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Death Be Not Proud
To say that this movie surprised me more than any I have ever watched, is an understatement. Solaris is one of the best films ever made about the power of memory, the ways we deal with pain and the unknown, and how real love is transcendent.
The music and visuals (especially of Solaris itself) are hauntingly visceral in a way I can't even completely convey. The cast is dead on perfect. The story is a very simplified, economic version of the original (which in this case works just fine) and deals more with the human factor than the science. It's a shame that more people couldn't get into this movie and disliked it because it didn't meet their expectations of what a science fiction should be; Solaris dealt with consequence, love, perception, fear, reason, spirituality, and death in a way that some of the most brilliant pure dramas have never even come close to capturing.
This is one of the best sci-fi films ever made and hardly anyone seems to know about it. To call it underrated is an insult to an underrated movie. Solaris has been overlooked completely, even within the sci-fi community. Of those that did see it, many didn't really get what the film is about. (I blame the marketing campaign for that to some degree, trying to sell an action or horror sci-fi movie when this film was neither of those things.) They couldn't embrace the subtle, constant tension and unconventional, subversive, underlying themes.
Spiritual science fiction is one way to describe it. A haunting, hard journey of man facing his memory, his "sins" made flesh, literally. Solaris is painfully insightful about relationships and the way we remember events and people to a degree that again, words can't capture. The end of Kelvin's journey is something that people can talk about again and again, trying to figure out what really happened to him.
Did he ever finally get "home"?
A Devil's Due
This film (if we overlook the fact that it was handicapped from the beginning in terms of script, budget, and too many cooks in the kitchen), is a movie that was supposed to be the end of Ripley's journey through hell. It's not about a glorious last stand or starting her life over after the threat has past. It is the end of her long nightmare.
As Lance Henriksen points out on the commentary, "it's nihilism on top of nihilism, I didn't know who to care about..." There are no heroes on Fury, there are no innocents, just flawed, hard people awaiting their fate. Keeping Hicks or Newt (or Bishop) would have compromised that, that couldn't have had the same ending. This film could go only one place with these kinds of characters.
Alien 3 is all about the last ten minutes of the film, with her suicide to save humanity (and to finish the dance with her devil), and her transmission from the Nostromo (at the end of Alien) echoed, ending the series in an heartbreaking way. The moment the Nostromo lifted off from LV-426, everyone on board that ship was already dead. She was doomed from the beginning and in Alien 3, she finally realizes that on many levels.
Not saying I'm happy about certain things, but over time, the movie grew on me and ultimately I'm glad that they went the route that they did. It's a very dark film that was supposed to cap the series and I'm sort of sad the studio didn't just let it be (Resurrection was fine but even Joss Whedon regards it as a bad movie.) The film, to me, is unconventional by setting itself apart from great predecessors, instead of simply copying them. That took guts on Fincher's part and I respect that.
Alien 3 is a gritty, fatalistic movie that dared to show not every story about monsters has a happy ending.
The Man They Call Jayne
Firefly was easily the best sci fi show Fox developed aside from the X-Files. It had science fiction staples spaceships, laser pistols, and tech, but also a nice retro quality of frontier western speech, horses, and guns. The humor alone made this one of the best shows on television. The Joss Whedon ability to spin a familiar plot convention/line in a surprising direction and the top notch cast of talented and charismatic actors help make this cancelled science fiction Fox casualty a cult favorite and upcoming movie. While the discussion about why it was cancelled and who was to blame is up for debate, no one can argue 200,000 in DVD secondary market sales to date. Clearly, Firefly was a show that deserved a chance to shine and with it's incarnation next year as a film, will allow this phoenix to rise again.