Tag Archives: Aliens

Aliens, American movie (1986)

I have talked a lot about sequels on my blog in the past. Some people love them, some people hate them. One can’t deny that in the current movie climate sequels are coming out of the woodwork. Not a year goes by that we don’t get some kind of sequel to a movie that has been successful in the theatres. Usually for the sole reason to obviously make more money. But there are certain films that were so good, so incredible, that you don’t even want a second part. Huh? What’s that? Why would you not want a sequel to a movie that you loved? Well how on Earth could it ever surpass a film that left you in total amazement after you have seen it for the first time? So why tarnish that film with a follow up that can never be as good? I’m sure that is what the moviegoing audience must have thought when Aliens was released, seven years after Ridley Scott’s original Alien. That classic movie is a masterpiece. So how did, at the time relatively unknown director James Cameron, even dare to touch such a sacred work of art. Total blashphemy right? Wrong… People, stop your grinnin and drop your linen: LET’S ROOOOOCCCCKKKKKK!!!

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Jeezzzz, I can never get a break. First I deal with a cybernetic organism, now this crap…..

At the start of Alien a small shuttlecraft is found by a salvageteam. Aboard is the sole survivor of the spacecraft Nostromo, Ellen Ripley. After her rescue she is shocked to learn that she has been in cryosleep for 57 years. When she tells the story of what happened to her and her crew, to a bunch of executives of The Company, no one really believes her. Especially since the planet where the Nostromo first encountered the terrifying alien species is now terraformed and has been occupied by a human colony for several years. In all that time no one ever reported anything out of the ordinary. Ripley is being dismissed and left to deal with her demons alone. Waking up in a cold sweat every night, Ellen feels like she is slowly losing it. But then she is contacted by Company man Burke, who tells her that all contact has been lost with the colony on LV 426, and that they need her help in finding out what is going on. At first Ripley is very reluctant to do so, but eventually she relents and together with Burke and a group of Colonial Marines she heads back towards the planet of her nightmares. But the nightmare is even worse than she imagined and not even a group of the toughest hombres of the galaxy might be enough to save the galaxy. This time it’s war….

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What are you looking at me for? I’m just looking for the bathroom.

Let me make one thing really clear to you before I am beginning this review. I almost know this film by heart. I can pretty much recount every single line of dialogue from this film. I could have written this review without even rewatching the movie itself. But the only reason I did watch it again anyway is because I am in complete and utter love with this film. You might even call it a small obsession. This is my alltime number 2 favorite movie, and the best science fiction film that I have ever seen in my entire life. (So Karandi I guess your question has been answered now). To compare Alien and Aliens is almost impossible as they are two completely different films. Where the first Alien is true horror, this second movie is an action film. While of course there are still horror elements in it (it would almost be impossible not to include those, I mean just look at the creatures themselves), it is not as claustrophobic as that first masterpiece. But that doesn’t matter as this film has an intensity and thrill level that more than compensates for that. This film is an express elevator to hell, and it doesn’t let up until the final credits.

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Don’t worry honey, I will protect you from all those nasty monsters.

A big part of what makes this film so memorable is the incredible cast of characters. Let’s start with the heroic Corporal Hicks, played by the in my opinion highly underrated actor Michael Biehn. He is just one of those men that has this natural charisma that you instantly like. In a very tense situation, Hicks is the one that stays frosty and inspires the troops with his calm and motivating presence. His on screen chemistry with Ripley works incredibly well, and there is an underlying romance that is never acted upon, but definitely there. The opposite of Hicks is Hudson played by the late Bill Paxton. Also serving as a bit of much needed comic relief, he has some of the best lines in the film, especially when he keeps losing his cool. In the end though he is every bit the hero that Hicks is. On the sleezeball side is the character of Burke, portrayed by actor Paul Reiser. It’s funny to see him play a role that is quite unusual for him as he normally portrays gentle characters that have a real sense of innate goodness in them. Burke though, is a slimy and utterly loathsome man that only has substantial dollar values in his mind, and has his own secret agenda for coming on this mission.

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Awww…true love here. Isn’t that just the sweetest thing?

But, ultimately it is once again Sigourney Weaver who returns as Ripley, that is the driving force of this film. She got an Oscar nomination for her role and deservedly so. Even more than in the first movie, Ripley is a lean, mean fighting machine. But her love for the young child Newt, the sole survivor of the doomed colony is what makes you like her even more. The bond that forms between the two of  them, is a mother and daughter kind of relationship and ultimately gives this film a true heart. And that is an incredible thing to pull off amidst all the action and incredible special effects. Because really let’s talk about that for a second. There is a fight sequence between Ripley driving a power loader and the Alien Queen that to date I am still in awe of. The way they filmed that sequence is just absolutely astounding, and in spite of it being a film that is now 32 years old, it doesn’t look fake at all. In fact you just have to wonder if the government somehow kept these aliens a secret from us. That’s how incredible this looks. And that scene contains one of the greatest lines ever in a movie. Don’t know what I am talking about? Just look at the clip down below.

I haven’t even talked about some of the other characters like Vasquez, or the android Bishop, but if you let me I could write a review that could possibly go on forever. And as that might become bit too boring I’m going to call it a day here. As this review contains not a single negative word from me about it, I can hear you wonder if I am being objective here. Quite possibly I am not. But for the life of me I really can’t think of anything that was bad in this film. This for me has been and always shall be the greatest single piece of science fiction moviemaking that I have ever had the pleasure of watching. A gripping, powerful and utterly moving film, that is accompanied by the terrific score of composer James Horner, you just have to see this movie at least once in your life. It is in my opinion the best sequel to a film that has ever been made, and I don’t think that there will ever be a greater sequel in movie history. Then again, I have been wrong before. So in the words of Hudson: Game over man! Game over!

I give Aliens a 10 out of 10 score.

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Alien, American movie (1979)

Although the official part of my science fiction and horror theme month might be over (the requested reviews), the month it self definitely isn’t yet. And this is well, not a real request, but more something that came up in a conversation. I was talking to Lina the other day (No,not going to be doing a promo here again, you already all know how awesome she is. And if you don’t just press on the link and go follow her already. Whoops…still did a promo, sorry!) and at one point the conversation came to science fiction films. And how cool the movie that I am about to do a review for still is even after so many years. So, seeing as this is one of my all time favorites, and I was planning on writing this one anyway at some point, I figured I might as well do it now. And Lina wanted me to write this too, so there is that. It was the late 70’s when this film came out, and remember this was around the time when the first Star Wars movie had become an overnight success. Science fiction was a very hot property to have and movie studios had certainly discovered that. But audiences just weren’t prepared for the terrifying vision that director Ridley Scott had on this genre. In space no one might hear you scream….but in the movietheatres everyone could hear you scream!

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I know some people like to cover their eyes when going to sleep. This is a bit extreme though…..

In the darkness of space a large spaceship slowly comes into view. The camera moves inside the craft where lights and machinery is being turned on by the ship’s computer. Not only the ship is coming alive though, but also it’s human crew, that is being awakened from their cryosleep. The ship is called the Nostromo, and after having been in space for a very long time, it’s crew that includes Captain Dallas and Warrant Officer Ripley, were looking forward to finally heading back to Earth. But unfortunately they are not anywhere near their homeplanet. A transmission of some kind, maybe even a distress signal, has been picked up from the nearby planet designated LV-426. As per their company’s policy they are obligated to investigate any unknown signals. Using a shuttlecraft they descent towards the surface of the planet. When they finally make it to the ground a small team, under the command of captain Dallas, is leaving the shuttle behind to find out where the signal originated from. Meanwhile Ripley stays on board the ship trying to decipher the transmission. When she finally manages to uncover at least a part of it, she finds out it was not a distress signal, but a warning. However, that warning has probably come to late. For what they find on the desolate planet is something that has come straight out of the darkest pits of hell itself….

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Heeeeeerreeeee’s……Johny!!! Erm…no wait….

It doesn’t matter that this film is now almost 40 years old. Because it is still every bit as terrifying as when this was first released all those years ago. What we have here is a movie that might very well be one of the most claustrophobic horror films ever made. Right from the very start of the movie, when the letters of the word Alien begin to slowly make an appearance, the atmosphere for this film is pretty much set. It is a dark film, both in tone, but also in subject matter. One of the most memorable sequences ever created for film, and maybe even one of the most horrifying ones, is where the alien’s first form emerges in all it’s bloody glory on the screen. The reactions that you see at that point from the terrified cast were real. Ridley Scott never told them exactly what would happen at that scene when they filmed it. And even if he would have told them, I think they would still all have been shocked at the way it looked. Even today it is still horrible. The only reason I’m not going into any more details is because I don’t want to give away spoilers in case you might have not seen this one yet.

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In the future amusement park attractions have certainly come a long way.

The alien itself, designed by H.R.Giger, an artist from Switzerland that has sadly passed away, is a vision that seems to have been born straight out of the mind of a complete madman. It’s dark and sleek form, that can even be called very sexual in a disturbing kind of way, is one of the best movie monsters ever created. Director Ridley Scott has done a great job in not showing the monster right away, but just taking his time, building up to the reveal. It works perfectly. But when talking about Alien, it is not enough to only mention the cool set designs, the terrifying creature and terrific special effects. No…there is one other element that makes this film so great, and that is actress Sigourney Weaver. In her role as Ripley she created the most iconic female character to ever make an appearance in a science fiction movie. She is totally bad ass. Ripley is not only a strong figurehead for women all over the world, she is a character that personifies the word girlpower. Yes she is scared, who wouldn’t be when faced with such a terrifying creature. But she doesn’t cower in a corner: she takes the lead, and does something about it. And by doing that she more than gives the men in this film a run for their money.

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I’ve got some thinking to do here. Will I go shopping tomorrow? Or kick some aliens behind?

The rest of the cast of characters in this film also do a great job in their respective roles, especially actor Ian Holm who plays the sinister character of Ash. And yes, trust me when I say that he becomes very sinister indeed. I could go on talking about this film all day. Don’t worry I won’t be doing that as this review is already getting pretty long. Alien is simply one of those rare films that, just like the Xenomorph itself, is simply the perfect organism. It’s a timeless film, that doesn’t feel dated even for a single second. Okay, maybe the spaceship scenes don’t look as great anymore as they did back in the days. But seriously I’m really nitpicking now. Well..and now there is a question that needs to be answered, right Karandi? Is this film better than it’s sequel? Sorry…I’m not going to answer that one just yet. I will though….soon…in the review for Aliens that will be coming up somewhere next week (yes…I am evil that way). As for this film: see it! That’s pretty much all I can say about it. It is one of the most powerful science fiction horrormovies ever made, and I absolutely love it!

I give Alien a 10 out of 10 score.

Starship Troopers, American movie (1997)

Can you believe it? This is already the final requested review for my Science Fiction & Horror theme month. But that doesn’t mean that this is the end of the month itself though. There are still some reviews coming up, one that is kind of a request as well, but I don’t want to give that one away yet. (Although there is probably one person reading this that knows what I am talking about). Now, this review was requested by someone that I really think the world of and is truly special. I am talking about the astonishing Dani who has a blog that focusses on books. Even if you don’t like books, I still urge you to follow her anyway though. You know how some people can have a rough time in their lives, but still triumph in the end? Dani pretty much wrote the book on that. She is a powerhouse of a woman, that just spreads so much happyness and joy around with her reviews and comments, that you cannot help but smile. And considering all that she has been through, that is something that still amazes me to no end. My respect for her is enormous. Her positive attitude is something inspiring and if this hasn’t convinced you to follow her now, go and check out her amazing blog and you will know what I mean. Dani, my amazing and kindhearted beautiful friend, as you are so fond of saying: you rock! This review is for you!

The review

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Hey look, it’s a giant erm….🤔🤔🤔

 

Yes, we humans are at it again. In the 23rd century we begin colonizing new planets and wouldn’t you know it, we of course encounter a hostile alien species. Well, at least we know that we humans are always very peaceloving beings right? So what do we do when we encounter something that is hostile? We of course squash it. And in this case that term is pretty relevant as this hostile alien race are a bunch of bugs. Only not the kind that you can trample underfoot. No, I’m talking about big giant bugs that are as big as houses, and a few that are even bigger than that. These Arachnids, as they become known, are hellbent on destroying our beautiful planet, and so we go to war! But for a war one usually needs soldiers. The Federation is the organisation that governs the Earth and in order to gain citizenship that grants special privileges one can for instance, enlist in the military. John “Johny” Rico decides to become a soldier against his parents wishes. His girlfriend Carmen Ibanez and one of his best friends, Carl Jenkins soon join him in the Federal Service, together with Isabelle Flores (who secretly has a crush on Rico….awwwww). One of their first missions will sent them to the heart of the Arachnid race, their homeplanet Klendathu. And this is ofcourse going to be a peace of cake right? Erm…wrong. Soon John is about to find out that the human invasion force might have bitten of more than they can chew……

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Taking selfies in the future can be very hazardous to your health.

Starship Troopers was directed by Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, who is responsible for such science fiction classics as Total Recall and Robocop. And most people that know his style will probably also know that he really isn’t one to handle things in a very subtle way so to speak. Extensive use of gore and sex/nudity are certainly some of his trademarks. One only has to watch Basic Instinct and you will get the picture. And this movie definitely isn’t an exception. In a pretty controversial scene we get a number of the male and female soldiers all taking a shower together, and yes they are naked. One has to wonder if this was a scene that was purely added to shock audiences or if it served any kind of purpose. But we have a film here that also is meant, in part at least, as a satire. The “benovelent” Federation, is little more than an institution that sends young people into a meatgrinder. But the way that is done, the propaganda it uses in for instance television commercials, is at times quite hilarious.

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Iron Fist is in this film as well? That is so awesome!

Another thing that one has to note is the actors that are being used in the roles of soldiers. Casper van Dien, Denise Richards and Patrick Muldoon are all way to pretty to be playing at Gi-Joe/Gi-Jane. But this was also clearly the intention of Paul Verhoeven. The acting in this film is quite atrocious. It’s so wooden at times that there are some scenes that become unintentionally funny. But in amongst the youngsters are luckily a few veterans such as Michael Ironside and Clancy Brown. Both of them have some fun parts in playing veteran soldiers that work as drill instructors, that try to get the new men and women into shape. Casper van Dien plays the hero of the movie, John “Johny” Rico (seriously who came up with that name), and he is just likeable enough to carry you through the film. Actress Dina Meyer’s character Isabelle, is one of the characters that you will like the most. She plays the tough woman soldier that kind of kicks ass, but also has a weakness, her love for Johny.

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Hi! Now I am here to give you some make up tips before you head off to war.

But where this movie excells at is the fights against the Arachnids. While I am not quite convinced by the special effects they used for the shots in space , they more than make up for this in the way they depict the bugs. Usually with films like these you see the monsters in total darkness. Here though, we get fight sequences in full daylight, that not only look enormously convincing, but are also highly entertaining. The multiple different species of Arachnids are definitely the highlight of this film. The fights are bloody and very gory, and we get to see people that literally get torn apart by these nasty critters. As such it is definitely not a movie that is for the faint of heart, or when you are easily shocked by violence. But, it has to be said, this is a war movie. And even though we are of course talking about a fictional war against an inhuman species, it’s still a war. And war is never pretty, no matter which way you look at it. And this comes across perfectly as Starship Troopers doesn’t pull any punches on that front.

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You have a metal hand? That is just disgusting. Get away from me!

So is Starship Troopers a film that is worth seeing? Well…..hell yes! I’m not going to lie here, this won’t be a film that pleases everyone. There is enough stuff in this film that probably will have some people raise their eyebrows, especially considering the acting involved and the extensive use of excessive gore and violence. But if one is willing to look beyond that, and enjoy the film for what it is, you will have a blast. This is just a solid peace of sciencefiction action film making, with cool creatures and some incredibly well made special effects fight sequences. Considering this film is now over 20 years old (seriously where does the time go), it is one of those nice and cool cultclassics, that will always be fun to watch. And I also like the fact that this movie doesn’t take itself too seriously either. Now if you will excuse me, I’m off to go find me some bugs to squash. Naw….not really. Unless they are wasps that is…..

I give Starship Troopers a 8 out of 10 score.

February’s Theme: Science Fiction & Horror movies

Can you believe it? The first month of the year is already over. Time sure does fly when you are having fun right? But with January now being a thing of the past (though I am pretty sure it will return next year), this means we now have a new month to get through. And a new month, means a new theme for my blog. In January I already let you know what that theme would be, namely science fiction and horror movies. But that’s also because I needed your help. You might recall that I asked you all to let me in on which movies you would like me to review. A lot of you gave me some awesome suggestions, and now the time has arrived to decide which ones would be the winners. So how did I set about in doing this? I of course consulted a number of the most scientific and inventive minds our world has to offer. Erm…sorry to disappoint but no, not really. Let’s find out how I did decide and then ofcourse which ones have made the cut so to speak.

Total Randomness

Now I did not really use rocketscience people. In fact it was all done in a very basic way. I  made two lists from all of your comments, one for the horror movies, one for the science fiction movies. Each comment got a number, and after buying a random number generator from the Appstore, I let fate decide on the winners.

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The horrormovie list! With 26 movies to choose from.
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The science fiction movie list! With 28 movies to choose from.

So….who has won? Well, let’s find out shall we?

And the winners are……(horrormovies)

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The random number generator selected number 9 and number 14 from this list. Number 9 was a suggestion from Vinnieh and will go down in history as the oldest movie that I have ever reviewed on my blog: The Haunting from 1963. The second number, being 14 was a choice made by Shadowcat99 namely the Stephen King adaptation It from 1990.

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And the winners are……(science fiction movies)

imageFor the science fiction movielist we get two numbers that were next to each other. The first, number 22 was a suggestion by Bizarre Brunette the epic Pacific Rim. The number 21 that was selected next, was chosen by Dani being the Paul Verhoeven classic, Starship Troopers.

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In closing

Congratulations to the winners! I hope that the reviews I’m going to write for your choices will live up to your expectations. And, each review will also as promised contain an honorable mention, which means a small promo from me about your blogs as a thank you for participating in this event. Just like last month, the theme will not be the only thing that is going to be happening on my blog. There will also be plenty of other content heading your way for some anime, another Korean dramaseries and hopefully a book review as well. I’m looking forward to another cool month of blogging. Thank you all for reading, see you around!

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Sorry could not resist in scaring you a little bit. My apologies…😈😈😈

 

 

Xenoshyft Dreadmire, a boardgame for 1-5 players by Cool Mini or Not (2016)

In the time where I still played computergames, there was a certain type of mission that I always truly hated. I can tell you that many a controller almost died, when I let out my anger on that helpless piece of machinery. The type of missions that I am talking about, is the ones where you had to defend a base from a couple of waves of enemies. Usually there was a timer, and you saw that one advancing in agonizing slowness, while the health of your base dropped faster than you could even blink. Aagh, I get frustrated by even thinking about it. But we all know that anger can lead to the Dark Side (yes Master Yoda), so I’m pretty glad I don’t play computergames anymore. No, these days I am back to oldschool gaming. You know, those games that don’t use computers or controllers, otherwise also known as boardgames. Last year I purchased the excellent card/boardgame Xenoshyft Dreadmire. In this game for 1-5 players you have to defend your base from being overrun by alien enemies. Wait, what? Erm….that can’t be right? Can it?

Components

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Yup…it’s a pretty big box. 

This being a cardgame it is probably not going to come as a really big surprise that this game contains cards. And a lot of them as well. You will find close to 400 cards in this box, that feature the different types of enemies, troops, weapons and other stuff that you are going to be dealing with in this game. But these aren’t just any normal types of cards. No, you will find that the illustrations on these are serious works of art. The vile enemies that you will face in this game are absolutely disgusting and horrid creatures. And the illustrations that depict them are truly the stuff of nightmares. Also included are a couple of cardboard boards, on which you will place the cards as well as the troops to defend your base (more on that below). Rounding out the game are a couple of plastic tokens that you use to keep track of health and powers, and a rules booklet. (Well, duh …you do want to learn this game don’t you?). The rulebook is written very clearly and gives enough examples to learn you the game in basically no time at all. And if you have trouble remembering a rule, you can find it quite easily during gameplay. Besides the rather dull boards, the components are top notch, and awesome to look at.

Game overview

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Hey, I already said the artwork for this was amazing right?

This game is being described as a strategic base defense deck builder. That is quite a mouthful isn’t it? But it is not as hard as it sounds. This game takes place in a science fiction universe where the Nortec Corporation is trying to recover the very precious resource called Xenosathem. This being the ultimate energy source that powers weapons and basically provides unlimited power, it is a highly coveted commodity. But it also has a nasty side effect: it turns the indigenous lifeforms into horrifying monsters. Of course this doesn’t stop a greedy corporation from wasting precious human lives in order to recover this stuff. And that’s where you, the players come in. This game simulates one of those mining operations, where you have to defend the Nortec base from being overrun in a series of nine game rounds.

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Just a couple of the friendly neighbourhood creatures you will encounter.

Everyone starts of with a set of basic lowlevel cards. Some of these cards can be used to buy new troops and weapons in order to make your deck of cards more powerful. And that’s where the word deckbuilder comes into play. When everybody has bought their cards the “fun” begins. The troops and weapons you have purchased are placed on a player’s lane, and will be your first and only line of defense against the horrible creatures that are trying to destroy your base. Of course there is a limit to the number of troops and weapons you can place, and as such players have to think strategically what they are going to be using. When everything is placed, the enemies enter an opposing lane. There are three waves of enemies that players need to survive, and each wave consists of three rounds. So in other words players need to overcome nine rounds in order to win the game.

Each wave you can buy more powerful stuff, but the enemies also become stronger. After the enemies are placed combat begins. Enemies deal their damage to troops first, but when there are no troops left, the base gets damaged instead. The base has a certain amount of damage it can take, and when it’s down to zero, it’s game over. So that in a nutshell is how this game gets played. Pretty simple huh?

Difficulty

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Definitely not something you see every day…..

This game is quite easy to learn. Especially if somebody is around that has played the game before and can teach it to other players. But even if you play the game by yourself, it’s relatively easy to get the hang of it. It’s the winning part though, that is an entirely different matter. This game is brutal. I have played it solo for about 7 or 8 times now, and I have not won the game even once. The closest I got was to round 8. Even when I played the game together with other players, that was the highest result that I have so far managed to achieve. There is a luck factor in this game as well (some combinations of enemies are just so powerful that no matter how well you prepare, you can’t really do anything about it), but it also comes down to thinking a lot. And that’s what I really like about it. Figuring out certain combinations of cards that really work well and manage to achieve great results is just one of the fun things this game has in store for you.

The Verdict

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It goes without saying that it takes a while to put sleeves on these cards. 

Well, what can I say this game is awesome. Even though it is incredibly tough, and victory has still eluded me so far, I have had a truly fun time playing this game. The cards look amazing, and the mechanics of this deckbuilder work really well. Not only that, it provides a good challenge, and because of the sheer amount of cards included no two games are ever the same. This is a game for people who love science fiction, and also enjoy to use their brains in order to beat a game, and not just luck.

I give Xenoshyft Dreadmire a 9 out of 10 score.

The Art and making of Alien Covenant, a Alien book (2017)

I sometimes just get the best gifts. This year the movie Alien Covenant was released, the follow up to Prometheus, and prequel to the legendary Alien movie directed by Ridley Scott. A lot of people were not very pleased with it, but I ended up liking it a lot as you can tell by reading my review for it. Knowing I am a huge fan of the Alien franchise in general, a very special girl that goes by the name of Ludija, bought this great book for me that deals with the making of this latest movie in the franchise. And what better way to thank her, than by dedicating this review to her. So Ludija: this one is for you!

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An example of the terrific artwork contained within this book. 

The best thing about this book is the lavish illustrations and photographs that are contained within it’s pages. Including stills from the movie itself, as well as artwork and behind the scenes photography, this book really is a feast for your eyes. All of the photographs have an incredibly high quality, and I can honestly say that some of these rank amongst the best that I have ever seen for books like these. The layout is very pleasing as well. The book is divided into chapters and pretty much follows the story of the film from beginning to end.

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Yup, never denied the fact that some of this artwork is pretty gruesome. 

The book starts with a (short) foreword by director Ridley Scott himself. This was just added as an afterthought I think, as Ridley seriously has not much to say. In fact, it is so short that I wonder why they bothered including it in the first place. The rest of the written stuff includes a few interviews with the cast and crew, and of course some outlines and background story about the making of the film. All of this is written in a pretty basic style, and doesn’t include overly difficult technical terms or things like that. It’s not exactly boring, but I do have to admit that I have read making off books that were much more appealing.

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The photography really has an incredibly high quality. 

That said, this book is worth it for exactly what it says on the cover: the art. I can also say that this book will only appeal to you if you were a fan of the film, as there is nothing else about this book to recommend. I for one loved it because of the beautiful artwork and photography contained within it. If I were to judge it purely on the written text I would give it a 6 out of 10 score. But it is the imagery that raises the final score for this book as you can see down below.

I give The Art and making of Alien Covenant a 8 out of 10 score.

 

Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game for 1-5 players, by Upper Deck (2014)

I have been doing a lot of Alien posts the past few weeks. I have to admit it is in part because of the release of Alien Covenant, but also because I simply love this franchise. Most people have at least heard of the movies in one form or another, but there is an entire universe build around these films that people may not even be familiair with. For starters there is the comic book series that expands the story beyond the movies, but there are also a lot of novels that are just as good. In 2014 Upperdeck, the publisher of the highly succesful Marvel Legendary cardgame, released Legendary Encounters. This time you would not be playing with your favorite superheroes, but instead take on the roles of the beloved characters from the Alien movies including Ellen Ripley. Is the game any good though? How about I tell you it is one of my alltime favorite games? Let’s dive right in, and see what makes this game so much fun to play.

Components

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The intimidating black box, complete with an Alien Egg as a cover.

When you open this monstrous box of goodness the first thing you will notice is the beautifully crafted “mousepad” playing mat. Why call it a mousepad? Well because it really is a mousepad, only one that covers pretty much your entire table. This being a cardgame it will come as no surprise that the rest of the contents of this game are cards. And quite a lot of them, 600 in total to be exact. All of the cards are beautifully illustrated depicting the many characters, Xenomorphs, and other situations that can  crop up in this game. But more on that down below. Last, but not least there is ofcourse a rulebook that is pretty easy to understand, and does an okay job in teaching you the game. If you still find it hard to learn the game there are some excellent playthrough videos for this game that you can find on YouTube.

Game overview

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The “mousepad” gameboard.

This game allows you to play through all four of the original Alien movies. Yes you read that correctly, you actually get to replay the four classic films. Here is how that works. When setting up the game, you pick the scenario for the film you wish to play. Each movie has three corresponding mini decks of cards, that contain different objectives that the player needs to accomplish. But these decks also include the many enemies, and events that can seriously mess up a player’s well laid out plans. This game isn’t called a deckbuilding game for nothing. When the game starts a player has his own personal deck of standard cards. These cards can be used for two things.  The first thing you can do is purchase stronger cards. In every game the player’s can select cards from the HQ that contains new characters that, once purchased are added to a player’s deck to make it stronger. And with these new cards you are able to buy cards that are even more stronger. Hence the name deckbuilding game.

The second thing you can do is attack enemies with these cards before they are able to hurt you, as well as complete objectives in order to progress through the scenario of the film. For instance when you choose to replay the movie Aliens, you need to kill three colonists from Hadley’s Hope, set up Sentry Guns, and finally defeat the Alien Queen. All of this should feel very familiar if you love the movies, and this game certainly oozes atmosphere. Each player get’s an avatar that represents the player, and that has a certain amount of lifepoints. As with most games you are dead if your lifepoints total ever reaches zero. But this being a cooperative game it is still possible to win if the other players manage to complete the objectives. As a fun sidenote,you can also make life miserable for your fellow players by becoming an alien yourself.

Difficulty

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A closer look at how the gameboard looks after set-up.

This game is very easy to learn. The best way to learn this game is by letting someone who already knows the game teach it to you while playing it. It will take you under 10 minutes to get to know the basics of the game, and from there it is an easy road to get to the game’s finer points. Winning the game however is less easy. There are some scenarios that are pretty tough to win, and will require all of a player’s skills to overcome. You can almost hear Hudson crying “Game over man, game over” way too many times. But a win is definitely not impossible. As the game is so much fun to play, it will not bother you at all if, even through all your best efforts, the game ends up in a loss.

The verdict

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Some of the cards that you are able to buy during the game, all of them characters from the first Alien film.

If it wasn’t already clear to you, I absolutely love this game. Being a huge fan of the Aliens franchise in general, this game seriously manages to recreate the atmosphere of the original films in the best way possible. Because of the sheer number of cards, and situations that can arise during the game, no two playthroughs are ever quite the same. I have played this game primarily solo, and it works exceptionally well. It is one of the best solo games in my collection, and it is one of those games that I keep very close at hand. What might interest you to know is that there is also a Legendary Encounters: Predator version of this game. That game is just as much fun, and let’s you play through the two original Predator movies. You can even combine the two games and let Ripley face the Predator, which is awesome. Last but not least an expansion for the Aliens game was released that adds more characters, a hardmode for all four movies (as if the game was not hard enough already), but also allows a player to play as the Alien Queen herself!

All in all I cannot recommend this game enough to everyone who is a fan of the Alien films. Just remember: in space no one can hear you scream! As a final note I want to say that this review is written especially for Madame Vintage, who loves the Alien franchise just as a much as I do, and has been a great friend and supporter of my blog the past few months. If you haven’t already, check out her awesome blog of movie reviews and subscribe. You won’t be disappointed! Finally ofcourse the score for this game, which should not be too much of a surprise.

I give Legendary Encounters: an Alien Deckbuilding game a 10 out of 10 score.

 

Alien Covenant, American movie (2017)

In 2015 fans of Alien received word that Neill Blomkamp, director of the fantastic science fiction movie District 9, had plans to make a fifth Alien movie. Supposedly it would take place after the second Alien film, and pretty much ignore the events of Alien 3, a movie that many fans were disappointed by. It would also see the return of both Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn to reprise their roles as Ripley and Hicks. However, when director Ridley Scott made it clear that he had plans to make a sequel to Prometheus, the project for Alien 5 was put on hold. A real shame if you ask me, for I would have loved to see Ripley and Hicks back in action. And that brings us in a roundabout way to Alien Covenant, which is a sequel to Prometheus, but a prequel to the first Alien movie. You still with me on this? Okay, now if you want some more information about Prometheus, you can find it here. Without further ado let’s dive into Ridley Scott’s new film.

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Camping trips in the future are definitely not what we are used to right now. 

Alien Covenant takes place ten years after the events of Prometheus. We join the crew of a gigantic colony ship called Covenant, which is on a mission to a distant planet to raise a new human civilisation. During the trip something goes horribly wrong and the ship get’s damaged, waking the crew from their cryosleep. While they are trying to make repairs to the ship, a transmission is intercepted from an unknown planet. A transmission that appears to be of human origin. Abandoning their original plans, the inexperienced captain of the ship decides to check out the origin of the signal. When they finally arrive on the planet, it seems to be a match made in heaven. The planet appears to be perfect for colonisation. But looks can be very deceiving as the crew of the ship is about to find out. For the planet hides a horrifying secret. A secret so terrible that they will all soon have to fight for their lives and survival is by no means certain….

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There really is no reason to show me something like this. Put your clothes back on. 

One of the biggest complaints that people had about Prometheus is that it focussed very little on the Alien Xenomorphs. With this film, Ridley Scott brings the alien monsters back with a vengeance. From a story point of view, the movie does an okay job. We definitely get some more answers to the questions about the origins of the Alien species, as well as the fate of the survivors of the Prometheus. Still, the story is not one of it’s stronger points. This movie really brings back the horror to the franchise and in that regard it succeeds. Their are some truly terrifying and very gory scenes in the movie, that really are not for the faint at heart. Some of the new creatures in the film, are incredibly well designed. The movie starts off a bit slow, but picks up the pace in the second act, and ends in a satisfactory way.

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You really need to wipe your mouth.

The actors in the movie are all relatively unknowns, except for Michael Fassbender, who this time around also plays a different android called Walter. As in Prometheus, Fassbender again steals the show, with a very good role. The female lead this time is played by actress Katherine Waterstone, who plays the role of Daniels. Daniels can be compared to Ripley in many ways, as she is also a strong woman that eventually gets to fight against the horrifying monsters. The rest of the cast was okay, but the characters they played had little to no substance to to them, and as such were pretty forgettable. In the end the movie was a good addition to the Alien franchise, but I did not enjoy it as much as Prometheus. Still, it was nice to see the Xenomorphs back in action, and with the script for the third installment already finished, I can’t wait to find out what will happen next.

I give Alien:Covenant a 8 out of 10 score.

 

 

 

Prometheus, American/UK movie (2012)

Why are we here? It is a question that has not really been answered throughout human history. No matter what you believe in, I think everybody will agree that there are a lot of things in this world, that can’t and probably never will be explained. But there will be certain points in your life when you will find yourself asking that very same question. Why am I here? One thing is for sure, I am still looking for that answer. Well, before you start to think that I have completely lost it, and my blog is turning into a centre for philosophical debates, let me quickly put your minds at ease. This small introduction served as a stepping stone to my review for Prometheus, the prequel to Aliens. For it is exactly this question, and many others like it, that are featured heavily in this movie.

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Bowling in the future certainly looks different.

In the year 2089, the archeologists Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway, make a discovery in Scotland that may very well alter the course of human history. Certain cave paintings give clues to the origins of the human species, and seem to include an invitation for mankind to travel towards a distant moon in the far reaches of the galaxy. The invitation seems to have been made by the creators of the human race, a mysterious species called the Engineers. Soon an expedition is funded to travel towards the distant moon, and find out the origins of humanity. Both Elizabeth and Charlie are joining this expedition and travel in stasis aboard the science vessel Prometheus. After a long journey they arrive at their destination, and together with the rest of the crew of the ship, begin to make preparations to explore the moon. However in the ancient ruins of the planet, lies a terrible secret. One that may very well mean the end of human life as we know it….

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Now if this doesn’t look cool, I don’t know what does.

Prometheus was a movie that was received with very mixed reviews at the time of it’s release. Fans of the Aliens franchise, expected a film that was very different from the movie that it turned out to be. As such a lot of fans were extremely disappointed by it. I do not count myself as one of them, for I absolutely loved this film. Even though there are enough scenes in the movie that are truly horrific, this movie simply isn’t a horrorfilm in the style of the first Alien movie. Instead it provides a background story for that film, while it also stands completely on it’s own. This is science fiction at it’s best. The way the movie looks is simply amazing, and that alone is a reason why this film is worth the watch.

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Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Another reason is the acting that was on display for this film, especially by the amazing Michael Fassbender. He plays the role of the cold but highly intelligent android David. The chilling way that he portrays this character is absolutely stunning, and I think it is one of the best roles of his career. The role of Elizabeth Shaw is filled by actress Noomi Rapace, who also does a fine job. She is not Ellen Ripley ofcourse, but a powerful woman nonetheless who tries to make the best of it in a very hostile environment. The rest of the supporting cast, most notably Idris Elba and Charlize Theron, are great as well, even though their roles are relatively minor.

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You know that you are being watched right?

As far as filling in the blanks for the Alien movies, this movie does not completely succeed in that mission. A lot of answers that one might hope to find here, are left unanswered. As mentioned above this movie is not Alien, but it does not pretend to be so either. It is however a great piece of science fiction storytelling, with some very cool special effects and terrific acting. Those that hope to find the same experience as the original Alien movie, might have to steer clear of this film. If you love science fiction, with a light touch of horror thrown in the mix though, this film is well worth checking out.

I give Prometheus a 9 out of 10 score.

Aliens the original comics series (30th anniversary Edition), a Dark Horse Comics Graphic Novel (2016)

In 1979 director Ridley Scott unleashed a science fiction horror movie called Alien onto the unsuspecting human race. With the tagline “In space no one can hear you scream”, there was plenty of screaming that was done in the movie theatres. Needless to say, the movie became an instant classic and set up a new benchmark for horrorfilms. Seven years later the sequel Aliens was released, and it has become my alltime favorite science fiction movie. Not only did it feature a great story, fantastic special effects, and plenty of exciting and thrilling scenes, but there were also a bunch of unforgettable characters. Two of them, Corporal Hicks and the young girl Newt, actually survived at the end of the film. Unfortunately in Alien 3 they were killed off in 10 seconds at the start of that movie. There were many fans that were very mad at the way that this was done, and it did not show those characters the respect they deserved.

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Well, I guess it’s safe to say this guy is pretty much toast. 

In 1987 Dark Horse comics was approached to do a comicbook series that continued the storyline from Aliens. That black and white comic became a huge succes and afterwards many more books were produced. Last year the first six issues were reprinted and released in a very beautiful hardcover graphic novel. Since these comics were made before the release of Alien 3, it tells a completely different story. As such you could compare it to the books of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, that now officially aren’t canon anymore since Disney took over. But honestly I could not care less about that, as this book was highly enjoyable to read.

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Nope, still seeing monsters. 

The comics take place on Earth, a few years after the events of Aliens. Newt is now a grown woman, and Hicks is still with the Colonial Marines, even though his colleagues seem to despise him. Both Newt and Hicks have their own traumas to deal with, and find it really difficult to cope with their experiences on the doomed colony of LV-426. But dark forces are at work on Earth. It seems that the Aliens are highly wanted material for the bioweapons industry. Certain things are being set into motion to bring the creatures to Earth. Hicks meanwhile is hired for a mission to the homeworld of the Aliens, and along the way will get reunited with Newt. But time seems to be running out for everyone, as something goes horribly wrong while trying to capture the Aliens. And soon Earth will become the target for a new hive…..

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The coastguard sure has changed. 

This 30th anniversary edition is a truly beautiful graphic novel. All the pages have a black finish on the outside, and every page is made of very sturdy paper. As mentioned the book contains issues 1-6 of the original comic. Also included is a short story called Lucky, and a pin-up gallery of the covers and some additional art. Rounding out the book is a fore-and afterword by both author Mark Verheiden and artist Mark A. Nelson. The black and white art for these comics is truly amazing and really recaptures the spirit of the movies. Ofcourse the movies were, at times, pretty graphic, and that also comes back in this book. That’s why this certainly won’t be for the faint at heart. The storyline is very good, and honestly much better than the Alien 3 movie. Sadly the company at the time did not have the rights to the Ripley character, so you won’t be seeing her in any of these pages.

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Game over man, game over! 

This book is simply put a must buy for every Aliens fan. The book looks great and has been a joy to read from start to finish. Even though most of the storylines are complete, the ending has left things wide open. Ofcourse the series was later continued with further issues. What might interest you to know, is that after Alien 3 was released, Dark Horse decided to change the names of Newt and Hicks to Billie and Wilks. This was ofcourse done to ensure that the comicbook could still remain canon. Here though, they reprinted the books in the way they were originally released. I highly recommend this book to every Alien and science fiction comics fan out there.

I give Aliens: the original comics series (30th Anniversary Edition), a 9 out of 10 score.