Author Topic: CX Reviews (contains some spoilers)  (Read 5560 times)

Offline CX

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Re: CX Reviews (contains some spoilers)
« Reply #25 on: May 07, 2015, 12:51:47 PM »
Immortal
(2004 movie)

I'm not sure what it is about French sci-fi – it's almost like there's a rule that they aren't supposed to make sense or something.  The really odd thing, though, is that oddly enough I actually find myself liking them, even though I can't really explain why.  Immortal is one of those movies.  It's apparently based on a comic book, which makes me wonder if one would have to be a fan of that comic book to understand this movie.

The single biggest problem with this movie is that there's simply too much going on that is never really explained for the audience.  We're shown a late-21st century New York City, in which genetically engineered humans live along-side regular humans, and there seems to be some tension over the matter of genetic alteration.  It's incorrectly referred to as eugenics here, but this would hardly be the first sci-fi to get that wrong.  There's also a narrator, but he doesn't really explain all that much either, so he's basically pointless to have.

Anyway, this movie mainly follows a mutant named Jill, who has blue hair, blue lips, blue tears, and blue nipples.  She's played by Linda Hardy, who is really hot, I might add.  As you might guess from the mention of nipples, she's also the main source of fan service for this movie.  Jill is something of a mystery to everyone, including herself in that not only is she strange-looking inside and out, and seems to have a built in energy weapon of some kind, but her tissues seem to only be a few months old, and no one can seem to figure out where she came from.  We see her getting captured and brought in to get examined, but nothing is really explained, like how she got arrested to begin with or what's going on in the movie at this point.

We're also introduced fairly early to Horus, as in the Egyptian god Horus, who is getting judged by his fellow gods for something that is also never explained in the movie.  He and his fellow gods are hanging out in a pyramid that's floating above the city, and every once in a while one of them pops out to crash the helicopter/jet/things that are buzzing around it.

Not long after this, a floating prison ship carrying a bunch of cryo-tubes on its exterior appears to have some kind of mechanical failure, sending several cryo-tubes crashing down to a bridge below.  The odd thing is that the police don’t seem to know anything about it, and when they go to check it out, a bunch of thugs from some kind of eugenics company kills them and dumps their bodies in the river, and carries off all the frozen contents of the cryo-tubes that they can find.  They apparently missed one of them, though, who is a political prisoner named Nikopol.  This is apparently only one year early for him to come out of hibernation, though in my opinion it doesn't make much sense to freeze someone as a form of punishment anyway.  In effect, they slept through all the time they spend in confinement and now get to live longer than they would have otherwise, but whatever.  He's apparently hated by the bad guys because he was against eugenics.  Although what the eugenics company is up to is never really explained, and Nikopol seems to have other problems to deal with anyway, because Horus has apparently chosen him to serve as his host to get his freak on with Jill.

Really what this movie boils down to is that Horus, for some unexplained reason, is being given seven days to find a human woman to procreate with before he is turned into a mortal himself as some form of punishment by the other Egyptian gods (who spend most of the movie playing Monopoly).  Jill, for some reason, just happens to be one of very few women capable of procreation with Horus.  Jill is actually involved with some unknown person named John, who we never see because he is wrapped head to toe in black clothing, and he's not only been teaching her everything she knows, but has been giving her some pills which are rearranging her insides to make them more like a normal human's.  This has also made her something of a target for the big bad eugenics company, which is where most of the "tension" is supposed to come from.  Horus, in the meantime, is using Nikopol as a host to get it on with Jill, though the first few times of this are basically raping her, as in she fights it, and then he somehow hypnotizes her into letting him have his way with her.  How using Nikopol as a host means that Horus is somehow passing something on is never really explained, but then neither is why Jill sticks around Nikopol even if he explains that he isn't a willing participant either.  They both seem upset about the whole rape thing, but neither really does much about it.  To be fair, Horus is largely the reason for that, but pretty much all they do is argue with each other, at least until Jill decides Nikopol isn't such a bad guy after all and warms up to him.

Did I mention the blue nipples?  Yeah, you get to see a lot of them about half-way through the movie.  Also, apparently her tears permanently stain human skin, which she just knows for some reason. 


One wonders if that's the only body fluid she has which will dye human skin...

Anyway, Horus totally takes advantage of this and manages to get Jill preggers, and just in the nick of time for him.

Oh, and while all this is going on, there's some kind of police investigation into some strange murders which are going on around the city which point back to this eugenics company, which has entrenched itself into the city government pretty thoroughly.  The cop in charge of it is actually missing half of his head because some alien shark thing bit it off.  How he survived that is one of the many things that are never explained, along with where the alien shark thing came from, for that matter.  This pretty much stays in the background until the climax of the movie, though.

Also going on in the background is the thing between Jill and John.  He wants her to become more human and he has to go back to wherever he came from, apparently.  There's also been some kind of strange portal forming in Central Park which will allow him to do this, and which will also allow the final transformation of Jill, which unfortunately for Nikopol means that she'll forget all about him and their blossoming romance.  Of course this all has to take place at a specific time, or it'll just kill all of them, and to illustrate this two unknown people are shown going into it only to have their skeletal remains spit back out through the protective barrier.  None of the specifics of this are really explained, though, just like everything else in this movie.

What I'm basically saying is that, objectively, this is a bad movie.  There's a lot going on in it that isn't explained enough to even just give it some context.  I have a feeling that this was mainly done just to try to make it something of a mystery movie on top of everything else, but since nothing is explained even in the end, it just left me confused more than anything else.  So why do I (kind of) like it?  Well, I hate to admit it, but mostly it has to do with Jill/Linda Hardy.  What can I say?  She's hot and that was enough to hold my attention for this movie, even if I didn't understand what was going on story-wise.  There's also a lot of unintentional humor here which you might enjoy, along with the horrible CGI that makes most of the movie look like game cut scenes.  And, who knows, you might enjoy Jill, too.  Did I mention the blue nipples? :D

Other than that, it might be worth checking out just to see an example of sci-fi from another country.  As far as French sci-fi goes, Dante 01 is another example of it I've seen and reviewed, and if you've read that review, you know that it doesn't really make all that much sense either.  I'd probably give this the same score, but I've giving it an extra point for Jill's blue nipples. ;)  4/10.
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Re: CX Reviews (contains some spoilers)
« Reply #26 on: May 10, 2015, 08:15:44 PM »
Black Gestapo
(1975 movie)

You know, when I first saw the trailer for this thing, I thought it was one of the fake trailers that was shown between the two main features of the Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse movie.  I mean, no one would actually make a movie like that unless it was a joke, right?  Wrong.  What we have here is an actual Nazi blaxploitation film.  Just take a moment to let that sink in – a Nazi black exploitation film.  What it really boils down to though was just having an excuse to have a bunch of black guys march around in uniforms they thought looked cool.  Well, that and a lot of gratuitous nudity – the fall back of bad movies when they want to distract you from how horrible the plot is.

At first I wasn't sure I wanted to watch this movie, but now I'm glad I did, because while it was exactly what I thought it would be, it was still pretty entertaining to watch in the same way as every other movie that so horrible it's hilarious is.  It isn't quite up there with the likes of Shotgun or The Room, but it still has plenty to laugh at.



I'm sure whoever made this wanted to make some kind of point about how resorting to violence can turn would-be protectors into hated exploiters, and draw that parallel to how the Nazi party was, believe it or not, looked upon as the saviors of Germany before they started harassing the German people along with the people they claimed they were "protecting" them against, but really the comparison is pretty superficial.  Actually it just makes me roll my eyes more than anything, and the numerous times images and sounds from WWII Nazi propaganda were overlaid with the movie were more laughable than anything.  Kind of like how when the Black Gestapo was doing their little Nazi-esque "vengeance" chant overlaid with the actual Nazi "zeig heil" it sounded like they were chanting "ninjas!"

So, believe it or not, there is a plot here.  Basically it involves a bunch of white mafia types hustling a mostly black community in Watts, California. They demand money from the many businesses, including prostitutes, and push drugs, so this is one of those "clean up the streets" type movies with a black "People's Army" trying to do just that.  It's run by a "General Ahmed," and supposedly it's funded by a white politician, andAhmed is somewhat ashamed of taking money from him.  Aside from spouting plenty of socialist ideology, the People's Army is shown to be generally ineffective at anything, as it is unable to provide food for the hungry, medicine for the sick, or to protect all the weakling women from getting raped by the white mobster types. 

This is all just to set things up so that the second in command of the People's Army, Colonel Kojah, can form his own personal hit squad to "protect" the people of Watts.  Initially this starts out as six men plus Kojah himself, and they actually do pretty much just that, roughing up the white mobsters and even castrating one for raping a black nurse.  Of course, not long after this, they start demanding the same money the white mobsters were taking from people for their "protection", and really just take over the racketeering business that they were supposed to be protecting the people of Watts from.  So the six-man squad quickly becomes much larger, and they start sporting the black and white uniforms in the image above, which include Nazi officer caps for its leadership, and change their names to Swahili.  This so they can live a lavish lifestyle, with plenty of topless women, and a white guy dressed up like Mr. Rodgers serving them drinks at their tennis court headquarters.


Please won't you be, my master...

Anyway, while Kojah has renamed himself "The Leader" and formed his own army he uses to harass the people of Watts, Ahmed has somehow been left in the dark about this, even though he only has a couple other lackeys who are brave enough to dress up in the same khaki and red uniform he wears.  So after his former subordinates almost kill him, he somehow heals up after a short montage and swears to take them on all by himself, which he totally does.  Watching him do it is a treat unto itself, especially since the film crew apparently forgot the night filter or something, because there were definitely points he should have been spotted, but inexplicably wasn't.  And when he's all done, the movie just decides to end, apparently.

This isn't a good movie to be sure, but it was still entertaining to watch, even if it wasn't for the same reasons the people who made it probably hoped it would be.  It was also something of a look back in time through a genre that has since passed into history, unless of course it's to drag its corpse out of its grave to make fun of it with movies like Black Dynamite.  It's kind of hard to put a rating on this, but I think a 4/10 should do, mostly due to the unintentional humor aspect.  If you can get a hold of this, it's worth a watch, if only so you can say that you've seen it.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


Online Fiery Little One

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Re: CX Reviews (contains some spoilers)
« Reply #27 on: May 11, 2015, 02:15:49 AM »
One of the reviewers I watch looked at this... I just don't remember if it was the Cinema Snob or Diamanda. I was surprised at some of the casting choices made, or rather just one. The big bad of the movie.
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Re: CX Reviews (contains some spoilers)
« Reply #28 on: May 11, 2015, 10:53:24 AM »
Guess I didn't recognize anyone or I would have made mention of it in the review somewhere.   ;)
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


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Re: CX Reviews (contains some spoilers)
« Reply #29 on: May 11, 2015, 02:31:25 PM »
He played Mac on Night Court.
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-Trip(sort of), The Crossing

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Re: CX Reviews (contains some spoilers)
« Reply #30 on: May 12, 2015, 12:35:12 AM »
The Thirteenth Floor
(1999 movie)

Much like Dark City, this is yet another high concept existentialist sci-fi movie that got overshadowed by The Matrix by virtue of being released the same year.  To be fair, though, it really isn't as "high concept" per say as either The Matrix or Dark City, mostly owing to how it approached its main concept compared to those other movies.

Like The Matrix and Dark City, The Thirteenth Floor follows a single white male protagonist as he attempts to unravel a growing mystery about both himself and the world around him.  In this case, the protagonist is Douglas Hall, the wealthy second-in-command to a billion-dollar computer company that is currently messing around with an immersive simulated world based on 1937 Los Angeles.   Much like Dark City, the protagonist has to discover the answers he's looking for while under suspicion of murder, though he isn't being hunted by police, he's just under suspicion with all evidence implicating him in the murder of his own boss, Hannon Fuller.  The mystery mainly comes from the events leading up to Hannon's murder, because for some unknown reason, he left a message for Doug in the simulated 1937 Los Angeles in the form of a written note.  Naturally, Doug goes on a mission to find this note, only the bartender who was supposed to give it to him not only read it right after Hannon gave it to him, but elected to not give it to Doug.  Things get more complicated as Hannon's daughter shows up, or so it seems, and Doug finds himself going back to the simulation for answers, which he eventually finds.

It's a fairly straightforward plot with a mystery that builds and takes a few turns here and there that managed to keep me interested enough to watch.  Aside from the movie poster artwork giving the big twist away, it actually isn't all that hard to figure out, which is actually the least disappointing flaw this movie has, mainly because it's outstripped by much larger flaws that I'll get into later.  Still, up until the big plot twist was revealed, hints were left here and there that the viewer could use to figure things out for themselves.


The Matrix is having a slight rendering error...

Yeah, that's the big plot twist.  As it turns out, the 1937 simulation was actually a simulation within a simulation, which Doug is himself a part of.  As I said earlier, the crazy bartender Hannon left the note with read it and because of this learned that he was nothing more than a character living out his artificial life in a computer simulation.  Unfortunately, someone apparently thought the audience needed to be spoon-fed the fact that Doug's late '90s LA was actually the simulated environment Hannon was talking about.  Hannon was apparently killed to preserve that secret, though it's not entirely clear to me why this had to be done or why the people behind it were actually behind it.  Unfortunately, this is hardly the biggest flaw or the most insulting thing about this movie.

There are two main major flaws to the plot that I just can't get past.  The first one involves one of Doug's colleagues working on the simulation going into the simulated world for no discernable reason, other than to set up the sickeningly Hollywood Happy Ending™ that was practically tied up with a neat little pink bow.  While it's briefly mentioned the first time Doug enters the simulation that it is possible for users to somehow switch places with their 1937 simulated counterparts, someone apparently decided that this wasn't enough and that they actually had to show it happen.  The actual brain transfer thing makes slightly more sense in light of the knowledge that Doug and his world is also a computer simulation.  Also, conveniently, the computer simulations have physical counterparts who look exactly like them.  In any case, the main brain fart here is that this software engineer who ends up dying and thus switching places with his 1937 counterpart already knew that his counterpart was a crazy murderer, who had actually been in the process of murdering Doug's 1937 counterpart when he came upon the situation and managed to pull Doug out of the simulation.  So, despite knowing this, he enters the simulation, which just doesn't make any sense at all given the context.  In the end, this only functions to show that the suppressed simulated "soul" of the simulated character would take the place of the person who had taken over their body back in the real world if their new host killed their body in the simulated world.

The other major flaw has to do with Hannon's murder and the people who were involved in it.  As it happened, the one who killed Hannon was Doug's counterpart in the really real world of 2024 LA.  This would have made slightly more sense in the context of these people being actual counterparts to Hannon and Doug, as in they were scientists dealing with a bug in their simulation.  What then made this odd was the viciousness of the murder itself, because scientists should not do that, even if they were convinced that killing a simulated character was necessary so that the system did not become self aware.  Unfortunately, the end of the movie revealed that these weren't scientists, or if they were, they were literally plugging into the system at home instead of some lab.  Worse, though, was the reveal that what made the violent murders so unusual was that in the far off future of 2024, crime has all but been eliminated, to the point that LA county was thinking of closing its prison.  The implication here is that the simulation caused the big bad to go nuts and enjoy killing people, to the point that he tried to kill his own wife while she was in the 1990s simulation.  I honestly can't roll my eyes enough at that suggestion, but the "happy" ending was so cute that I nearly threw up, so they kind of canceled each other out.

Oh, the big "happy" ending?  The Big Bad was killed by Detective President Palmer, who was really quickly made aware of the fact that he was a simulation, and not only believed it but was really understanding of what the mysterious "daughter" of Hannon had planned.  The entire point of this plan was to make it so that Doug's digital soul ended up in the body of the movie's main antagonist in the really real world of 2024 LA, because as it turned out, Gretchen Mol was in love with him and was totally cheating on her psycho killer husband with him.  I guess I wasn't supposed to notice that the simulated yet sentient computer character whose body she was inhabiting was technically getting raped in the process.

I wanted to like this movie more, but despite a strong start, the resolution of the movie ultimately disgusted me to the point that I just couldn't.  The more I think about it, though, while the story was ultimately trying to make its audience question existence in almost the same way that The Matrix did, instead I end up asking questions about the simulations themselves.  Questions like, why are people only able to enter the simulations by taking over the bodies of existing characters who just happen to look exactly like them rather than having a new simulated body simulated for them?  Aside from being really messed up, wouldn't that make it pretty easy for everyone else around them to figure out what's going on?  Wouldn't it make more sense to show up as random rich people so that people could more fully experience the depression era in a manner that didn't suck and didn't make the sentient characters at risk of losing their jobs because they randomly wander off in the middle of their jobs?  What would be so great about wandering around as a common person with limited means of getting around anyway?

Okay, while I'm picking the hell out of this movie, I will say that it's not exactly what I would consider a bad movie, either, because it isn't nearly as insulting as say Avatar is, or as stupid as the live action Transformers movies.  I may be damning this movie with faint praise, but really it's worth checking out, if nothing else so you can see a contemporary to Dark City and The Matrix.  Something else you may want to check out that has a similar theme is the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Ship in a Bottle".   It makes up for insulting with ham-fisted, but overall it's still an improvement over this movie.  6/10.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


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Re: CX Reviews (contains some spoilers)
« Reply #31 on: May 12, 2015, 02:18:28 AM »
Ah, another I've seen, though not in years, again. It certainly had an interesting concept.
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Re: CX Reviews (contains some spoilers)
« Reply #32 on: May 19, 2015, 02:17:07 AM »
20th Century Boys
(2008, 2009, 2009 movies)

It might be laziness on my part to combine the reviews for all three of these movies, but I guess I'd argue that there simply isn't enough to any one of these movies to make it worth writing separate reviews for them.  Actually, I was kind of tempted to not do a review at all.  Why?  Well, mostly because I'm disappointed.  Back when I first watched the first movie, I was actually kind of drawn in by the story and the mystery that made it up, but upon repeat viewing in preparation for watching the remaining two movies, and the subsequent viewing of those movies, I could see that there actually wasn't all that much to the plot, complex as it was, simply because everything was just so damn convenient.  And to quote my roommate, who watched this with me recently, "it's actually pretty predictable."

The movies actually are somewhat ensemble in nature, with a large cast of characters, some of which are actually able to have the story focus on them for a while.  I kind of liked that about them, actually, but there was a definite protagonist - Kenji Endō.  While the movies jump around through various time periods spanning 1969 – 2017, the story starts in the summer of 1969 with Kenji and his group of friends building a secret hideout in the long grass of a vacant lot, apparently on the edge of Tokyo.  They decide to form their own little secret group of heroes, out for justice, and even write an illustrated story about how they're totally going to save the world from an alien invasion at the end of the 20th Century.  Childish stuff, really, and something they all forgot about when they grew up.  Fast forward to the late '90s, and there's a cult lead by a masked man, calling himself Friend, who has co-opted the old symbol Kenji's friends used as kids.  Worse yet, Friend is making doomsday predictions right out of the little book Kenji wrote with the help of his friends back in 1969.

This is where things really start taking a turn for the impossible, really.  While it was easy to get caught up in the plot of an enemy in the midst of Kenji and his friends and Friend making the old childhood fantasy come true, when you think about it, that would have been bloody impossible.  I could take a shot at L. Ron. Hubbard and Scientology pretty easily here, but honestly as a nerd, the first thing that came to mind would be if Sybok, the bad guy from Star Trek V: Shatner's Ego, had somehow formed a cult in Japan and successfully taken over the world by having everyone he came in contact with "share their pain" with him.  Nonsense, really, especially how he not only managed to get people from within the police and government to join him, but scientists who could actually make the killer virus Kenji and his friends thought up as the basis for their end of the world story, along with a giant robot, a laser pistol, and flying saucers.  And if that wasn't enough, he not only managed to successfully get Japan to elect him into power, but he somehow became a world leader and managed to seduce the entire world, except for a few small hold-outs who then became terrorists to fight him.  It wasn't exactly like he hid his authoritarian angle, either, and it wouldn't exactly take a rocket scientist to figure out the convenience of the virus attacks in his rise to power.

It gets worse, though.  Apparently not being satisfied with unleashing a bioengineered virus on humanity, Friend also plans on setting off a nuke in the middle of a city.  By the way, this virus kills 100% of the people it infects by making their blood boil before bursting through their skin like a blood-filled water balloon.  Kind of like the marines in Starcraft.  Pleasant thought, right?  ;)  Actually, the virus acted a lot more like a chemical agent, especially given the rapid effect it had and the fact it was deployed as a mist that had to rain down on people to infect them.  That and how the bad guys deploying it were apparently protected just by wearing gas masks.  Fun fact, you need a full chemical suit to protect you from most chemical agents that would kill you like that.  Kenji and his group actually managed to get a hold of some for the final battle of the first movie, and they were protected, apparently.  Why am I bothering to nitpick like this?  Good question.  I guess, I just happen to know that a chemical suit in all likelihood wouldn't protect you from a virus because it isn't air-tight, and it doesn't have its own built-in air supply, and the filter in a gas mask probably wouldn't actually keep a virus out.  Depends on the virus, really, but there's a reason why in Outbreak that the scientist-types wore the kind of suits they did.  I guess I have the Air Force to thank for that bit of knowledge.  Really, though, considering that this movie trilogy also used something like the fridge from Indy 4, only it was the cab of a crane, and it was literally at the center of the nuclear explosion, I guess the gas mask/chemical suit thing kind of pales in comparison.  Of course all of Kenji's friends that were around in close proximity and in the open to the thing when it went off also all managed to survive, and the radiation that typically goes along with a nuclear explosion apparently also just vanished.  Maybe they just used the "Japanese Miracle" from Ghost in the Shell...

So, as you can see, everything was just to serve the contrived plot.  A nuke going off at the end of the first movie only served to make us wonder if all of our heroes had died and if Friend had successfully brought about the end of humanity, just so they could be revealed to be alright in the next movie.  The plot of the next movie was pretty much the same as the first, with everything written in the old childhood stories coming to pass.  One of those things was that Friend would ascend to godhood when he came back to life after having been shot to death by an assassin – something that just shouldn't have been believed by anyone but just was because the movie needed them to.  Pretty much everything involving Friend was all about misdirection, both with the story and the way the audience was lead along with the identity of Friend, which naturally wasn't revealed until the end of the last movie.

I'd say the other main annoyance factor of the movies was in how it seems like Japanese actors just seem to have a hard time being convincing in anything other than a comedy role.  Admittedly, they were much better in these movies than the actors in the live action Higurashi.  The only reason I'm even bothering to mention this is just that there were a lot of times when the characters were crying and the movie was trying to be dramatic and tug at my heart strings, but I just ended up laughing at the unintentional humor caused by actors trying way too hard.

Speaking of trying to tug at heart strings, Friend's motivation at the end is revealed to essentially boil down to him having been picked on as a kid and no one wanting to be his friend.  It might have helped if he hadn't been such a creepy little bastard, but we're also informed that Kenji stole something from a sidewalk stand and Friend ended up taking the blame for it.  Apparently being accused of ripping off a cheap little plastic badge was enough to make the kid ostracized by all of his classmates, who pretended he was dead, and as they grew up, they actually forgot they were just pretending and thought he was dead when they were trying to figure out who he was.  So basically Friend is the ultimate emo kid, only instead of cutting himself, he cut all of humanity.  The epilogue at the end of the third movie tried to play this out even more by having Kenji enter a VR that simulated all the relevant parts of the late '60s and early '70s, just so he could pull a do-over with the kid that would end up becoming Friend.  Of course, the reality of the movie is that most of humanity is still dead and Kenji couldn't actually make up for what he'd done to Friend because it was just a simulation, but whatever.

If there is anything positive to say about these movies, the first one in particular, it's that the characters are generally very likable.  It was easy to sympathize with them, and to be honest they made me a little nostalgic for my own youth.  The bits of comedy relief were also nice, but unfortunately that wasn't nearly enough to carry the movie.

I wanted to like this movie and its sequels, but I just couldn't get over how convenient everything was, and in the end how pointless it was, really.  I guess these movies might be worth a watch, but the other bad thing about them is that they really feel their length, with each one being over 2 hours long.

First movie – 6/10 (decent set-up, interesting characters, but convenient and predictable).
Second movie – 5/10 (contrivances, unfunny humor, and not much to keep me interested).
Third movie – 4/10 (Rinse and repeat, but at least it's over now).

In the end, I was mostly just glad to be done with these movies, and to have satisfied the curiosity the first movie managed to generate, even if I was disappointed.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


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Re: CX Reviews (contains some spoilers)
« Reply #33 on: May 20, 2015, 12:02:59 AM »
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
(2004 movie)

I really wanted to like this movie, but it just had a couple of major flaws that ruined it for me.  So while this movie ended up being a flop and I don't think it deserves to be panned nearly as much as it tends to be (or for the reasons it tends to be), I do agree that it wasn't what I'd really consider a good movie.

There is a lot about this movie that I actually kind of liked.  I actually liked the look and feel of this movie, which was very much like the old '30s serials or comic books.  Set in an alternate history 1939, this movie could probably be classified as a "diesel-punk" movie in that it features technology that is much more advanced than what was actually possible at the time (like giant robots and ray guns), while still having that technology seem mostly based off of technology of the time.  The look felt very much in line with the art style of the 1930s and a lot of shots emulated comic book drawings, with a filter over everything that made it actually kind of look like a good movie.  Of course that also functioned to blend in all the CGI elements, or rather to blend the live action actors and props into the almost entirely CGI environment. 

The story follows "Sky Captain" Joe Sullivan after he's called to the rescue following an attack on New York City by giant robots that can fly.  He's soon teamed up with reporter Polly Perkins, who just happens to be an ex-girlfriend of his, as they attempt to find the origin of the giant robots and the fate of several world famous scientists who have disappeared under mysterious circumstances.  A large number of clichés later, the film reveals a twist that M. Night Shyamalan would be proud of, and the Sky Captain gets to save the day with a cliché, and even ends up with his old girlfriend in the standard Hollywood Happy Ending™.

For what it's worth, I actually liked the mystery aspect of the movie as Joe and his fellow mercenaries tried to figure things out.  I was also really into the look and feel of the movie, at least everything right up to the point Joe dives his P-40 Warhawk into the ocean at high speed and when we met up with Angelina Jolie in the giant airborne aircraft carrier.


Nothing says sexy like an empty eye socket.

As much as I liked the old feel of the movie along with some of its clichés, the drawback is that a lot of the corny crap that has been done to death in movies much older than this one seems to have come along for the ride.  So while I know the movie was intentionally paying homage to these other older films, that doesn't mean they should have also brought the stupid along for the ride, at least not in my opinion.  I've watched plenty of old movies and had to put up with the corn when it came to them (although I'll still complain about it if it makes me too bored), it's not something I expect from a modern movie, and I felt that was a weakness of this movie. 

The other major gripe I have with this movie is the unfortunate fact that someone apparently thought this movie should be a date film.  What that translated into for this movie is that the relationship between Joe and Polly was pushed to the forefront, with the actual plot of the movie being shoved into the background so the movie could focus on how "cute" Joe and Polly were when they were bickering about things like Joe cheating on Polly, and Polly getting revenge by sabotaging Joe's plane, resulting in Joe nearly dying and being held at a POW camp for some time.  That apparently was what "sexual tension" meant to whoever wrote this crap, and frankly it made me want to puke rainbows at times, especially since I wanted to, you know, get on with the actual plot instead of fawning over Jude Law and/or Gwyneth Paltrow.

Aside from that, the plot that was actually there was fairly serviceable, I just wished there had been more focus on that instead of the date movie crap that frankly I can't stand.  Other points of interest would include the similarities to movies like Castle in the Sky, which has a similar theme and also features large robots capable of flight, has a lot of airships, and features air pirates (well, Sky Captain sort of has those anyway), along with yet another cutesy relationship story.

I don't want you to think that I don't like romance stories per say, it's just that I don't like clichéd ones, and I don't like it when they force the actual plot into the background.  Done right, that kind of thing can add to the drama of the story, or at least add an interesting dynamic between some of the characters.  The catch is, I actually have to care about the characters, and cutesy clichéd crap doesn't accomplish that for me.  I also can't stand the clichéd high maintenance frail precious flower type of female character, and while Polly wasn't quite that bad, her constant bitching at Joe with her almost constant jealousy despite the two of them not being together anymore got really old, really fast.  The sad thing is, this movie had the potential for something a lot more interesting with Angelina Jolie's character (just please lose the eye patch), as she had a lot more in common with Joe and that could have made for a much better character dynamic between the two of them.  They wouldn't have even had to hook up, really.  Unfortunately, Angelina Jolie's character wasn't even in this movie for very long, despite being featured rather prominently in the trailer and in the marketing for this movie.  She also seemed a lot more interesting than Polly.

As for the ending of Sky Captain, it's a cheat, but then everything else about this movie is clichéd, so I can't get all that terribly worked up about it in comparison to the movie's other problems.  It basically comes down to the standard "hero has sacrifice himself to disable doomsday machine from the inside" only to have a convenient exit for the hero so he can escape rather than actually sacrificing himself.  It would have been nice if the movie had taken the risk by actually having Joe sacrifice himself, but really it just would have been an improvement had the situation not been set up that way and instead went with a less eye-roll inducing cliché, or if it made an actual effort to avoid clichés altogether.

As for if you should watch this movie, well, I guess it's a matter of taste.  I'm not heavily into diesel-punk, but I was actually kind of into this movie until things started to go downhill.  If diesel-punk is your thing, you might find this movie interesting just from the novelty aspect of it.  Otherwise, all I'm really saying with this review is that while it has problems, it isn't nearly as bad as it tends to be made out to be by a lot of other reviewers.  Unfortunately, it really isn't all that good, either.  Chalk this one up as another "it tried."  6/10.
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Online Fiery Little One

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Re: CX Reviews (contains some spoilers)
« Reply #34 on: May 20, 2015, 02:32:17 AM »
I know of this one. Seemed interesting, but I'm not a fan of movies where they don't bother building real sets. Particularly when they have the budget to do so, which I believe this one did.
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Re: CX Reviews (contains some spoilers)
« Reply #35 on: May 21, 2015, 11:28:56 AM »
I rather liked the look, personally.  They seemed to be going after a comic book appearance, and I think they succeeded at it pretty well.  Rather the same as Sin City, which also made heavy use of CGI to achieve the comic book look.
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Re: CX Reviews (contains some spoilers)
« Reply #36 on: May 21, 2015, 01:54:56 PM »
Invasion
(22 episode series)

I honestly have some really mixed feelings about this series.  In a lot of ways, it's superior to Lost, yet ABC elected to keep that convoluted series and it wanted nothing to do with this one.  I guess having a plot that was moving in a definite direction and mysteries that actually had answers shown was just too much for them.  In any case, that's not to say that this series was exactly what I would consider "good" either, because while it was technically a sci-fi, in a lot of ways it felt a lot more like a horror, because to be frank it shared a lot of the same flaws that generally makes my hate most horror films.  On the other hand, the story was actually somewhat interesting, and while the plot moved a little slow, I thought it was laid out fairly well, and I actually liked some of the ambiguities that it left.  Compare that to Lost, which mostly got off on confusing and leading on its audience.

As the name suggests, this is something along the lines of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where a mysterious organism of some kind is involved in the apparent replacement of several characters during a powerful hurricane that hits the small-ish community of Homestead, Florida.  It's left somewhat ambiguous as to whether these bio-florescent string-ray creatures are actually aliens or if they're actually a previously undiscovered deep sea creature of some kind.  After all, they do resemble Trilobites.  Alien or not, they seem to be very adaptive, since they can flourish in both sea water and fresh water.  We're given little clues here and there as the series progresses, and late in the series it's even revealed that these things have been around for quite a while.  Dave, the resident conspiracy theorist who also happens to be a supporting character, seems pretty convinced, though.



In any case, when the series first started it tried to make it a mystery what happened to one of the main characters when she was discovered naked following the hurricane, but since I've seen The Thing (1982) I had a pretty good inkling.

The character in question is Mariel Underlay, the top doctor at the local hospital, and ex-wife to protagonist Russell Varon, who is himself a park ranger stationed in the local part of the Everglades National Park.  The series opens with a NOAA weather C-130 that was manned entirely by USAF personnel being taken out by a bunch of mysterious lights flying out of the water, looking a bit like the ancient probes used in the Stargate franchise as their own version of photon torpedoes.  But after that's all done, we're very quickly introduced to the majority of the main and supporting cast as they prepare for Hurricane Eve, which is bearing down on them and their community.  And by prepare, I mean not actually do much, like say boarding up the windows or anything.

Incidentally, this introduction to the characters and the setting also introduces the audience to one of the biggest annoyances I have with any show of any genre, namely little kids.


Isn't she just the cutest little plot contrivance you ever saw?

The thing about kids that I don't like in shows, aside from the obvious pandering to the audience, is that they are often used to inject drama into a situation, often as it applies to them doing something stupid.  Of course, I don't like it when any character does something stupid, and this is such a huge cliché in horror that I often end up cheering for whatever is trying to kill them.  This applies to children in any show, really, because kids generally tend to be stupid anyway, so they are often used as an excuse for lazy writing.  Want to make everyone end up separated so one of them can have something weird happen to them?  Just have the little girl wander off looking for her cat in the middle of a freakin' hurricane – you know, lazy.  To be fair though, this series is equal opportunity and spreads the stupid around the entire cast.  Take the protagonist, Russ; he personally witnessed his brother-in-law/resident conspiracy theorist get grabbed by one of the mysterious glowing murder manta's and only just barely managed to save him, saw the results of an Air Force para-rescue diver getting grabbed by one of these things, and yet what does he do upon hearing a noise out in the swamp in the middle of the night by himself?  He goes out into the water.  Nothing grabs him, but that's only because he was supposed to find a plot point.  Then there's Kira Underlay, daughter of the mostly evil county sheriff, Tom Underlay, who apparently has a death wish upon learning what's really happening to people, and runs off so Russ and his family can't make it out of the area before yet another hurricane hits the town and the conspiracy that had been slowly revealed over the course of the series can finally reach fruition. 

Admittedly, that's probably what I'd consider the worst aspect of this series, though the contrived stupidity of characters is hardly the only flaw this series has.  This does bring me to the other thing I hate about kids in any show though, but especially horror shows, which is that they often get used by their parents as excuses to do really morally questionable things over the vague assertion that their children are being threatened or scared somehow.  It also helps to illustrate how utterly hypocritical some characters can be, either because the writers don't realize it, or because that's just an aspect of the character.  When it comes to Russ I'm not really sure.  I mean, he will beat the snot out of someone over almost anything, but when his son ends up waling on someone who was literally trying to kill someone, somehow the kid is made out to be disturbed.  Incidentally, this is also partly how guns get demonized in spite of the, you know, invasion going on, because the teenaged son gets drunk and goes out to do a little target practice using pictures of his mom when it dawns on him that the woman he knew as his mother is dead.

That actually brings me to what this series tries to sell as a kind of moral ambiguity.  This is where the major spoiler of this review is, by the way.  Essentially the big mystery of the first half of the series is that the glowing sting ray trilobite things are grabbing people, killing them, and creating a hybrid clone of that person that has all the memories of the original, but with a hybrid biology that includes aspects of the glowing fish.  This translates into healing super fast, being allergic to all forms of human blood while having something like dolphin blood themselves, and giving birth to litters of the glowing sting ray trilobite things when the female hybrids get pregnant.  Oh, it also translates into most of them being sociopaths who have no empathy for regular human beings.  And while Mariel and the clone of one of the deputies Tom tricked into getting killed seem to be mostly good, and the clones themselves don't seem to be necessarily responsible for the deaths of the originals, that doesn't change the fact that the originals are dead.  This little fact is both made hugely unambiguous, and yet glossed over at the same time so we can be appalled at what the military is doing to the clones of the its own personnel who were killed.


There is nothing ambiguous about this point – the original person is killed and replaced, body snatchers style.  And if that wasn't enough, a few episodes earlier, a highly deformed partial clone of Dave showed up at Russ's property, which is where Dave is living, and still very much alive thanks to Russ pulling him out before the glowing trilobite can get more than a taste of his legs.  And yet while the series makes this clear to us, if also glosses over the fact that the person is dead.  Mariel is dead, and the only thing the clone has going for her is that she actually regrets this and isn't evil the same way almost every other clone seems to be.

This also ties in to how the main antagonist, Tom Underlay is presented, namely in a very bipolar fashion.  It's very clear at times that he's frankly evil and has something of a god complex, yet at other times, he's shown as being a caring father and will actually team up with Russ to hunt down other serious threats, and even fights those he was initially conspiring with in order to prevent them from committing mass murder by forcing a huge crowd of hurricane refugees into the water with the murderous cloning fish (you could even say it was an attack of the clones  ;) ).  Oh, that's right, he was totally conspiring with another evil clone who was intent on wiping out humanity, and the military in order to keep things under wraps.  As it turns out, Tom was mainly concerned with trying to hide out in the name of peaceful coexistence, mainly because he was actually a clone that got made following a plane crash back in 1996 and didn't want to end up getting poked and prodded by men in lab coats.

To its credit, though, the series did do a pretty good job of keeping the story interesting, with a compelling mystery/conspiracy that kept me watching so I could see how it all turned out.  And as I said at the beginning of the review, it actually revealed things along the way leading up to a climax, unlike Lost which vainly built toward nothing in the hope that people would keep watching.  I think the main disappointment I have with the ending was that it had a sequel hook and therefore finished without resolving a number of plot points.  Worst part is that Larkin, the pregnant wife of Russ, seems to have been killed at the end of the series after being taken to the water instead of the hospital, where you would normally take someone who's been shot, by Tom, with Russ and cloned Mariel coming upon the scene minutes afterward.  It's at that point I really wanted Russ to shoot Tom, but whatever.  I couldn't help but get the feeling that the writers were going to try to argue that this was the "only way to save Larkin", in spite of the fact that they made it quite clear that Larkin would actually be killed and a new clone of her would be grown, not to mention the loss of the unborn baby she was carrying.

Anyway, as much as I bitch about this series, that probably has mostly to do with being disappointed by what could have been a better series.  It was a good concept, but unfortunately it seems that a cliché storm struck along with the two hurricanes, and it ended up hitting a few berserker buttons of mine.  It might be worth checking out and giving it a chance, but you probably should expect much out of it, aside from being better than Lost, that is.  7/10.
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Re: CX Reviews (contains some spoilers)
« Reply #37 on: May 24, 2015, 01:07:30 PM »
Super 8
(2011 movie)

I originally wasn’t going to bother with this movie, but after hearing a little bit about it from others, I was convinced to give it a try.  Not long into this movie, however, I instantly regretted this decision.  Why?  Because not only did a half-ton pickup truck manage to derail a train, but the train literally explodes into an utter cluster fuck of destruction which manages to take out almost everything in the immediate vicinity, but manages to leave a bunch of kids who happen to be filming their own cheesy movie right next to the tracks completely unscathed, along with the car they’d borrowed to get there.  And if that wasn’t enough to make me not take this movie seriously, the pickup that caused the derailment managed to survive intact enough that its occupant was able to give some exposition before he passes out.  And yes, just passes out, not dies.


Bullshit.

I couldn’t help but get the sense that this movie was trying to have things both ways, because it was trying right from the start to have both serious drama, and slice of life comedy within minutes of each other.  This also goes into the ending/”surprise twist” ending of the movie, but I’ll get into that later.  All the same, I can see why some people apparently liked this turd of a film, because it’s aimed at the nostalgia people have for their childhood, and does so by having a number of stereotyped cookie-cutter characters the protagonist has as his little group of friends on this merry adventure.  Part of me finds this amusing, because this is actually the kind of thing one might see in the typical “slice of life” anime that seems to be so popular in the anime fandom these days.  Incidentally, I also hate that kind of show, too.  And just to make myself clear, it’s not the slice of life I hate, it’s the stereotypical cookie-cutter characters who are only there to make the pathetic loser of a main character look better by default.  And, speaking of, I also hate stereotypical cookie-cutter protagonists that are transparently aimed at the type of audience member who like to root for pathetic loser underdog types in large part because the character reminds them in some way of their own pathetic lives or childhoods.  Even his name, Joe Lamb, is meant to convey the fact that he’s just an average kid, meant to represent anyone - they might as well have called him Joe McAveragedude.  And really, so much of the movie is formulated to that end, that I can’t believe that not very many people seem to see right through it.  But hey, I guess it found its audience, just like Abrams Trek, Cloverfield, and Avatar did.

Anyway, I suppose I should explain what this movie is even about.  Mostly, it’s about Joe as he deals with the death of his mother while he falls in love with the daughter of the man who is blamed by the entire town for said death of mother.  Of course, him being blamed for her death is complete and utter bullshit, because the only thing he’s at fault for is that she had generously decided to take his shift when he was too drunk to go to work one day.  So mainly the town blames him for not dying because they already didn’t like him.  Anyway, naturally neither of the kids’ fathers wants them having anything to do with one another, and it probably would have either had one of two stereotypical endings if not for the giant, people-eating, engine-stealing alien that comes into their lives.  Remember that train I mentioned earlier?  It was being carried on that train, along with a giant box full of odd little Rubik’s cubes.  And explosives.

This is just the start of the many, many stupid things in this movie that are done mostly for convenience, and which the writer apparently hopes the audience won’t notice, such as the fact that the alien really could’ve busted out of that train at any time.  It also plays off of the conspiracy theorists’ lore, as an entire squadron of Air Force Security Police (as they were known at the time) comes running down the track only minutes after their train derailed, completely out of no where.  Or, at least I thought that’s what they were, due mainly to the fact that they were all wearing blue berets, which is something the Security Forces (their modern name) is known for and has been known for going back decades.  In fact, one of their nicknames is “the blue berets.”  However, I noticed that there seemed to be an awful lot of them (they took over a fairly large town), and that none of them were wearing the badges that they should have been (they are cops, after all).  So I’m guessing J.J. Abrams just liked how the berets looked or something.

This is the point that the movie uses the same technique that, at least in modern film, has commonly been attributed to Jaws – mainly that various victims are taken out by an unseen force, often from that force’s point of view.  In this case, both humans and car engines are going missing.  This is supposed to be a hint at a minor plot point that is revealed toward the end of the movie, but like a lot of things, the writer seems to forget important details, like that engines need fuel to run and some kind of a cooling system to keep from overheating and grinding to a halt.  As for the unseen monster thing, personally I thought this was kind of lame, mainly because it was following in the footsteps of other, much better movies that managed to execute the suspense of the unseen presence and its attacks much better, so much so that when the presence was finally revealed on screen, it had actual, you know, impact.  When it comes to the alien in this movie finally being revealed, it was actually kind of underwhelming.  In fact, all I could really think about was how much it looked like a lovechild between the Cloverfield monster and Species 8472 from Star Trek: Voyager.

Now, aside from how contrived and just plain stupid this movie could get, the thing that really upsets me most about this movie is how it goes from being essentially a horror movie in the same vein as Tremors and Jaws, to very poorly attempting to be something in the same vein as E.T the Extra-Terrestrial, and what upsets me even more than that is how a lot of critics actually bought into that.  This is introduced into the story by revealing that Joe is apparently mildly telepathic, to the point that he can somehow communicate with the alien.  This is played up for some kind of cutesy drama, along with how the alien has been tortured by the Air Force to the point that it apparently thinks all humans are evil and basically kills or kidnaps any it happens to come across.  This is explained as a misunderstanding of some kind, because the only humans the alien has experience with are its torturers, as apparently the movie completely forgot about the scientist who set him free at the beginning of the movie and set the entire plot in motion.  To be fair, it could be the only reason why the alien gave Joe a chance instead of just killing him the way it had done to every other human it'd come into contact with, but whatever.  The point is, not five minutes prior to the supposedly touching scene between the kid and the alien, the alien had mercilessly killed the town's sheriff, and it'd been seen munching on a human drumstick.


That isn't exactly KFC in its hand...

Both the movie and the critics who made the completely transparent connection with E.T. apparently forgot this point, and it is one of the major reasons I find this movie to be frankly somewhat insulting to the audience's intellect.  You cannot have what's basically the monster in the movie violently kidnap, murder, and eat people for the entire movie and then try to turn around in turn it into a "it was just misunderstood" twist while brow-beating the audience about how horrible humanity and the military in particular is – it just doesn't work with anyone who has a more than a minute-long attention span.

I just don't really see why J.J. Abrams can get away with the same kind of crap that Michael Bay routinely, and deservedly, gets criticism for.  This is beyond his annoying insistence to add an obnoxious amount of lens flares and shakey-cam to every scene.  For me, this movie is a prime example of the crap he's been turning out lately, and I probably wouldn't have even said anything if it wasn't as popular as it seems to be.  But hey, a lot of people really like Avatar, too, and that's way more stupid, manipulative, and insulting than this movie is.  1/10.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


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Re: CX Reviews (contains some spoilers)
« Reply #38 on: May 27, 2015, 12:14:15 PM »
Total Recall
(2012 movie)

I went in to this not quite knowing what to expect.  I will admit to being not all that enthusiastic about it, though, simply because of this movie's status as a remake of the 1990 Paul Verhoeven classic.  The trailer I saw for this movie reinforced that point, in spite of the insistence from the filmmakers that this was going to be closer to the original source material, because the trailer heavily focused on elements that were from the 1990 movie that were being referenced in this one.  I instinctively called bullshit because of this, and because of the insistence on using the same name, because I figured that much like Abrams Trek, this movie was going to rely heavily on knowledge of the 1990 movie, or at least everything from it that has become part of pop culture.  Still, you can't always trust the trailer, and occasionally remakes actually are pretty good, though this is heavily dependent on what the remake brings to the table, so I went into this movie with a fairly open mind.  Unfortunately, my gut feeling wasn't very far off, which is why I'm even bothering to write this review.  This movie wasn't mediocre, and I wouldn't even just call it bad - it was stupid.  It was exactly the kind of crap I've come to expect from a Hollywood that is obsessed with what it thinks are a safe bet - remakes that bank on the nostalgia factor of a once popular title, but lacking the soul of what made that title popular.

Most people might recall the 1990 movie for its action and gore, but like all Verhoeven movies of that period, it was also satirical, and had a kind of unique wit.  It was also somewhat ambiguous as to whether the main character, Douglas Quaid, was actually the double agent going through the action packed movie plot, or a poor construction worker having his brain slowly lobotomized by the false memory vacation he paid for.  Really, there are compelling arguments for both, and the director even leaves in clues here and there for what his opinion is on the matter.  It's actually kind of funny, because Verhoeven isn't usually remembered for being subtle about anything, but compared to how this movie approaches the same subject, well, let's just say that either director Len Wiseman, or the producers, or someone else behind the making of this movie, apparently thought the audience was too stupid for anything that was ambiguous.  Which also explains the stupidity of the movie's climax, but I'll get to that later.

As you might have gotten from my tone so far, honestly, what's wrong with this movie is more than just bad, lazy writing.  Frankly, this movie is a sad, shallow rip-off, and I don't throw that word around lightly.  The difference between a true remake and a rip-off is in what, if anything, is added.  So what does this remake add to the original?  Well, it rips off the visual aesthetic of both Blade Runner and Mass Effect, but other than that, not much.  Actually I was struck during various chase scenes in "The Colony" by how much this movie seemed to want to be Blade Runner in particular.  Aside from that, it was filled to the brim with references to the 1990 movie, including lines of dialog that just sounded so wrong when uttered by someone who wasn't Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Admittedly, this reference was kind of funny, partly due to the fact that it played on expectations and actually required a sharp eye and an attention span longer than 5 seconds to spot who Quaid is disguising himself as ahead of time.

Had the movie been content with this and maybe a few more subtle callouts, it probably would have been a better movie for it.  But like Abrams Trek, it insists on being in your face as much as possible about it, because it apparently thinks its audience would be too stupid to spot the many references.  The irony there is that I'm sure a number of people thought they were actually clever to see these obvious call-backs simply because enough of its audience is probably young enough to not have seen the 1990 movie, and might not be aware of the pop culture knowledge that originates with it.  Speaking of which, as the lowest common denominator, the movie insists on cramming each and every thing pop culture remembers about the 1990 movie into itself, both in dialog and in visuals, even when it doesn't make any sense in the context of its own "re-imagined" setting.


Case in point.

You might remember the 1990 movie having a three-breasted prostitute in it - arguably it's the thing pop-culture remembers most from it.  The thing is, in the 1990 movie, she was there because she was a mutant in a whole community of mutants, who were only mutants due to the radiation exposure their ancestors had gotten (as is a common sci-fi trope) from being housed in bad domes during the initial colonization of Mars.  So it makes zero sense for this woman to have three breasts since she's the only mutant in this movie, and there is a significant lack of any back-story to provide for her existence.  I suppose it could be argued that she's just another example of the excessive weirdness of the bazaar Quaid is wandering through at the time, but the only other really "weird" things there are sex-bots that look like something right out of the Ghost in the Shell movies, and light-up tattoos.  I ... suppose this woman could have gotten futuristic plastic surgery to give herself three breasts, but it seems pretty obvious to me that she is only in this movie due to pop culture.

Speaking of back-story, I should probably discuss the actual movie a little before I continue my rant.  Whereas in the 1990 movie, "the colony" was on Mars, in the remake, which takes place entirely on Earth, Australia resumes its status as Britain's colony, including the part where it and its inhabitants are looked down upon by the homeland.  To explain this set-up, we're informed that apparently WWIII broke out, and rather than nuking ourselves into oblivion, we used chemical warfare to make everywhere but the British isles, a small part of continental Europe next to it, and the continent of Australia completely uninhabitable.  By some magic, the toxic air doesn't move around with the winds, which permits an existence without the use of domes, albeit in a limited space.  The conflict of the story is driven by this supposed lack of space, which also gives a major plot device its excuse for existence. 

The plot device in question is a massive gravity elevator which passes not quite directly through the core of the Earth and provides the only supposed transportation between "the colony" and the United Federation of Britain, ostensibly so that workers from Australia can make a daily commute to Britain to make robotic soldiers (why?), which, by the way, the evil rich people in Britain plan on using to kill all the poor, lower middle class people living in Australia on the excuse of stopping terrorism (ooh, topical!), but really so they can make more living space available for the people living in Britain.  Quaid is the double-agent caught up in this stupidly short-sighted evil secret plan, having switched sides once he learned of it (or did he?), as in the 1990 movie.  I don't think I'm spoiling it all that much by saying this planned genocidal robot invasion doesn't succeed as planned.

Honestly, the level of stupid in this movie is impressive in a way, because its woven throughout the entire fabric of the movie.  I already pointed out the impossibility of the toxic chemicals never touching the "last remaining habitable areas", but the movie one-ups itself and undermines its own primary conflict.  How?  In the build up to the climax, it shows that while there are apparently toxic chemicals still floating around in the air outside of whatever magical bubble is protecting Britain, all that's needed is a gas-mask to survive in it, and that even old, existing buildings can be modified to keep the chemicals out and make their interiors habitable again.  The space issue is also pretty silly when you consider the technology required to build a tunnel through the core of the planet.  We're talking heat and pressure more intense than any known material can withstand, and yet not only has humanity managed to build a tunnel through the molten center of our planet, they even put windows in, so you can have a nice view of the molten iron of the outer core as you whiz by it fast enough to take you from Australia to Britain in only a few hours (or possibly less).  Would it not then be possible to construct orbital stations, perhaps even connected by massive elevators?  Or to colonize the moon, or, you know, Mars?  Or for all the show of how much humanity has built up from the ground, why is it apparently never considered to build down, under the ground?  Let alone just setting up sealed environments out in the toxic cloud.  Then again, agriculture (or soylent green) was also completely disregarded by everyone making this movie, so I suppose I shouldn't be too surprise that they managed to completely negate the reason for the evil robot invasion without even noticing.

The other major portion of stupid in this movie has to do with the secret evil robot invasion itself, because, as you might guess, it involves using the giant gravity elevator that is supposedly the only means of transportation between Britain and Australia (no submarines in the future apparently).  The thing is, the invasion was totally televised, with everyone in Australia being completely aware of it and seeing the elevator drop in Britain well before it got there.  Yet nothing was done in preparation for the invasion's arrival.  Civilians are still milling about out in the open, there's no armed resistance ready, waiting to meet the robot army, nothing.  They didn't even do the completely obvious thing, which would be to implode the building the giant elevator docks with, or even attempt to sabotage the docking clamps themselves so that elevator would just fall right back to Britain, or come flying out of the hole and crash.  Of course, then our heroes would have been killed along with the evil British invaders, but still, nothing was done to meet the invasion?

Normally I'd talk about characters at this point, but honestly, none of them were particularly memorable.  It was kind of interesting to see this done by people who could actually act, and interesting to see the different things they did with the characters compared to the original, but since this movie was more concerned with regurgitating pop culture, that didn't leave much time for character building.  Kind of amusing that they combined the Richter and Lori characters from the 1990 movie, but that was about it.

The soundtrack was equally forgettable.  I mean, it was okay, but nothing special - it did what it needed to do and that was all. 

As for the claim the filmmakers made about this being closer to the short story, I honestly can't make a full comparison since I've never read it.  But according to Wikipedia, they were lying through their teeth, and the Verhoeven version was actually more faithful.

As you can tell, I really didn't think much of this movie, and as such, I can't recommend it to anyone.  The only reason to watch might be to see the disaster for yourself after watching the corny but fun 1990 movie.  1/10.
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Offline CX

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Re: CX Reviews (contains some spoilers)
« Reply #39 on: September 07, 2015, 04:47:33 PM »
Alien
(1979 movie)

This is actually the start of a look at the entire "Alien Quadrology," as this is the DVD set I picked up of this series, and more specifically, the new director's cut/extended edition versions of those movies.  Why stop only there?  Well, there are a number of reasons, the largest of which being real unenthusiastic about the idea of even rewatching the AvP movies in order to review them (honestly I'd just as soon forget about them, except I can't).  I might cover them eventually, along with Prometheus, but at least for the foreseeable future, I'm just going to focus on the movies that featured Sigourney Weaver as the character Ellen Ripley.  Another major reason is that I'm actually somewhat unsure what, if anything, I can really add to what's already been said about the various chapters in this franchise.  To be honest that's why I've been reluctant to review any of these movies, or indeed any of the more popular and well known movies.  So I guess my way of approaching this is to simply give my own viewpoint on these movies, occasionally referencing what others have said about them, and to focus a bit on the parts that were added to extend the original movies, and how it might change the original movies.

As for Alien itself, it is hardly possible to discuss this movie without mentioning the massive amount of influence it has had on the science fiction genre as a whole, and sci-fi horror in particular.  As an anime fan, I've seen quite a few shows that blatantly use sound effects or visual designs directly from this movie and its sequels, and even aspects of its plot.  Lily C.A.T. comes immediately to mind, as does Armored Troopers VOTOMS, and any number of mecha anime from the '80s and '90s.  As for other live action movies, the visual design of the sets in particular set the standard for the look of almost every sci-fi horror that's come out since Alien was released, even though the idea of such huge, open spaces, dripping water and dangling chains in a space ship or space station don't really make that much sense from an engineering perspective. It's kind of amusing to see essentially the same thing in movies as modern as Pandorum, which came out in 2009, which also tries to emphasize the high tech aspects of the ship at the same time.  The thing is, Alien used its visual design very effectively to set the mood.  The entire point of it was to do a horror movie in space, and, in the words of its director, Ridley Scott, to do a B-movie story with the same quality as an A-movie.  To that end, you had a ship that when seen in its full form, looks like a haunted castle floating through space, and an interior that manages to be unsettling even in its seeming normalcy.  Add in that creepy soundtrack, and it creates an atmosphere is that is almost constantly unsettling.  Right from the start (which has also been copied by so many others), the movie unsettles the audience by panning slowly through an empty ship that has every sign of habitation, but in spite of movement here and there, there aren't any people until the cryotubes open.

At this point, a sense of normalcy sets in.  Allegedly, the scene were the seven crew members of the Nostromo first wake up was supposed to feature all of them nude, as if they were all being "born" in order to further the symbolism of the ship being their mother to go along with the main computer being named MOTHER.  I guess it's just as well that this idea was nixed, because while I totally could go for seeing a young Veronica Cartwright and Sigourney Weaver in all their naked glory, it's probable that we still would've mostly just seen John Hurt and the other men more prominently.  After all, the original script that this idea came from had an entirely male cast.  Plus there's all the phallic symbolism thanks to H. R. Giger's influence.  Not that I'm bashing him - the look he brought to the film is absolutely beautiful and basically makes the film, visually, not least of all because he designed the actual alien.  And while it amuses me that Giger put dicks into basically anything (including making the alien a literal dick head), it's gotten a little worn out to see this constantly pointed out by everyone and their uncle (and now I've only added to it o_o ).

Anywho, the other thing this movie does well in terms of atmosphere is the portrayal of the ship as something that is very old and lived in, and in the way the characters interact with one another.  They seem like any group of blue collar workers, working at some factory.  Brett and Parker are the lower-decks maintenance workers, and their biggest gripes consist of how they don't get paid as much as everyone else, and how basically no one else bothers to come down to where the real work is (so not far off from reality).  There are also the various relationships between the crew members, like Lambert and Ripley not getting along, Brett being Parker's me-too, and how basically everyone is uncomfortable around Ash.  This comes more fully into play as the crew starts getting picked off Ten Little Indians style.  Actually a detail that a lot of people tend not to notice because it's so quiet and happens so quickly, is that the last intelligible word out of Brett's mouth was Parker's name.  Parker was Brett's only real friend, and hearing him quietly call for help in his terror was a nice touch, and added an element of sadness to it. 

Another thing that tends to go overlooked by modern audiences is that, at the time, Sigourney Weaver was basically unknown in film, and that Alien was her first major film role (she'd only had Broadway experience previously and one minor film role).  Tom Skerritt and Yaphet Kotto were much bigger names at the time, and I'm sure most audiences at the time expected them to be amongst the survivors.  This is why it was very effective at the time, and something of a surprise to have Ripley be the lone survivor.  After all, the movie doesn't really follow an obvious protagonist, and Dallas was killed early on, so from an audience perspective, it could have been anyone next and there was no way of knowing who, if anyone, was going to survive.

I already briefly touched on the design of the titular alien, and I honestly don't have much more that I can say about it, other than that it was an interesting and effective design.  The lack of eyes makes it mysterious and even seemingly somewhat magical, especially given its tendency to be in just the right place at the right time.  It also seems to make very good use of its surroundings, and is able to hide in plain sight by blending in, even in a human-made ship.  This actually lends itself to the theory that the alien was genetically engineered rather than being something natural evolution arrived at.

And this is where we arrive at the many sexual connotations, with the design of the alien and with the various themes of the visual design and the story itself.


Connotations...

And those connotations would be rape.  Lots and lots of rape.  Kane was raped, and Lambert probably was too, before (or after, or while) she was killed.  Maybe even Brett and Dallas were.  Lots of people have talked about this, and while part of me is entertained by people looking for symbolism that may or may not be there, it really isn't my thing, and I honestly don't think I can add much to everything that's been discussed anyway.  If you really want to see something like that, I'd suggest checking out the articles and videos made by Rob Ager of Collative Learning.  The only catch there is that he tends to take his videos down after a while, because he wants to sell you his reviews instead of being an attention whore like me and just posting them all over the place.  :)

As for the story itself, if it seems like I've kind of been putting off discussing it, it's only because I am.  Much as with the symbolism, the story has been discussed by basically everyone, and there aren't many people who haven't already seen this movie for themselves.  Just to cover the basics, though, the small crew of the cargo ship Nostromo is awakened from their hypersleep about halfway home under the orders of their company (the name of which is never revealed) in order to investigate a mysterious signal.  In investigating this signal, the crew find a crashed alien spaceship, and one of them, Kane, is unfortunate to have a strange spider-like creature latch on to his face after melting through his spacesuit's face glass.  After a short struggle to remove this creature from his face, it seems to come off on its own and die. A short while later (though not nearly as short as the more recent AvP movies depicted it), a baby alien rips its way out of Kane’s chest at the dinner table.  An interesting factoid is that the director got a more genuine reaction out of everyone by making the geyser of blood and gore a lot bigger than what he’d warned the actors to expect, and poor Veronica Cartwright got it worst of all, right in the face.


No one likes getting a face full of body fluids unexpectedly.

The rest of the movie consists of the crew trying to capture or force the alien into the airlock so they can space it, only for them to get picked off one by one, starting with their leader and arguably the most calm and reasonable person among them.  Oh yeah, and Ash turns out to be an android with orders to collect this alien specimen with the crew being listed as “expendable.”

Not as well known due to its more recent release, however, is the director’s cut, which has added a few more scenes here and there.  Just what has been added?  Well, there’s a scene shortly after Kane has been brought to the med bay where Lambert tries to beat up Ripley for refusing to let them back into the ship due to the risk of contamination, just in case you thought Lambert took that a little too well.  There are also a few other scenes here and there that don’t really add much beyond a little context to what’s going on, mostly between characters, but really the biggest addition to the movie in terms of what it adds to the film is the scene where Ripley stumbles upon Dallas and Brett while she’s on the run from the Alien toward the end of the movie.  It’s significant because it actually changes the life-cycle of the alien from what it came to be known as in the sequel, Aliens, and also gives a rather disconcerting implication to an earlier scene.  Because as it turns out, the often referenced scene from Alien Resurrection was itself referencing this scene, wherein Ripley finds Dallas and Brett cocooned and being turned into eggs, made obvious by Brett’s much more advanced state in this process.  And Dallas is still alive and conscious, and begs to be killed, which Ripley then does so, using the flamethrower that Parker rigged for Dallas’s attempt to flush the alien out of the air ducts much earlier in the film.  This addition not only managed to change the context of the scene that, as it turns out, essentially just copied it in Alien Resurrection, but it also implies that each of the thousands of eggs that Kane found in that crashed ship was actually a member of its crew.  It’s actually a little too bad that Aliens came along and added the queen to the process, but then Aliens is really awesome, so I can forgive it.  ;)

I’d honestly say that this movie lives well up to its reputation as a stand-out horror film, and I’d even go further to stay that it serves as a really good example of horror done well.  It’s clichéd to bash on modern horror movies that consist mainly of jump scares, with writing that lets the audience know just how little the writers thought of their intelligence, but only because there were movies written around the same time as Alien and earlier that did essentially the same thing.  This is why Ridley Scott made such a big deal out of this movie having a B-movie plot done with an A-movie quality (in reference to double-feature movie showings that usually featured a cheap, crappy movie along with a more high budget movie that was usually better in quality).  There were plenty of monster movies made in the ‘50s and ‘60s that sucked, not just because they looked cheap, but because the writing was sub-par and often quite stupid.  The main difference with modern movies is in the type of monster used.  My main gripe with horror movies is that for the most part they rely on gore, jump scares, and the audience being just as stupid as the main characters.  Also, the focus is all on the monster, which is supposed to be what the audience finds scary.  What Alien and other good horror movies do differently that makes them work better is that we get to know the characters (and thus might actually care a little about what happens to them), and the thing that makes the movie scary is really the audience’s imagination.  The monster is rarely, if ever seen in full (if there even is a tangible monster), and audience has to guess at what the monster can do, or what it’s going to do next, etc.  Even better is if the setting itself is unsettling in some way, which a good score can really add to, and Alien does this perfectly.  It’s unfortunate that my more recent experiences watching movies like this with younger audiences has shown me that the effort to build characters, establish setting, and build tension or make the viewer unsettled is often wasted with them, and that they tend to find these things boring. :rolleyes:  I’m not bashing you “youngin’s” in general exactly, it’s just something I’ve noticed watching movies like this with people who are 10 or more years younger than I am.

Still, this movie more than deserves its reputation as a classic, and in my opinion it has aged really well, and still represents excellence in a sea of mediocrity of its genre.  I would definitely recommend this movie to both sci-fi and horror fans who can appreciate a slower pacing.  Speaking of, one of the reasons the scenes which were added back into the director’s cut were obviously due to pacing.  They do add to the movie in my opinion, but, for instance, the part where Ripley finds Dallas and Brett being turned into eggs does come off as someone suddenly slamming on the brakes while she’s frantically trying to get away from the alien and deal with the whole ship self-destructing thing.  Still, I’d recommend the director’s cut, simply because I kind of prefer it myself, but the nice thing about the DVD set I got is that you get both versions of the movie and can watch either one of them at your leisure.  That and the menu screens are really cool.  :D  10/10.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


Offline CX

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Re: CX Reviews (contains some spoilers)
« Reply #40 on: November 06, 2015, 01:45:26 AM »
Aliens
(1986 movie)

Much like Alien, I’ve been putting this review off for some time now, for essentially the same reasons.  In fact, if someone hadn’t requested a review of this movie, I probably wouldn’t have bothered.  It’s a bit harder for a novice reviewer like myself to review a movie as popular and well known as this simply because it’s been reviewed and analyzed so many times already.  I guess that’s why I’m actually reviewing all of the movies contained in the “Quadrology” DVD release I have, even if I’m dragging my feet on it, because I’m hoping in a way to add a larger context to all of the films by looking at all of them one right after the other like this.  As with my review of Alien, I will take a look at the movie and briefly analyze it, but the main focus will be a discussion of the extended cut and how the additional scenes affect the story.

As I said, I approach this review with some trepidation.  Aliens is probably even more well-known than Alien, the movie it’s a sequel to.  And thanks to the much quicker pacing and action-oriented plot, it seems that this movie is more well thought of by modern movie audiences.  I’ll spare you the lamentation about the short attention spans of mainstream movie-goers, and point out that this is actually not without reason.  As with any work of art, it’s a matter of what it brings to the table.  Alien took what was essentially a B-movie horror plot, set it in space, and gave it an A-movie treatment.  Aliens added action and space marines.  And while this has become something of a cliché, that’s only because this movie did it so well.  While this movie has gone on to inspire so many other movies and TV shows, it took its inspiration from Robert Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” and arguably did a better job with it than the actual film adaptation did, perhaps because Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers took quite a bit from Aliens’ take on space marines as well.

Much like the original film, the plot of Aliens is simple, but effective, and a logical follow-up.  In what is a minor spoiler for Alien if you haven’t yet seen that movie, Ellen Ripley was the sole survivor of the commercial towing vessel Nostromo, but while she managed to kill the alien that killed the rest of her crew (or at least blow it out into space and set it adrift), she was by no means home free, adrift in a small shuttle in the vastness of space.  And just because Ash, the android that the unnamed company snuck aboard her ship failed to bring the alien back for analysis as ordered, doesn’t mean the company would have any reason to give up on the venture since they obviously already knew about the crashed ship and its contents prior to the beginning of the first movie.  Well, one would think so, which is what makes it a bit odd that the main drama of this movie seemed to be the result of one company employee.

Aliens starts with the shuttle from the end of the first movie adrift in space, only to be approached by another ship of some kind that docks with it.  After a bit of a tease, this is revealed to be a human salvage vessel.  An interesting factoid about this opening scene is that the shuttle set had to be rebuilt from scratch, using the scenes from the first movie as a guide.  Which is probably why they remembered to put the grappling gun Ripley used to push the alien out into space at the bottom of the hatch where it had gotten caught.  Anyway, Ripley is taken in to a hospital that is part of a massive space station in orbit of Earth, where both she and the audience learn she’s been in hyper-sleep for 57 years.  The company debriefs her and holds an inquest wherein they basically decide she’s full of crap but can’t really do anything other than revoke her flight license.  This puts her into a position for Carter Burke, a company representative, to talk her into going to a mission to check on a colony that was located on the planet Nostromo landed on in the first movie (LV-426) to find out why it went silent.  As one might guess from the title, this is due to a bit of a xenomorph infestation.  ;)  The difference is that this time, the company is sending in the Colonial Marines.  Well, slightly over a dozen of them, anyway, led by a really green lieutenant.  While part of the drama in the first movie was due to a lack of anything other than an improvised flamethrower to use as a weapon, the Colonial Marines find out soon enough that all their firepower doesn’t really matter.  This is contrasted with a young girl, known as Newt, who managed to survive for a fairly long amount of time after the Aliens wiped out the entire colony.  Much like the crew of the Nostromo, the Marines are picked off a few at a time until they are forced to face off against a large number of aliens in a pitched battle that leaves most of them dead or captured.  This includes Newt, who is captured and brought to the alien nest that is located in the atmospheric processor that is the reason no one has to don a space suit in this movie.  Ripley goes to rescue her, and along the way learns that there is indeed a queen alien laying all the eggs that the facehuggers come from.

If you haven’t seen this movie I certainly recommend that you do.  I honestly can’t talk up this movie nearly enough.  It’s well-paced, has a concise, well-plotted out story, filled with relatable characters who we follow as they discover the fate of the colony on LV-426, and then suffer much the same fate themselves.  True, they aren’t very fleshed out, but just as in the first movie, they feel like real people, except maybe the lieutenant who feels more like a caricature.  The soundtrack by James Horner is effective and memorable, in spite of the fact there is a definite influence from The Wrath of Kahn in one of the main themes.  Still, it really adds to the atmosphere, especially the scenes in the alien nest.

Going into more spoiler-heavy territory, it’s well-established that this movie was heavily inspired by the Vietnam conflict, though oddly enough, this doesn’t seem to be very well discussed.  Most reviews seem to focus on the action and suspense elements of the movie, and that’s fair enough as the movie is very good when viewed as just a straight-up action movie.  That is basically what director James Cameron does best, and it can be seen in most of his work.  Of course what can also be seen in most of his work is that he’s something of a hippie, though this has only become more obvious in movies like The Abyss and Avatar, where the anti-military attitude he seems to have really comes through.  To his credit, this wasn’t really apparent as an overall theme in Aliens, and mainly comes from the incompetent officer leading the Marines and the influence the company has over the military, and to a lesser extent with the cocky attitude the Marines have prior to encountering the aliens.

The Vietnam theme is also pretty apparent once someone points out the parallels for you, unless you happened to notice it on your own, of course.  In any case, the Colonial marines represent the US military, a technologically advanced force that had become accustomed to easily besting an enemy in battle, while the aliens represent a much less advanced force that is able to succeed through use of the environment and overwhelming numbers.


“There must be some kind of way out of here…”

It’s been said that this movie made use of military advisors, and that it’s one of the more accurate representations of how a military squad operates.  Apparently the actor who played Sergeant Apone was actually a Vietnam veteran, who actually had been a non-commissioned officer.  I’m somewhat uncertain as to how accurate the portrayal of Marines is here, as my only experience with the military comes from the Air Force ROTC program.  There are a couple of areas I have a bit of a hard time with, though, which is that such a large ship has such a small compliment, and is left entirely unmanned while the Marines are on the planet, and that the flight crew of the drop ship are of such a low rank, and enlisted rank at that.  I’m not sure how the Marines do it, but I know the Air Force likes its pilots to be officers, and most of the flight crew tends to be made up of officers as well on planes that have more than a pilot or pilots operating it.  “But it’s the future!” you might say.  Well, maybe, I just have a hard time buying it, that’s all.  Willing sense of disbelief and all that.  ;)  I just have a sneaking suspicion that this suited the story as much as any budgetary need (a smaller cast), as this means there is no authority outside of Lieutenant Gorman and Burke.

Anyway, this movie actually manages to mix horror and action in a way not really seen very often.  There’s a definite creepy feeling as the Marines explore the seemingly abandoned colony, and then enter the atmospheric processor in their effort to locate the missing colonists in the lead-up to their first battle with the titular aliens.  Aside from using camouflage to their advantage, we also learn that the xenomorphs apparently don’t show up on infrared, making them that much harder to fight.  And in much the same way Captain Dallas was killed early on in the first movie, Sgt. Apone is taken out not long into this first battle, which costs the Marines their most experienced and level-headed leader, and we can see the chaos that results from it soon afterwards as the Marines panic and their LT is left unable to handle the situation.

The theatrical cut of the movie does the job as far as not only telling the story, but also in getting across the desperation of the Marines as they find themselves stranded on LV-426, and trapped back at the main colony complex as they try to avoid the same fate as the colonists, though they are doing essentially the same thing as the colonists tried by barricading themselves in a small corner of the main building.  Oh, and by the way, the atmospheric processor is going to go Chernobyl on them because a stray round or hundred hit the cooling system, just like Ripley warned against.  Nice job, Vasquez. ;)



This leads naturally to the question of what exactly the extended cut adds to the movie.  Well, we learn the name of “the company” from the various wall logos around the colony prior to its xenomorph infestation, and the nametags some of the employees have.  At the same time, we also get to see a bit of the colony before everyone in it is killed.  It’s true that this doesn’t add a whole lot to the story, but I kind of like it.  I also liked all the scenes that were cut out about the automated sentry guns the Marines were able to recover from their crashed drop ship.  I honestly can’t figure out why those scenes were cut, as they help establish why the aliens took as long as they did to attempt to attack the Marines in the main building, as these automated guns were able to just barely hold off their initial attack before running out of ammo.  And aside from the motion detectors, the guns help to warn of the impending final attack before they are taken out.

There is something of a disagreement amongst fans about the other thing the extended scenes add, or at least there was at the convention panel I went to about the movie which discussed it.  Because as it turns out, Ripley actually had a daughter.  While nothing is said about a significant other, Ripley learns that her daughter has already died (at a fairly young age, even for modern standards, oddly enough) while she was out on her long hypersleep. The main contention the fans in that panel seemed to have with this is that it somehow weakened the Ripley character, by making it more apparent that she was essentially adopting Newt as a surrogate daughter.  Personally, I don’t really know how this weakens her character at all.  It was already apparent in the theatrical cut that Ripley was adopting Newt and being a mama bear for her.  And Ripley still kicks ass in exactly the same way as she did before, she still shows herself to be more competent and brave than the Marine officer, she still rescues the Marines from getting completely wiped out, and the Marines still adopt her as their surrogate officer, including the actual Marine officer when he regains consciousness toward the end of the movie.  If anything, it simply helps to explain why Ripley was so desperate to rescue Newt when she was taken toward the end of the movie, even after she quite rationally argued against a rescue mission for all the Marines who were taken in the first battle.  Some might argue that Corporal Hicks only went along with it because he wanted to put his dick in Ripley, but I’d argue that it was pretty clear that the two of them had a mutual respect that had been built between them even as they developed a mutual attraction for one another.  Which is part of why it sucks he never made it into the next movie, the other part being that he was just a really awesome character.

One of the great and at the same time tragic things about this movie is the growth of its main character, Ellen Ripley.  What she went through on the Nostromo robbed her of a lot, and left her without much of a future to look forward to in spite of the fact she survived and made it all the way back to Earth.  When she’s introduced to the Marines at the beginning of the movie, she’s kind of meek and unsure of herself, thanks to the treatment she got from the company, and the Marines don’t see her much differently from Burke and their new lieutenant, all of whom they note eat separately from them.  Yet after the attack that robs them of their LT, NCO, and means of getting back to their ship, she steps up and becomes their leader.  While Hicks was technically in command of them at that point, they all deferred to her, and it was obvious they respected her.  Of course, I suppose having their lives saved by her probably helped a lot with that.  ;)  Ripley also overcomes a bigotry she has against Bishop, an “artificial person” as he prefers to be called.  It’s somewhat understandable she’d have a bias against androids seeing as the first and last one she met tried to kill her by shoving a rolled up nudie magazine down her throat, but just as the Marines overcame their bias against her, she overcame her bias against Bishop through working with him.

The movie also has a pretty strong cast of supporting characters.  We don’t get to see most of them fleshed out all that much, but most of them are pretty interesting, if a bit clichéd/stock.  Vasquez actually has a trope named after her due to the many characters like her in many other movies, but I liked her and the way she kind of had a thing going for Drake. 

I guess it’s also worth noting that it’s kind of cool an action movie from the ‘80s had female Marines going into combat with their male comrades, though the others (yes, there were a couple others) tend to be forgotten.

Anyway, Hicks was probably the most standout of the other characters, a cool, almost laid back Marine who actually kind of blended into the background, in part because he didn’t say much.  But when it came time to step up, he did, and he did a pretty good job of it, too, taking on the role of leader for his fellow Marines after being robbed of their leadership.  Of course part of it is that Michael Bien is a pretty good actor who can add a lot to the characters he plays when he’s well directed.

So I can’t help but echo the sentiment many before me have expressed, which is that this movie is a classic.  Just like the first movie, it had a lot of influence on everything that came after it.  It wouldn’t even be out of line to argue that it actually had more influence than the first movie did.  It could be that the action made it more accessible than the straight-up horror of the first movie, or it could be the US’s odd fascination with the military (something Starship Troopers satirizes), but whatever the reason, it definitely left an impact, and I can’t recommend that you watch this movie enough if you haven’t already. 

As for what version of the movie I’d recommend, well, I honestly can’t say one way or the other.  Personally, I prefer the extended version, simply because I feel it adds to the story, even if it doesn’t add a lot.  The argument against, aside from the odd one about it somehow making Ripley seem like she’s weaker for adopting Newt as a surrogate daughter, is that the additional scenes were cut for a good reason – pacing.  Just like for the first movie.  There’s some truth to that, as the additional scenes do slow down the movie a bit, it’s just that I feel they don’t slow it down that much for what they add to the story, but this is going to be a matter of personal taste.  As always, the rating is a bit hard for me on a movie like this, so I’m basically going to base it on the rating I gave the first movie.  Strictly speaking, neither of these films is without flaw, but they are so well written, shot, and composed that I have a difficult time giving them anything less than a 10/10.  YMMV.  ;)
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


Offline TNC

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Re: CX Reviews (contains some spoilers)
« Reply #41 on: November 06, 2015, 11:42:31 AM »
I'm no expert on things, but I'm pretty sure Marine pilots are officers as well, same goes for Navy pilots.  The ship having such a small crew was a little hard to believe.
“Battle is not a simulation. It’s blood and screams and funerals.” – Capt. Georgiou – Star Trek: Discovery – “The Vulcan Hello”