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Payne’s Picks

By Sarah Payne

Movies coming out

Alien: Covenant – May 19th – Ten years after the events in Prometheus, the next installment in the Alien series – Alien: Covenant – features a new group of explorers on a mission to colonize a planet on the far side of the galaxy. On their way, they receive a distress signal from a different planet and decide to check it out. While the planet is lush – full of waterfalls, mountains, and trees – it is completely devoid of other living creatures. Clearly, something is amiss! In a new featurette on Alien: Covenant, Michael Fassbender (who plays an android in both films) says, “This film is like the first Alien, being that it’s very gritty and dark.” While I’m disappointed Sigourney Weaver does not make her return in this film, we will see Noomi Rapace return from Prometheus, along with new faces Danny McBride and Billy Crudup.

Movie review

Split – I waited a few weeks to see this film because I wasn’t sure how much abuse I could handle watching – it is about a man who kidnaps three teenage girls, after all. But for the majority of the film, M. Night Shyamalan’s Split is a highly entertaining character study of Kevin, a man with multiple personalities, played by James McAvoy. I actually didn’t expect it to be as funny as it was, especially in the scenes where Kevin switches to his ten-year-old personality with a lisp. You may also have a chuckle when Shyamalan makes his typical guest appearance as a building manager in this film. After these moments of levity, Split takes a seriously dark turn that will keep you on the edge of your seat. You may have to suspend your disbelief for a bit, but I promise it is worth it. Pay attention to the end, where Shyamalan makes a connection to a storyline from his 2000 film Unbreakable. Shyamalan also confirmed in February that he’s already written an 11-page outline for the sequel of Split. There’s more in store for Kevin and his 24 personalities.

Redbox review

Hacksaw Ridge – As I watched this film, directed by Mel Gibson, I was reminded of last year’s Sully, directed by Clint Eastwood. Both Gibson and Eastwood have directed some of my all-time favorite movies – Braveheart, Mystic River, Unforgiven – but unfortunately both have also lost their touch lately. Just like Sully, Hacksaw Ridge is overly sentimental. The first hour of the film is wasted on a bland love story between a nurse and the small-town guy she treats at the hospital. The premise of the film is confusing, too. It’s based on the true story of Pfc Desmond T. Doss, who refuses to bear arms but insists on being sent abroad to help his country. He nearly gets kicked out of boot camp and is thrown in jail for refusing to touch a gun. And then in battle, he touches a gun without hesitation to help transport the wounded. The wars scenes are a major let down, too. During a brief reprise on the battlefield, there’s an especially painful (and sappy) dialogue between Doss and a fellow soldier – who miraculously transform from enemies to friends in a matter of seconds. By far the best part of the whole film is the last five minutes, when Gibson shows a documentary-style interview of the real Desmond Doss. The story itself is better suited for the History channel than as a feature length film.

TV review

Better Call Saul – Season 3 premiere – “This season, the crossover on the Venn diagram between Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad gets larger and larger,” Executive Producer Vince Gilligan said on Talking Saul. We certainly get a taste of that in the season premiere, which takes a page from Breaking Bad’s slow burn playbook. Case in point: twenty minutes of the hour-long show are devoted to Mike painstakingly tearing apart his car to find a suspected tracker. While the aesthetics and cinematography of Better Call Saul are pleasing, the show has yet to reveal any ground-breaking plot twists. I’m hoping that changes this season!