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Still the scariest film I've ever seen
And so it begins... as vague shapes slowly form the letters... A L I E N. A simple introduction but one suitable given the intensity that follows.
As I watched I realised ALIEN was giving me the most intense and nerve-wracking experience film might ever offer to me - I was frustrated at the sheer tension, the film was succeeding in awakening within me paranoia and anxiety, it kept mounting and mounting, and I kept anticipating and distressing. It was absolutely thrilling - certainly one of the most enjoyable and exciting film experiences I've ever had. If this comment encourages anyone to see the film under the circumstances I did they have struck gold.
The golden guidelines: 1. See the film without any prior knowledge... at all. Even being born in 1992, it is still surprising that I hadn't heard anything about the movie beyond its status of "brilliant" and "terrifying". And I was lucky in this regard. Everything in the film was a surprise to me, I didn't know anything about the story and the characters, or even the alien. I was familiar only with the poster art an egg. In a way it was as if I was there watching the film just how people would have seen it in 1979.
2. Night, home-alone, quiet. No distractions.
3. Watch the "Theatrical Cut". The Director's Cut is inferior due to the awkward placement of additional scenes that kill the suspense, and the shortening of many scenes that work better with their original lengths.
If anyone reading this has managed to succeed in 1. then BY GOD rent the film now!
Alien is most certainly a masterpiece. A film that is capable of creating such terror in its audience deserves that title. The set designs are brilliant and succeed in setting the atmosphere and creating reality; the work of H. R. Giger is impeccably disturbing and suggestive; and technically, with the exception of one or two shots, Alien has aged gracefully. I look back on my first watch with great fondness, and I remember it vividly.
It would be a shame to not allow yourself the pleasure of enjoying A L I E N and ultimately you won't know unless you try, but I tell you this: It's worth it.
A unique experience unlike any other
I was one of those people who went in thinking the 3D would be terrible. -I love it when I my expectations are completely shattered.
Avatar (which would have been more suitably titled Pandora) is an epic, that follows Jake Sully, a Marine confined to a wheelchair who is given the chance to explore Pandora and his subsequent experiences with the Pandora natives, the Na'vi, and the result this has on his perspective of the planet's resources and Colonel Quaritch's goals. Pandora is fleshed out by the wonderful array of flora/fauna, and the unique way in which the moon functions.
The use of 3D is impeccably employed. A fitting way to describe it would be with the use of focus/layers. There are two layers to almost every scene, the foreground and the background. We are in the foreground, and we are watching the background from this foreground. James Cameron uses this as a story-telling technique. We are the Na'vi. We are Jake. We are what the director wants us to be at any given moment. By being brought into the experience of events so closely it feels personal, it feels like what is happening to them is happening to us. It is immersive.
Common words used to describe the CGI are 'realistic' or 'photo-realistic'. Photo-realistic seems the more appropriate term. It is very other-worldly (as it should be) yet very convincing. At times the film tricked me into believing in instances that the Na'vi could have been a result of brilliant make-up work, but simultaneously it is clear by their shape that they aren't. What they are is the result of motion capturing, and years spent on intensive computer work.
The story is very Disney but this isn't the negative trait people make it out to be. It is very reminiscent of Star Wars, and most certainly has been done before. Parallels can be made (unnecessarily) to events in history and currently events, if one feels inclined to do so. Yet unfortunately one of the weakest parts about Avatar is the character development, the other being the musical score. It is definitely safe to say James Cameron's use of visual elements to develop the relationship between the two main characters whilst wonderful could have been supported by some more dialogue between them. Is it all supposed to be implication? Were important scenes cut out from the film?
Ultimately we know what's going on between the characters in a very limited way, and we feel for them even though we don't get to know them. The main cast all does a brilliant job, particularly Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver. But although technically amazing and extremely entertaining it feels lacking... incomplete. Apparently the director, James Cameron, kept the film under three hours because of studio concern and also because of the 3D (which unfortunately, after all my aforementioned praise, doesn't work well for everyone, with some people I know complaining of headaches and vertigo).
James Cameron has released extended versions of three of his previous films before (Aliens, Terminator 2, The Abyss) so hopefully there is footage that was cut that will be released in an Extended Edition because as it stands it is not quite as good as it could have been, whilst still being a unique and incredible experience. Hopefully it manages to be as impressive in 2D, once padded out with sufficient material.
Avatar is excellent; Avatar is inspiring; Avatar is a film that will be remembered. Something about it everyone should be able to connect to. But see it first, in 3D.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Wow. Quite unlike any other action movie I've been witness to.
Just got back from seeing The Dark Knight a second time, and unlike last time the theatre was packed (no seriously, it was). But I must say it was worth it TDK is a movie that is quite unlike many other movies I have seen, but to my surprise did share something in common with its predecessor "Batman Begins", that being that it gets significantly better on multiple viewings.
Dealing with themes of chaos, corruption, and morality was a much better angle for a Batman movie to take; and I can now say that I am a fan of Nolan's image, something "Batman Begins" had failed to sway me with. In fact I have now written off the old series, sadly, although Catwoman in Returns will not be forgotten easily (yes, if they introduce Catwoman in the next Batman Michelle Pfeiffer will be hard to top, having her cast again would be brilliant if Nolan decided to make Catwoman older).
Everything from Begins has been revamped and revived, the suit has changed, the voice has changed, and the whole goddamn city has changed. I can't remember being told the date between Begins and TDK but from what I gathered it must've been a year or two, for Gotham City has changed from the global scum that it used to be to something much more civilised. The explanation we're given is that the new District Attorney, Harvey Dent, has been cleaning up more crooks than Batman ever managed previously. Although this new clean look contrasts and masks perfectly the grim nature of the city of Gotham that slowly unsurfaces when the Joker "introduces a little anarchy". (Even the character Rachel has been replaced with whom I consider to be a better actress, although this is of much debate, and in this instance she doesn't leave much of an impression.) Considering "Batman Begins" was supposed to be a character piece on why Batman is what he is and does what he does it is odd that TDK overshadows it, no doubt about it. There is much more to learn about the Batman, and his villains (whom are far superior) in this film.
The sound has also been drastically improved, from the few dark tones in "Batman Begins" Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard have created an incredibly catchy and epic Batman theme. It really is a masterpiece.
Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker is surprisingly good. When I first heard it was going to be Heath I was disgusted, not because he wasn't a good actor, I haven't seen any of his films to be judge to that, but because he didn't look the part. Well a bit of makeup goes a long way. The Heath on screen is not Heath, it is the Joker, undoubtedly he does not even share Heath's voice! The performance he has given is so unparallel to almost anything I have seen and as the film progresses you will laugh with the Joker as well as be horrified by what he does. Christopher Nolan has tackled the character perfectly, creating more of a force than a personality.
By film's end you will be blown away, questioning only why the CGI was so bad in places where you can be sure that it could have been much better. Such a minor flaw in such a grand epic does not stop TDK from being an absolutely brilliant film.
TDK is an experience that I will be glad to relive over and over