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Diet Alien — Alien: Covenant Review

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Never has an Alien movie felt so rote — so … familiar.

Looking back, each film in the series had something new or original to offer, even if the overall package was hit or miss.

The first two films are considered classics — rightly so and each for varying reasons. The first film, Alien, was a gripping horror movie that gave science fiction movies a new angle. Its sequel, James Cameron’s Aliens, went the more-is-better route, giving audiences a war movie pitting human forces against an overwhelming and superior company of predators.

Subsequent movies weren’t as well-received — Alien 3 went through numerous rewrites, and the final result felt like a letdown in contrast to what could have been. Alien: Resurrection went far into the future with a cloned Ripley and an interesting cast of characters, but it lacked the spirit of previous films.

And the prequel Prometheus tried to expand the lore while exploring religious and moral plot points. Many felt it was too convoluted and messy, while others critiqued it for silly characters who just couldn’t keep themselves from dying.

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Conspiracy Reality — Snowden Review

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Oliver Stone’s Snowden biopic opens with a title card declaring the events and characters you’re about to witness have been dramatized.

But anyone with an Internet connection and the ability to Google the words Snowden and PRISM will find the truth that inspired the movie is actually quite terrifying.

In 2013, government contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified government information to the press, sending the intelligence community in Washington into a panic. His actions branded him a traitor to some while others considered him a patriot in the truest form. Believing he wouldn’t get a fair trial due to the Espionage Act, Snowden decided to flee his Hong Kong hotel and seek asylum while the rest of the world pored over the information left in his wake which provided details about illegal activities conducted by the United States government.

The stuff that came out in the news was the stuff of conspiracy theorist nightmares. The leaks put a spotlight on government initiatives and programs like PRISM, an extensive surveillance program that collected and stored information obtained through telecommunications and the Internet. It was also discovered that the NSA had covertly installed backdoor programs into foreign systems around the world that could potentially take down entire networks with the press of a button. Alarming was the fact that these programs weren’t necessarily designed to combat exterior threats — PRISM was used on American citizens as well, and the backdoor programs were installed on computers in ally nations.

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Still a Monster Movie — 10 Cloverfield Lane Review

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Seven-plus years after the found-footage film Cloverfield brought back gigantic movie monsters in a really big and dizzying way, 10 Cloverfield Lane picks up the pieces and goes for a counter, but somehow intuitive, minimal approach.

Eschewing the first movie’s first-person cameraman style that induced a level of dizzy spells and motion sickness unseen since The Blair Witch Project, the blood-related sequel is the cinematic equivalent of a bottle episode with scenes of intense drama unfolding inside the confines of an underground doomsday shelter.

Aspiring fashion designer Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) leaves New Orleans after her relationship with boyfriend Ben becomes untenable. Driving through a rural area, she takes her eyes off the road when Ben calls and is suddenly driven off the road after a collision.

She wakes up in a DIY doomsday shelter owned by the unsettling Howard Stambler (John Goodman), an obsessive-compulsive with a calm exterior who suddenly flies into fits of rage when his guests don’t obey his every command. Stambler’s spent a lifetime of resources to plan for the end of the world, and it’s finally come.

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Fantastic Four (2015) Review

“Go see it for yourself,“ they said.

Fans of the movie came to its defense in various comments section, and their words were strong.

“Those who hated it were biased.”

“Yeah, it wasn’t that bad. It was actually pretty good.”

“I hate when people say don’t watch a movie. You should see it and make up your own mind.”

And so, it was decided. On a Wednesday after I visited the comic shop, I stopped by home and picked up my Cinemark popcorn tub and cup because it was time to make up my own mind on the Fantastic Four.

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The Greatest Avenger — Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

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Captain America’s first movie had him playing up the role of public servant, popular/populist hero boosting America’s morale during a major World War.

Unfortunately, the movie played itself, churning out montages, a half-baked second half, and an anti-climactic battle with archvillain Red Skull that, altogether, ultimately served the purpose of delivering the Captain to the modern age just in time for the Avengers movie.

The good ol’ Captain deserved more — so much more — and it’s finally here.

The sequel, Winter Soldier, leaves no room for doubting Captain America’s inclusion alongside superheroes Iron Man, Thor, and the Hulk in the star-studded and powerful Avengers. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo have elevated Steve Rogers’ status far above just being an embodiment of ideals or a symbolic figurehead.

In this, the greatest of Marvel movies, Captain America shines thanks to a relevant plot, intelligent scripting, and adept direction that doesn’t settle for your standard summer blockbuster.

Coming to terms with the modern world, Captain America still holds fast to the ideals and beliefs of yesteryear. As a member of the Greatest Generation, Rogers (Chris Evans) is man enough to admit mistakes were made, but the quest was for freedom — not fear — which becomes an issue when he sees to what lengths America will go to protect itself.

An attempt on S.H.I.E.L.D. honcho Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) life upends everything and causes Rogers, the Black Widow Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and newcomer Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) to join forces to take on a familiar enemy embedded deep within Fury’s organization.

The fight becomes especially personal for Rogers when he goes toe to toe with another super soldier — a metal-armed assassin known as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).

Fighting for country without knowing who to trust proves difficult, and there’s a lot of twists and turns as secret identities are revealed, affiliations are chosen, and new villains are introduced. Through it all, the plot stays the course with brilliant action choreography, tense sequences that increase the drama, and great character development that brings some of Rogers’ history full-circle.

Captain America: Winter Soldier is a comic book movie done right, and what the film team has done is build up Captain America’s battle prowess by letting him loose. The parkour sequences with shield tossing don’t feel routine, and the plethora of melee combat scenes never feel stale. A movie like this should be taught to all aspiring filmmakers hoping to take comics from page to silver screen — it builds on the essence of popular characters, brings them into a world worth inhabiting, and unleashes them for full effect without dumbing it down.

It’s a movie that makes you want to believe in superheroes, and then you realize it’s not the shield or the serum that counts. It’s the length we’ll go to protect our friends.

That’s the kind of thing you’d find in a comic, and this is the kind of movie that will bring geeks and movie-goers together in harmony.


Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014)
IMDB
Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo
Written by: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Maximiliano Hernandez, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Toby Jones, Stan Lee, Callan Mulvey, and Jenny Agutter

Rating: 5 out of 5.