Advertisements

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Mark Rolston

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that made the original so great are here still, but they’re just heightened to a point of where they seemed to have been replaced by something far better.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

Advertisements

Rush Hour (1998)

Oh, odd couples.

When a Chinese diplomat’s daughter is kidnapped in Los Angeles, Hong Kong Detective Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) and his ass-kicking ways are called to the scene to help and assist the FBI with the case. However, seeing as how they’re incredibly stubborn and self-righteous, the FBI doesn’t want anything to do with Lee. As a result, they dump Lee off on the LAPD, who assign wisecracking Detective James Carter (Chris Tucker) to watch over him. Carter is already in the doghouse of sorts for botching a case where explosives went off, people were hurt, and his career was in jeopardy. But Carter doesn’t know that he’s the laughing stock, so he takes this babysitting job of Lee as serious as a heart-attack, having no clue just who Lee is, or what he’s actually capable of doing. And even though they can’t stand one another, they choose to work together to solve the case on their own when they put two-and-two together and find out that the case is a whole lot shadier than they had expected.

The guys that fight crime together, sing Edwin Starr together.

The guys that fight crime together, sing Edwin Starr together.

Rush Hour, in no way, shape or form, tries to reinvent the buddy-cop genre. If anything, the movie’s pretty generic by those genre’s standards. Two incredibly different people, both cops, come together on a ridiculous case and bring their two, very different backgrounds to help one another out, solve the case, and even possibly, grow closer as human beings and friends. We’ve seen this formula time and time again, however, what makes Rush Hour so damn charming about it all is that Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker really do, surprisingly, make a great team.

Not only does it seem like they get a long great in real life, but it works out well for the movie. The twist here is that while Tucker’s Carter starts out as being awfully racist and thinking hardly nothing of Chan’s Lee, he soon grows to learn to appreciate Lee for not just being a human being, but also being one that kick some ass and just wants to solve crimes like him. Sure, you could say that it’s awfully corny and generic, but this at least somewhat makes up for the fact that most of the jokes aimed at Chan are racist and a tad offensive. Then again, this is the brand of comedy to expect from Tucker, and it’s pretty hard to sneer at when it’s actually pretty funny,

That’s why a movie as conventional, uneventful, and simple as Rush Hour, despite being awfully stupid when it comes to its plot and its jokes, still works.

It’s obvious that the studio here was trying their hardest to try and make Jackie Chan a big hit in the United States by partnering him with someone like Tucker, in a buddy-cop comedy no less. But as manipulative as this may be, it still works because, from what it seems, Tucker and Chan really do have great chemistry that shows both stars working well off of one another and adding a nice dose of heart to the proceedings as well. One scene in particular features Chan unknowingly calling a bunch of black characters the infamous “n-word”, where he then starts to battle and brawl each one, unbeknownst to Tucker who is elsewhere. While this scene may have all the social commentary of a rock, watching Jackie Chan lay the smack down on a bunch of black dudes for calling them an offensive word, somehow works.

After all, this is a movie directed by Brett Ratner, so you get what you come for.

That said, Ratner doesn’t get too much in the way of this material here. All he really has to do is set the camera down so that stars like Tucker and Chan can do their things, be fun, be exciting, be charming, be funny, and leave it all that. With that all taken into consideration, yeah, Ratner does a fine job. He doesn’t need to add his own directorial-spin onto the sometimes silly material, but instead, just allow enough time and space for Tucker and Chan to do what they do best.

"Daaaaaaamn."

“Daaaaaaamn.”

And because of this, the action scenes do tend to work. While they mostly rely on having Jackie Chan fly around like a wild goose with its head cut-off, it’s still awfully exciting to watch, and see how it incorporates itself into the story. There’s one sequence in which Chan has to fight a bunch of guys, but meanwhile, also ensure that a bunch of priceless, almost rare Chinese artifacts don’t break. It’s a nice spin on the typical kind of action-sequences we’re so used to seeing with movies like these, but made only better by the fact that it’s Chan himself doing all of his own stunts and seeming to put himself into harm’s way, every chance he gets.

Of course, Tucker gets to work his shine, too. However, as is mostly the case with Tucker, the enjoyment of the humor here will mostly rely on whether or not you’re a fan of Tucker in the first place. For me, I love the guy and feel like he’s a comedic genius, so yeah, obviously I was hooked here from the very beginning. But yeah, he’s definitely of an acquired taste and it makes sense why some people who don’t like Tucker’s brand of humor, may not like Rush Hour.

But it’s also pretty hard to hate Rush Hour when it’s just trying to be a fun movie that entertains you, makes you laugh, and offer you up an odd pairing of Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan.

The kind of pair that nobody ever thought would see the light of day, let alone, actually work.

Consensus: Though it doesn’t set out to reinvent the wheel by any means, what Rush Hour does best is that it offers up a fine blend of humor, action, and fun, also made better by the wonderful chemistry between Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan.

8 / 10

Look out, Hollywood. Jackie's taking over!

Look out, Hollywood. Jackie’s taking over!

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

It doesn’t matter who you are, you love this damn film.

The film tells the story of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a banker who spends nearly two decades in Shawshank State Prison for the murder of his wife and her lover despite his claims of innocence. During his time at the prison, he befriends a fellow inmate, Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman), and finds himself protected by the guards after the warden begins using him in his money laundering operation.

Let me just say this, if you have not seen this film, stop reading and get out there to your local video store/Redbox/Netflix account/illegal movie download website and check this ditty out. Honestly, everybody loves it. Of course when people say that about anything, it usually means that it’s just their opinions and that about 2 people they know agree with them so they feel like hot shit but that’s not the case here at all. You could ask anyone their thoughts on this and I’ll bet they’ll all tell you the same thing: perfection.

The craziest thing about this flick is how this was writer/director Frank Darabont‘s first movie he ever made. That’s right people…..FIRST MOVIE HE EVER MADE! Darabont really deserves all the credit for this story and for this flick because he found a way to match all of Stephen King’s writing in such a perfect way that it made every line of dialogue, feel like a piece of art itself. When the film wants to be funny, it’s funny; when the film wants to be emotional, it’s emotional without ever being hokey; and whenever the film wants to find its own little sly ways of getting us more and more involved with this story, it does and never stops the whole time. All of the dialogue, if placed in a lesser hand, could have been written off as corny but Darabont and King work wonders together, and it’s no surprise that Darabont went after another King adaptation about 5 years later with The Green Mile. Oh yeah, and he’s the guy who also adapted The Walking Dead so that definitely earns some brownie points in my book.

I think what really makes me truly love this film the way that I do is that I have seen it about 5 times and not once does it ever get old. That’s the true sign of a good movie. Since you know everything that goes down in the end, you get the chance to look at everything once again and see all of the little hints and clues that this film throws at you, without you ever really knowing in the first place. It’s really cool how Darabont was able to throw these little things in there to have it all make sense in the end but still allows you to get something new out of the movie each and every time you watch it. The film is all about the human spirit and how we can all be free no matter where it is that we are at in our lives. These prisoners feel trapped but it’s all about how they can all break free from these walls without ever having to take a step over them. It’s a message that we have all seen done and talked about before, but for some reason, this film does it the best and really makes you want to just get out there and live like a free person anywhere you go.

At the center of this whole film though is the performances of everybody involved, especially those ones of Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. These guys were already big names before this film came out but I think it’s definitely the best performances of their careers by far, and if you have ever seen any of their other work you know that this is a very bold statement to make in the first place. Robbins is very mysterious and strange as Andy, but he’s also a very likable character that makes it easy to see why all of these guys take such a liking to him in the first place. We also see Andy as a free soul that wants to do anything in his power to do right for everyone around him and gets even better and better once you start to see just how smarter he is than he lets on. It’s such a shame that he didn’t get nominated for an Oscar here because he really brings a whole lot to Andy. Morgan Freeman is also the perfect choice as Red. Red is our narrator for the whole movie and shows us a look at everything that’s going on with Andy from the outside-in and it just works because you feel a huge deal of warmth and comfort from this character that it really shows as one of Freeman’s signatures when it comes to him playing in any role. I heard that Darabont chose Freeman over such legends like Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman, and Robert Redford, and to be honest, I couldn’t see any of them playing the part as perfectly as Freeman does here.

What made this film work the way it does on me is the friendship these two create together. Red sees something in Andy that he never expected in the first place and from then on, we see two people who are both struggling for freedom in a place where all hope is lost, gain some sort of hope together. What I’m describing right now may sound a bit too much like a mixture between Brokeback Mountain and Cool Hand Luke, but it’s honestly the best aspect of this whole movie because you see this friendship blossom over time and you see how they each look out for one another in every single situation they have. By the end, everything they have together starts to come in full circle and that’s where I actually started to tear up a bit because this is where the film’s message comes around and it’s also where you notice that these two guys were meant to best buds and live free after all.

Consensus: The Shawshank Redemption is just one of those perfect movies that seems to have it all: great writing, great direction, amazing performances, a message that is meant to inspire anybody who watches this, and so much more to it. Basically if you are reading the end of this review and have still not checked this one out, then get off your butts and do so. I promise you will not be let-down in the least bit.

10/10=Love and Cherish Forever!!