David Giler

David Giler

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Alien: Covenant Review

Very Good

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events of 2012's Prometheus. And while this film carries on with the bigger themes about creation and identity, at its heart it actually has much more in common with the film in which he kicked off the franchise, 1979's Alien. Yes, this is a horror movie. It's slickly made and packed with engaging characters, and it gets gruesomely scary too.

The setting is somewhere in space in 2104, as the colonising ship Covenant carries a few thousand sleeping earthlings to a new world, tended to by the android Walter (Michael Fassbender). Then a space flare awakens the 15-person crew, and they hear a rogue radio transmission from a nearby planet that's eerily perfect for colonisation. Captain Oran (Billy Crudup) thinks it's worth checking out, potentially shaving seven years off their journey. First officer Daniels (Katherine Waterston) isn't so sure. But off they go, exploring the spectacular mountainous terrain, where they find a crashed ship and a city populated only by the Prometheus' android David (also Fassbender) and some creepy, acid-salivating creatures that he has something to do with.

The plot plays out like a slasher movie, as the crew members are picked off one by one, starting with the ones we don't know and building up to the starrier cast members. Each main actor gets to invest some back-story into his or her role, establishing relationships and personality quirks that hold the interest. Waterston is clearly the protagonist from the start, grieving over the death of her husband (James Franco in video clips) and showing natural leadership skills. Crudup is the impulsive captain who mellows into someone much more intriguing as the story progresses. And McBride has the other standout role as a tenacious pilot. But of course it's Fassbender who walks off with the film, excelling in scenes in which Walter and David engage in a kind of twisted bromance with nasty sibling-rivalry undertones.

Continue reading: Alien: Covenant Review

Prometheus Review


Excellent
There are clear echoes of Scott's last outer space thriller (1979's Alien) in this big, bold film, but this is something very different. It's certainly not a clear prequel. And even if the plot is full of holes, it's utterly mesmerising.

When archaeologists Shaw and Holloway (Rapace and Marshall-Green) figure out that ancient civilisations share a map to a specific star system, the Weyland CEO (Pearce) funds a two-year mission to get answers about the origin of humanity. Led by Weyland crony Vickers (Theron) and Captain Janek (Elba), Shaw and Holloway are accompanied by a helpful android (Fassbender) and a team of not-so-enthusiastic scientists. But what they find on this distant moon isn't what they expected, and the remnants of this civilisation aren't as dead as they seem.

Continue reading: Prometheus Review

Myra Breckinridge Review


Bad
The appropriate response to Myra Breckinridge is wide-eyed bafflement; anybody with anything resembling taste will recognize it as an awful movie within ten minutes. Released in 1970 and under practically Soviet-style repression until now, it is clumsily edited, horribly acted, and practically plotless. It is lascivious without being provocative, and it did damage to the public images of both Mae West and John Huston. No movie has worked harder to try one ironic gag after another and fail every single time; it is idiocy disguised as camp. Yet there's something transcendently misbegotten about Myra Breckinridge that makes it worth studying; the differences between the excellent book and a horrible movie has a few interesting things to say about Hollywood as it stumbled from the '60s into the '70s.

The film is based on Gore Vidal's bestselling 1968 novel, which gave us Myra as a magnificently over-the-top symbol of changing sexual mores, greed, revenge, Hollywood, and how they all intersect. In the hands of director Michael Sarne, the story became a messy sex farce; Vidal stepped away from the project, and for good reason. In the book, Myra romanticizes the great movies of the 1930s, arguing, in fact, that it was the best decade ever for movies. This inspires Sarne to raid the 20th Century Fox vault and cram in seemingly dozens of clips from Laurel & Hardy and Shirley Temple films, sometimes ironically, but mostly sitting there like a bad joke told at a dinner party. (It may be that Myra's sole usefulness is that it inspired a similar idea in the HBO TV series Dream On, actually done well.)

Continue reading: Myra Breckinridge Review

Undisputed Review


Good
The last of his breed of filmmakers, Walter Hill is a prolific, old-school screenwriter/director who's worked in everything: sci-fi, westerns, musicals, noir thrillers, comedies, and action. Over the last couple decades, Hill has produced a plethora of notable gems such as Streets of Fire, 48 Hours, The Warriors, and Southern Comfort. His latest flick - Undisputed - falls smack dab in the middle of cinematic quality: A straightforward tale of two lone, boxing warriors going head to head (and toe to toe) inside a microcosm of violence, power, and greed fueled by the almighty dollar.

Ten years ago, rising boxing superstar Monroe Hutchen (Wesley Snipes) was sent up for life imprisonment due to a fit of passionate and murderous rage. He's serving time in Sweetwater Prison in the Mojave Desert and continues to box in the Inter-Prison Boxing Program with a flawless record and the title of undisputed champion. To prove that he could have amounted to something outside the prison walls, Hutchen unexpectedly gets his chance to fight the undisputed World Heavyweight Champion, George "Iceman" Chambers (Ving Rhames), an arrogant megalomaniac who has recently been sent up for six to eight years for a charge of rape. Hmm, who does that sounds like?

Continue reading: Undisputed Review

David Giler

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David Giler Movies

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

Prometheus Movie Review

Prometheus Movie Review

There are clear echoes of Scott's last outer space thriller (1979's Alien) in this big,...

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Undisputed Movie Review

Undisputed Movie Review

The last of his breed of filmmakers, Walter Hill is a prolific, old-school screenwriter/director who's...

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