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Cube creeps me out and I mean that in a good way.
The movie has this dense air of futility to it. I can't think of any other films that are so permeated with the sense that there is no way out, or that the force behind the plight of the protagonists is so indifferent.
The characters do begin to act in increasingly paranoid and frustrated ways, but I took that as naturally reflecting what anyone would go through in their circumstances.
I'm willing to forgive the few plot conveniences, in light of the mood that the movie establishes. It's a smart film on the whole, brilliant actually.
Nicole De Boer turns in a nice performance as well.
Battlefield Earth (2000)
Battlefield Earth meets this man-animal's L. Ron Hubbard standards!
There's something very strange about the bad movie that is Battlefield Earth. I saw it months ago and thought it was the silliest thing I'd seen in years: wildly overacted, completely implausible, and possessing an absolutely brainless plot.
The movie isn't bad because it was made by a lethargic director. Rather, Battlefield Earth's awfulness is the product of the bizarre and feverish direction of Roger Christian. Yes, Christian directed this movie as a man possessed: ending each scene with a rather tired-looking middle-wipe fadeout, shooting the dynamic duo of Terl n'Ker at a neck bending 15 degree angle, and coming in for a lot of disgusting closeups with the disgusting "Psychlos".
The plot adds both badness and hilarity to this movie. Terl is, without a doubt, the most mentally-challenged supervillain in cinematic history. Many others have been awed by the 1000 year old Harriers, their caveman pilots, and the magical simulator these top guns nee cavemen use to master their new steeds. Additionally, there is Terl's bizarre insistence on teaching the rat-brains nuclear physics, without any need to do so. Certain words are repeated feverishly and quite meaninglessly: "leverage", "man-animals", "rat-brains", "the home office." Meanwhile Travolta laughs hysterically and uncontrollably at jokes that a lowbrow 9 year old would shrug at, Whitaker growls like a second rate Klingon, and Barry Pepper does his best to act uber-heroic. It's a mess worthy of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
All of this is both bad and somehow quite funny. I have read musings by Christian that he and the crew wanted to get the sequel out even after Battlefield Earth tanked so badly. If he manages to pull this off, I might even show up to laugh myself silly - again. Nor would I really mind seeing it again for laughs.
One idea he might consider is buffing up his feeble storyline by merging it with that of another movie - kind of a Hardy Boys meets Nancy Drew type arrangement. Here are some plot ideas for Roger:
-Here on Battlefield Earth: In the year 3000, a drag race between two man-animals in ancient cars results in the destruction of the local Psychlo diner. The evil Terl forces the two young rat-brains to work together to rebuild the establishment - and gives them both a crash course on nuclear fission. Can they overcome their class differences and rivalry over pouty heroine Leelee Sobieski in order to take back the planet?
-Terl, Interrupted: In the late 60's, Terl is committed to a mental institution. Can his budding friendship with sociopathic woman-animal Angelina Jolie help him overcome his pathological need for "leverage" and poor sense of humor?
-American Psychlo: In the late 80's, Terl finds work at a cutthroat Wall Street brokerage, where he becomes an accomplished serial killer who enjoys shooting the limbs off of cows and "leverage" buyouts.
Here on Earth (2000)
Weepy, weepy, weepy
Here on Earth is a movie that follows a formula without really thinking about itself. The central premise of Leelee Sobiesky's decision to switch boyfriends is rather bizarre: abandoning her loyal standby due to his involvement in the fire at her mother's restaurant, and shacking up with a conceited snob who was just as responsible for the fire. Basically this movie gives us no real reason to believe in their relationship, other than the penchant of either character to quote Robert Frost. I'm sorry, movie, you've got to try harder than that. I've been known to be a softy about movies, but this is easily one of the weepiest, corniest kneejerk romances I've seen. After a while it starts to get laughable - the movie is trying to slap tears out of the audience. All it got from me was a smirk.
A very, very good movie
Screamers impressed the heck out of me. Reviews I'd read of it called it a "slasher" movie and said that it was highly derivative of other movies, such as Aliens and Blade Runner.
In fact, I found it to be highly imaginative and original, very much in the spirit of the Philip K. Dick story that inspired it, pondering the ultimate meanings of humanity, war and technology. The scenery and story surrounding the film were both intriguing: despite the film's low budget, the director did an excellent job of constructing the devastated planet. Peter Weller and Jennifer Rubin turned in excellent performances, and the supporting cast was also quite good. Finally, every scene is shot with a real urgency to it; particularly well done are the nightmarish confrontation 2/3 of the way through the movie and the poignant and shattering ending. In short, this is a very very good movie and well worth renting. It will stay with you for quite a while.
Before signing off, I should say something about construing one science fiction movie as a ripoff of others. Screamers had elements of its plot which can be found in other films (ie men and machines, monsters) but it blends them seamlessly into its own original story. The mere presence of identifiable elements from other films has given people ground to criticize this movie as unoriginal. By their standards, I don't think it would be possible at all to make new movies or novels or anything. These surface similarities will always be there. One can argue that the Matrix is merely an update of Socrates' cave allegory. In conclusion: ignore the critics and see Screamers!!
A good bang for the buck
I rented this movie conscious of the fact that I was renting a sci-fi shoot-em-up which was likely to be somewhat derivative of other movies and forgettable in the long run. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it for what it was, an entertaining, visually interesting, fairly well-acted movie.
Kurt Russell did a pretty decent job as Sgt. Todd, although he had fewer lines of dialogue than any lead character I've seen in a while. The supporting cast was competent and adequate. What I really liked were the action scenes - the nighttime battle is particularly well-done - and the scenery. Filming the action amidst detritus from Earth's past made the movie particularly original and visually neat.
Was this film a classic? No. It is, however a worthwhile rent if you'd like to see some well-produced, visually interesting sci-fi action. I've seen enough bad sci-fi movies to know that this is very far from being one of them. (7 out of 10)
Law & Order (1990)
I can't stop watching it . . . EVER!!
After discovering it purely by accident this fall as the show following "The West Wing" (which I have since stopped watching) I am now totally hooked on "Law & Order". It is one of the most mature, thoughtful, realistic and best-acted shows on television.
One thing I've noted from watching reruns on A&E is that there were never any bad seasons of Law & Order. The quality of the acting and writing has always been high and I enjoy watching the various relationships developing on the show, from the often contentious Greevey-Logan matchup, to the humorous pairing of Briscoe and Curtis, to the nicely understated romance between McCoy and Kinkaid. Every cast combination of the show has brought something new and interesting, which is why I'm glad to watch new episodes on NBC and old ones on A&E.
The scripts mix wit, drama, suspense, expertly understated characterization, and genuinely thought-provoking stories. I couldn't be happier with the show . . . except I'd really like to see Claire once more. Alex Wolf, wherever you are, please bring her back just once!!!!
Future War (1997)
As bad as they come!
I'd like to join the chorus here expressing hatred for this movie. Watching it actually made me appreciate what other pieces of trash, like Werewolf or Space Mutiny didn't mess up. Say what you like about "Warwilf," but at least it managed to film hospital scenes in hospitals. Space Mutiny's sets were nothing to write home about, but at least they looked like some effort had been put into making them. Future War looks like the producer hired a team of third graders to dress up a room 15 minutes before they started shooting. Most of the film's production budget was probably spent on those empty cardboard boxes that adorn half the film. The dinosaurs were probably purchased from the toys bin at a garage sale.
What else? The acting was inept. The script was basically a half-brained takeoff on several far superior movies, such as Terminator and Brother from Another Planet. And the fight scenes were the most incompetently filmed sequences I've ever witnessed.
Of course, the film, in all its ineptitude, makes a good episode of MST3K. It is, in its own way, even more incompetent than other MST3K standouts like Werewolf, and for that it deserves to be remembered.
Not great but surprisingly good
Dune sucked me in. I was channel surfing when I came upon the movie and couldn't change the channel. Admittedly it was over-complicated, but it made a noble effort to be true to the book. I couldn't always understand it, but it was interesting throughout (though the effects look a bit dated). The acting was generally good as well.
Dune succeeded hugely in one sense - I greatly wanted to read the book after seeing it, which is probably a good reflection on the movie.
The Final Sacrifice (1990)
Not as bad as other MST3K movies
Although this definitely isn't something worth renting, I found this surprisingly watchable for an MST3K movie -- it had just enough to hold my interest for over an hour. It is best watched as an MST3K episode though, I mean what kind of movie invents a lost civilization and calls them the "Ziox" or names its hero "Zap Rowsdower?" Regardless, it is much better than Werewolf or The Incredibly Strange People . . .
Space Mutiny (1988)
The worst science fiction film I've seen yet!
Filmed in an abandoned chemical factory, using Battlestar Galactica-vintage sets and ships, and with a decidedly apartheid-era cast (hundreds of years into the future and there are no black people in evidence) Space Mutiny has truly earned its place as one of the worst movies ever. Nonetheless, in the company of Tom, Servo and Mike it is an unending laugh riot. Watch to see if to see if my namesake's skull does indeed pop out of his head.