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Can't be from the Strause bros. if it hasn't a pregnant woman being raped!
'Skyline', one of the latest films in the 'Alien invasion' genre, maintains completely all the defects of the first film directed by the Brothers Strause, sometimes emphasized, sometimes dwarfed. Dull, uninteresting and failed-at-development characters (with some admittedly good actors, David Zayas namely, that weren't really told to act), big creature action, and of course rape on pregnant women. It can't be a Strause Bros. film if there's not a disgusting and monstrous alien creature raping a pregnant woman, now can it? Of course it can't. So, while we have the Predator-Alien hybrid raping a pregnant woman in 'Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem', in 'Skyline' we have instead a multi-tentacled Alien Monster raping a pregnant woman. Ooh, sounds familiar. This film is, fundamentally, the malformed clone of the malformed clone of the malformed clone of the malformed clone of the bastard child from a threesome between 'Indepencence Day', 'War of the Worlds' and 'Cloverfield'. 'Independence Day' was, admittedly and fundamentally, 50s UFO sci-fi common things mixed with Roland Emmerich's own ideas. The formula was successful. 'Skyline''s was not. It begins, after a very short prologue (which position doesn't make much sense narratively, but oh, it's the Strause Bros.) much like 'Cloverfield' with a rather boring, as aforementioned, continuous character development, curiously going in sequences, that always start with a pop/rock song fading into the soundtrack. Then BOOM, Aliens! And the action kicks in. Soooo much Alien action. So much predictable, predictable Alien action. One could foresee the giant Alien creature stomping on the car moments before it happens. Oh, and then there comes the icing on the cake. The ending. 'Skyline''s ending was... an ending? Like, it ended the film? Really? That sequence was the ending? Ah yes. Just demonstrates how incredibly frail the structure of the film is. And the ridiculous end credits just reinforced the strong impression the film gave throughout its duration - it's a special effects showcase. Much like 'It came from beneath the Sea', but in a much, much worse manner, 'Skyline' is just a film made to showcase well made special effects. You know when haters of certain blockbuster films say 'there's no plot, it's all special effects and explosions'? Forget saying that to films such as 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen' or 'Avatar', 'Skyline' is the very definition of a special effects showcase which has nothing else going for it. The CGI in this film was quite admittedly stunning. Incredibly good effects, combined with the very nice and fresh designs on the part of Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis contributed to the only real nice side of the film, that being the visual one. No, wait, there was another nice thing. The brain-eating Aliens is a nice reference to old Science-Fiction features depicting them as such, even if in Skyline it was taken to an extreme. And that's it.
Surprisingly good, above the Straight-to-DVD Average
Director Eduardo Sanchez, well known for The Blair Witch Project, directs this film made directly for the DVD merchandise, which talks about a group of men that share one same event in their life: they have been abducted by an Alien species that captured them while they were on a hunt, and killed one of the group. While they had the chance to prove they were abducted, one of them, Wyatt, disproved everything and the story sinked in oblivion. Many years later, three of them succeed in capturing one of those vicious creatures. Because of this, they get themselves chased by the rest of the Aliens - and are forced to seek for help. They go to Wyatt himself, who, after his close encounters, has bought a house, customizing it with measures for eventual attacks. And there it begins. The Alien, chained, is brought inside and thus abducted, in a way. The bad news is that this Monster has psychic abilities (It can control the mind of a person after a long eye-to-eye glance) and its bite causes progressing necrosis, and as even worse news, it freed itself from the chains and caused a blackout. The film from this point progresses with a growing tension, a bit ruined by the obvious gore (always present in straight-to-DVD Horror flicks), really forced in some cases, like when Otis is gutted and the Alien tends the intestines across the room, trying to put an organic tracking device, or the progressing decomposing flesh of Cody. The characters are decently built mainly through dialogue referring to past events (which most of the film's plot is built around), the pacing is good and the creature effects are excellent despite the low budget. The Alien has an interesting design and indeed contributes to the overall tense and creepy tone of the film. Recommended for those who are experienced with Monster Movies.
A good sequel
Predators is the long awaited (from the fans at least) sequel of the Predator Series, produced by Robert Rodgriguez and directed by Nimrod Antal. The film starts out in a good, yet somewhat confusing way. We are instantly introduced to a falling Adrien Brody which parachute activates just in time to save him. Then we are introduced to Machet...*cough* Cuchillo and quickly, to 90% of the characters of the film. This was a bit difficult, because you have entirely to rely on your personal memory to distinguish them. The script is really weak on this point, also because half of the characters don't even introduce themselves before being killed (Cuchillo-Mombasa-Hanzo-Edwin), and the two main characters reveal their names at the very end. It would cost much to Royce telling his name earlier when Isabelle asked it to him uh? Anyway Brody (and his nose...) led a good, solid cast that took the film seriously, in contrast to *coff* AvPR's cast... Fishbourne was truly fantastic as the schizophrenic Noland. Too bad we don't see much of him as he is killed like, some minutes after he is introduced, and in a really gruesome way. Loved the "Hound" sequence. It was strange and intense in the same way. Really gory also. But let me get this straight on this point - Predators wants to be brutal anytime it could. We see Hounds exploding, Mombasa impaled through the chest, Stan's spine and skull ripped off straight on screen, and Nolan going boom in an incredible CGI showoff of brains, blood and internal organs. Both CGI and practical effects were good - particularly the later. KNB Efx's Animatronics were fantastic and incredibly realistic. Their attempt at recreating the original Predator design, apart maybe from the closing mandibles, was truly excellent. The new design made for the Black Super Predator is cool, although as some of you may know it will always be for me the Black super Squid . The suits were all fantastic, and I truly liked the new mask designs. Regarding the "Species conflict" I can't help but have the same feeling I had while watching Jurassic Park III, when the two Predators battled. It comes clear that Rodriguez (or whoever truly is behind the film) wanted with this film to introduce the new predominant Villain that takes the place of the older and brutally kills it (as did the Spinosaurus in JPIII). I am far from being *that* type of fan; anyway I can't help myself, it felt a bit forced. The battle anyway was handled very well on screen, although I preferred the sword fight that happened earlier (my favorite scene from the film). Though, they truly need to come up with more original demises for the main monsters. I mean, decapitation? That's old as Monster-Movie making itself. That said, Royce mangling out the Black super Predator was truly epic. He brutally torn it to shreds. Another thing I can't help but notice is that instead of ignoring P2/AvP films (as Robert Rodriguez stated in some interviews, Predators instead goes in the opposite direction, with the phrase "Enemy of my Enemy is my friend" being a start. Or the multiple visions, or the shooting wrist blades. In he end anyway, a good sequel, recommended to the ones who enjoyed the past installations in the Predator series.
The best Monster Movie of the last decade
The Host is a 2006 Korean film, directed by Bong Joon-Ho. The film starts out as the classic Monster StoryTelling, alas an error committed by human injures nature, and because of this, a terror under the shape of a murderous creature appears, to seek revenge. The monster is indeed well introduced, with a first mysterious appearance of a young creature, that is never actually shown on screen because of the shots, and then with a man committing suicide because he has seen "something dark" in the water. He's probably the same man who assisted the Doctor that ordered to dump Formaldehyde. What does indeed render The Host unique in its genre, is how this concept is later developed. The Monster itself in the end is somewhat a secondary part of the story, because in this film, the storyline is focused mainly on the human protagonists; a family that has just lost one beloved member, young Hyun-Seo (played with great skill by Ko Ah-Seong, who has been complimented even by the director himself), kidnapped and dragged into the Han River by the Monster. She is believed to be dead until a mysterious phone call is received by the half-retarded (not kidding) Protagonist Gang-Du. The family then starts seeking for the young girl, but is blocked because the creature seems to bring a deadly virus (that in reality doesn't exist, and is only a device used by the US Government), and hence they have been in the area devastated by it (Gang-Du has even attacked it resulting in some blood sprayed on his face), they are put under quarantine. They however manage to escape thanks to mercenaries hired by Hee-Bong. At this point their desperate research for Hyun-Seo begins. It turns out she is trapped in the sewers of the city, in a location that could be called the "storeroom" of the Monster since it lays here the captured preys only to consume them later. The scenes in which this location is featured are not much gory as one would imagine - but are indeed somewhat disturbing, especially when Gwoemul begins to vomit (literally) the bare bones of its past victims, creating what could be described as a "Death Fountain", and is indeed the major disturbing factor of the film. In the end the creature is killed by Gang-Du, but not before he has to acknowledge the death of his daughter, that sacrificed herself to save a kid, Se-Jo. The Monster, called Gwoemul during production (this would later become the original title of the film), is a gigantic mutant catfish, estimated to be the size of a whole truck, that has a complex Mouth Apparate, similar for those who have seen the films, to the Carnivore Plant in Jumanji, or, more strikingly, the Sandworms from Dune or the Graboids from Tremors. It has three-four claws on each toe of its main limbs, which are used for locomotion, and a row of Fins on the back. The most striking detail is the asymmetry given by what seems to be a developed bladder on the monster's left eye. A very good design indeed, that is portrayed on screen almost perfectly through CGI, created by the Orphanage, and Practical Animatronics effects, built by the well-known Weta Workshop, which also worked on the Lord of the Ring Trilogy and King Kong (2005). The Korean Cast does a great dramatic (if sarcastic) performance and definitely triumphs over the lifeless cast of Dragon Wars (another Korean films which doesn't use national actors as the main characters), the Big-Budgeted Korean Monster Film that came just one year later. The Host is one of those rare Monster Films that almost reach perfection, and is definitely suggested for those who search a monster crossed with a good dramatic plot, a rare event nowadays.
Size Does Matter
Godzilla is the 1998 remake of the old, classic and loved 1954 Japanese masterpiece, called originally Gojira, and later transliterated as Godzilla. As the original, the basic plot is pretty simple, on the model established since The Beast from 20.000 Fathoms, the first ever film to feature an "Atomic Monster"; this time, a nest of a non-identified Reptile (universally recognized as an Iguana, although there's little to no actual proof shown in the film) is accidentally shoved off with a nuclear bomb during the Experiments done upon the French Polynesia in 1995-1996, resulting in an embryo mutating into a 50 meters tall Dinosaur-Esquire Monster, that leads to the Big Apple.
The new Godzilla is designed by the Tatopoulos Man himself, the one great man behind Monsters such as the Pitch Black Creatures, The Cave Mutants and the Werewolves from Underworld. No wonder, Tatopoulos did a really great job with his vision of Godzilla. He made a fresh, imposing design while respecting what made the original great. This take on Godzilla looks noble, somewhat like a Dragon (not in case since it was the intention), with all those spikes and rock-like textures. The Monster was brought to life through a mix of Computer Generated Effects, done by Centropolis, and practical Animatronics, created by Tatopoulos Studios in collaboration with KNB EFX. I still have a hard time telling which is which in some shots, especially with the new Blu-Ray release which is astounding. The primeval Beast was agile and graceful on screen. The Actors chosen as the cast are good ones, especially Hank Hazaria. Charismatic as usual Mr. Reno. Sympathetic Broderick. The whole film is a sharp piece of Entertainment, maybe the best delivered from Roland Emmerich.
On the controversy... At a certain point of the film the protagonists discover that the creature has nested (it reproduces asexually) in no less than the Madison Square Garden. Totally a case, the eggs hatch right after they arrive. Being what they are, the newborns eat fish just like their parent, but seeing the people have walked on their food all along, they smell like fish and so the babies begin to chase them. This is sort of a reason to compare (thus downgrade) the little Godzillas to the Jurassic Park Velociraptors. Quite honestly, the only possible similarities can be found in the physical aspects, because the two creatures behave a whole bunch differently. While the former ones are intelligent strategists that rely on ambush to capture their prey, the latter ones are chaotic and stupid beings which just go after food and nothing else. But hey, those are newborns, what do we have to expect? Those ain't adults. Besides that, the original series did have representation of Young Godzillas - In particular it should be noted that Godzilla Vs. MechaGodzilla II features as well a Baby Godzilla the size of humans, exactly like in the remake. So, this is simply a new take on the Baby, what's the problem?
The main issue most Godzilla fans have with this film is indeed that the creature is different than the original, that the anti-nuclear message with this Picture was practically flushed away, and that the monster dies. I see where they come from, but what has to be understood with this film is that this is a remake. Remake means remake, not sequel or reboot. Remake means re-conception, and this is exactly what this Godzilla is: a re-imagining of the Japanese Icon. Apparently different, but close in the heart. With recent visions I spotted some nice homages to the original films (particularily to The Return of Godzilla), along with other references to Alien, Jaws, Alligator, The Beast from 20.000 Fathoms and a bunch more film. The remake uses a similar choice to the 1986 The Fly, with the same basic plot as the original but with a brand new develop and execution. Both films are different from what they come from, but are still two fresh and innovating films. This is in fact the reason on which true remakes are made: have a different take on the subject and see how it turns out. Films like Quarantine (remake of REC) are useless because they bring nothing new to the Cinematography Mythos. Besides this, Godzilla died 2 times during his career, and bitching about him dying by 12 missiles that in a such smaller quantity blew up nothing less than the Madison Square Garden is pointless if you ask me. Regarding the origin, it's practically the same, and the anti-nuclear message is still here. In particular, Jean Reno signed on this film properly because it had an ecologist metaphor. The success of the film at the box-office, despite the tremendous fan backlash was a good thing for TOHO, since it produced a new film the year right after, called Godzilla 2000. It should be noted that in this film, Godzilla is much more reptilian and there are a lot of scenes that remind of the 1998 remake. This ain't a case I bet. Anyway, in Godzilla Final Wars, there appears a monster similar to the American Godzilla - called Zilla, because according to director Ryuhei Kitamura, the American remake "Took the God out of Godzilla" (?). This new monster however should not be confused with the American Godzilla because there are some substantial differences - it is a reference, more like a spoof, but not the same creature.
I feel this movie is truly underrated. It really isn't bad - it is a classic story infused into a modern film, and because of this I feel it should be respected more. It got a lot of new fans into the franchise and made TOHO spawn yet another series of its films, not to mention the sweet Animated Series that acted as a sequel. Just see it with an open mind, and you'll enjoy it more.