The following is part of my ongoing monthly column for Culture Fly
Everyone remembers their first time. When I watched Alien, Ridley Scott’s 1979 science-fiction-horror masterpiece, I was 19. It was a hot summers day, and the council had probably banned hose pipes. I had postponed entering this universe because I’m a wuss. Everyone has a story about how the film scared them, and I discovered the hyperbole was correct. I felt cold and on edge, but most importantly, Scott made me feel like something was inside me. I was terrified, but I also needed more. Movie magic was cast that day.
With Alien: Covenant (12th May), the director attempts to create more deranged magic. Katherine Waterston spearheads the diverse cast as Lieutenant Daniels, third-in-command of a group of colonists looking for a new home. Obviously, it doesn’t go well and Daniels ends up fighting for her and her crew’s life. Whilst watching an alien chow down is always entertaining, albeit disturbing, the real reason to get excited is John Logan’s involvement. Logan, re-teaming with Scott after Gladiator, is one of Hollywood’s best writers, so he should find a way to pair the pulp with Scott’s tendency for theological musings. Hopefully, Covenant is the rarest of blockbusters: one with bite.
If space horrors aren’t your thing, then The Levelling (12th May) provides an intimate portrait of grief. Up-and-coming actress Ellie Kendrick (star of Game of Thrones) gives a great performance as Clover, the young vet attempting to fix her relationship with her father in the wake of her brother’s suicide. The film may not sound too original but debut director Hope Dickson Leach uses the unexpected setting of the 2014 Somerset floods to frame her story. A flooded dairy farm is strange setting and if farming technology doesn’t put you off, you’ll find this little delight.
Similarly, Colossal (19th May) uses the familiar Kaiju genre to talk about addiction, depression and bullying. Don’t worry, it isn’t a lecture as director Nacho Vigalondo expertly blends tragedy and comedy, and Anne Hathaway gives one of her best performances starring as an alcoholic who hits rock bottom. She quickly finds an outlet for her self-destructive behaviour when she discovers she is telepathically controlling a kaiju who is destroying Seoul. The film is filled with quirky details and should be utterly charming.
Idiosyncratic tendencies will probably not be found in Jonathan Levine’s Snatched (19th May). Amy Schumer is one of the film’s major attractions, but nothing can eclipse the return of Goldie Hawn. Yes, goddamn GOLDIE HAWN. The comedy legend and Oscar winner of Housesitter, Death Becomes Her, and The Sugarland Express is back on screen for the first time in 15 years and hopefully, she’ll remind us how important she is to film history and that she still has a place on our screens.
The same year Hawn left our movie screens, a certain pirate swaggered onto them. Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) returns for a fifth outing to fight Javier Bardem’s Captain Salazar in Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (26th May). Supposedly acting as Sparrow’s (and Depp’s) swan song, the plot revolves around Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann finding Jack so he reconnect with his father. As always in the franchise, the villain is after Sparrow for contrived personal reasons. The plot will probably be perfunctory, but the important thing is that rumours suggest this is a leaner story more in line with the amazing The Curse of the Black Pearl than the convoluted sequels.