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"If you go down there, you're going to die."
We've long awaited this day after Cameron's "Aliens" back in '86. I never really cared for "Alien 3", and Resurrection is one I rather enjoyed despite its flaws. Once the AVP films came around the sh*t really hit the fan. Many, including myself, thought the series was dead and buried. However, Ridley Scott himself decided to revisit the series and not only take it back to its roots but in a sense go even further.
Allow me to start with the cast; all very well chosen and great characters. Guy Pearce is pretty awesome, Idris Elba is damn good and Charlize Theron is as I expected fantastic. Noomi Rapace is excellent in her role, giving off a Ripley-style aura without going to much into it. She's still very much her own character, symbolized by her faith and ties to religion. There's some sensuality but its never overplayed and never feels out of place. Michael Fassbender is just amazing. I don't fear spoiling he's an android because it's damn obvious not but a few minutes after meeting him. He infuses a lot into his character, a mix of Rachel from Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" and HAL from "2001: A Space Odyssey". His performance simply fascinates, and I leave it at that.
After the over-laden crapfest of directors like Paul W.S. Anderson and the Strauss Brothers brought to the series, the effects team brings dignity and dare I say class back to the gore. The creature designs are just stunning and quite sickening. They'll amaze as much as they make your skin crawl. And this movie WILL make your skin crawl. Production value in addition reminds you of the original 1979 "Alien" with great spaceship sets as well as eerie planet environments.
Best part of this movie is how the story is told. Some of it you'll recognize as trademarks of the sci-fi/horror genre, other aspects are things fanboys like myself have been dreaming about for decades but there's also quite a bit of philosophy and ideology weaved into it all. The origin of man, possible existence of a deity, our purpose in the universe, all are toyed around with in this film. Brilliant move it is, the movie will ask more questions than it answers, not only about the saga but about our race itself. I urge all to see "Prometheus".
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
"I was wondering what was going to break first; your spirit, or your body."
Rumored and I suppose confirmed by both Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale, this is to be the final bout for the Caped Crusader. My first impression after viewing the movie is that it is indeed epic. Each movie is different and amazing in its won respect and while I still feel 2008's "The Dark Knight" stands as the pinnacle of emotional upheaval for the trilogy, TDKR definitely takes the cake for most monumental. It'll be hard to do this review without spoilers, but I can get it done. Firstly, I'm very pleased that every cast member has decided to return for the finale. Christian Bale, Gary Oldman and Michael Caine all reprise their roles and do fantastic jobs. There are several new faces, among them Matthew Modine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard being as sexy as she is entertaining. Ann Hathaway is a pretty good Catwoman, delivering a less sensually driven performance than Michelle Pfeiffer (don't get me wrong I still love "Batman Returns"). Everyone knows of the terrible raping of the Bane character in Shumacer's "Batman and Robin", reducing the iconic villain to a lumbering dimwit. Tom Hardy finally gives justice to the character on the big-screen and damn does it feel good. He has the physical presence as well as the cunning aspects from the comic book; done just excellently. They couldn't have made a better choice for the final villain honestly. And yes, there are lots of cameos, so be prepared to wet your parents.
Secondly, I'll quickly go over my sole gripe, being that I wish Hans Zimmer had delivered more new compositions for the piece. This may be due to the resignation of James Newton Howard who had collaborated with Zimmer on the previous two films. Put it this way, both Catwoman and Bane receive ample treatment and have terrific themes. There are lots of quieter moments as well, but for Batman himself it's mostly recycled music which is still quite empowering just not what I expected. However, it's not a great deal to me because by the second film there already was a decent amount of recycled cues, making it pointless to dwell on.
My main applause for this movie is to the incredible story. If you're an avid reader of graphic novels, like me, you'll notice the screenplay uses elements from many iconic Batman comics. "Knightfall (1993) obviously being the story that debuted Bane, Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Returns" (which depicted Batman going back to his work after a long hiatus) and also the "No Man's Land" story arc. Using these, the arguable cream of the crop of the Batman universe, a great epic is told. The action is really taken to new heights and the scope of it all is astonishing. Never before and maybe never again will you see Batman pushed this hard. We truly see Gotham at its knees and to make it all the better, believe it or not, there are still quite a bit of physical effects at work here. CGI is still secondary to good old raw effects.
This a great movie with some really hard-hitting action, some strong emotions and an epic vision. They even manage to sneak some very well done plot twists, making this a truly satisfying finale. May Batman's rest be a peaceful one from the big screen, even if only for a short while.
The Monster Squad (1987)
"That's discrimination, jerkoid."
One of the quintessential vintage monster movies. Inspired in part by the "The Little Rascals", "The Goonies" (this film and that Richard Donner movie obviously giving rise to Abram's "Super 8") and the all-time champion Universal classics. This movie is pure awesomeness, headed by Fred Dekker and with special effects by none other than Stan Winston (the man behind "Jurassic Park" and other legends, enough said). If you, like me, saw Stephen Sommer's "Van Helsing" and felt your favorite monsters had been turned into CGI monstrosities, then this is for you.
Every monster is somewhat updated, but for the most part they retain their classic features. The make-up and animatronics are done quite awesomely. Duncan Regehr is so great as Dracula ("Meeting adjourned" .BOOM!!) and Tom Noonan is just fantastic as Frankenstein's Monster. The 'Gill Man' and the Mummy look pretty bad-ass as well. Enhancing these beasts are great sets and a spectacular score by Bruce Broughton.
Andrew Gower, Ryan Lambert, Stephen Macht, Leonardo Cimino are all very good in their simple but very enjoyable characters. Brent Chalem will always be remembered as Horace, R.I.P.
The tone of the film is odd but that's what makes it so memorable. I can see why at the time of its release why audiences may have been put off by the movie. After all, plenty of swearing, strong content, but the leads are children. Who exactly was the target audience? The dialogue is snazzy, the comedy well-staged and yet these characters feel very real to us. That's really where the audience is; anyone who is willing to embrace the characters really. And no worry, all along there is some excellent carnage. After all, if nothing else, the film answers the age old question if a silver bullet really is the only way to kill a werewolf.
Loads of fun and a classic that's for damned sure. In honor of Fat Kid: "Wolfman's got nards!!"
"Feel how hard your heart is beating, Harry? How fast?"
I can't believe this movie only ranks at a 6.6 on IMDb. Of course, even at the time of its release back in '82 there was skepticism toward it. Headed by horror legends George A. Romero and Stephen King, people seem to forget this movie exists to do one thing and one thing only: celebrate the macabre and the sick. Note the title itself you douches consider their taste in film to be of the upper crust. "Creepshow" doesn't have the nihilistic undertone of Romero's usual work or King's expected psychological torture because it is meant to simply be a fun experience.
If you're a horror buff, you know Romero has long credited the classic EC horror comics of the 50s (e.g. Tales From the Crypt) as his inspiration. This is basically the whole point of the film; to feel like a comic book brought to life. Hence, things are bound to be marvelously over-the-top in some regards. One of the best things about this film, to me its strongest aspect in general, is its visual style. It angles many shots as if they were cut outs from a comic, there is some awesome usage of hand drawn animation (I LOVE the opening credit scene) and there is some BAD-ASS use of extreme lighting shifts. To put this in perspective, one second the room is darkly lit but not out of the ordinary per say. Next thing you know the room and all its objects are bathed in a blood-like red, making the photography so well done in this picture.
Another aspect you have to embrace in order to fully appreciate the film is its tone. As I said before, this isn't aiming to be cryptic and challenging like let's say "The Shining" (which King also wrote) or as realistic and seriously-toned as "Night of the Living Dead". If anything this movie is a blend of horror and comedy. Thing is it's a brand of comedy most people to this day don't get: the dirty guilty pleasure of black humor. A zombie who wants his Father's Day Cake, a hillbilly assuming a meteorite will fetch him a mere $200, a man feeding his nagging-boozed up wife to a snarling beast; the tales drip with not just blood but a comical yet stinging look at banal archetypes.
And the cast, let me tell ya, is damn good. It's not like they're handing out Academy Award winning lines, but the acting is pretty well done. Tom Atkins is pretty great as the abusive father, Viveca Lindfore (Bedelia) was awesome and who can forget Mr. King himself as Jordy Verrill? Ted Danson, Fritz Weaver, Hal Holbrook (YES), E.G. Marshall and the always-stunning Adrienne Barbeau do spectacular jobs. My favorite performance would just have to be Leslie Nielsen. He was pretty awesome, let's face it.
Topping all this off is one of my favorite horror film scores by none other than John Harrison. He also composed for Romero's 1985 film "Day of the Dead". Synthesizers and pianos, not to mention an eerie chorus, the music is just great. And the effects work of Tom Savini, as always, astounds. From creating the walking dead (no pun intended), to vicious crated-yetibeast to a horde of disgusting cockroaches, he excels in his line of work.
"Creepshow" is a damn classic and should be eternally revered by all means. My only gripe is that the U.S. DVD is crap seeing as it contains no special features aside a trailer. I haven't seen a DVD with this little effort since Sony Tristar released those awful '50th Anniversary special edition' Godzilla DVDs. If you truly appreciate horror, and as I intend to do, buy yourself a copy of the Region 2 DVD which comes with behind the scenes material, commentaries and interviews with the masters behind the masterpiece. And trust me, Region 2 DVDs should play on most blu-ray and DVD players. My region 2 Godzilla DVDs perform just fine on both.
"Where's my Father's Day Cake?"
Super 8 (2011)
A Soon to be Classic
"Super 8", directed by J.J. Abrams, the man at the head of such projects as the recent "Star Trek". Anyone who saw the trailer for this film were drawn by the mysterious tone of it, giving off the appearance of the next E.T. What a coincidence, guess who produced it? Speaking of which, that's probably the best way to describe it; a combination of "The Goonies" and "E.T.", with hints of that other movie Abrams was behind "Cloverfield". I am no fan of that okay movie, but don't worry this one is not shot in that annoying "found bullsh*t footage" manner. It's just that I suppose the premise is somewhat similar.
The joy of it all is the acting is quite well done. Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, and Riley Griffiths all do incredible jobs cementing the characters in our hearts. Kyle Chandler is also great, as well as Bruce Greenwood. I don't want to reveal too much about the story, seeing as that's the key to enjoying this particular movie. In terms of drama, comedy and action, as well as mystique, I believe they hit a really good balance and the film has a vintage sheen to it. I would definitely rate this film an A.
"Strange is not the word I use "
This is one of those movies that fly over your head when you're a child watching it. I remember Disney's Pixar and DreamWorks used to really clash in the past over the originality of premises. "A Bug's Life" vs. "Antz", this is one of the ones I feel only a tie is fair. "Antz" is an amazing animated film for one reason above all: awesome voice cast. Gene Hackman, Christopher Walken, Danny Glover and Woody Allen, there's almost too much talent to bear. Also, there's so much subtle humor to appreciate. I originally saw the film ten years ago and laughed and now being an adult there's so much I missed. Only now do I get the adult-oriented jokes, truly making the movie timeless. And the film has a pretty good theme to it; the importance of individuality as opposed to the hordes of conformity.
"Antz" is great.
American Psycho (2000)
"I just had to kill a lot of people!" A+
My Gojira, see this movie!! It is by far the best performance of Christian Bale EVER. I, like most people I assume, did not become familiar with Christian Bale till he became the new Bruce Wayne back in 2005. I was aware of this movie for a while but avoided it because I thought the acting would be dry. However, I finally sat down to watch it and was blown away. Its strongest pillar is none other than Mr. Bale. Trust me; you've never seen him like this. His character is sadistic, redefines cruel and is a true sociopath, and yet you can't turn away. Bale also adds dabbles of what seem to be regret within it all and it leaves one wondering; what will Patrick Bateman's next move be?
It also offers the great performances of William Dafoe, and others. Taking place during the 80s, one can't help but feel Bale's character was driven to this sick path due to some feeling of social isolation. The 80s here are depicted as an era of the "fast times'. A growing gap between the rich and poor (reminiscent of Oliver Stone's "Wall Street"), people's ever growing affinity with drugs and of course the music that was there but also wasn't. In his meticulous mind, he appears to be the only one who seems to actually be paying attention to what he's hearing. Strangely idealistic and yet without direction, it's one of the strangest characters you'll ever see on screen.
Bold, sickening and just exhilarating, check out "American Psycho".
"Cage goes in the water. You go in the water. Sharks in the water, our shark." A+
Dare I call it Spielberg's greatest film ever? I'm sure I wouldn't be alone in such an assessment. Many say this film, along with George Lucas' Star Wars, was among the movies to really set in motion the summer movie movement. You know, rampant marketing, familiar characters and stories, ridiculously huge box office draws. However, there is one thing that sets this film apart from most contemporary duds: character. The characters here feel so real to one that you feel you know them. Roy Scheider (Brody) is just fantastic, Lorraine Gary is also pretty good and Richard Dreyfuss is pretty awesome. Who can forget Robert Shaw's (as Quint) entrance with the nails on the chalk board? These characters have been so ingrained in our psyche that we often do not even realize when modern films and TV shows pay tribute to them.
It's also Spielberg's greatest attempt at horror. Though he's had some relatively close ones like 2005's "War of the Worlds", it still doesn't compare to his work in this one. And duh, John William's score is just BAD-ASS. That theme is probably one of the composer's most iconic themes ever, but there also many quiet moments that create splendid tension. And our friend the Great White, surely one of Hollywood's greatest movie monsters most definitely.
An unbeatable classic.
"The Best Thing About Cold Is " A+
To truly appreciate this movie, you must understand director Sergio Leone's quote regarding his film "The God, The Bad, and the Ugly" (1966):
"I had read somewhere that 120,000 people died in Southern camps such as Andersonville. I was not ignorant of the fact that there were camps in the North. You always get to hear about the shameful behavior of the losers, never the winners."
I rank this one among the best war films I have ever seen. It details the horrific events of history's ugliest battle from its bloodiest war. The battle for Stalingrad left one million dead, and this brilliant movie shows it all from the point of view of the German Sixth Army. If you know history then you're aware of the fact that this loss for Germany was the first major blunder that would result in the ultimate downfall of the Third Reich. Fresh from their previous victories, the members of the Sixth Army believe they are in for a relatively easy win. However, as the fighting grows more turbulent, the city quickly becomes a hell populated by the piles of the dead. Of course, the suffering doesn't really commence till the Russian winter sets in.
Showing this gruesome conflict from the German point-of-view has many purposes. Firstly, to show just how quickly the tide of a military campaign can shift, even for a superpower. Secondly, it is easy for people of the modern era to forget the suffering on both sides. Soldiers have since the beginning of time been nothing more than the tools of politicians (regardless of the government) to cement their goals. The themes are quite relevant, and the story of these men a sheer tragedy. The production value is just stunning and you really are transported back to that time of old, the battle ruined streets of that city. And the score by Norbert Jürgen, Schneider and Martin Grassl is pretty awesome, ranging from bombastic to moments of brutal melancholy. It's definitely one of my favorite war film compositions.
Do not miss out on "Stalingrad".
The Land Before Time (1988)
One of the Greatest Animated Films of ALL TIME A+
This is one of those films that's grace has been overlooked due to the outrageous number of sequels (I heard there was even a show ) that followed it. None of them come close to the power of the first. Under the helm of Spielberg's Amblin, which also created such wonders as "American Tail", this movie can easily stand up to the Disney titans. Obviously, the artwork is just incredible, the colors created just plain remarkable. The landscapes are just stunning. Quite simply put, you don't see hand-drawn animation like this anymore. There are also dark moments that remain beautiful to this day. I'll never forget the journey of Little Foot and it really is a well told story. I also love the look of the dinosaurs, the Sharp Tooth of course being quite the fearsome beast when I was a child.
Composer James Horner creates an incredible score, one that hasn't aged a day since its release in 1988. To this film's credit, it obviously more or less inspired the multi-million dollar 1998 Disney film "Dinosaur" which had an all-too familiar storyline. A true classic I will eternally admire. Although I have to add this in, I here in recent prints (namely on DVD), the there is a small edit concerning the fight scene in the beginning of the film. Damn you parents, us fans who saw it over two decades do not appreciate your complaining regarding cartoon violence! When I buy this film on DVD I expect it to be just as I saw it when I was but a child.