science fiction

Alien: Covenant

I was on the fence about this one, but in the end I decided to catch it before it disappeared from the cinemas. I can’t say I regret the decision and I’m glad I’ve watched the film, because no one shoots sci-fi like Ridley Scott, but the most damning thing I can say about Alien: Covenant is that it’s the first entry in the series that doesn’t offer anything new, and instead plays like the Alien: Greatest Hits. Even the runts of the franchise had some individuality about them, whether it was the director’s unique visual style or some new ideas, and even when these ideas were terrible, *cough* human/alien hybrid from Alien: Resurrection *cough*, at least they were still memorable. My biggest complaint about Alien: Covenant is how little of this adequate movie was truly memorable.

I liked the divisive Prometheus way more than many people did, and the ending of that film teased some intriguing possibilities, as its heroine Elizabeth Shaw packed the head of David the android in a duffel bag and set off towards the home planet of Engineers. While Covenant still acts as a direct sequel to Prometheus, it jumps ten years ahead and opens with the scenes aboard Covenant, a colony ship with thousands of passengers in cryogenic sleep, plus preserved embryos. When the ship is hit by a massive solar flare and suffers casualties, the crew pick up a strange transmission, human in origin, while doing repairs. The signal comes from a planet that’s much closer than their original destination and appears to be a perfect choice for human colonization. Ignoring the lessons of dozens of sci-fi movies where veering off course spells certain doom and death, the crew decide to stop by and investigate. If you thought that the scientists in Prometheus made some inexplicably dumb choices, this lot decide to explore an alien planet while not wearing any protective helmets whatsoever, presumably because they decided that hey, since this place looks a lot like Norway, it must be safe.

Visually, Covenant may not be as beautiful and striking as Prometheus, but it still delivers, with the majestic landscape shots and lived-in sets typical of Scott movies. It’s a pity then that the human characters don’t receive anywhere as much love and attention: this bunch is as nondescript and generic as they come, including the new Ripley-esque heroine Daniels (Katherine Waterston). Other characters’ personalities, when they do have hints of any, can be summed up in a couple of words – this guy is quirky and wears a cowboy hat! This guy believes in God! The only two interesting characters are synthetic: David (Michael Fassbender), the inquisitive and amoral android who was the highlight of Prometheus, returns here as the sole inhabitant of the planet, and is rather more unhinged than the last time we’ve seen him. Then there’s Walter, the android crew member of Covenant, also played by Fassbender. Unlike the creative David, Walter’s generation of androids were made to be more machine-like and less creepily human, an upgrade David finds disappointing. The interactions between the two, with David teaching Walter to play the flute among other things, are weird, funny, philosophical, and make for the film’s best scenes.

Rather than answering the question posed by Prometheus – why did the Engineers wish to destroy the humankind? – Covenant instead chooses to focus on edging closer to the original Alien film and exploring the origins of the xenomorph. Which means that, at some point in the movie, it’s time for the usual: running down corridors, dark and drippy interiors, eggs, facehuggers, chestbursters and xenomorphs. While Covenant ramps up the gore and body horror, the problem is that a) it can’t muster the same level of tension as Alien, or the breakneck excitement of Aliens, and b) I can’t say I ever wondered about where the xenomorph came from. There’s no real point explaining something that was always effective simply as a horrifying, mysterious thing from outer space. So while Covenant is by no means a disaster and makes for a watchable, well-shot sci-fi thriller/horror, it’s short on new ideas and, unlike Prometheus, does nothing to stoke my excitement for a hinted-on sequel. Maybe it’s finally time to blow this franchise out of the airlock.

Galaxy Quest

I’ve rewatched this 1999 gem which I haven’t seen in ages, and by Grabthar’s Hammer this affectionate parody/love letter to Star Trek and its fandom is still so wonderful and hilarious. It works fine as a regular comedy and is perfectly accessible even to people who don’t care about Star Trek, but it’s funnier if you’re familiar with the tropes the movie lampoons, like a redshirt who always dies in the first five minutes of the mission just before the commercial break.

The story is about a group of washed-up actors from a once-popular sci-fi TV series which doesn’t in any way resemble Star Trek at all, not with its cheesy rousing musical theme, alien make-up, technobabble and shaking the camera when the spaceship is “hit”. Almost 20 years later, its cast is stuck in professional limbo and make a living attending fan conventions and corporate events. Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen), who played the Captain Kirk-like commander of the NSEA Protector, is the only one who laps up the fans’ adoration like a rock star. He is much resented by the rest of the cast, especially Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman), a frustrated classically trained British actor who would rather jump off the bridge than say his alien character’s trademark catchphrase again. There’s also Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver), the sole female cast member whose job on the show was to mindlessly repeat the ship’s computer, Fred Kwan (Tony Shalhoub) as the chief engineer, and Tommy Webber (Daryl Mitchell) who was the show’s precocious and probably very annoying child pilot.

At one of the conventions, however, they’re approached by Thermians, who look like a bunch of cosplayers dressed as a fictional Star Trek race, but are in fact real aliens who mistook Galaxy Quest series for a genuine historical record since their kind has no concept of lies or fiction. They’ve come to beg the crew for assistance in their dealings with Sarris, a malevolent reptilian humanoid who looks like a Star Trek villain-of-the-week and is intent on wiping the Thermians out. The poor naive aliens have no clue that Nesmith and Co. are just actors who have no idea how to really fly a spaceship, transport matter or fight an evil space overlord. Along the way, they’re joined by Guy (Sam Rockwell), an actor whose sole brief appearance on the show was as the unnamed crew member that gets killed off, and who’s convinced that he’s a goner too now that the shit got real.

The cast here is an unexpected combo (Sigourney Weaver and Tim Allen in the same movie?), but everyone, down to the smallest part, is simply pitch-perfect. I’ve never been a big fan of Tim Allen outside of his voice work for Pixar, but he’s an inspired choice to play the charismatic and egotistical character with a vulnerable side. Nesmith’s got a great redemptive arc as his character eventually rises to the level of heroism that his fictional counterpart had displayed on the show. Alan Rickman’s passing feels even sadder with this reminder of his magnificent onscreen voice and how much feeling and nuance he could inject into every line. No one portrayed withering contempt and dismay quite so hilariously. Sigourney Weaver is cleverly cast against the type, with a blond wig and the generous cleavage which, in one of the film’s in-jokes, gets uncovered more as the movie goes on. I don’t think she could ever play a total ditz, but it’s definitely a very different side revealed in this film. I could honestly just go on gushing forever about everyone in this movie, the cast is just that good.

The most endearing aspect of the film is the way it both sends up and celebrates the geek culture with tremendous affection, without condescending or pandering. I had to laugh that even the shipping phenomenon made it into the movie, with a flustered female fan at the convention asking Nesmith if there was “something” going on between the captain and Lt. Tawny Madison. There is a touch of the ridiculous about the grown men and women parading in silly costumes and obsessing over the tiniest bits of trivia, but in the end their love for this fictional world is vindicated and embraced. There’s also the idea that, no matter how cheesy the Galaxy Quest TV show was, its core ideals inspired an entire species to improve their lives. It’s a fantastic tribute to the optimism of Star Trek.

One last thing, the special effects look a tad dated in places, especially where space critters are concerned, but it’s really amazing how great the practical make-up effects still look.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

rogue-one-jyn-ersa-geared-upCome back, Star Wars prequels, all is forgi…


Ok maybe not. But given the choice, I think I’d still prefer to re-watch George Lucas’ misguided trilogy rather than this latest soulless snorefest from Disney. As terrible and stilted the prequels are, they’re at least terrible in a zany, colourful and unique way and whatever else they made me feel it wasn’t boredom.

Rogue One is the first entry in the probably never-ending stream of stand-alone Star Wars films, unconnected to the main Skywalker saga but also acting as a prequel to A New Hope. It tells the story of how the Rebels managed to get their hands on the plans for the Death Star… which to be honest didn’t really set my interest alight when I first heard it, because honestly who cares how they got them? Still, there was no reason why they couldn’t have made an entertaining flick about it, and the largely positive reviews persuaded me to watch it.

I guess I should mention some positives before I tear this movie apart. Gareth Edwards, the director, has an eye for visuals, composition and sense of scale, and the movie has some beautiful locations and elegant images. The opening scenes, shot in Iceland, were especially striking. Darth Vader’s screentime is pure unadulterated fanservice, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find the appearance of one of the cinema’s greatest villains thrilling. The Star Wars action porn in the third act, involving just about everything fans loved about the action in the original trilogy (X-Wings! TIE fighters! Walkers!) is undoubtedly well-shot and is probably the main source of goodwill this movie seems to have.

Unfortunately, while Edwards has a way with effects and action, he’s got no clue how to handle human characters and drama. Say what you will about J.J. Abrams’ shortcomings as a storyteller and the underwritten, inconsistent characterisation that plagued The Force Awakens, he’s phenomenal at getting lively, natural performances and squeezing the last drop of charisma and chemistry from his cast. In Rogue One, flat line deliveries rule the day and no one is allowed charisma. You can see some actors try and inject individuality into their characters, but because the director has no clue about who these people are they’re getting no help from him and just end up flailing. Everyone is dull and drab as dishwater, including the main character of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), daughter of Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen, just as wasted here as he was in Doctor Strange), an engineer who plays a key role in the creation of the Death Star. Jyn’s relationship with her father is supposed to be at the heart of the film, but it spends no time on the father/daughter bond before the Erso family’s peace is broken by the arrival of Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn, need I say he’s wasted as well?), director of Advanced Weapons Research for the Imperial military. Galen is taken, his wife is killed, and Jyn escapes, and before you know it boom she’s a sullen grown-up miscreant who gets recruited for a mission by the Rebellion. Because we never get to know Jyn as a person, all the father/daughter emotional beats land with an indifferent thud and her later transformation into the leader for the Rebel cause is completely unconvincing.

The multiple supporting characters are even flatter than Jyn if it’s possible, and are introduced in a rushed manner as the first act hops manically from planet to planet, hastily throwing in a bunch of ciphers I never got to care about. Donnie Yen’s blind warrior monk comes closest to being a distinct personality and cracks the film’s only joke to get a chuckle out of me. The official comic relief is the former Imperial droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), but his brand of humour is so at odds with the film’s overall vibe it feels out of place. The absolute nadir however is the ghastly CGI resurrection of Peter Cushing as the Grand Moff Tarkin, which made me feel like I was suddenly dropped into one of my brother’s video games. Sorry but the technology is not anywhere near good enough yet to simulate a real living human being, and this distracting uncanny valley creation gave me the creeps.

The idea behind Rogue One would naturally lend itself to a classic heist film, but the movie wastes the entire first two acts on detours and boring Erso family drama before it finally gets to the all-important mission and the big action scenes. But because my emotional involvement by that time was nil, the action simply feels exhausting and the tragic loss of life doesn’t move. There’s an attempt there by the filmmakers to try a more nuanced, morally grey approach, but in the end it all feels like mere lip service. It’s still about the good guys mowing down the bad guys without any qualms, and no real humanity given to the Imperials. Which is not really a problem in a Star Wars universe with its black-and-white, fairytale-like morality, but it really doesn’t work in a “serious”, supposedly gritty movie that sets out to be the Saving Private Ryan of Star Wars.

I’m still interested in Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII, but the Star Wars stand-alone movies are off to a dismal start and may be showing up the limitations of this universe.


arrivalWARNING – contains spoilers

I don’t normally include spoilers in my reviews, but with this movie I wanted to elaborate more on why certain parts of it worked or didn’t work for me, and that’s impossible to do without revealing the film’s key moments. So don’t read this if you plan on seeing the movie.

The title refers to the arrival of strange extraterrestrial vessels over twelve seemingly random spots on the globe (including Australia, which left me feeling childishly pleased about it – we might be a relatively insignificant country of 25 million, but we’re included woooo). To find out the intentions of the aliens, the U.S. military recruits linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), along with scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), who they hope can break through the colossal language barrier and communicate with these mysterious beings. They are allowed entry into the spacecraft at regular intervals, where they attempt to establish a common language with their hosts. Their efforts are mirrored by the other nations around the world, but as the fear of the unknown grows and the lines of communications shut down, it’s a matter of time before someone opens the fire.

The good stuff first I guess. Visually the movie is rather marvellous, shot mostly with elegant muted tones that create an atmosphere of unease and suspense, helped along by the moody score. The alien ships, which resemble a gigantic coffee bean sliced in half, are wonderfully strange and the sight of them hovering closely above the earth is eerie and awe-inspiring, bringing to mind the black monoliths from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The aliens themselves, squid-like creatures who communicate by spraying jets of black smoky substance which arranges itself into fluid circular patterns, are likewise truly otherworldly. It’s hard to portray a squid-like alien without inviting some degree of B-movie cheese, but this film manages it. I also liked the reliance on brain over brawn and the CGI-laden third act, and as someone fascinated by the languages I enjoyed watching Louise and Ian’s breakthroughs in deciphering the language that makes the Egyptian hieroglyphs look like piece of cake to solve. This process, as demonstrated by the scene where Louise takes off her space suit and attempts a more human, tactile way of introducing herself, is not just about cold data – it’s about real connection and understanding.

This is where I go into real spoiler territory. (more…)


duneI first watched David Lynch’s Dune almost 20 years ago, and could remember very little of it except the image of Sting with ridiculous punk orange hair wearing nothing but a loincloth, which is not the sort of memory you’d cherish. Since then I actually got around to reading Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi novel and its sequels, and decided to revisit this much-maligned movie adaptation. Its bad reputation is deserved in many respects, but as much of a mess it is, it’s also way too bizarre and singular to be dismissed outright.

Dune the novel, with its incredible world-building and uniquely imagined science, cultures, philosophies, societies and geography has the density of a supermassive black hole, and trying to pack all of that into a two hour-long movie is a doomed exercise to start with. It’s even hard to summarise the story without having to veer into all sorts of explanations, but in a nutshell, it’s about a bitter struggle between two future aristocratic families, Atreides (heroes) and Harkonnens (villains) over the control of Arrakis, a desert planet and the only source of melange, a spice which is the most valuable substance in the universe. Our hero, Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan), also may or may not be a powerful messianic figure who is bound to change the world, with the help of Fremen, the mysterious native race of Arrakis.

In terms of storytelling, the film is total and utter shambles. I can’t remember now if it made much sense to me on the initial viewing, but the sheer assault of information and weird terminology is pretty much guaranteed to leave someone unfamiliar with the books in a bewildered haze. The pacing is erratic: the first half of the film is quite leisurely, lingering on the individual scenes, then in the second half it gallops frantically through the rest of the story. To be honest, I never thought that characters were Herbert’s strongest point, but I actually liked most of the casting (except for Patrick Stewart who acts so much like Picard in this movie it’s distracting – I kept waiting for him to order some Earl Grey tea). Unfortunately most of the characters suffer from the rushed execution; some get dropped unceremoniously soon after their introduction, many crucial relationships are woefully underdeveloped and some characters who were of importance in the book could have been cut for all the non-impact they have in the film. For instance, Princess Irulan’s narration opens the film and keeps reoccurring throughout, but she has no presence in the movie whatsoever, while Paul’s romance with Chani plays like a definition of an obligatory love story you roll your eyes at. The fascinating culture of Fremen is barely touched upon and there is a major change to the ending which is frankly stupid and makes zero sense when you consider its impact. The movie also has a persistent habit of playing characters’ inner thoughts as a voiceover, which gets annoying very quickly.

Where the movie excels is in the visuals and vibe and the pure trippy Lynchian weirdness of it all. In a sense he was an excellent pick for bringing this cold, cruel, utterly alien world to the screen. The costume and set design merit nothing but the highest praise – the futuristic yet baroque look of the royal palace, the striking black robes and shaved heads of the Reverend Mothers, the interiors of the Harkonnen stronghold which seem to have depravity dripping off the screen. Some of the special effects look pretty hilarious by today’s standards, but I’m willing to cut some slack, the film was made in the early 80s after all. While most of the score is nothing to write home about, the main theme is pretty damn epic and stirring. And while the story overall is not handled well, many of the individual scenes are powerfully executed, and it’s just exciting to see the memorable scenes from the book, such as Paul’s box test at the start, brought to life. Dune is a very very very flawed movie for sure, but its good points are enough for me not to throw it into a total dud basket. And Sting is actually not as awful here as I remembered him to be.

Jupiter Ascending

jupiterI thought that the DVD rental places have all gone the way of dodos and unicorns, but apparently there are still a few that survived the onslaught of the internet and Netflix, including one not too far away from my Mum’s house. I don’t download so I thought it would be a good opportunity to support a local business and catch up on some movies I missed out on for various reasons. It sure did bring on a sense of nostalgia to walk along the stacked shelves.

I wanted to watch Jupiter Ascending chiefly because many of my favourite YouTube reviewers bagged the crap out of it in a very entertaining fashion, so it sounded like one of those “bad but nutty and fun” cinematic disasters. It’s directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowski, who were inexplicably given $175 million dollars to play with despite the fact that The Matrix afterglow had faded away ages ago, and at the heart it’s a fairly straightforward sci-fi fairytale. Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is a young Russian immigrant who lives with her extended family in Chicago and spends her days scrubbing rich people’s toilets, while also wearing immaculate make-up (naturally). Until one day, our Cinderella gets thrust into the middle of a galactic conspiracy and encounters Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), an extraterrestrial human/wolf crossbreed, who saves her from a bunch of murderous aliens. Jupiter learns that she is in fact interstellar royalty by the virtue of being an exact genetic duplicate (basically reincarnation) of the head of the powerful Abrasax family, a fact that the three remaining Abrasax siblings aren’t too happy about. It seems that, through a weird loophole in the inheritance law, Jupiter is entitled to some prime space real estate, including Earth.

The biggest compliment I can pay the movie is that it at least tries to tell an original story in the world of safe sequels, remakes and adaptations. It could have worked as a fun wacky adventure in the vein of The Fifth Element and in fact some of its sequences really seem to aim for that vibe. Unfortunately, Wachowskis lack the lighter touch necessary to pull it off, and can’t resist weighing the movie down with their trademark portentous dialogue and side characters who look cool/bored and speak in disinterested monotone. There are some interesting visuals and cool designs for ships, fashions, technologies and cities, but the action for the most part is so video-gamish my brain would just switch off for the lack of interest. The story is non-existent and consists mostly of Jupiter getting kidnapped then saved over and over and over again – she’s honestly the worst damsel-in-distress I’ve seen onscreen in a long time, which probably explains why Kunis remains such a blank throughout. Tatum is pretty decent as an action hero, but Caine and Jupiter’s love story can’t survive howlers like this:

Caine: “You are royalty. I’m a splice … I have more in common with a dog than I have with you.”
Jupiter: “I’ve always loved dogs.”

Ummm… yeah.

Sean Bean also pops up as Caine’s former colleague and his always-likeable presence does a lot to brighten up the film. He just has a magical ability to ground any scene despite the ridiculous dialogue he’s saddled with, like “Bees are genetically designed to respond to royalty.” The biggest standout of the film – if you can call it so – is Eddie Redmayne as the villainous Balem Abrasax. His performance as a spoiled cosmic brat with severe mommy issues and penchant for flashing his abs has to be one of the most WTF performances ever given by an Oscar-winning actor, and consists of wheezy over-dramatic whispering punctuated by the bursts of manic screaming. It’s so utterly bizarre and campy it transcends bad acting into some kind of warped genius territory. I loved every minute he was onscreen.

As an aside, I’m used to hearing my native language mangled in English-speaking movies by the supposedly Russian characters, but the “Russian” conversations between Jupiter and her family were so incomprehensible I needed the subtitles, too.

Star Trek Beyond

star-trek-beyond-c1The newly rebooted Star Trek franchise has been a bumpy ride. I absolutely adored the bright and fresh J.J. Abrams-directed 2009 Star Trek, which had a somewhat weak plot and an underwhelming villain, but more than made up for it with the origin story of its dual protagonists, Kirk and Spock. I didn’t think that Star Trek Into Darkness was an abomination from the bowels of hell like many fans did, but it sure was a sloppy convoluted mess of a movie that was a pointless retread of the original series’ most-loved film and brought absolutely nothing new to the table character-wise. When I heard that the third film would be headed by The Fast and the Furious director, I cringed, and when I saw the first loud, dumb trailer I cringed even harder. After seeing the movie, I’m happy to say that it’s far, far from the disaster I was anticipating, and in many ways an improvement on Into Darkness. Which is not to say it’s perfect as it comes with a set of problems of its own.

Beyond feels like the “Trekkiest” movie of these new series – until the big set pieces kick in, the start of the film feels like it could have been lifted from the TV series. It opens three years into the USS Enterprise’s five-year exploration mission, and the weight of monotony is starting to get to Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), who contemplates whether there’s much point in exploring something that’s infinite, and looks for a way out. His best friend and First Officer Spock (Zachary Quinto), meanwhile, ponders his responsibilities to the decimated Vulcan race, and whether his duty is making Vulcan babies rather than staying with his human girlfriend Uhura. All this existential angst has to be put on hold when Enterprise is sent on a rescue mission inside an uncharted nebula near Yorktown, a massive space station that’s also one of the film’s truly eye-popping spectacles. The rescue turns into an ambush and the crew ends up separated and stranded on the alien planet, lorded over by the mysterious Krall, who is after an ancient relic that Kirk had obtained for an earlier diplomatic mission. Teamwork and survival anyone?

As in the earlier films, the chief pleasure of Beyond is its likeable cast, who at this point already feel like old friends, and the characters’ interactions. The first two movies revolved around the chalk-and-cheese dynamic of Kirk and Spock, which, as emotional and effective as it was in the 2009 film, started to feel worn in Into Darkness. Here, the writers wisely decide to change up the dynamics and concentrate on the highly amusing bickering between Spock and Bones, who are forced to rely on each other. Karl Urban was woefully underutilised in the previous film but truly shines here as the prickly doctor, and owns most of the film’s big laughs. Of the new characters, the most welcome one is Jaylah, a survivor of an earlier crash that Scotty (Simon Pegg) bumps into. With her mane of white hair and white-etched-with-black face, Jaylah is a striking alien beauty, and miraculously she feels like a real person without being either one-dimensional Hot Alien Babe or Generic Strong Female Character.

Where the film falters somewhat is the story and the villain. This is the third time in the series where the story centres around a bad guy with a grudge against the Federation who is bent on revenge, and it already felt repetitive in Into Darkness. For the majority of the running time, Krall is a fairly dull generic baddie and you wouldn’t even know that there’s Idris Elba buried beneath all that latex. There’s a very neat twist to Krall, but then the writers make a gross miscalculation holding off the reveal until the very end, when there’s no time for anything except the final action scene, and the interesting themes the movie touches on don’t have time to breathe. It’s a shame because the final reel, when Elba finally gets something to do, breathes a new energy into the movie that it didn’t have before and takes it up a level. The weak story and villain still could have been a lesser issue had the movie served up some compelling character drama, but while the character interactions are always delightful there’s not much character development, as such, and little sense of personal stakes. Kirk’s crisis is resolved just as you’d think it would be, and Spock’s Vulcan dilemma feels like bookends that have little to do with the main story. There are a few times when the movie underdelivers on potentially emotional setups. We find out for instance that Sulu (John Cho) is in a happy relationship with a bloke and they’re raising a daughter together. While it’s nice to see a mainstream blockbuster acknowledge that gay people exist, it’s weird that the movie conveys no sense of personal stakes for Sulu when his loved ones are under attack at the end of the film. Likewise, there’s no real sense of arc or resolution to Jaylah’s story, even though the film alludes to the parallels between her father and Kirk’s that you kinda expect to come into play somehow.

Justin Lin’s directorial efforts are a bit of a mixed bag. He really gets the crew-is-family theme and the final climatic sequence is tons of fun, but there are also way too many chaotic, underlit action scenes that go on for too damn long (I couldn’t wait for Enterprise to crash already). I confess I really missed J.J. Abrams’ touch; he might have major issues with telling a coherent story but man can he inject his movies with fun and verve. Beyond is competent, but most of the action is not as exciting as it should have been, and most of the humour doesn’t land as well as it should have done. Overall, I enjoyed the movie, but there’s no escaping the nagging sense that this franchise is coasting on charm.

The tributes to Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin were lovely and got claps from the audience who stuck around for the credits. Also, the use of Beastie Boys was kinda genius.