It’s been a while once again. Between family visits, test studying, work demands and a new romance in the air; life gets the best of this blog of mine.
Apart from my writing, my film watching has also decreased, but not as sharply as my visits to the blogosphere. In the last three months of online inactivity, I managed to watch 28 films, with an average score of 3.3. There were, per usual, highlights and disappointments. On the one hand I marveled at Jordan Peele’s confident directorial debut with Get Out and Christopher Nolan’s breathtaking Dunkirk, while on the other I watched in confusion how Luc Besson managed to waste over 150 million dollars making his latest passion project, or how Brad Pitt continued his bad streak with the ill-conceived War Machine, which he produced and starred in.
Without further ado, I share with you a list of quick reviews for all the films that were watched in the order in which they were seen. Being that it is quite a number of them for one single post, I will be splitting these up into two parts.
As a big fan of the Alien franchise, it has always been difficult for me to write or even think about reviews of the films and remain unbiased. As a child, I played with a six inch tall action figure (that I still have) of the Xenomorph, the frightening and brilliant monster at the center of the franchise. It was, as everyone that knew me would tell you, my favorite toy, by a long shot.
I watched the original 1979 film sometime between 1990 and 1992, when I was between 6 to 8 years old. Soon after, I also managed to watch Aliens, James Cameron’s fantastic action packed sequel, and I was forever captivated.
Synopsis: A crew of scientists embark on a mission to find answers about the origin of the human race in a distant planetary system. What they find is not only surprising but a bit more than they can handle.
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba
Director: Ridley Scott
To watch Prometheus on the big screen at your local multiplex is an experience that should not be missed. From the gorgeous visuals, to the effectiveness of the cast and the artistry of the special effects, Prometheus is one of those pieces of cinema that is well worth the admission price.
After years away from science fiction, Ridley Scott shows that this genre might be his true forte as an artist, always able to create immersive worlds that border on the sublime. The stylistic language in Prometheus takes cues from Scott’s previous work while utilizing the latest in special effects to modernize his view of the future. Whereas Alien featured clunky, heavy machinery with computers running on MS-DOS in a maze of dark hallways filled with smoke, Prometheus takes the route of revisionism and updates Scott’s vision towards sterilized, streamlined, minimalistic technology inside spacious rooms adorned with splashes of bright colors. The change is mostly an aesthetic one. Prometheus continues with the tradition of Alien, crafting sets that contribute to the suspense, almost too large and too perfect to be inviting.
After a month-long hiatus, I return not to miss the chance to talk about the upcoming release of Prometheus, marketed as a prequel of sorts to Alien, one of the most significant sci-fi thrillers of all-time and one of my favorite films.
Even though I count myself as a true fan of the franchise, especially of the first two installments, I have gathered the impression that there is a lot of skepticism about the continuation of the franchise, understandably so given that the last few attempts to revive it have been such a disappointment.
Inspired by Dan from Top 10 Films, I decided to basically steal his post and contribute to the conversation by providing a list of the ten films I enjoyed the most when I was younger, approximately at age 10, circa 1995.
I think you will notice a ten year old trying to watch films that are deemed inappropriate for someone that age, often going around the watchful eyes of his parents to watch a horror film, or catch a glimpse of the latest monster or the latest adventure. The list is practically made entirely of blockbusters that were either a product of the 1980s and early 1990s.
With the exception of Child’s Play and Rocky IV, all of these films still remain close to my heart and I consider them extremely entertaining and well done to this day.
Here is my list:
10. Child’s Play (1988)
I was introduced to the famed franchise by my uncle who, after a day of looking after me, probably decided to take a breather and distract me with a movie, albeit not one that kids should watch. Child’s Play was probably one of the first R-rated films I watched. I especially remember how upset my mom was when she found out I had seen it, afraid it would give me nightmares.
After a long hiatus I restart my blog with my tenth film review of my IMDB challenge: The Thing, released in 1982.
The Thing stars Kurt Russel in one of the most convincing roles of his career. He plays R.J. McReady, the charismatic leader of a pack of roughened-out American scientists locked away by snow and ice from any meaningful hint of civilization in a distant outpost in Antarctica. The film benefits from a very strong opening sequence that shows us a Siberian dog running for its life as two men in a helicopter seem determined to end its life. As with the rest of the opening third of the film, the first few scenes are permeated with an ominous atmosphere that fills the screen with a sense of doom that is rarely as effectively delivered as it is in this film.
Despite the vastness of the environment, the film feels incredibly claustrophobic. The almost constant snowstorm that cuts all communication with the outside world serves as the lock that keeps all of these men trapped inside a narrow ensemble of hallways and rooms that make up the scientists’ outpost. From the moment we are introduced to the dog desperately running away from a certain death, we know that there is something off with this picture and that whatever it is come, it would have to be confronted in this limiting setting, where escaping is impossible. There is, as a result, a sense of unavoidable doom that inhabits every room and corridor. There is always a presence lurking among the men and even after we discover what it is, the very nature of this unexpected visitor keeps us guessing for who its next victim will be. It is never a matter of if it will happen, but a matter of when.
Having pointed out some of the most prominent features of the film, some sci-fi fans might be able to see a striking similarity to Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece: Alien. While Carpenter’s film does borrow a lot from the famous sci-fi thriller, which certainly undermines the raw artistic value of the piece, the director makes it his own by successfully reinterpreting the concepts and ideas elegantly used by Ridley, while introducing new elements that still made it feel fresh and nerve-wracking. While Alien is helped by incredibly convincing special effects for the time in which it was filmed, The Thing lacked, even 3 years later, the sleekness of its predecessor. In this sense, The Thing comes out as more of an unfinished material that is odd, gory and awkward all at the same time.
However, what the film lacks in intricacies and richness of detail, The Thing makes up for it with a sense of realism that is almost exclusively the merit of the unpolished look of the film. While the creature’s appearance is not altogether convincing, the circumstances these men find themselves in seem genuine.The characters we see on camera are far more relatable than those we see in Alien. These are not nerds or cowboys of a distant future, these feel like average Joe’s that are trapped in this impossible situation none of them could have avoided. It is this sense of impending doom that the film so effectively generates that keeps you at the edge of your seat throughout.
There are, as in other Carpenter films, several cheesy lines and cliches that hinder the overall effect of the movie. However, Carpenter does an awesome job at building a highly suspenseful and atmospheric environment that does wonders for the film.
There are some movies that are just awful, lacking any redeemable qualities to be appreciated at any level. Skyline, released as the latest incarnation of the Alien invasion movie sub-genre, is certainly one of the truest examples I can remember of utter mediocrity.
I came across this disastrous movie on a night of boredom, lacking the drive to find something original to do and even with the knowledge that the film I was about to rent had received dismal reviews from critics and viewers. However, I decided to give it a chance not only in a desperate attempt to relieve my boredom, but also because it is almost always possible (but not in this case) to find something of value within a film that most people deemed as terrible (no two minds think alike !)
Having past the first five minutes of the movie, Skyline had already lost me. The film begins midway in the story only to take us back, as many other movies do, to the events that led to the moment we first witnessed. It turns out that it was important for a movie lacking any credible emotional or rational substance to try to establish the setting or back-story for lifeless characters we end up not caring about. It could have actually worked better if the film-makers had just made a movie about Aliens killing humans we don’t know the names of. As it turns out, I was relieved that the Aliens were clearly winning and that the characters presented to us were being eliminated swiftly and without much opposition.
Movies such as these do not fail because they lack the funding (Skyline was made for a quite modest $ 10 million) to support the usual grandeur that such a genre tends to require, they fail because they try too hard to be grand and accomplish many things, failing miserably in every level. In addition, we have seen that Sci-fi films about aliens or UFOs can be made for relatively small budgets and accomplish good results, which was the case of the original Alien, District 9, 12 Monkeys and many other great films.