Tag Archives: Sci Fi

‘Alien:Covenant’ review: Is it more like ‘Alien’ or ‘Prometheus’?


When I told friends I saw the most recent addition to the Alien family last week, the first question was always the same: Was it more like Alien or Prometheus? And my answer is always the same, Yes but it is also it’s own. Ridley Scott’s masterful direction is both a sequel to Prometheus and a gateway that is leading the audience to Alien. The film’s prologue begins with a young Peter Weyland introducing his latest creation David (played by one of the best parts and performances of this movie Michael Fassbender) to the world. This is where the elements of Prometheus begin, the religious overtones of creation/God making Man. When David asks Weyland, “If God made Man, who made God?”, you can see Weyland’s’s face shift to the realization that his creation has questioned him and asked what he himself would like to know.

Then, piece by piece, the opening title sequence takes you back to Alien and the tone is set of what the audience is in for.  It’s 2104, 10 years after Prometheus and 18 years prior to the original Alien.   The Covenant is carrying the frozen cryosleep crew of twelve and 2,000 other sleepy frozen passengers along with 1000’s of embryos on a 7 year journey to a distant planet Origae-6 when it is thrown off course by a burst of crap/space storm/neutrino shock wave that shreds this gold shield thing and nearly kills everyone. Luckily, the humanoid watching over the ship, Walter (also Fassbender) wakes up the crew and saves the day, except for (spoiler alert) James Franco. If you are not a Franco fan then this is the movie for you because his demise is not pretty. The crew mourns briefly, fixes the ship, hears a beacon on a seemingly perfect new planet and despite the fact that they have a course set to a destination I’m pretty positive some really smart people have done a ton of research on, they take 3/4’s of the remaining crew and go to this equally inhabitable planet to explore and shortly after that all hell breaks loose.

So here are the pros: Covenant is a dark, haunting, exhilarating exploration in space and bloodier than the previous films in the franchise that brings the scares Prometheus lacked.The Xenomorphs are magnificent in size and scare factor and the introduction of the Neomorphs (add that to your lexicon) are both terrifying and adorable. Plush Neomorphs and baby Groots may be THE gift for the kids this summer. There is also a POV from the Xenomorph that I don’t recall experiencing as an audience member before. As for the performances, the standouts are

DF-14740 – Katherine Waterston as Daniels in ALIEN: COVENANT. Photo Credit: Mark Rogers.

Daniels (Katherine Waterston despite her Floyd Christmas haircut) the female lead reminiscent of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley cautious, couragous and kicking ass. Faris (Amy Seimetz) the ship’s co-pilot who has the most believable performance from the moment she awakens from cryosleep to her encounter with an ill crew member and what transpires after, she is the only member of the team that follows protocol and her fear looks more than real. The standout and star is David/Walter (Fassbender) who is outstanding and entertaining especially in scenes where he acts with, himself. It is clear that writers John Logan and Dante Harper enjoyed writing the scenes between these two characters with a line like, “Watch me…I’ll do the fingering.”

Which leads to the cons: While practical effects were used, there is a quintessential scene where they were not and in my opinion missed the mark where it was an easy target. Award for worst crew in space goes to…. The Covenant. You have 2,000 lives on board your ship and you decide to go exploring? Last time I checked you had a mission and a destination but this shiny penny planet apparently means more than human existense. And who takes 3/4 of their remaining crew to “check out” a perfect uninhabited planet? Do they not show reruns of ANY television show set in space in 2104?

The character development is abysmal. What angers me about this is the 4 minute teaser trailer released 2 months before of a Last Supper with the crew that establishes relationships, personalites, banter and makes you feel and at least know more than 4 of the charachters names. Why this was not added to the final film I don’t understand because this 4 minute addition would have been that touch the film needed.

Despite the lack of character development and storyline plotholes, Covenant is a gorgeous film that splits the feel of Alien and Prometheus. The Covenant ship is a dead ringer for the Nostromo while the landscape of the planet, both barren of life and beautiful is reminiscent of Prometheus.The production design department led by Chris Seagers will be, in my opinion, nominated and possibly winning many accolades during awards season because of their exquisite craftmandship.

Alien:Covenant is a transition film that is an equal mix of Alien and Prometheus with the horror and tension of the original and the ambition to answer the question of creation and life from the latter. While it did not leave me feeling, anything actually, I do believe it is a film with some misses but a film that should be watched and enjoyed in the theater. I guess my disappointment is that I know this is a an A movie that ended up being a B. This is not the end however, which makes me hopeful. Alien:Covenant opens in theaters May 19th.


Discovery has a captain

In an announcement sure to cause even more harry Potter/Star trek fan fic (it exists I assure you) Jason Issacs has been announced as Captain Lorca of the USS Discovery. Issacs is known by fans primarily for his portrayal of Lucias Malfoy in the Harry potter films and sci-fi fans from the underrated Event Horizon.

Captain Lorca joins the expanding discovery crew including Sonequa Martin-Green as Lieutenant Commander Rainsford, Doug Jones as lieutenant Saru, Anthony Rapp as science officer Stamets and Mary Wiseman playing cadet Tilly (who we can only hope is not this series Wesley Crusher). Dispite beginning production on the series the crew seem to be missing a few key members most notably a doctor, communications officer or anyone from engeneering.

The crew of the starship shenzhou have been anounced headed by Michelle yoah as Capt. Grorgiou, Maulik Pancholy as chief medical officer Nambue and junior officer Connor played by Sam Vartholomeos. While it has not been announced the role the USS Shenzhou will have in the series early speculation is that at some point it will be damaged or destroyed and the crews will combine.
In an unexpected casting announcement James Frain, of orphan black and Gotham fame, will be portraying Vulcan ambassador Sarek. Originally portrayed by legendary actor Mark Leonard, this will be only the second time a character has been played by to actors in the same time line.* the other being that of Zephram Cochrane played first by Glenn Corbett in the TOS episode “Metamorphosis” and later by James Cromwell in “Star Trek: First contact”

*I am not counting the TNG episode “Rascals” as the characters were de-aged due to a transporter malfunction and were restored by the conclusion of the episode so I would chalk this up to being akin to “stunt doubles”

Interview With Author Libbi Duncan On The Scorching

I recently spoke with author Libbi Duncan about getting her first novel The Scorching published. And this what she had to say…

What inspired you to write your first novel and what was the writing process like?

First of all, thanks for inviting me to answer some questions for GeekNerdery. I’m a huge fan of all things sci-fi and fantasy so I’m excited to get involved. You’re going to laugh when I tell you what inspired me… I watched a documentary called Wild China during the fall of 2013-my junior year of college-and the incredible variety of landscapes and animal evolution just blew me away. Weird, right? I was also studying Mandarin Chinese and taking comparative literature and film analysis classes, and in my free time I played a lot of Fallout: New Vegas. All of that combined with my love for adventurous stories like The Hobbit and young adult sci-fi novels like The Hunger Games and somehow this story began to unfold in my mind. It took me three years to get from an idea to a polished novel. Writing the first draft was the easy part. You have to sit down and write every day, set reasonable goals, and never give up. It was a huge challenge, but it was a wonderful, fulfilling experience.

Here’s a brief(ish) look at my writing timeline:

Fall 2013 – I found inspiration, did research, created character notes, and made an outline.

Spring 2014 – I wrote the rough draft during Camp NaNoWriMo (the spring version of National Novel Writing Month, which is held during November).

Fall 2014 – I printed the draft and read it, highlighting and making notes on what was garbage and what was decent.

Spring 2015 – I rewrote the entire novel during Camp NaNoWriMo with a new beginning, new ending, and big-picture plot changes throughout.

Summer 2015 – I sent the manuscript to my beta readers, submitted a chapter to reddit for critique, and cried a lot (haha).

Fall 2015 – I revised again; this time I focused more on scene-level changes to characters, dialogue, thoughts, and style.

Spring 2016 – I sent the manuscript and a query letter to agents. There was some interest, a few requests, but no offers.

Summer 2016 – I polished the manuscript again, tightened up the dialogue and formatting, and tried again. This time I got an offer from my publisher, Black Rose Writing. I signed a two-year contract and began the publishing process.

Fall 2016 – I received editing notes from my publisher and got rid of a few thousand words of repetitive or redundant words and phrases, and I added some more figurative language and imagery. Then I worked with them and a proofreader to catch all of the little mistakes and do final copy edits. I also teamed up with a cover artist and approved all final formatting and changes in early December.

From what I read, The Scorching takes place in space, how much research was there to get everything accurate when it came to spacecraft, gravity generators, and how they all worked?

I don’t want to include any spoilers, but only part of the story takes place in space, and there is a blend of science fiction and fantasy. I did tons of research on the concept of a lunar colony, the main engine for the Madi’s “flyer”, and one type of technology in particular that I can’t talk about because it would give away too much. It’s something currently being researched and developed, but I took it to the furthest extreme of its potential as a way to really connect the realms of science fiction and fantasy.

Your target audience is young adults, why is that the age group you chose to write for?

“Write what you know,” or so goes the saying. I have four younger siblings, I’m a middle school English teacher, and I’ve always enjoyed reading young adult books, so I feel pretty confident in saying that I know young adults and young adult literature. However, I didn’t really set out to write YA specifically. I knew the story I wanted to tell, and I knew the setting, but the characters, style, and voice sort of developed along the way. It didn’t take long for me to realize the book I was writing was meant for the young adult category, but that doesn’t mean adults won’t enjoy reading it as well. I still read YA books for fun. I just recently finished the Across the Universe trilogy by Beth Revis; I highly recommend it for readers who enjoy my book.

Now that you got your first book published, what’s next for Libbi Duncan? Another book, maybe?

The Scorching already has a sequel and a prequel in the works. I’m about halfway through the first draft of the sequel and I have a rough outline for the prequel. I’m even toying with the idea of a standalone companion book that follows a different character that stays on the lunar colony during the timeline of the main series. I think there’s a story there. Beyond that, I have ideas for new stories ranging from dystopian sci-fi to urban fantasy. I get new ideas from dreams, daydreaming, movies, books, TV, or even from witnessing an event in real life that inspires me. If all goes well, I’ll be writing for the rest of my very happy days.

How can readers stay in touch or watch for updates on future books?

I’m on all major social media sites, Goodreads, Pinterest, Instagram, and Reddit. Here are the ones I use most: Facebook, Twitter.

Where is your book available to purchase?

You can order the paperback version of my book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or directly from my publisher’s website. The e-book will be available on Amazon sometime in early February. It will be available in select bookstores as soon as possible.