Tag Archives: aliens

451. Film Club: Alien Covenant

Another film club episode, this time about the Alien franchise and a review of the new film “Alien: Covenant”. The film is in the cinemas now and you could watch the other films at home (with or without subtitles) for some more English listening practice.

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Introduction

Here’s a film club episode about the Alien movies. I hope you’re a fan of those films. If you’re not a fan then this might not be for you I guess, but I hope you listen. In terms of language you’ll hear loads of descriptions of the events and themes of the Alien films and my opinion of “Alien: Covenant”. As ever I encourage you to listen out for language – you might notice some specific phrases. Check out the page for the episode where you’ll see a lot of the notes I made before recording. There are also a few YouTube vids there for you to see as well. OK, let’s get started.

I got a message the other day from a listener in South Korea called Ethan Lee. Ethan asked me if I was going to see the new Alien film “Alien: Covenant” and if I could talk about it on the podcast.

Well, I’m sort of a fan of the Alien movies and today I’m going to see Alien: Covenant, so here’s a film club episode all about the Alien franchise.

I’m going to describe the films, their stories, what makes them great or not so great, including Prometheus from a few years ago.

Then I’m going to go and see Alien: Covenant, the new movie and afterwards I’ll tell you what I think of it.

I’m going to do my best to avoid spoilers throughout this episode while discussing these films, although I’m assuming that you’ve probably seen at least Alien and Aliens and you know some of the big moments – like probably the most famous scene in the original alien film where we first see the alien – when the alien comes to dinner, let’s say.

So I expect you know some stuff, but in any case I’ll try to avoid big plot spoilers.

I’m also going to give mini reviews of the films in the franchise, before focusing on Alien: Covenant

Episode notes

Why are you interested in the Alien films?

First time I heard about it.

First time I saw clips from Aliens in a sci-fi exhibition in America when I was about 14.

First time I saw Aliens when I was a kid.

The Alien franchise – Timeline

Alien
Plot
What type of film is it
Director
Alien
What makes it good
Mystery
Slasher film
The design by HR Geiger
Subtexts about sex, reproduction and motherhood
Limitations in filming
Ridley Scott

Aliens
James Cameron
Action movie
More aliens & explosions
New additions like The Queen
An amazing action sequence at the end where Ripley fights the Queen and then a few shocks at the end.
Annoying marines being macho, but great action sequences and Aliens on top form.

Alien 3
Disappointing
Poor storyline – killing off some of the characters from the last episode
Set on a prison colony
Bland set designs – all these characters with shaved heads
I’ve seen it a few times and even now I can’t remember what it’s all about
Poor CGI aliens

Alien: Resurrection
This was slightly better than Alien 3
It’s about a gang of mercenaries who find out that the military have cloned Ripley and used her to create aliens, which as ever they want to weaponise. The Aliens get loose in the ship and it all goes wrong while the ship heads towards earth.
There are some creepy bits about cloning including the times they’d failed to clone Ripley and also at some point a weird Ripley/Alien mix is created which is quite a horrific monster that just wants to kill everyone except Ripley who she considers to be her mother. The scene where the monster goes is both hideously disgusting but also terribly sad.
All in all it’s a weird, gross film which explored some of the themes of reproduction and motherhood.

Alien vs Predator and Alien vs Predator: Requiem
Never seen these films in full although I’ve caught some of them on TV and watched a bit but didn’t continue.
Quite horrible direction, in the dark, close up, so you can’t see anything. Generally it’s Aliens punching Predators. It could have been great but it’s not. There’s a predalien. Another weird name.
Neither of the Alien vs Predator films are considered ‘canon’.

Prometheus
Ridley Scott, back on board.
Let’s bring back the original world of Alien.
Excessive marketing with Ridley Scott really talking up the film in very high level terms – talking about ancient myths and big themes about humankind dabbling in too much power and the gods taking revenge and all this stuff, the legend of prometheus.
The film deals with humanity’s relationship with the gods—their creators—and the consequence of defying them.
I thought – this sounds amazing.
I binged on the publicity and the hype.
Went to see it expecting something huge.
What I got was cheesy dialogue, B-Movie level plot points and action sequences, pseudo-intellectualism, amazing visuals, some bizarre monsters and some extremely stupid decision making.
All in all I’m not sure what to think of Prometheus, but I am slightly obsessed with it.
There are some great things – the effects, the visuals, the performance of Michael Fassbender as the android David.
Some of the monster scenes are amazing.
It’s also mysterious and makes me wonder what it’s all about really.
It spawned numerous “fan theory” videos on YouTube with people going on at length about all the hidden meanings and real meanings – it all makes my head spin.
Here’s my take on it
Millions of years ago on earth an ‘engineer’ arrives and drinks weird black stuff that makes him disintegrate and spread DNA into the ecostystem on earth, seeding life on earth – probably human life. Alright. I wonder why he has to drink that stuff to do that. It looks cool though.
Then, cut to the present day or the near future or whatever. A couple of scientists have worked out from cave paintings where the engineers come from.
They go to find them, sponsored by the Wayland corporation.
They get there to find a seemingly deserted planet.
Find a spaceship. Apparetly this isn’t the engineers’ home planet. THere’s a ship there with loads of these kind of jars of black goo.
The ship also has some murals including one of a xenomorph. The black jars of goo look a bit like alien eggs, but not.
It looks like the engineers were loading the goo onto the ship and something went wrong. Maybe they got infected by the goo and had a bit of trouble. It looks like it. They’re dead anyway.
Apparently they were heading for earth with this load of black goo.
What’s the black goo? A kind of bioweapon.
David tests it. Doesn’t go well.
Shaw’s weird alien birth.
Two of the crew members are utterly stupid.
Apparently the black goo has infected some worms…
Find an engineer in hypersleep.
Wake him up and he’s angry.
Apparently the engineers were fed up with us and wanted to kill us. Maybe because they’ve been observing us and they’ve thought – no, start again! Humans are rubbish! Look, DOnald Trump, The Kardashians, Brexit – no, kill them all!
The remaining crew members stop the engineer sending all the goo to earth.
Engineer ends up getting impregnated
The ship crashes – stupid running away scene.
“Deacon” is born.

Alien Covenant
It’s been advertised in the same way as Prometheus.

A LOT of youtube videos. A LOT of footage released in trailers. LOADS of different versions of the trailers. LOTS of shots of the alien – as if to say “Look there are definitely aliens in this!”

But I have to say I don’t think it looks good.

Why?

First of all they appear to be repeating the same steps as the original Alien film. It looks like the same thing.

Then there are some clips of moments that look utterly cliched.

For example there’s a person who apparently has been infected by the black goo.

Black goo is rubbish by the way. It’s not as good as the Alien. It’s just goo and it’s really unspecific. If it touches you you become a monster with super strength. The alien with it’s weird reproduction cycle is far more interesting. Black goo just doesn’t make any sense.

Anyway, in the trailer one person apparently is mutating into a monster but it’s the most cliched thing of him standing under a bright light and kind of shaking while apparently possessed. We’ve seen it a million times before.

Then there’s a clip of two people in a shower and the Alien creeps up on them in the shower and you see the tail coming up between their legs while they’re in the shower. Basic sexual imagery – not like the inventive designs of Geiger, just old fashioned Freddie Kruger type stuff.

So, I don’t expect much from this but I feel like I should see it just to find out for sure. Who knows, it could be really great.

So now I’m off to see it so let’s see!


I then went to see Alien: Covenant in the cinema down the road. Listen to the episode to find out what I thought!


What do you think of the Alien films? Leave your comments below.

 

366. Talking about Nothing with Alex Love (Invaded by Robot Aliens) PART 1

On the podcast today I am in conversation with Alex Love, who you might remember from some previous episodes of this podcast. Alex is a friend of mine who I first met while doing stand-up comedy in London 7 years ago. He has featured in podcast episodes before, like the Brighton Fringe Festival podcasts (ep 104, 105 & 106), 109. The Drunk Episode and 226. On a Boat. All those episodes also featured our friends Paul Langton and Moz – both of whom have been guests on the podcast recently.
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Recent Episodes with Moz and Paul Langton:
Moz’s episode: teacherluke.co.uk/2016/03/23/337-murder-mile-walks-stories-of-londons-most-infamous-shocking-murders-some-explicit-content-swearing/
Paul’s episode: teacherluke.co.uk/2016/05/24/349-whos-the-best-superhero-with-paul-langton/

Alex Love regularly performs stand-up comedy gigs in London and in Manchester where he now lives. At this moment he’s preparing for the Edinburgh Festival where he will be performing a one-hour show which he has written himself, called “How to Win a Pub Quiz”. The show is a mix of stand-up comedy and pub quiz trivia and it has had some good reviews at previous festivals. If you’re in Edinburgh this August you can see Alex’s show at a venue called The Stand in rooms 5 & 6 (venue 319) at 12 o’clock midday from 4 to 14 August.
Bookings:  tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/alex-love-how-to-win-a-pub-quiz

As well as doing comedy Alex has also done a number of different jobs in his life, including doing a paper-round, working in a call centre, and writing journalistic pieces for The Guardian newspaper.

I invited Alex onto the podcast today mainly to talk about his Edinburgh show, but in fact, the conversation mainly involves Alex and me just wittering on about nothing in particular! That’s why I’ve called this episode “Talking about Nothing with Alex Love” because although we do talk about his show a little bit, I’ve found it quite hard to put my finger on exactly what it was that we talked about for the majority of this conversation. We just seemed to be talking about nothing and I actually think that’s a really great thing and a worthwhile thing for you to listen to.

Because, in my opinion, regularly listening to unplanned and slightly rambling conversations between friends, like in this episode, is genuinely good for your English, long-term. This is, after all, the way that we communicate with friends in the real world, isn’t it? Real conversations are not scripted or planned out in advance like the recordings you hear in published English learning course books, like this www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MVxesy1AFI 5.22. That’s an extract from a Headway course book published by Oxford University Press, which is a very good book and everything, but the audio conversations are a bit fake sounding because they’ve been written in advance and are being used to present certain bits of language. Of course, the vast majority of conversations we have with our friends in the real world are not planned in advance and usually involve responding to little moments that come up in the conversation, changing from one topic to another and simply rambling on about stuff in general. And we build relationships with people by rambling on about stuff in general, we have fun with each other by rambling on about stuff in general and we release stress by just rambling on about stuff in general, and this is why simply rambling on about stuff in general is actually rather a wonderful thing indeed.

So, I invite you, in this episode, to listen to us rambling on about stuff in general. Your job is to try to follow the meandering flow of the conversation, take note of certain phrases or aspects of language that you hear, and generally just let the English wash over you like some kind of refreshing language shower. An English language shower. A languashower if you like, or perhaps an Englashower.

One technical detail before we start: There are some moments when the Skype connection breaks up and Alex sounds a bit like an evil robot. That happened a few times and it actually really annoyed me during the recording because it was quite disruptive to our conversation. For some reason, whenever we started talking about something serious some connection problems occurred and Alex started sounding like an Aphex Twin remix or a drunk robot or something. You’ll hear it happening sometimes in the conversation and you’ll also hear that I got a bit annoyed by it later in the conversation and I said the phrase “This is doing my head in” which means “this is really annoying me and making me angry and frustrated.” To be honest, I have managed to fix the vast majority of the technical issues in the recording because I have done *a lot* of editing, so in fact you probably won’t notice any of these technical issues and all of this explaining that I’m doing here in the introduction is probably completely unnecessary, so I’m now going to stop doing it and just move on.

I hope to have Alex back on the podcast again soon for another episode in which we do a kind of podcast pub quiz of our own, which you can take part in. That would be good, wouldn’t it? Yes of course it would. Everyone likes a pub quiz. That’s another episode for another time, perhaps while Alex is in Edinburgh and has a better internet connection.

I should also mention that there’s a little bit of swearing in this conversation. So, “there’s a little bit of swearing in this episode.” There you go, you’ve been told, and I know that the vast majority of you are now thinking – “fine, that’s absolutely fine Luke. Not a problem. In fact, good – that’s good. We fucking love swearing Luke. IN fact, swearing is sharing.” Well, I don’t know what you’re talking about but I’m glad you’re happy. I encourage you not to swear too much though OK, even if you hear it on the podcast. Do what I say, don’t do what I do. OK.

Well, right then, without any further explaining, let’s now get started, and we’re going to jump straight into the conversation mid-flow right now so this is it, off we go, it’s time to get started so let’s get down to business right away without any further hesitation or messing around or time-wasting and so here it is then, let’s start, we’re all set, you’re set, I’m set, everything’s set and ready to roll so here we go, on your marks, get set, get ready, get steady, let’s get ready to rumble… OK GO.

*Episode Begins*

By the way, what’s a “Pub Quiz”? Well, it’s a quiz that happens in a pub. Typically, pub quizzes happen in the evenings in pubs all over the country where teams of people get together to answer questions which are read out by the quiz master. It’s just a game and a good excuse to get together, have a few drinks and test your general knowledge. The winning team is usually awarded some sort of prize – typically restaurant vouchers, bottles of wine or something like that. Pub quizzes are very popular in the UK. In fact, according to Wikipedia, “a 2009 study put the number of regular weekly pub quizzes in the UK at 22,445.”

Everyone loves a pub quiz, they’re very appealing. So, Alex’s Edinburgh show is quite a clever combination of a stand-up performance and a pub quiz in which the audience have to answer various funny questions read out by Alex.

Title: Alex Love – How to Win a Pub Quiz

Venue: The Stand 5 & 6 (Venue 319)
Dates: Aug 4-14
Time: 12:00 lunch time
Length: 1 hour

Description from the Ed Fringe website: This highly interactive show is part stand-up, part actual pub quiz. Expand your trivia, compete against other teams, witness results. After playing to capacity crowds in 2015, this unique hour is back with more facts, prizes and niche-referenced nonsense.
Reviews: ‘Alex Love is great fun’ (Scotsman). ‘It takes quite a show to create such a sense of engagement that one music question can become a full-blown sing-along, but this is the spirit of How to Win a Pub Quiz.’ (BroadwayBaby.com). ‘Such a quick brain’ (We Are Funny Project).
Bookings:  tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/alex-love-how-to-win-a-pub-quiz

Alex on Twitter: @thisalexlove twitter.com/thisalexlove

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Now, go and make a jet-pack and your dreams of flying will come true! Yes you can!

;)

Luke

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End of Part 1 – ‘Outro’ – Transcript

Hello everyone – I’m interrupting the conversation here because I’ve decided to divide this episode into two parts and I thought that this dramatic moment where Alex has moved into the bathroom to find a better mobile internet signal is a suitable moment to do that. So this is the end of part 1. Part 2 should be ready for you to listen to right away – so go ahead and get stuck into it now.

OK then, so that’s it for part 1. Don’t forget to join the mailing list at teacherluke.co.uk and then you’ll get an email whenever I upload a new episode and the email will direct you straight to the page for that episode where you will find notes, transcriptions, links, videos and other details that relate to the episode.

Thanks for listening, and I’ll talk to you again in part 2.

Bye.