BREVIEW: Alien: Covenant @ The Mockingbird – midnight 11/12.05.17

Words by Ed King

I thought there’d be more people here. I thought there’d be more Aliens; apart from a beautiful but woefully unsupported bust on the counter, this could have been any other bar on any other night – complete with the ‘80’s New York drunk’ that staggered by the pumps. Where’s a murderous Xenomorph when you need one. But it’s a shame; this was a pat on the back idea. I thought more people would have shown up to agree.

I loved Alien, and, as teenage appreciation took hold, Aliens. Tonight is my Star Wars. I’ll probably say something similar when the new Blade Runner is played on screen, but for tonight I’m childish with excitement. Plus the writer and professional (excuse) hat I wear gives me carte blanche to pick, this, to, fuck (did I say, ‘excuse’?). And with pen in my hand that’s what I set out to do.

I don’t. At least, I don’t step by step. My overriding response is ‘job well done’; they give the studio what they want in the last twenty minutes, but my knee jerk is ‘good save’. It brings the de facto blue collar slaughter in line with an elevated premise, or question at least. Like a Scotameron baby ran away with the notebook. I watched Prometheus on Sunday, for the second time, and the infantile handling of any even remotely acceptable narrative (let alone the garrulous approach to inter-planetary anthropology) made me curse. And made me curse Ridley Scott. Which just felt wrong, and a little like an overzealous school teacher. But also right, like an overzealous school teacher. And whilst I enjoyed it more than the first time, when you sit down you to write Covenant

So, bog standard, everyone dies – quicker than you’d think, later than you’d think, and eventually as you’d think. Good luck with that. The Engineers get a satisfactory, albeit a film in itself, explanation. And the beauty of twisted morphology gets a lovely slide by slide. Although various crisp fucking audience members (it’s all I can imagine they were doing to create such a sound) were apparently less than impressed. But they stimulate snacks; not my bastion of reasoned opinion.

Better script writers tie up some of the fumbled loose ends from Prometheus, whilst allowing for a (possibly self defeating) start to the final in this triptych. Whilst Michael Fassbender takes what Ian Holm started and marches one more step down the macabre, bleeding Lawrence of Arabia into the mind of a genocidal killer. Like Lawrence of Arabia. There’s also a warm nod to the first ship’s overriding/controlling computer, as well as the ship drops in the second. Not overdone, but a handshake to homage.

We are given a starting point. We are given an end. Alien: Covenant delivers a well carried, and narrative following, plot. And I promise you Charlize Theron won’t say “…father”.

I’m re-engaged with the franchise now, but when you’ve sent the body blows that were Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection you’ve still got some apologies to make. But Alien: Covenant serves as the film Prometheus wanted to be, but for some reason wasn’t. If they nail Round Three we’ll all be golden.

So feel safe, go and watch Alien: Covenant – you’ve got just under two weeks to see it at The Mockingbird. There are some great set pieces and Michael Fassbender does his work, twice, with aplomb. Just switch yourself down during the penultimate twenty minutes. But back up for the last five. Enjoy.

DROP IN T MINS 20… 19…

Alien: Covenant (official trailer)

Alien: Covenant (extended trailer)

Alien: Covenant will be screened daily, except on Sunday, at The Mockingbird Cinema & Kitchen until Thursday 25th May, For more from The Mockingbird Cinema & Kitchen, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit

For more on Alien: Covenant, visit

BPREVIEW: Birmingham Film Festival @ The Mockingbird 25-27.11.16

Birmingham Film Festival @ The Mockingbird 25-27.11.16Words by Helen Knott

On Friday 25th November, the inaugural Birmingham Film Festival (BFF) opens at The Mockingbird Cinema & Kitchen. Events run across the weekend, including screenings, seminars, panel discussions and a special Gala Awards Ceremony at the Park Regis Hotel to close the show.

Film screenings will be shown in ‘blocks’ across the weekend – featuring up to 10 short films, or one feature film, in each block. Admission to each block is priced at £5.00, with Day tickets also available for £20 and a weekend pass priced at £50. For direct festival info, including full programme and online ticket sales, click here.

Historically Birmingham’s relationship with film and TV was largely defined by shows made at Central Studios on Gas Street and at Pebble Mill in Edgbaston: Crossroads, Doctors, Tiswas, BullseyeBirmingham Preview

How things are changing. Earlier this year, Steven Spielberg was spotted shooting scenes from his new movie, Ready Player One, in the Jewellery Quarter and Digbeth, joining a growing number of film and TV production companies shooting work in the city (other recent examples include The Girl With All the Gifts, Hustle and Kingsman: The Golden Circle).

The BBC’s perceived lack of investment in the region continues to ruffle feathers, but it seems that organisations such as Film Birmingham are doing a sterling job of attracting production companies to the city. It’s a fitting time, therefore, for the launch of Birmingham Film Festival – a new festival dedicated to giving local filmmakers an opportunity to showcase their work alongside international contemporaries.

But BFF is also a resurrection of sorts, filling the void left by the annual Birmingham International Film and Television Festival which ran from 1985-2002. Of course, Birmingham still has some brilliant film festivals, such as Flatpack, Shock & Gore, Behind the Curtain, Black International Film Festival, and it seems that BFF aims to work alongside these existing events, creating more opportunities to nurture local talent.

Birmingham Film Festival @ The Mockingbird 25-27.11.16BFF has reportedly attracted features, shorts and documentaries of all genres from over 20 countries. Screenings take place at The Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen in The Custard Factory and are open for anyone to attend, though details on the actual films on show are rather sparse at the moment (the BFF’s Twitter and Facebook profiles appear to be the best sources of information). The BFF film programme is accompanied by seminars, Q&As and an awards gala.

But having Oscar-nominated screenwriter, creator of Peaky Blinders, and all around top Brummie Steven Knight as patron is a clear signal of the festival’s ambition. Knight has grand plans to open large new studios in Birmingham; hopefully as Birmingham’s TV and film industry continues to grow in stature, BFF will develop alongside it.

Birmingham Film Festival runs at The Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen from 25th to 27th November. For more on the Birmingham Film Festival, including a full festival programme and online tickets sales, visit

For more from The Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen, visit