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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Alien

Alien: Covenant (2017)

It’s basically Jason X, but in space. Oh, wait. Jason X was in space. Never mind. So basically, it’s Jason X.

Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy so that they can continue on with the human race, but this time, elsewhere, members aboard of the colony ship, Covenant, seem to be going just fine. However, disaster strikes when they’re ship is hit, killing the Captain (James Franco), leaving a new one to take his place (Billy Crudup). The odd thing about this Captain, however, is that he believes a little too much in faith, which makes him a bit detested by the rest of the crew, which would be fine and all normally, but makes their situation all the more heated when they discover a new planet. Rather than just continuing on with their journey, they decide to check out what this new planet is all about and believe it or not, it’s not exactly what they expected. Instead, it’s the planet where the dreaded Prometheus expedition crash-landed all of those years ago, and still harbors David (Michael Fassbender), the scariest robot around who is still, somehow, on and being creepy.

Tell me, could you hate a face like that?

The fact that Covenant is better than Prometheus, may not be saying much. The later is a flawed movie that, yes, while brimming with all sorts of ambitious ideas and themes about life, faith and science, also didn’t have much a plot, and even worse, lame characters. It was a sight to see on the big screen, but also felt like a hollow experience, made all the more disappointing by the fact that it was done by Ridley Scott, aka, the dude who kick-started the whole Alien franchise in the first place.

But now, Scott seems to be back in his comfort-zone with Covenant, the kind of Alien movie you’d expect an Alien movie to be. It’s tense, exciting, silly, scary, gory, and at times, pretty wild, but at the same time, also feels like every other horror movie we’ve ever seen done before, where instead of Freddy, or Jason, or hell, Leatherface, we’ve got a bunch of aliens, running around and taking people that we don’t care about, off one-by-one. Now, is that disappointing, too? Or, is it just something to expect?

Either way, Covenant can be a good movie to watch, for quite some time, because like Prometheus, it’s clear that a lot of attention and detail was put into how slick and cool the movie looked. But unlike Prometheus, it has some characters to care about (sort of), and most of all, a plot that’s easy to fall in-line with. Sure, it’s formulaic and a little conventional, with all sorts of exposition flying left-and-right, but it’s less of a metaphysical experiment than Prometheus was so, once again, it’s better.

But still, a tad bit disappointing. I don’t know why, either.

Not Ripley, but still has an odd hair-do. For some reason.

Because honestly, Scott does a solid job here. He knows how to racket up the tension, he knows how to take advantage of an A-list cast, and most importantly, he knows how to still shock and surprise us, but still, there’s a feeling had with the movie that’s all the same beats hit, again and again, time after time, and now, it seems like it’s just running out of ideas. Then again, maybe it’s not; Covenant does set itself up as a sequel, but also shows us that there’s a much larger, much grander universe out there, just waiting to be explored with more and more movies to follow.

So in a way, Covenant is like a refresher-course for those who were worried of the Alien franchise blowing and not having any reason for its return. Scott seems to have a genuine interest in where these stories can go and eventually, lead to, even if it seems like he’s taking his good old time, taking an opportunity to give us another trapped-in-space-by-aliens-tale, rather than, you know, exploring more and more.

Then again, it’s entertaining. it’s hard to have an issue with a movie when it’s doing that.

Even though, yes, it is a bit frustrating to watch such a talented and awesome ensemble, essentially, be left to just spout out a bunch of sci-fi gibberish, when they aren’t giving us frightened and freaked-out reaction-shots, but hey, it’s nice to have them around, right? The one who gets away the most is Michael Fassbender playing, get this, dual roles as one robot, and another one. But there’s a key difference in the way the two are – David is a cool, sophisticated robot with personality, whereas the new one, Walter, is much more advanced in that he doesn’t think for himself and is, basically, as dull as a doorknob. It works for Fassbender who has fun, both as a the square-edged dork, as well as the charmingly freaky David, and makes his scenes, genuinely intriguing, because you never know where they’re going to go, or lead to.

Something this movie needed more of, but once again, was still entertaining.

Consensus: While not necessarily a game-changer for the franchise, Covenant is still a fun, intense and rather exciting entry that showcases Scott doing what he does best, even if there is some disappointment in him not trying a bit more of something, well, new.

7.5 / 10

Everyone’s waiting, Ridley. Now kill ’em!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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Aliens (1986)

Aliens are pretty scary, but humans can be even worse.

After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine year old girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). And while no one on-board really knows who Newt exactly is, or why she was all by herself on this huge ship, Ripley takes a liking to her and trusts her with all her might. Little does she, nor everyone else know, that there’s literally a huge colony of aliens waiting to get rid of them all and it’s up to these rough and tough soldiers to step up, stand together, and get rid of the threat, because lord knows that if they don’t get rid of it in space, it may just come closer to hitting Earth and causing way more problems than they could have ever expected.

Say what you will about James Cameron, his scripts, his cheesiness, and his knack for going over-the-top, but the man can direct a freakin’ action movie, for gosh sakes. I mean, literally, there’s not a minute in Aliens that isn’t packed with some sort of fun, or intensity, or excitement in the air; it’s literally two-and-a-half-hours of pure, unabashed adrenaline, mixed in with some speed for even better times. While some movies like to pride themselves on being a piece of absolute energy from start-to-finish, very few of them actually are and it’s why Aliens, all of these years later, still reigns supreme as one of the best action movies of all-time.

Okay, so yeah, Jimmy Cameron clearly recycled some ideas.

That said? Is it stupid? Hell yeah, but with James Cameron, it works. See, whereas Alien was much more of a slow-burning horror-thriller, Aliens is way more of a slam-bang action-thriller, where instead of taking our time, feeling the mood, it’s a pure straight-shot from the get-go. While that may sound bad and a downgrade from the original, it actually works in the movie’s favor; we still get to feel the mood, we still get to know some of these characters, and yeah, we still get thrown on the edge of our seats. All the stuff that made the original so great are here still, but they’re just heightened to a point of where they seemed to have been replaced by something far better.

It’s like something we didn’t even know we needed.

But that’s why James Cameron is such a master at his craft – he knows what a movie-going audience wants and absolutely delivers on it all. Sure, he hasn’t met a cheesy one-liner he didn’t like, nor does he seem to stray away from macho-posturing, but it really doesn’t matter, because it’s so fun to watch and listen as these goofy characters all talk, scream, and pose their muscles. In other words, Aliens is the perfect movie for a nerd to enjoy and not feel threatened by, but also for the jocks to enjoy and not feel like they’re losing their reputation as one of the cool guys.

In other words, everyone can find something here to love and enjoy and at the end of the day, even get along.

See what I mean?

Now, isn’t that what movies were made for in the first place? Not just entertaining people, but bringing them together, no matter how different they may be from one another? To me, that’s what movies are about and it’s why Aliens, while definitely not the heartfelt, sentimental flick I’m making it out to be, is just a near-masterpiece. It’s got some stupid moments and Paul Reiser’s character, more often than not, feels like an unfortunate villain that the movie just falls back on for unnecessary conflict, but for the most part, every bit of it works.

And mostly, it all comes circling back to Sigourney Weaver in the title-role of Lt. Ripley. See, in the original, while Ripley was still a strong character, she wasn’t quite given nearly as much as she’s given to do here and it’s why Weaver’s performance tops everyone else’s here; she’s got presence and seems like she’s as tough as she makes herself out to be. But she’s also the kind of character that isn’t asking for us to love, adore, and praise her – she’s just a rough and rugged S.O.B. that isn’t afraid to stand up to those around her and speak her mind.

In other words, she’s the perfect woman. But also a little scary.

But that’s fine, because Weaver is great at these kinds of characters. After all, she’s practically made a career out of them and it seemed to have started with Ripley. While yes, even those on the side of her like Lance Henriksen, Michael Biehn, and the late, always amazing Bill Paxton are great to watch and have here, it’s Ripley’s show the whole way through. She reminds us not why strong female characters matter first and foremost, but why strong characters matter in general.

Especially in something that is basically an alien shoot-em-up.

Consensus: While undeniably cheesy and over-the-top, Aliens is also undeniably fun, exciting, compelling, and perfectly directed by James Cameron, that you almost forget how great Weaver is in the lead role.

9.5 / 10

Move aside, fellas!

Photos Courtesy of: Horror Freak News

The Core (2003)

CoreWhen the world is about to end, trust cellular-devices. Oh, and Hollywood.

After a couple of freak accidents all around the globe, scientists come to the mind-boggling conclusion that the Earth’s core will stop rotating, allowing for the world to all go to shit. So in order to continue the spinning, a group lead by Dr. Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart) and astronaut Rebecca “Beck” Childs (Hilary Swank) go down there to stop the disaster. However, like with most of the times when people try to prevent natural-disasters from occurring, mother nature fights back, and she fights with vengeance. Or, something like that.

I’m not a huge science-buff, but I passed a couple of those classes back in school and I even learned a little bit. Nothing too much, but just enough to know that the Earth revolves around the sun and that there is a crap-ton of water on our planet. You know, the simple and easy things. That’s why when I see a flick and people get on it’s case about not being smart or “correct” about the science it uses, I don’t really care nor do I ever notice. That sort of stuff just doesn’t bother me as much, especially when the flick’s dumb and stupid, such as is this one.

God's finally had it!

God’s finally had it!

But that’s where the problem of this movie lies: It’s so stupid, so dumb, and so innate, that the terribly thought-out science that it uses as it’s axle, is so noticeable and distracting, that it’s almost too hard to even enjoy. To think that the Earth’s core can suddenly stop rotating, for no explanation other than “we did it” or some failed earthquake machine, really made me laugh and wonder just what these writers were thinking when they even bothered jotting down words on a page. Hey, they know more science terms and jargon than I do, but that being said, at least I know what actually can and cannot happen with them. That’s why this movie’s so hard to get through, because everything you see, hear, or even feel, is just of the lowest common-denominator of dumb.

However, there are many movies out there that can be considered “so bad it’s good”, which is why I could recommend the movie just for that fact alone, but nothing else. You can’t expect much from a movie that gets it’s science so wrong, that almost every star in it’s ensemble strains themselves to explain certain things about it, why something’s happening, and how they can fix it, or stop it. For that matter, we’re straining ourselves in return, just to get through this damn thing because even though we know it’s been on for awhile, we still have to face back to reality and realize that the flick is over 2 hours and 4 minutes. Did not need to be at all, considering they jump right into the actual “mission”, about 30 minutes in, leaving any type of character-development or background on the ground, never to be picked up, and only used when the movie needs it to justify certain characters dumb-ass actions.

By “actions”, what I mean is that once one character dies (who I will not spoil, even if you can probably tell a minute or two before it actually happens), it becomes almost like a slasher-flick, where instead of their being a masked-killer or psychopath going around and hacking people up, it’s the Earth’s core itself. This can provide some bits of fun and excitement for people who probably have never seen a disaster flick or know what happens to a certain character, right after they say “I’ll be right back”, but for a d-bag critic like me; it doesn’t fly so well and only twists the knife in harder and harder as each and every character meets their doom. Even the actors themselves feel like they may be just slumming it up for a paycheck, which once again: Makes it even more disappointing to watch.

Obviously back in the early ’00’s is the only time a movie could be lead by Aaron Eckhart and that’s a shame too because the guy’s a quality actor who’s been kicking some fine ass for years, but in smaller indies, and is only seen by a larger-crowd when he does big, loud, and stupid blockbusters (with the exception of this one). Here, it’s apparently clear that Eckhart’s doing whatever he can to make this character/material work more than it should, but he just falls prey to it’s utter crapness, that he comes out the most laughable of all. Best example, a character that’s very close to his, perishes and leaves him yelling, while crying, and demanding his character to come alive. It’s all so laughable to watch, that it’s almost painful, especially because Eckhart, as I said, is a quality actor that knows how to make anything work. However, he can’t help himself or the film that he’s in here.

Alien?

Alien?

Hilary Swank on the other hand, well, she does the same thing except isn’t given that much to work with so it’s not as bad to watch as Eckhart. Still, it feels like a conventional-role for a gal that deserved better things, and still does to this day. Others in this cast fare a bit better, mainly because they aren’t given much development and actually seem to “enjoy” the crap they’re working with. However, it’s weird to watch everybody here act because they all seem to be in a different movie, where apparently lines are a lot easier to read, without it all coming out as total gibberish.

For instance, Stanley Tucci plays a scientist who is something of a celebrity in his field, and plays it up like the star that he is. Tucci’s funny, a bit mean, and very mawkish, but it all works because that’s who the character is, and Tucci gives him a soul that continues to show. I can’t say the same thing about Richard Jenkins’ role as General Purcell, but man does that guy love to deadpan. Every scene he’s in is hilarious and it’s just because of his lovely-presence being felt or around the screen. Nobody else in this movie fares any better than him. No not the uncharismatic DJ Qualls; no, not the highly underrated Delroy Lindo; and no, sure as hell not one of the world’s strongest female-presences working today, Alfre Woodard. Richard Jenkins is the one who steals the movie and kept me laughing and entertained every time he was on the screen. As for the rest of the movie, eh, not so much. Sorry, B-movie lovers.

Consensus: You could deem it as such “a terrible movie that it’s almost watchable”, but the Core suffers from a terrible scripting, sad-sack acting from a heavy-stacked cast, and poor science, that it’s almost too much of a strain to even be bothered with, regardless of if you’re bored, drunk or high one night or not.

4 / 10

"Coming up ahead we have some sort of blue stuff here that needs to be looked at or explained as to what the hell it is."

“Coming up ahead we have some sort of blue stuff here that needs to be looked at or explained as to what the hell it is.”

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

The Last Days On Mars (2013)

What goes on on Mars, should definitely stay-put there. Except for you, Martian Manhunter. You’re a pretty cool guy.

A group of astronauts on Mars, all get ready for what’s supposed to be their final day of their first-manned mission to Mars. It wasn’t a very eventful mission to say the least, but it was one that went down without a hitch where everybody felt pretty relaxed, happy with one another and confident that they were going to be able to adjust back to normal life on Earth. That is, until something unexpected happens when two astronauts go missing, and one comes back, but brutally injured and possibly bringing back a virus along with them. And while the rest of the group tries to contain their fellow passenger, as well as the virus, they are unsuccessful, leaving the virus out there and able to infect anyone. As the seconds count-down to when they rescue crew will be able to pick them up, every ‘naut tries to do anything they can to stay alive, at any costs. Even if that means getting their hands a little dirty.

While the slew of comparisons to Alien, Red Planet, Mission to Mars, and all sorts of other lost-in-space movies are endless, that still doesn’t mean that a little flick like this couldn’t make its own wonders happen, even if they’re are on a smaller-scale than what we’re used to seeing. That’s why with such the high-profile cast, premise and crew, one has to wonder: Why hasn’t this one gotten a bigger release? And better yet, why the hell isn’t anyone talking about it?

They all act like they've never walked into a room where a guy has an erection before. Haven't they ever gotten a massage?!!?

They all act like they’ve never walked into a room where a guy has an erection before. Haven’t they ever gotten a massage?!!?

Well, the answer to both questions is pretty darn simple: It ain’t all that good to begin with.

Problems with movies in this same vein are pretty constant, but one of the biggest is character-development, or in this movie’s case, lack therof. I get that it may be a bit hard to tell us everything we need to know about each and every single one of these characters, given the small time-frame we have with them (an-hour-and-a-half), but a little probably would have a real long way, especially since there were some pretty talented people in the roles. Peeps like Liev Schreiber, Olivia Williams, Johnny Harris and the always welcome Elias Koteas are all here, doing what they do best, however, the script just doesn’t really assist them in anything whatsoever. Instead, it gives them corny lines like “We’re gonna get you through this”, even when the person that they are in fact talking to is turning black and blue from some sort of virus that’s taking over their minds and souls.

Speaking of which, I won’t dare jump into spoiler-territory, but it should be known that once you actually do get to see what infects these people and what they actually become once they are infected, you’ll be pretty bummed. For starters, there’s no reason for what they become; they just become it, all because of the radiation in the air, or something like. Also, there’s never a real explanation as to how you can kill them, or get rid of them in anyway. You see people knock ’em down, roll ’em around and drag ’em as far as they possibly can imagine, and yet, they still continue to get up and cause all sorts of havoc. To show how ridiculous this idea truly is, there’s an even a scene in which Schreiber’s character is wailing away at one of these infected “things” so damn much, to the point of where we can just see the venting frustration clearly on his face. It’s actually one of the movies very rare moments of humor, whether it was intended or not.

And that’s pretty much all we have to this movie. We have our setting (Mars), we have our stock-characters (a group of astronauts), we have our central character who’s is supposed to be the heart and soul of this story (Liev Schreiber’s character), we have our dilemma (people are turning sick and twisted with this new virus) and we even have our end-point in sight (rescue team is supposed to be around in 24 hours), so it’s pretty standard stuff. Not everything in this movie happens the exact way you’d expect it to, but then again, it doesn’t really surprise you either. Sometimes one certain character will take a fall when you don’t see it coming, but that’s more because the actor who is getting killed off is a pretty well-known, recognizable face, and less about the character, the background that went into them and all of the time we’ve invested in them. It’s got the ensemble that isn’t really an ensemble, yet also has a bunch of people we’ve seen, we like and we care for when they show up in stuff, just not as much to where we could really devote our hearts to them here.

I spy with my little eye Phoenix Stadium in the background.

I spy with my little eye Phoenix Stadium in the background.

I can see that I’ve practically gone on and on with this review to the end where it practically seems like I’ve hated, but here’s the thing: I actually don’t. I’m just very “meh” about it. Sure, it can be predictable, doesn’t have anything neat or new to say about the alienation one feels being lost out there in outer-space and it definitely won’t be remember by the year’s end, but if you’re looking for something to watch when you’re cold, alone, bored and want to spend some time underneath the blankets, then I’d say watch this, just don’t expect much. If anything, the movie looks great and has some real moments where you’ll give the creators credit for at least making use of their rather measly-budget, giving all of this space-gear and such a realistic look. Maybe more time and effort could have been dedicated to the script and whether or not we would totally be shocked by the end, but I guess that’s a complaint that’s going to go nowhere considering I’ve made it a hundred times before, and it’s not going to change a thing. Let’s just hope that this makes Liev Schreiber want to choose better roles, in better movies, because when he’s given something to do, he can work wonders with it. Just ask Ray Donovan.

Or, don’t ask him, just watch it. Yeah, that’s what I meant.

Consensus: The Last Days On Mars is about as generic as its title promises it as being, which isn’t all that bad since it can be fun at times, but at others, can just be a plain, simple and dull time whether you’re at the movies, or watching it from home. I’d stick more so with the latter, than anything else.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

If Mars ever wanted to be considered "a vacation spot", well, I think I just found their postcard.

If Mars ever wanted to be considered “a vacation spot”, well, I think I just found their postcard.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Abyss (1989)

If this was remade today, it would just be called Aliens in the Water, and probably would have made more than Avatar. Don’t believe me? Fine! Just you wait and see….

A nuclear sub crashes on the floor of the Atlantic, and the motley crew of an underwater station attached to an oil rig prepare to investigate just what the hell is occurring. Obviously, as you could expect, problems do mount: a hurricane rages above, a loony marine is on the loose, and captain Bud Brigman (Ed Harris) is forced to work with his estranged wife, Lindsey (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). Spousal-disputes aside, shit is still a little wacky under the sea.

What I like most about James Cameron is what he is able to do with any premise. Yeah, he may be a little nutty with his love of the Titanic and Avatar sequels, but the guy knows what can, and just might come out of a simple premise, if you give it the right amount of creativity and fun. Here, he takes what is essentially another boring and lame submarine movie, and somehow turns it into a tense and eerie sci-fi flick that gives you the sense of just how menacing the ocean can be. But the ocean is also a place that Cameron can still let it all hang loose in, no matter what the limitations may be, as you will see with this movie.

After I saw this flick, I did some research on it and found out that the majority of the film was actually filmed underwater in an abandoned nuclear reactor. That’s right: Cameron actually got his whole cast and crew, and made them go underwater to shoot this whole film. Sounds a bit risky when you take ego’s and all sorts of other personalities into consideration, which would also be another example of how crazy and inspired Cameron can be. However, he makes it work. He makes the ocean his own little personal playground where he’s able to do what he wants, when he wants and no studio can stop him because seriously, how are you going to say no to the dude who just did The Terminator and Aliens? Yeah, didn’t think so.

On second thought, maybe the guy isn't so original after all.

On second thought, maybe the guy isn’t so original after all.

This film can be very fun at points but what I liked most about this film was how original Cameron could make it at points. In this flick, we get a cool look at some neat-o ideas that Cameron obviously has had rolling in his head for so long and finally got a chance to reveal to the public. Little details like the cool spacesuits that look like a mixture between the ones from Alien and actual spacesuits themselves, or the concept of having oxygen-infused water that you can just sip on, in order for you to reach superhuman lengths in the ocean, or how the aliens in this flick, aren’t actually mean or evil creatures, they’re nice and love to help out fellow humans. Not only do they look freakin’ cool, but they also show a lot of compassion, sort of like fellow human-beings. It’s a surprise that more people didn’t hop on the bandwagon after this and make more “alien friendly sci-fi movies”, because they could have really worked and turned-on a new generation to making sci-fi movies. Because just juggle this idea in your heads: are they really that mean and terrible?

As usual with all Cameron films, no matter when they were filmed, the visuals are absolutely outstanding. I knew that this film won the Oscar back in 1989 for Best Visual Effects, but that’s 1989 and that doesn’t really mean diddly-squat now. Surprisingly though, the visuals still hold-up today and every time the aliens would show up in the story, everything just started to look so much more beautiful and blue. Probably best combination to have out there: beautiful and blue. It’s something that Cameron works best with, obviously.

As is always the problems with other Jimmy Cameron films, the action and special effects may be rad and awesome, but the scripts always seem to suck, therefore: taking everything else down with them. This film is no exception to that convention, which meant that the eyes rolled pretty much after every single line these characters uttered out their mouths. Every piece of dialogue that tries to sound funny, hip, or cool, just comes off as terribly corny. And even whenever the film does try to get sentimental and show certain relationships between people in this submarine, it fails at bringing any emotions whatsoever. It all just felt so damn 80’s to me (no-brainer), to the point where I just wanted them to be able to do something cool and exciting, without them opening up their mouths. Sadly, they did and that’s when I started getting annoyed.

Probably the worst, and most memorable scene out of this whole flick has to be when a character, not giving away who, tries to revive another character by using CPR for over 10 minutes and then comes back to life, only after that same character yells “FIGHT!” to them. It was such a terribly corny scene and it made me laugh my ass off the whole way through because this film was so serious and even though Cameron knows how to direct: he sure as hell can’t write. Then again, I guess it doesn’t matter to him because the dude freakin’ takes showers in $100 bills everyday, without giving any damn whatsoever. Lucky son of a bitch. Practically stole my life over there.

"Anybody want to start drinking?"

“Anybody want to start drinking?”

It was surprising to see Ed Harris not only play a lead role in a movie, but also play a character that’s likable and considered a hero. Nonetheless, the guy’s still solid as Bud Brigman and makes it easy to root for him whenever he seems like he’s done for good. You need that in a hero, even if it never seems like he makes any drastic-decisions that could potentially harm the rest of his crew in anyway. He always seems to know what to do next, and it kind of got bothersome after awhile, since we pretty much knew that nothing could stand in this guy’s way. Not even a shark. Then again, highly doubt they would be able to do anything to a submarine. But I digress.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is fine as his ex-wife, Lindsey, but her character is so annoying and bitchy that I got to a point of where I wanted her to just get killed off somehow. And trust me, there were a couple of close calls for her character in this movie. Not close enough in my opinion, but that’s just me. Cameron-regular Michael Biehn is also here as the completely psycho head SEAL and it makes me wonder just where the hell this guy has been after all of these years. Dude needs to team-up with Cameron again for these countless Avatar sequels that were apparently getting, as it will probably get his career back on the high-rise. All of the performances that I’ve already mentioned, along with plenty of others, are good but the script tears them down to pieces after awhile, and makes it seem like everybody just got out of a stage-play for Shakespeare.

Consensus: The Abyss suffers from some terrible writing (that’s James Cameron for ya), but still has plenty of inspired ideas straight from Cameron’s goofy head, exciting scenes that seem to all take place underwater, and a bunch of beautiful visuals that still hold up today, even against Avatar. Actually, no: Avatar looks better. Lot better.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Well, if we die soon, wanna rekindle the marriage and go out swinging?"

“Well, if we die soon, wanna rekindle the marriage and go out swinging?”

Prometheus (2012)

Crews of explorers should just not go into space unless they are with a freakin’ army.

Prometheus centers around a team of explorers who discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

Let me just start off by saying that after watching Alien and realizing it to be the true sci-fi/horror classic that everybody has ranted about, I was very pumped for this quasi-prequel of sorts. Problem is, when you watch Alien, there isn’t really any need to see this flick.

What makes this “prequel” so different from many others out there, is that it’s directed by Ridley Scott himself. The thing with Scott, is that he won’t just go for a quick and easy job where he’ll just make some moolah. No, instead he’ll put his heart and soul into production that quite frankly, deserves it and that’s what makes this film better than plenty of the other prequels we see out there. Scott brings us back to the universe he made famous and expands it, answering more questions for us that we already had. But even though this film’s big selling point is it’s tie-in to Alien, it’s a real beautiful film to just gaze at.

Scott always has a great attention to detail and his production design for Prometheus just totally backs that up. There’s some cool, futuristic stuff here like space suits, vehicles, holographic displays, medical devices composed solely of robots, and plenty of other impressive treats to see here as well. Everything looks so dazzling, especially if you see it in 3D, where a couple of scenes may just take you by surprise by how you feel like you can just reach-out and touch whatever it is that’s on the screen. Some real beautiful stuff here, mainly because Scott feels something for this universe that he’s created and has given all of his might to make it work.

The problem with this flick isn’t really Scott’s fault, it’s more of the story itself. The core of this story is basically Alien done all over again. Crew wakes up out of deep sleep, spaceship lands on mysterious alien planet for some strange reason, crew discovers some ancient alien crap, alien force is awakened by them, people get others infected, and then they are all picked off one by one. It’s pretty obvious where this story is headed, because it’s pretty much the same thing around and that took away from the surprise factor for me. I knew that only a few were coming out alive and the only sense of guessing with this film, was who was it going to be. Sadly, I guessed right.

Even though this film is about 2 hours long, for some odd reason, a lot of it feels like there were some actual big scenes cut-out from the final product. The main reason for me saying this is because there’s a lot that goes down here, that makes no sense and seems somewhat random. One example is how Captain Janek is able to explain the purpose of aliens and what was inside of them so damn quickly. It almost comes out of nowhere, without any clues or signs to how Janek must have known this and comes off like a way to make the finale hit harder. Another example is how David knows how to work the Space Jockey devices without any faults whatsoever. How did he know how to do all of this? What, did he just learn it all by reading a bunch pictographs from Earth or is it just that he’s so totally uber smart cause he’s a robot and all? Not explained at all and it gets even worse when he can apparently speak the alien language fluently, as if he has been doing it his whole life. Yup, didn’t make any sense.

Scott does do a pretty good job with the pace of this film and I can easily see that he put a lot of effort into making this film thrilling, just like he did with Alien. However, there is a huge difference between both of those films and it’s pretty obvious considering the whole hour and 50 minutes of that movie was filled with tension out the wahzoo, whereas this one, had about 4 to 5 scenes of actual tension in it’s whole 2 hour run-time. I don’t know what it was about this flick that made it so different but for some reason, I wasn’t really on-the-edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next to these characters. I just sort of sat there and kept on waiting for Scott to really knock me out of my seat. Which was a shame too, because there seemed to be plenty of opportunities for Scott to do this but just ended up, well, keeping me somewhat satisfied. Somewhat satisfied is not something I want to feel with a product like this, especially when it’s coming from Ridley Scott.

As for the performances, everybody is good but nothing out-standing by any means. Noomi Rapace is fine as our leading lady, Elizabeth Shaw, but feels too much like Ripley and definitely isn’t as strong as her considering we never fully see her lash-out and get “tough”. She just runs away and screams, except for one scene that feels too much like the infamous “chest bursting” scene from AlienLogan Marshall-Green looks like Tom Hardy, but is fine as Charlie Holloway even though the character comes off extremely dicky at times, to the point of where you don’t care if he lives or dies. Charlize Theron plays a villain for the second week in a row, but is more subtle and stoic this time as Meredith Vickers and does a good job with her, even though I think they could have done more with her. Idris Elba is good as Captain Janek and probably has the most likable personality on the whole spaceship.

Probably the stand-out performance from this cast would have to be Michael Fassbender as the robot David. David is a pretty unsettling character the whole way through this flick as you have no idea whether or not he’s going to be good or going to be bad. He’s also a character that sort of just goes his own way the whole movie and doesn’t really care about the others, but you still can’t let that get in the way of what you may think of him since we all know that robots in sci-fi movies usually aren’t the nicest “things” around. Thankfully, those results are told to us by the end but for some very brief moments, he kept me guessing and I think a lot of that is credit to Fassbender’s skills as an actor. Wish I had more to say about him considering he was the best but it’s just one of those good performances that are notable once you see the movie.

I usually love Guy Pearce in everything he does, but his casting here as Peter Weyland just didn’t seem like it belonged in this movie at all. Peter Weyland is an elderly character, so why did Scott feel it was necessary to cast a younger dude as him and just keep on stuffing his face with make-up and effects. First of all, it looks stupid and fake, and secondly, it just seems like such a waste of a talent like Guy Pearce.

Consensus: Prometheus has some great moments that dazzle and excite, but still has plenty of pot-holes that make this story more confusing, makes the characters seem very one-dimensional, and also make a lot of the genius opportunities Ridley Scott had here, seem to go right out the window.

7/10=Rental!!

Alien (1979)

Now people understand why we don’t send more humans into outer-space.

In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate a distress call from an alien vessel. After landing on a barren planet, Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) works to decipher the transmission and discovers that the signal is actually a warning, not an SOS. But it is too late to turn back as three members of the crew have already left to investigate the derelict ship.

Movies like this are hard as hell to review because they are just loved by so many people, that it’s almost like a death sentence if you say one bad thing about it. So by the time this review is over, I’ll have to be looking over my shoulder at every corner now.

All of the credit for how awesome this film is, probably has to go to director Ridley Scott. First off, the film starts with all of these slow-moving shots of the space shuttle, where there’s nothing really going on except for there being an eerie feeling the whole way through. This was a great way to start off this flick in my opinion as it showed that the horror film that I was about to see, wasn’t just your ordinary, jump-scare horror flick, it was actually going to be more of a slow-burner that would take its time to build up its scares. Scott uses a lot of slow pans here to fully capture the set designs and spooky atmosphere but also depends on a lot of sounds (or lack thereof) to gain some spookiness too. So many horror films nowadays, feel the need to bring in this huge, grandiose score that makes you feel like you should be scared but somehow doesn’t. Here, Scott depends on a lot of moments of silence in certain scenes where we don’t have some soundtrack telling us what to feel at a certain moment and the noises that Scott usually replaces them with (the computer sounds still give me a chill till this day), actually take you more into this atmosphere than you expected.

Scott also did a pretty awesome job at making this spaceship, and just space itself, look absolutely beautiful with it’s amazing production that is still some of the most inventive in sci-fi movie history. The inside of that spaceship, is pretty freakin’ scary because you never know how big it truly is, what places are safe and what aren’t, and also, top all of that with a whole bunch of darkness that Scott adds in to truly mess with your heads. Hell, even the way those ventilation shaft doors shut gave me the chills! The film also ventures out to an unknown planet that also looks very beautiful, with it’s long, sweeping terrain to give the Alien egg farm some more creepiness to it than it already needed. I don’t know if I’m doing this flick any justice by the way I’m talking about it, but I can say that Scott did a perfect job of filming it all and gave it a very stylized look, even though it mostly takes inside a spaceship.

But it wasn’t just his art direction that kept me involved with this flick, it was mostly the fact that I knew some crazy shit was going to go down and Scott continued to build that idea up and up and up until, the whole film starts to go crazy (along with everybody on the ship). There’s always a sense of eerie dread in the air, something that Scott builds on and lets it get inside of our head the whole way through. You never know what’s going to happen next, but you know it’s not going to be good and whenever something bad does happen, it’s injected with so much frenetic energy, that almost don’t realize that they only last for a couple of seconds. We also never get to see the Alien quite as much you would think (the movie is named Alien for Christ’s sakes!) but every time it did show-up, wooooooo-weeee, did it create a lot of tension!!

The one problem that I did keep on finding myself running into was probably one of the dumbest details, but it was also one of the biggest of the whole movie: the cat. I had no idea what this cat was even doing here in the first place, which was fine with me, but the film started to bring it into some key moments like where a person would have to go look for it, only to get killed off the next second, or to have people at the end of the movie trying to save it, while the Alien is ready to kill and all-over-the-place. This just seemed like a cheat to have some characters die and give the characters a reason to go back on the ship, even though it’s about to self-destruct and strapped with a killer Alien on-board. Seemed really dumb, for a movie that was doing so many smart things with itself.

What I loved the most about this film, was how each and every character in this flick got the same amount of screen-time, which also meant that you cared for them a lot more rather than just being a bunch of walking cliches you would normally expect from a horror movie about a crew entrapped on a spaceship with large monster. Tom Skerritt is pretty manly and tough as Dallas, and it’s pretty easy to see why this dude was the head-honcho of the crew. Sigourney Weaver, as we all know, is pretty bad-ass as Ripley and gives her this smart and sassy edge, that really comes out of her by the end when it comes down to nut-up or shut-up time with the big Alien. Don’t know why she had to get half-naked at the end, but hey, she looks pretty good, don’t she?? Veronica Cartwright is a cutie-patootie but isn’t given much to do here, and even when she does do something, it seems like she’s just yelling, screaming, and worried about whether or not she’s going to die. Probably the lamest character out of the bunch, which is saying much. Harry Dean Stanton was a lot of fun as Brett, who brought a lot of humor with his usual, dead-pan delivery. Still can’t believe that dude is 85 now! Sheeesh! John Hurt is good as Kane but I do wish we could have seen more of him because we all do know what eventually happens to that dude. Ian Holm is creepy as balls, playing the freaky scientist, Ash, and just plays up that whole weird, off-kilter dude perfectly. Oh, and Yaphet Kotto is a lot of fun as the token black guy you always need to have in a sci-fi/horror movie. Not saying it’s a bad thing, it’s just something you usually need to have to round it all out.

Consensus: Alien is definitely a sci-fi movie amongst sci-fi movies because it features a highly-stylized direction from one of the greats, Ridley Scott, who gives this film a very tense, dreary, and gloomy feeling the whole way through, and also keeps you guessing until the very end with scenes that are so iconic, I don’t even need to mention here. Just get out and go see it before you see Prometheus, because something tells me you’re going to have to do your homework for this one.

9/10=Full Price!!

Sunshine (2007)

When Sheryl Crow sang, “I wanna soak up the sun”, these people took that to the heart.

With permanent darkness looming, scientists devise a plan to reignite the sun before the lights go out forever. To do so, a crew of astronauts is sent hurtling through space on an intense mission to determine the fate of the planet.

Director Danny Boyle is a dude that has been doing great things for the past decade. Ever since he flew on the radar with Trainspotting, people have been watching this guy for just what crazy story he’ll bring out next. This is one of them.

Boyle does a great job with this film because he creates this ultra-freaky sense of claustrophobia as the crew members get closer and closer to the sun, and farther and farther away from the actual planet. This is how Boyle creates suspense as he shows more close-up shots, confined structures, and basically telling us what’s going to happen next but still leaving that little thought and idea that something, just something may go wrong.

Another great thing that Boyle does here is show us perfect actually almost seamless dazzling effects that look like an actual spacecraft if it were to travel to the sun. I liked how Boyle used all these different types of vibrant colors to contract the over-bearing darkness in space. The scenes of where we actually see the sun hitting these people’s eyes or just seeing the sun in general are actually very well-detailed and if Boyle did one thing right here, it was to show us just about pitch-perfect visuals that never seemed to disappoint and brought me more and more into this world.

My main problem with this film is that none of this really seems original which is what anyone could see from a mile away. I almost got the sense of claustrophobia that I had with Alien, or the talking space-ship from 2001, or hell even the little plot twists that happen here reminded me so much of Solaris and plenty other sci-fi flicks. This isn’t saying that this one doesn’t stand well on it’s own two feet because it does well, but the constant reminders of countless other sci-fi films started to annoy me.

I like how Boyle chose this international cast and actually all had them live together so he could get this very legit feel between all of the, and to say the least it worked. Cillian Murphy is the real showcase of talent here as Capa; Rose Byrne is gorgeous but also very good as Cassie; Michelle Yeoh creates a very good character which is something I wasn’t expecting as Corazon; and Cliff Curtis does a good job as the reasonable nice guy, Searle.

The best out of the cast though is a guy I actually talked about not too long ago in my Captain America review. Chris Evans is stunning here and attributes to a lot of the scenes he has because he has that legitimate feel to him and it almost seems when everybody’s getting all too freaky and crazy with what’s about to happen. He’s the one who always seems to breath some fresh air of smarts into their sci-fi heads and even though the rest of the cast is good he is still the one that seems to do it for me the most.

My final problem with this film is that the tone starts to switch very dramatically by the last hour. The first hour is this building of suspense, sci-fi, and unknowings, but then the last half comes up and then we get this strange, trapped, almost slasher flick kind of film. This kind of disappointed me because it was never explained why the last half actually happened the way it did and the way everything happens just seems so run-of-the-mill even though I thought the ending had a good touch.

Consensus: This isn’t a totally original film, and the final act may disappoint, but Sunshine benefits from Boyle’s inspired direction that creates suspense, beautiful visual effects, and a cast that actually do well with their roles and seem like actual people rather than just a bunch of action cliches.

7/10=Rental!!

Happy Last Day Of Summer of Everyone! It’s been a great one!

Splice (2010)

Basically a true sign of why Alien day-care wouldn’t quite work out.

Ignoring instructions from the pharmaceutical company that funds their research, groundbreaking genetic scientists Elsa (Sarah Polley) and Clive (Adrien Brody) continue with an unorthodox experiment to create a human-animal hybrid, a new life form they dub “Dren” (Delphine Chanéac). When they see their fantastical creation, Clive warns that it should be destroyed, but Elsa refuses — a decision she’ll regret when Dren makes deadly plans of her own.

In today’s day and age where we have stem-cell research, Dolly the sheep, and abortions happening all-over-the-place, it’s always good to get some science fiction that makes you think about all of that. Except, I only wished there was a better film to make me think.

Director Vincenzo Natali does a good job with this story giving it that mysterious feeling to it and having us wonder just how it is all going to end. I liked wondering just if this little human-alien was going to turn out more like E.T. or like Alien, because we get looks at both a kind alien and a dangerous alien.

The script is also pretty good when it sticks to the ideas of knowing what is right and what is wrong when it comes to scientific research. There are always science fiction films that show these experiments just being brutal but nobody ever saying what is acceptable and what is not. I thought this was pretty cool to see and hear considering we never get this in any of these shitty sci-fi horror films that come out every three times or more a year.

However, the script starts to really lose itself when it gets away from those ideas and more towards the plot, which in some cases is a good thing but here it really started to lose me. The film brings up things about Elsa’s mother, and how abusive she was towards her which kind of contributes to her way of living in the film but it is never really brought up again. The film also talks about how being a parent is tough, even if you’re kid is messed up. I didn’t care much about this because I was interested in Dren, and I think everybody else who watched this film was too so I have no idea why they bothered going down this direction.

Dren, however, is a very interesting character that I liked to watch and get to know more and more about as the film went on. I think she looks a little bit like Sinead O’Connor with a huge forehead tail and weird peg legs but that’s not much of a bad thing since the scenes with her are actually almost as interesting as any of the other ideas this film brings up. She doesn’t speak and only communicates through Scrabble letters which was pretty cool however, more could have actually been shown to describe her ways and actions.

Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley are fine here as Dren’s “parents” but considering the huge amount of talent these two actually have (hell Brody has an Oscar) I was expecting something more from both of these stars instead of just delivering lines. I would have also liked to see more of the film focusing on these two and their relationship to give us more of a liking for these character’s which is something I feel like it could have had easily if it just played out better.

For the most part, the film kept me interested and my eyes glued to the screen, it was only until the last 30 minutes where it actually lost me and oh god, did it really lose me! I can’t give away any major plot happenings but what you will see happen will probably make you laugh your ass off in the most unintentional way ever, because it did for me. After this problem, the film is basically doomed for the remainder and as soon as it turns all cliche and predictable there’s no real turning back and you know that this one had so much more potential.

Consensus: Splice works well with some interesting ideas and a good central character but the problem is that it’s never truly thrilling or dedicated to one idea, which sort of takes away from the cool premise and makes the bizarre last 30 minutes seem even worse. Not terrible, just flawed.

4.5/10=SomeOleBullShitt!

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009)

Good idea on how to cure world hunger.

Inventor Flint Lockwood creates a machine that makes clouds rain food, enabling the down-and-out citizens of Chewandswallow to feed themselves. But when the falling food reaches gargantuan proportions, Flint must scramble to avert disaster. Can he regain control of the machine and put an end to the wild weather before the town is destroyed? Bill Hader and Anna Faris lend their vocal talents to this Golden Globe-nominated animated adventure.

From a first look, you’ll think that this is just another one of those kiddie filled adventures, that are made jut for little kids to laugh at, and teach them a little life lesson when actually its more than that.

I liked the writing and also started to dislike the writing by the end of the film. I liked the film basically because it touches on all sides of the equator that work well. Their comedy relies a bit on slapstick, but it works fine, and the jokes work well that aren’t too adult to go over the kids head, but will entertain some adults by their mature appealing jokes.The writers know how to create a running gag within the film and, well, keep it running. Also, there are some pretty nice touching moments that the characters have in this film and it actually almost makes you shed a tear a bit.

I disliked the writing because it turned into The Day After Tomorrow, with an all you can eat menu. The film starts to dive right into a typical disaster movie, although not taken as seriously. Also, by the end of the film, you’ll probably be able to notice some useless parodies to other sci-fi films like Alien, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, which showed no originality and will go totally over some kids heads.

The film just looks terrific which also works in its favor. I didn’t see it in 3-D but if I did, I can tell you that it would have just been so amazing to see all this food come at me, like it did in the 2-D version. The film shows this food in such great and inventive color, that just really astonishes you by how real the food looks, and may get your stomach going.

I thought the voice acting was decent to say the least. Hader, I couldn’t quite believe as the main character cause although he is funny sometimes, I just feel he needed to ad-lib some of his stuff, to make it even more funny. Faris’ character was dimmed down and that kind of ticked me off, but she does a fine job of voicing her character. There are other notable personalities in this film like Bruce Campbell, James Caan, and the best I thought, Mr. T. Mr. T is mostly funny cause of his character, but still brings out a lot charisma within his voice which makes the character funnier.

I think the idea of having this movie made in such a time when obesity is taking over our economics was a good idea to show kids, not to eat so much food. But, the fact that the film basically was trying to show its point off about every five seconds by the end got annoying and unnecessary.

Consensus: The movie changes into some unnecessary areas, but still features beautiful looking cinematography, and enough slapstick, quirky humor, and fun for the whole family to enjoy.

8/10=Matinee!!!