willis pic Surrogates and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Now meet Ava, played by Alicia Vikander (The Fifth Estate), the latest wonder in sci-fi filmmaking, and the invention of reclusive CEO genius Nathan Bateman, played by Oscar Isaac (Robin Hood, and Star Wars Episode VII).
Bateman plucks Caleb Smith, played by Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter movies, and Star Wars Episode VII), a programmer at his company to test the humanity of Ava and we’re guessing some secret twists are hiding behind the curtain. Will she be an emotional Replicant or a deceptive fembot?
Check out this first trailer for Ex Machina:
Review by C.J. Bunce
You might think you’ve seen it all with five Alien feature films featuring the vile and merciless Xenomorphs. You might really think you’ve seen everything about Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley from the spaceship Nostromo. Ripley, the tough-as-nails heroine of the franchise played by Sigourney Weaver, was the lone human survivor of Alien (1979), and she led the charge against a Xenomorph attack in the sequel Aliens (1986), to come back again after her escape pod crashes onto a penal colony planet in Alien³ (1992), and finally return 200 years later as a human/Alien, Terminator-inspired hybrid clone in Alien: Resurrection (1997). Ripley is on so many best-of lists, like Best Action Heroine and Top 100 Best Genre Character, that it’s impossible to count. Ripley didn’t make an appearance in either Aliens vs Predator (2007) or Ridley Scott’s return to the Alien universe in 2012’s Prometheus, but has appeared in various incarnations in comic book spinoffs. Well you haven’t seen the last of Ripley. To quote the series’ often used tagline, The bitch is back.
A new trilogy series begins later this month, with Tim Lebbon’s Alien: Out of the Shadows. Surprisingly it bridges the period between Alien and Aliens. That’s right, Alien: Out of the Shadows pulls apart what you think happened to Ripley between entering into her deep stasis sleep at the end of Alien and her rescue from that sleep at the beginning of Aliens. And Lebbon does it in a way fans of the series might not flinch at. More importantly he takes Ripley on a nonstop, perilous mission that is as engaging as the grittiest and most exciting scenes in the franchise, the military mission in Aliens.
Chris “Hoop” Hooper works as chief engineer on a mining vessel called the Marion, as part of a Kelland Mining Company search for a rare metal called Trimonite. Kelland is, of course, a subsidiary of Weyland-Yutani—the company that controls everything in the future. Without wasting any paper, Lebbon catches us up with the Marion as two mining vessels go out of control in response to an invasion by certain familiar space “monsters.” The ships ram the Marion–limiting anyone’s chances at survival, at ever leaving the orbit of the seemingly unextraordinary planet below, and causing the Marion to slowly descend to be burnt up in the planet’s atmosphere. Jordan is the Marion’s experienced captain (and Hoop’s former love interest), Lachance is a level-headed pilot but he’s a pessimistic sort, Josh Baxter is the ship’s communications officer (and makes a good cocktail), Karen Sneddon is a hardened, intelligent science officer, Garcia is the nervous medic, and Kasyanov the doctor, with Powell and Welford engineers that keep the Marion’s crew alive for more than eleven weeks until Ripley’s shuttle auto-docks with them, 15 days before they predict they will get too close to the planet and burn up.
The future is under control.
What’s better at a Consumer Electronics Show than a peek at a Consumer Electronics Show of the future? How about a flash forward to the year 2027 and a keynote lecture in the style of a “TED Talk” from an executive from OmniCorp, known for their police protection and security products? Like 2012’s in-world commercial for the cyborg David 8 from the movie Prometheus, the marketing folks at MGM/Columbia Pictures have blended a week of Consumer Electronics Show-themed coverage from Las Vegas into its own teasers for this year’s theatrical reboot of RoboCop.
For those who missed the 2027 CES, this was evidently the highlight of the show:
We even have news coverage of the OmniCorp presentation from the future:
Review by C.J. Bunce
Many times when a movie is heavy with CGI and matte paintings, the overall look can suffer. Not so with Riddick, coming to Blu-ray and DVD on January 14. In his third live-action performance as Riddick, Vin Diesel finds his character marooned on an unnamed desert planet in its own primitive, almost Jurassic stage. The first half of the film showcases the night-visioned anti-hero in an almost Conan the Barbarian-like quest for survival in a very Frank Frazetta-inspired fantasy world setting. It’s a setting that really pops in the new hi-definition Blu-ray format. We’ve previewed the Blu-ray courtesy of Universal Studios, including its extra features.
Riddick manages to surpass the epic second franchise entry Chronicles of Riddick with its more basic and tightly-written survival story. We get a cameo from Karl Urban’s Vaako, including some of those great Necromonger soldiers and futuristic costumes familiar to fans of the series. But this Riddick has more of the feel of the first entry into this world, Pitch Black, also written and directed by David Twohy. Because Twohy has maintained control over the universe and its characters, the three films (plus the early animated entry, Dark Fury) all make for a cohesive and well-designed saga. Twohy discusses his take on the character at length in the special feature “The Twohy Touch.”
Along with the stunning Monument Valley on Mars sets is some excellent CGI and motion capture creature work, including vicious mud-demons which take Riddick down a Ridley Scott-esque path toward films end, and some dog-like jackal beasts. Riddick ends up raising one of these dogs as he finds his way through challenges to grasslands and an abandoned science station, where much of the remaining action takes place. He sets off an S.O.S. beacon which brings two opposing groups of bounty hunter mercenaries, one to get the bounty for his head in a box, the other a military based group with a more personal agenda. Their two ships become Riddick’s target for a plan to leave the planet. His shadow ninja abilities allow him to drop in on these mercs, and create his own form of psychological war. And his early encounter with the mud-demons plays into the coming rainstorm and his face-off with the mercs.
Electronic Arts was at the cutting edge of video games back in the 1980s. Today’s EA provides games with stunning 3D level immersive experiences. In 2008 EA released a very different and modern third-person shooter, science fiction horror survival game called Dead Space. Dead Space was big, selling more than 2 million copies. In the game, players followed along literally over the shoulder of Isaac Clarke–named for science fiction writers Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. Clarke was as an engineer on an interstellar mining starship called the USG Ishimura, where he found himself stuck with some undead creatures called Necromorphs in a setting straight out of Ridley Scott’s Alien. The February 2013 release Dead Space 3 brings along with it a new graphic novel series tie-in: Dead Space: Liberation.
In a year where we saw Hollywood market the worst titled movies to us–Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and yes, Silver Linings Playbook, it’s probably no surprise the Oscar nominations were going to be strange this year. Like always there are really glaring oddities, and after a lot of speculation that we’d see more of the same with the new round of selections, Oscar again fell into its normal traps.
The key problems with the Academy Awards include the marketing barrage that occurs, productions pushing advertising to encourage votes, and even the desire to position the Oscars toward a new, younger audience that becomes evident in more popular than critical nominees. Over the course of several years of Oscars you see unmistakable patterns that develop and the Academy Awards nominations, if not by design then at least as a result, is its own club that favors past nominees over new entrants. Same old news this year and more yawns than excitement. So let’s see what they got right.
Argo for Seven Nominations. Argo was nominated for seven categories, including Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin), Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, Original Score, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing. So this is all fitting for such a brilliant film. But no nomination for director Ben Affleck? You look at his work on Argo compared to the ultimate films up for best director and you really have to shake your head.
Review by C.J. Bunce
Ridley Scott suggests a “sequel to the prequel” is a possibility in the feature material to the October 9, 2012 release of his is-it-or-isn’t-it-a-prequel to Alien blockbuster Prometheus on Blu-Ray, 3D, and DVD. The trailer to the video release gets it just right–there are so many unanswered questions left in this summer’s big-budget blockbuster, sci-fi release that you may think you’re watching 2001: A Space Odyssey. What was this Dr. Manhattan-looking being in the distant past and in our distant future eating that dissolved him into the ocean? How does that being relate to the rather squiggly creature that emerged in one of the movie’s key scenes? Why didn’t Scott just come out and call this a prequel? Surprise, people! It’s a prequel! It’s actually really good at being a prequel, because unlike other prequel movies, it doesn’t re-hash every bit of the original film or films.