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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Jenette Goldstein

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that made the original so great are here still, but they’re just heightened to a point of where they seemed to have been replaced by something far better.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

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Near Dark (1987)

The 80’s weren’t cool, but vampires were. That’s more than I can say about this decade.

A young man named Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) lives in a small midwestern town and becomes involved with a family of nomadic American vampires. Since he’s along for the ride, Caleb has to learn to love, kill, and also stay alive as a vampire.

Whenever you hear people bring-up director Kathryn Bigelow’s name, they usually associate it with The Hurt Locker and the next, Afghan-War-setting movie coming-out, Zero Dark Thirty. Yes, the gal has been keeping her self busy lately and definitely has been impressing everybody out there with what she can do but little do people actually know, is that she’s actually made a crap-load of films, way, way before she even got nominated for an Oscar. Some people probably don’t know this, but Bigelow actually took a chance at making a vampire flick, and it’s something I wish she did today to make us forget about all the Bella’s, Jacob’s, and Edward’s. Although, it doesn’t really matter anyway because they’re gone baby! Woo-hoo!

Taking elements of a western, vampire, road, and horror movie and putting them altogether in one movie, makes it seem a bit like a bad idea but somehow, Bigelow makes it work. Her keen-eye for the beautiful scenery of the American Southwest is definitely something that makes this feel a bit Western-y, but then you add in all of the creepy, horror-elements of these vampires, the things they do to survive, and how they don’t give a shit who or what it is that they kill. I don’t want to sell this film like a scary movie, because it really is not, but what it does work on is tension and being as gruesome to watch as it can possibly be.

"If you think we look bad, you should see what the other guy looks like. Especially his neck."

“If you think we look bad, you should see what the other guy looks like. Especially his neck.”

Bigelow has definitely nailed-down the true essence of how to build suspense in one film, but also in certain-scenes as well and there’s a scene here that seems like the first-instance of it. There’s this really cool scene where the whole family goes into this bar, with the intentions of drinking some people’s blood, and realizing that they have a somewhat packed-house, so all they do is basically have a great time with it, kill people left-and-right, terrorize the shit out of the place, and have a smile on their faces the whole time. It’s probably the best scene in the whole movie, and one that kept me tense the whole time because I never knew what was going to happen next, how, or who was going to be possibly killed-off next. To say that this flick is a horror movie would not be categorizing it in the right way, it’s more of a thriller, that just so happens to have vampires doing normal, vampire-like things like biting people, causing havoc, and sucking people’s blood. You know? The finer things in life when you’re a vampire.

However, this one scene may be the best of the whole film, but also just so happens to be the killer of it as well (pun intended, I guess). See, the problem that I had with this flick that so many other people probably didn’t really pay-attention to because they like fun more than me, is that the movie doesn’t really feel like it has any real-spark driving the film along at steady, understandable-pace. For instance, the movie starts off pretty boring as we watch these two love-birds try and see who can get lucky by the end of the night, only to have the whole vampire twisteroo pop-up, and send things into a weird-spin that should feel like the film’s going to pick-up, but it somehow doesn’t.

"It's a blood-patch. What? It hasn't yet caught-on to humans?"

“It’s called a blood-patch. What? It hasn’t caught-on to human culture, yet?”

With the exception of a couple of scenes, especially the one in the bar that I just mentioned, everything else in this flick is pretty dull to the romance that never shows any signs of actual chemistry, let alone any “love” being involved whatsoever; to the corny, synth score from Tangerine Dream that just so happens to be in here for one reason and one reason only: it’s the 80’s and synths are apparently cool; to the explanation of how you can overcome this vampire disease, that made me think the creators of Daybreakers actually worked with some scientists; and finally, to the family full of nuts that I didn’t quite care about, mainly because they don’t ever seem to share any pure-moments of bonding because all they ever do together is kill, suck, and move. I would have loved this movie like every other fanboy out there in the world, but the film just lacked any sort of emotional, or compelling-drive to honestly reel me in as much as it wanted to.

Since it is the 80’s, you know that we have to have a crazy-ass performance from Bill Paxton, and that’s exactly what he delivers here as Severen. Paxton can play crazy, like no otha motha, and he shows that so well here and even steals a couple of the scenes he’s been given permission to take. Yeah, Paxton may be over-the-top, campy, and hamming-it-up like nobody’s business, but at least the guy was fun to watch and kept my attention off of the relatively lame and dull story, that just never seemed to catch-up with this guys energy.

The only instance of this kid's career being "on fire."

The only instance of this kid’s career being “on fire.”

Playing the leader of the group of vampires, is Lance Henriksen that really does have a sinister act and persona to him that makes you shiver, quiver, and feel a bit scared whenever he’s around. The guy’s got a presence that makes me wonder why he isn’t in more stuff, just absolutely scaring the shit out of more and more people, and trust me, with a voice like that, a guy can do damage to some people’s pants. The lovebirds that get stuck in the middle of all of this craziness and horror are played by Jenny Wright and Adrian Pesdar, and as much as they try their hardest to make us feel their love and cook something-up, nothing ever gets hot and heavy between one another and it just seems like another forced romance that’s supposed to move the plot along, despite us not believing in a single-lick of it. I can’t also forget to mention the annoying piece of shit kid-actor known as Joshua John Miller, who I mainly remember annoying the crap out of me in River’s Edge, and you know what? Not much changes here, either, as I still wanted to beat the shit non-stop out of this kid and just hope and pray nobody cares about his movie-career. I highly doubt anybody would care anyway, but still, I just couldn’t help my evil-thoughts at times during this movie.

Consensus: In a day and age where vampires are star-crossed lovers that are torn-apart due to sappy stories that we don’t care about, Near Dark is a fresh change-of-pace for the vampire movie-genre where they were taken more seriously, showed more gore, and most of all, allowed themselves to do the dirty deeds they were invented to do in the first-place: suck blood out of random people’s necks. It’s not perfect, but it’s nice to watch if you want to get over the whole Twilight-craze being over and done with….for now.

7/10=Rental!!

Was that seriously the only light source they had in that area?

Was that seriously the only light source they had in the area?