March 2, 2017

Summer Movies 2017: Encountering Aliens Both Friendly and Hostile

(AOTN) As a child, the one thing I found I always looked forward to more than the “freedom” from school lessons that came with summer vacation was the eclectic slew of summer movies that went from the beginning of May all the way to Labor Day. One key ingredient to a great summer has always been a healthy and robust lineup of films to appeal to an audience of all ages; action, comedy, drama, horror, family, you name it. Last night, what one can assume will be the final theatrical trailers, both released in time to accompany any screening you’re sure to attend this weekend of James Mangold’s critically lauded Logan, for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Alien: Covenant came to say they’re coming to start the summer with a number of out of this world bangs provided by James Gunn and the good people over at Marvel and legendary filmmaker Ridley Scott making another return to the series that made him a household name.

Much like the trailers for the original Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2’s marketing decides, instead of revealing the plot, to remind us of what made the original such a fun film, ranging from the chemistry, be it comedic or heartfelt, between each member of the team as they embark on another mission to save the galaxy before they are recruited to save our own next summer, a focus on the unique worlds that make up Marvel’s colorful universes outside our own and the equally unique and statuesque alien designs, sure to garner Marvel another Oscar nomination for Makeup come 2018 (which one is sure the comic fans who subscribe the whole “Marvel vs DC” ideology will want now more than ever as Suicide Squad just transcended its critical limitations and won an Oscar in the same category two nights ago), and, of course, a teaser for what to expect on Awesome Mixtape #2, this time in the form of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”.

It also decides to expand on smaller characters from the original film – Michael Rooker’s Yondu and Karen Gillan’s Nebula – who are now full fledged members of the Guardians and the hardships their involvement are sure to guarantee, new reveals of Pom Klementieff’s Mantis and an adorable deal of emphasis on Baby Groot, who, much like his adult counterpart, is sure to garner a major fan base between now and opening night. And, like any good preview, the trailer ends on a perfect note to leave the fans wanting until the evening of May 4th: the Guardian’s encounter with Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russell) and his take on an iconic line from the mechanical mouth of Darth Vader. The summer already sounds like its off to a strong start with James Gunn at the helm.

Two weeks after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the universe becomes a cold, monochromatic labyrinth once again as Ridley Scott continues where he left off with 2012’s divisive Prometheus with the promise to take us deeper down the rabbit hole of the time that was before the crew of the “USCSS Nostromo” discovered no one could hear them scream in space in Alien.

The latest trailer for Mr. Scott’s Alien: Covenant, due out May 19th, tells a different story than Guardians of the Galaxy, that of the crew (including Katherine Waterston sporting a very Ripley-like haircut, Michael Fassbender as this ship’s “trustworthy” android, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir, Billy Crudup, La La Land’s Callie Hernandez and James Franco, of all people; basically, the largest assembly of A-list stars to be slaughtered by hostile extra-terrestrials since Tim Burton blew up congress in Mars Attacks!) of the ship “Covenant” as they travel the galaxy in search of new planets to colonize and inhabit. As is the custom for any crew of a movie with “Alien” in the title, the “Covenant” lands on a planet that seems to be the place of dreams, from breathable air to grain crops, until a familiar breed of chest-bursting parasite returns to reestablish its position on the food chain of cinema’s most terrifying monsters (although, as tends to be the case when CGI comes into play, the limber (and completely digitized) Xenomorph in its early stages of evolution revealed in the final frames does leave one longing for the days of Tom Woodruff Jr. in expertly applied makeup scuttling around darkened sets).

Currently yet to be featured in the marketing as of now, another form of danger is sure to come in the form of David (also being played by Mr. Fassbender), the now-bodiless android whose machinations ultimately damned the crew of the “Prometheus” and led scientist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace, confirmed to return, though to what extent hasn’t been confirmed yet) deeper into space in search of the Engineers and answers for their hatred of their creation (you know, the questions that left “Alien” fans angry at the end of Prometheus). Whether “Covenant” decides to leave its questions as open ended as “Prometheus” did is sure to be a point that will further unite or divide the “Alien” fanbase, but the marketing so far seems to be a decent indicator that Mr. Scott will be delivering to audiences a product sure to be on a level close to his classics.

It’s ultimately hard to believe the summer and its movie season are already approaching, but the season is quickly making its way here and, if the new trailers for Guardians of the Galaxy and Alien: Covenant are any indicator, 2017’s upcoming crop of summer films – ranging from the tales of Amazonian princesses and spider men to Christopher Nolan’s love letter to 70mm filmmaking and the war that will determine whether the planet is one of man or a planet of the apes – are looking to be a benchmark of the power that can still be found in mainstream cinema. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what it brings.

About the Author

William Coffey

William is a first time film blogger, full time cinema enthusiast. When he’s not writing about film, he’s using his time to work on a number of screenplays and various op-eds about the state of film. He currently lives in Los Angeles.



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