Predators (2010)


After 5:00?  Damn.  Time to Go Rape Me Some Fine Bitches.

Because of Predator 2, I was extremely cautious about today’s movie.  We’ve seen many times in the past that sequels tend to decrease in quality, but I feel that cinema has also shown movies can occasionally reclaim a bit of their former glory when they’ve been removed for a few more years and no longer feel that they need to shove out a sequel while the original is still hot.  The sequels that try to capitalize on the original are usually rushed and terrible, but the other ones at least have a fighting chance.  We’ll find out what happened when they rolled the dice with Predators, written by Michael Finch, directed by Nimród Antal, and starring Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Danny Trejo, Laurence Fishburne, Derek Mears, Carey Jones, and Brian Steele.

A group of seemingly random people wake up to find themselves plummeting through the air towards an unfamiliar jungle.  MOST of their parachutes open.  When they finally come together, they introduce themselves as Royce (Adrien Brody), an ex-special ops soldier turned mercenary, Isabelle (Alice Braga), an IDF sniper, Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien), a Yakuza enforcer, Stans (Walton Goggins), a death row inmate, Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), a Spetsnaz soldier, Mombasa (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), a Revolutionary United Front officer, Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), a Mexican drug cartel enforcer, and Edwin (Topher Grace), a doctor.  Together, they find out that they’re actually on an alien planet, where they were all chosen to sharpen the skills of a group of Predators.  Also, there’s a crazy guy named Noland (Laurence Fishburne) that lives in the jungle after having survived an earlier season.

Predators is not without its problems, but I still felt like it was able to claim a decent enough chunk of the fun you can find in the first movie.  And, to its credit, it’s far superior to Predator 2.  The story is nothing super spectacular, but it never really has been in this series.  They’re all basically “Guy(s) fights a Predator(s)”.  That’s basically what you’re getting here too.  But it really doesn’t have a lot of stupid stuff going on in it.  That’s good for the enjoyment of a movie, but disappointing when my favorite thing to do is mock the movies.  It didn’t really give me that much ammunition, at least for this paragraph.  It didn’t try very hard in the story, the dialogue was mostly pretty basic, and they only attempt to surprise the audience a few times, and a few of them actually work.  It’s an action movie, pure and simple, and the action is pretty satisfying.  It’s mostly some good gunplay and some bits of the Predators being awesome, but that’s all I really want to see.  I did appreciate that it totally hits the ground running on the action, with the very first scene being Royce plummeting through the air.  And it keeps that fun going pretty much all the way through.

The characters of the movie gave me the most ammunition for jokes, though the performances themselves gave me no complaints.  The reason I found the characters so amusing is because so many of them were just stereotypes.  Take, for example, Nikolai.  He was a Russian!  WHAT?!  How long did they have to brainstorm to come up with that name?!  Speaking of which, Hanzo!  His character was also a stereotype.  In fact, it was more than one smashed together.  He was a Yakuza, but also exhibited signs of being both a ninja and a samurai, just like every Asian person.  For the first bulk of the movie, I was actually shocked that they didn’t give him a friggin’ katana to fight with … and then they did.  Danny Trejo was also a pretty stereotypical Mexican.  I mean in real life.  His character was too, though.  The African dude with the unpronounceable name (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali) seemed to basically be Joseph Kony, but much less of a monster.  Walton Goggins was a fairly basic white trash character as well.  Topher Grace’s character was the only one that had any kind of surprise to him.  Adrien Brody and Alice Braga didn’t really fit any particular stereotype for their race, but settled pretty nicely into the stereotypes of action movie characters.  Brody was a pretty typical gruff, raspy, mysterious action dude, and Braga was the tough chick, and more damsel in distress near the end of the movie.  And Laurence Fishburne was almost annoyingly over the top as his crazy character.

Predators has a pretty basic story and never really tries to be more than an action movie, but that’s not really a bad thing.  It knew what it was trying to do and it did it, and the movie was pretty fun and pretty fantastic to look at.  The characters were one-dimensional and usually stereotypical, but they were well performed.  Final verdict: the comparison between Predator and Predators is nowhere near the same as Alien and Aliens, and I’d say the original Predator is probably a little better, but Predators is pretty close, and way better than Predator 2.  Also, definitely worth a watch.  And, now that we’ve talked Aliens and Predators, I think we need to see what happens when they throw down against each other.  We’ll find out how that works out over the next two days, but for now, Predators gets “They’re bigger than us, stronger, but also heavier” out of “Looking good there, boss.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Predator 2 (1990)


You Can’t See the Eyes of the Demon, Until Him Come Callin’.

The awesomeness of Predator was bound to lead to at least one sequel.  It was inevitable.  And, as with most sequels, it was probably going to suck.  I’m positive that I’ve seen today’s movie before today, but I wouldn’t have been able to prove that from the DVD that I pulled from my DVD collection as it was still in its original packaging.  That’s not necessarily a damnation, but it’s certainly not a good sign that I would buy a movie and have no care to open it.  It’s actually somewhat typical for me because my OCD-like need to have complete series makes me want to buy all of the movies in a series, regardless of quality.  But, since I literally have no memory of this movie whatsoever, I can’t say for sure.  Until now, as I present my review of Predator 2, written by Jim and John Thomas, directed by Stephen Hopkins, and starring Danny Glover, Kevin Peter Hall, Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton, Gary Busey, Adam Baldwin, Robert Davi, Kent McCord, Morton Downey Jr., and Calvin Lockhart.

Los Angeles, in the near future of 1997, suffers from both a heat wave and a crime wave, as gangs rule the streets.  So, basically, their prediction of Los Angeles was right on the money.  The Columbians are winning a shootout with the police until a cop that plays by his own rules, Lieutenant Michael Harrigan (Danny Glover), shows up and pushes them back into a nearby building, where they are all subsequently slaughtered by an invisible and powerful threat (Kevin Peter Hall).  In the following days, this invisible predator takes out large groups of gang members, stringing them up and skinning them, and occasionally taking their skulls as trophies.  Every time Harrigan closes in on the creature, his progress is halted by Special Agent Peter Keyes (Gary Busey), who lays some jurisdiction on him to keep him at bay.  But that sounds like a rule, and Harrigan has his own set of those that he chooses to play by.  Especially when members of Harrigan’s team start falling victim to this invisible predator.

The biggest failing of this movie is its imagination.  It doesn’t have one.  It takes a creature that was fantastic in its originality and imagination and plops it down on the set of every other movie ever.  The only way you would be surprised by the things in this movie would be if this was the first movie you ever saw, and your parents would have a lot of explaining to do if this was what they chose to show you as your first movie.  I could name about 100 movies that starred the cop that played by his own rules, but got results.  And I would only stop at 100 because I got bored and depressed by the lack of creativity in cinema.  How about a cop that’s being held back by the Special Agent that has jurisdiction?  Well no one’s ever seen that before, but there’s no way he’s going to play by his own rules.  WHAT THE WHAT?!  He’s doin’ it!  Are you fuckin’ seeing this, man?!  What about this tough chick cop over here?  I doubt she’d ever grab a guy’s balls and squeeze to teach him a lesson.  Think of the sexual harassment lawsuits!  At a certain point, I started to just pay attention to the cliché’s that they kept going for and not paying to the story that was unimpressive on its own.  It’s not fun and it’s not interesting.  I think the biggest problem I have at a certain point is that I want the Predator to be the good guy.  The Predator’s awesome!  And, for the greater majority of the movie, he’s just killing gang members.  And I can’t even knock him that much for wanting to hunt humans.  I don’t particularly have anything against humans hunting animals, but I find it a lot more admirable when a man takes on a creature that actually has a chance at killing him.  Anyone could hunt bunny rabbits, but what about a lion?  Same thing.  You can’t judge the guy for wanting to hunt humans any more than you could judge a human for wanting to hunt animals.  This desire for the Predator to be a good guy made parts of the movie annoying, like when Detective Archuleta started falling through the roof and the Predator grabbed his ankle.  This mother fucker starts pulling his gun on the creature that just saved his life.  You deserved to die.  The Predator was about to kill a woman at one point until he let her live because she was pregnant.  See?!  He’s a good dude!  Stop trying to kill him and he’ll probably do right by you.  If you pick up his spear and use it to shove him off the roof with the broad side of it, he’ll throw down with you.  Also, were you aware that there was a pointy side to that spear?  The movie only had a happy ending because of the benevolence of the Predator species.  Glover would have been dead at the end of the movie if they weren’t.  On the other hand, he also decided to sample a little kid offering him candy so that he could later say it as the most random non-sequitur ever in the middle of a gunfight.  In the first movie, he sampled the Indian dude’s creepy laugh and used it at a very appropriate moment.  Offering candy to someone that’s shooting at him is just dumb.

Most of the look of the movie still holds up.  The infrared visuals take a step up so that they’re not as difficult to comprehend as they were in the first.  The Predator still looks awesome, regardless of his confusing dreadlocks.  They work for him, alright.  I’m not quite sure why they didn’t go for the obvious joke when the Predator was fighting the Jamaican gang with similar haircuts though.  They went for every other obvious thing.  It’s also nice that he has some new toys in his arsenal.  It never made that much sense that the supreme hunter has only 3 weapons in his arsenal: the wrist blades, the shoulder-mounted gun, and the self-destruct.  Now he has some projectiles, a spear, and a Frisbee of Death.  And the self-surgery he did in this movie was much more convincing.  There’s one point in the movie where we get to see the inside of the Predator’s ship and it got me wondering.  Did they already have plans to pit the Predators against the Aliens when this movie was made, or was it just a random kick to the balls that the Predator had a Xenomorph skull in his ship?

I can’t actually say I liked any of the performances in this movie.  Danny Glover annoyed the least, but all he really did was run around, sweat, and swear.  And, if I might say so, he’s probably getting too old for that.  Every other performance either failed to impress or was just bad.  Lines are delivered in a stilted and unrealistic fashion quite often.  I was also happy to realize that Bill Paxton has realized that he doesn’t have to be over the top manic in his performances anymore, as he was in this movie and Aliens.  He’s been a lot more mellow recently.

Predator 2 is not a good movie, but it’s fairly typical for a sequel in that regard.  I still like the character of the Predator, but everything else in this movie was piecemeal from every other cliché action movie.  Visually it was an improvement, but it failed in every other department.  And when you’re getting out-acted by Arnold Schwarzenegger, that’s a problem.  I wouldn’t call this worth a watch.  Just watch Predator twice instead.  Predator 2 gets “Shit happens” out of “I don’t think he gives a shit!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Predator (1987)


This Stuff Will Make You a God Damned Sexual Tyrannosaurus.

In my mind, my review of the Alien series would not be complete if I didn’t first review Alien vs. Predator.  Unlike even the worst Alien movies, AvP will probably give me a lot more to make fun of, being much lower in quality.  But I couldn’t just jump right into that movie either, because there’s another name in that title that I haven’t reviewed yet.  The first movie in this series is a classic sci-fi action movie but, as with many movies, I didn’t see it when it came out and I was a kid.  Without the nostalgia making it seem better than it actually is, was this movie able to hold up in the present?  We’ll find out in my review of Predator, written by Jim and John Thomas, directed by John McTiernan, and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kevin Peter Hall, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Sonny Landham, Jesse Ventura, Bill Duke, Richard Chaves, Shane Black, and R.G. Armstrong.

A group of mercenaries lead by Major Alan “Doesn’t my accent sound ‘Dutch’” Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is hired by his old military buddy, George Dillon (Carl Weathers), to rescue a captured presidential cabinet member from guerrilla forces in Val Verde.  When they get there, they find a downed helicopter and the skinned bodies of an Army Special Forces unit.  They take out a nearby rebel encampment, but soon start to realize that there’s something else in the jungle, hunting them with thermal vision, a laser gun, cloaking device, and dreadlocks.

This is a very cool sci-fi action flick.  It borders on cheesy in more than one occasion, but overall it still holds up as entirely kick ass.  One thing I got to thinking about is how much more interesting I probably would’ve found this movie on my first viewing, at least if I had no prior knowledge of what I was watching.  If you think about it, not knowing anything about the movie you would be caught completely off guard by the fact that it starts off as a pretty typical army type of movie that strangely keeps cutting back to something that’s watching them in infrared.  Not until almost the midway point do you actually find out that an alien is in the mix.  I like the way the movie unfolds, and I like how it concludes.  All of that Arnold stuff, caked in mud and fighting the alien with whatever he could assemble from the jungle.  Yeah, I know the Mythbusters proved that the mud wouldn’t actually mask his heat signature, but I’m still perfectly comfortable suspending my disbelief to enjoy it.  I laughed at the part where the black dude was unloading into the forest because he saw the Predator and the other guys on the team ran up and just started shooting at random, knowing nothing more than they were clearing out some foliage.  I did take a pretty big issue with one big logic loophole in the movie.  Arnold figures out pretty early on that the Predator wants a challenge, and even kicks the gun out of the girl’s hand because he won’t attack her if she’s unarmed and not a challenge.  Why the hell didn’t everyone just throw their guns down?  They would’ve all survived apparently!  There were some parts to the dialogue that I could take issue with because of their corniness, but it’s an Arnold movie from the 80s!  If I didn’t go in expecting some bad dialogue, then I was fooling myself.  When Arnold stuck a guy to a pole with his knife and he said, “Stick around,” I couldn’t help but think he was getting started really early for his pun-tacular role as Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin.  I also laughed when one of the soldiers was going off because of Harper’s death, saying, “You don’t understand how bad this thing is.  Whatever it is out there, it killed Harper!” because I thought to myself, “Yeah, and nothing’s killed Harper before!”  On a more positive note, I had completely forgotten where the quote that almost everyone includes in their Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions – “Get to tha choppa!” – came from, and it’s this movie.  I usually go with, “Get to the choppa, Danny!” which I believe is a mash up of this movie and Last Action Hero, but I’m okay with it.

The look of the movie is also pretty well done and mostly holds up.  I respect a time when explosions were actually happening on the set.  Also, the fake dead bodies were pretty well done.  They made a couple of odd choices with the look though.  Like right in the beginning, when Arnold and Carl Weathers shook hands and the camera focused a little too long on their rippling buffness.  On the other hand, if you’re a gay guy, they probably focus on it just long enough for you to tug one out.  And that’s not the only moment that a gay dude could spank to, so it’s got that goin’ for it.  Also, the part where the Predator was performing surgery on his wound, it was less than convincing and seemed more like he was just poking his wound with random items.

The performances were … a bunch of muscle bound dudes and at least one who spoke English as a second language.  What do you expect?  Arnold was indeed an action star and he does nothing to tarnish that in this movie.  As muscle bound as ever and he doesn’t try to act so there’s really not much to hold against him.  I preferred Jesse Ventura’s character though, just because of the ridiculous things he’d say, like when he called everyone a bunch of slack-jawed faggots because they wouldn’t try the chewing tobacco that studies have shown will make one a goddamned sexual tyrannosaur.  He also found himself far too strapped for time to have any left over to bleed, so that’s also a plus.  They also had a comic relief guy that I didn’t find that annoying, even though every single one of his jokes was about how big his girlfriend’s vagina was.

Predator definitely holds up.  It’s not the smartest movie ever, but it’s also not entirely dumb.  The story leads you in one direction before dropping an alien on you to make it science fiction, the action is still great fun to watch, and you just can’t expect much from the performances, and you’d be right.  But the movie is still great and still entirely watchable, even by today’s standards.  Predator gets “So you cooked up a story and dropped the six of us into a meat grinder?” out of “I ain’t got time to bleed.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Alien Resurrection (1997)


I’m the Monster’s Mother.

We’ve come to the conclusion of the Alien series, but not quite to the end of the movies that I’ll be reviewing that are like it.  I feel like the review series wouldn’t be complete if I neglected to review the film that finds out what happens when Aliens come up against Predators, which also means I should review Predator.  But that’ll come in the next couple of days.  Today is the final Alien movie, which I remember being fairly fond of for whatever reason, but Rotten Tomatoes still does not show this movie favor.  Who will be wrong?  Rotten Tomatoes, obviously, but I’ll write some words to explain why.  First, I’m awesome and always right.  Second, my review of Alien Resurrection, written by Joss Whedon, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Dan Hedaya, Brad Dourif, J.E. Freeman, Michael Wincott, Gary Dourdan, Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon, Kim Flowers, Raymond Cruz, and Leland Orser.

Since they killed Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in the previous movie, we’re going to have to be introduced to our new protagonist of the Alien series.  That comes in the form of Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) … wait … Cloning?  Oh movie…  You are the sillies.  Ellen Ripley has been cloned because humanity really wants to get its hands on the creature that seems to do nothing but kill them and her clone would have the queen in her chest.  They successfully clone her and remove the queen, but keep her alive for study because her DNA has been mixed up with that of the Xenomorph queen.  After a while, the crew of the mercenary ship called the Betty show up with a bunch of people in stasis for General Perez (Dan Hedaya), who wants to use the people as hosts for the aliens.  Unbeknownst to the crew of the Betty, their newest member and engineer Annalee Call (Winona Ryder), joined up with them to get onto the ship and kill Ripley and the alien menace, but she’s too late because the Xenomorphs have already escaped and gotten to what they do best.

I still like this movie.  It’s still not really comparable to Alien or Aliens, but it was lucky enough to follow Alien3, making it that much better in comparison.  Also, Joss Whedon wrote it, so it probably gets some love just for that.  Of course, I didn’t know that until this viewing and I still thought it was pretty good.  Once you get past the initial annoyance of the return of Ripley being based on cloning, you can let yourself enjoy the movie.  Sure, the cloning thing is a bit of an easy solution to a problem, but it also opens up for some things that I found interesting, like Ripley basically being a superhero with super strength, senses, and acidic blood.  It also opened the story up for some things that I didn’t dig on very much, like the hybrid alien.  Sure, it looked icky as hell, but the Xenomorphs are way scarier and far more badass-looking.  For instance, I’m going to be a little afraid of an alien with no nose and dripping white skin, but then I’m going to look down and see its tiny alien boobies that it has for some reason and I’ll probably be dying laughing.  And that’s not a good thing when the regular Xenomorphs look as awesome as they’ve ever looked in this movie.  They have never been constantly wetter.  The rest of the story kind of unfolds as you’d expect as this story seems like mostly Whedon’s love letter to the Alien series, but that also makes things less surprising.  One of the characters turns out to be a robot, the army in this one makes fun of the company for not being able to handle the Xenomorphs while making the same mistakes, Ripley’s going to win.  Not a whole lot of surprises, but it’s still got a lot of cool going on.  I liked the underwater scene where the group had to pass through an area underwater while being chased by a couple of Xenomorphs, for instance.  I also liked when one of the characters used the alien bursting out of his chest to kill someone.  And the way they defeat the last alien in the movie is pretty awesome, and extremely icky.  The way the Xenomorphs escape their captivity by sacrificing one of their own is also very clever.  I like when they make them smarter than your average monster, but I wasn’t that fond of the aliens pressing the red button that was once used to punish them to kill the soldier, as awesome looking as that death was.  It just doesn’t seem like their style.  They’re plenty good at killing without the use of buttons and liquid nitrogen.  Speaking of better ways to kill things, though I liked the emotional impact of the scene with all the failed Ripley clones, it seems like there are better and quicker ways to kill them than using a flamethrower.

Most of the performances were good in this movie.  I would say this is the movie where Sigourney Weaver brings Ripley to the full potential of badass.  She’s got superpowers and she knows it.  It’s kind of the opposite of how she was a badass in Aliens.  In this movie she never seems afraid, so she’s just a badass because she’s the toughest one in the room, where in Aliens she was just the toughest because she did what she had to even though she was afraid.  Still an interesting character though.  I also really liked Winona Ryder in this movie.  For my money, she’s never been hotter in any movie I’ve seen her in.  There’s something about that lady that is a little bit of alright.  Although her sexuality never really came into play in her performance.  Her performance was more about hating on someone for not being human, which is completely ironic given what we find out about her later.  I also liked Gary Dourdan’s character.  Sure, he did a lot of things that I’m sure the Mythbusters wouldn’t take kindly to, like crazy ricochet shots to kill people, but he was also pretty badass and had a great look as well.  I did get a little confused by his death though.  I mean, he just got a little acid burn on his face.  There was no reason he couldn’t grab back onto the ladder and live a little while longer.  There’s also no reason that he couldn’t survive the short fall into the water that apparently killed him for good.

Alien Resurrection was much better than Alien3, but still far inferior to Alien and Aliens.  The story is good once you get past the BS cloning thing, the look is good, the action is over the top and fun, and a lot of the performances are still solid.  It’s a somewhat acceptable end to the series, but of course I wouldn’t have minded another one.  But, at this point, they’d probably have to replace Ripley, and I don’t think I’m down for that.  It’ll do, I suppose.  Alien Resurrection gets “Ellen Ripley died trying to wipe this species out.  For all intents and purposes, she succeeded” out of “Must be a chick thing.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Alien3 (1992)


This is Rumor Control.  Here Are the Facts.

As I come towards the end of my reviews of the Alien series proper, I’ve been trying to remember if my dim recollection of the Alien series matches what I’ve been seeing in the scores on Rotten Tomatoes.  So far they’ve been spot on as they’ve rated Alien as awesome and Aliens as even better.  But when they come into Alien3 and Alien Resurrection, the scores drop below the 50% margin.  I don’t really remember hating the last two movies, though they do pale in comparison to the first two.  So let’s see how my recollection matches up to reality in my review of Alien3, written by David Glier, Walter Hill, and Larry Ferguson, directed by David Fincher, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Charles Dance, Charles S. Dutton, Brian Glover, Ralph Brown, Paul McGann, Danny Webb, Lance Henriksen, Pete Postlethwaite, Niall Buggy, Tom Woodruff Jr., Peter Guinness, and Holt McCallany.

On the Colonial Marine spaceship called the Sulaco, a movie writer unzips his fly and pisses right on everything we loved about Aliens, simultaneously killing Newt, Bishop, and Hicks before the opening credits have even stopped rolling.  The remaining survivor, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), crash lands on the prison planet of Fiorina ‘ Fury’ 161, where she’s rescued by the prison’s doctor, Clemens (Charles Dance).  The prisoners – particularly their religious leader Dillon (Charles S. Dutton) and the warden Harold Andrews (Brian Glover) – don’t like Ripley’s presence because it disrupts the calm of the all-male prison community, so the warden contacts the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, that quickly sends a vessel out to retrieve her.  Their calm is further disrupted when the Xenomorph eggs that were hidden aboard the Sulaco hatch, laying it’s egg in an ox and breeding a bull alien that starts wreaking havoc on the prisoners.

The way the title is usually written for this movie, they seem to be implying that this movie is Alien to the power of three, but is it?  Nope!  But is it that bad?  No, not really.  It has its problems, but it’s good enough for what it is.  It’s really got two main things working against it.  First, Alien and Aliens were amazing, making this one that much worse by comparison.  Second, not only was it worse than Aliens, but it destroyed some of what we liked about Aliens in the opening credits.  I’m pretty sure we all got to like Newt, Hicks, and Bishop, but then you killed them all off right away because you wanted to make a new movie and not pay them.  Or they didn’t want to come back.  Or whatever.  Maybe it was just as simple as their whole idea being the all-male prison colony and it not really being super appropriate to have a 10-year-old girl running around.  Whatever it was, it wasn’t really appreciated.  The only thing that could make it worse is if they killed Ripley … oh …  Another thing that could be considered a problem with this movie is the fact that the final third of the movie is just a bunch of people running around corridors, filmed in nauseating handheld cameras.  Other than that, it’s an okay movie.  I did like that the Xenomorph finally started living up to its name by taking on a different form because it had a different host, and the Bull Alien mostly looked pretty cool, but the CG available to them was pretty consistently awful.  The lighting never matched up and the creature stuck out like a sore thumb.  One thing I’ll give the movie credit for is that it has one of the most iconic scenes of the Alien series in it.  I think one of the first images that comes to mind when I think about the Alien series is the image of a bald-headed Ripley with the Xenomorph right next to her head, extending his second mouth, and that happens in this movie.

I don’t have a whole lot to say about the performances in this movie.  In some parts, Sigourney Weaver took Ripley to further levels of badassness in this movie, but I thought a couple of moments were just bitchy.  Take, for instance, when she decides she’s just going to walk around with the prisoners.  Sure, that shows that she’s badass because she’s not afraid of them, but the other half of that is her being a bitch.  The prisoners didn’t want her around because of the temptation.  They knew they were bad men and didn’t want to disrupt their harmony, but she’s going around flaunting herself to fuck with them.  Everyone else did their parts very well and are not to blame for the failings of this movie.

Alien 3 might have been a good movie if they just hadn’t named it “Alien”.  It brings down the quality ratio of the series pretty harshly because it just can’t live up to its predecessors.  The story would be more enjoyable if they didn’t choose to kill off pretty much all of our favorite characters, the design of the new Xenomorph was pretty great but lacked the CGI to display it, and the performances were good, but couldn’t really redeem it.  I still would say it’s worth a watch just because it’s a continuation of Ripley’s story, but I doubt it will find too much favor with Alien fans.  Alien3 gets “Don’t be afraid.  I’m part of the family” out of “But we tolerate anybody.  Even the intolerable.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Aliens (1986)


It’ll Be Dark Soon, and They Mostly Come at Night … Mostly.

Continuing onward in the series that should’ve lead up to Prometheus and I’m coming to realize that I have a bad memory.  Okay, I realized that a long time ago, but I’ve forgotten that by now.  When I got to thinking about the Alien series, I could only remember the vaguest of feelings towards them.  I remembered that I liked the first one, and I’m pretty sure that I liked the second one.  But when I got to thinking about it I began to think that the sequel may have just been pretty much a remake of the original, but this time with a bigger budget.  But that couldn’t be right, could it?  We’ll find out today in my review of Aliens, written and directed by James Cameron, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Carrie Henn, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, William Hope, Al Matthews, Mark Rolston, and Colette Hiller.

Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is found on her rescue vessel after drifting for 57 years in stasis.  Being one of the only survivors of the destruction of the space freighter, the Nostromo, after its invasion by an alien creature – the other survivor being her cat – is something to be proud of, but her employer, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, quickly deflates her with tales of how her daughter died already (at the ripe old age of 66) and that she’s losing her flight license because they don’t believe her nonsense about aliens.  They start believing when a terraforming colony on LV-426 comes across the Xenomorph eggs and subsequently disappear.  A representative of the company, Carter Burke (Paul Reiser), and a Colonial Marine, Lieutenant Gorman (William Hope), approach Ripley to get her to join them in investigating the distress signal from the colony, but are met with a detailed instruction manual on where to sit, what to sit on, and which direction to spin.  Realizing that her nightmares will never relent if she hides from her fear, she begrudgingly agrees to go, so long as their mission is to kill the creatures and not study them.

Aliens is definitely the best movie in the Alien series.  And I was wrong: it’s not just a remake of the first movie, but this time with more money.  It’s similar in the basic idea, but it’s amped up and infused with plenty of things that set it apart.  It kind of changes its theme a little bit.  Alien was a sci-fi horror movie, and this one is more of a classic sci-fi action movie, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Especially when the movie goes full throttle for the greater majority of the movie.  It starts off with the basic setup, which is necessary because you would desperately need to answer the important question: Why would Ripley allow herself to be taken back into this situation?  It gets answered with Ripley’s own desire to put her nightmares away by facing her fears so she doesn’t have to wake up sweaty and rubbing her boobs every night, and with her need to show that she wasn’t imagining the situation to the company that revoked her license.  Probably a little bit for the safety of the colony too.  This first part of the movie is a little slow, but it’s entirely acceptable.  Setup is necessary in the movie, so you really didn’t need to throw in the scene of Ripley dreaming that she was having one of the creatures burst through her chest, just to get a bit of an easy thrill in the early stages of the movie without actually having to commit to anything by making it a dream.  But then she gets on the ship with the roughnecks and the movie remains on a steady stream of awesome all the way through.  The look of the movie maintains its quality, and indeed amps it up in most parts.  When looking at some of the CG, I was reminded of talks when the movie Avatar came out about how some of the vehicles in that movie looked so much like the ones in this movie, those critics apparently forgetting the fact that the movies were written and directed by the same guy.  I would say one criticism I had for the look was the automated turrets.  I can understand that all movies have limits to their budgets to work around, and that might make them show exciting action scenes where turrets are blasting down hordes of aliens by only showing us the ammo count on a computer screen, but it’s also entirely possible that the movie would not have changed much at all if you just left the scene out entirely.

The performances in the movie were good, but I didn’t necessarily like all of them.  Sigourney Weaver is well on her way to making Ellen Ripley the super badass that she becomes.  She’s still not quite reached her badass potential yet though, as she still seems terrified as she’s doing the badass things she’s doing.  On the other hand, for a character to be afraid but still do the badass stuff could potentially be more badass.  Of course, she never reached the level of fear that other characters (namely Bill Paxton) did, so it’s still a cool contrast that the woman character is stronger than most of the male characters.  They also have Jenette Goldstein, who is practically a man, and I’m pretty sure she must’ve been Michelle Rodriguez’ mom or something.  And I just found out that Weaver got nominated for an Academy Award for this movie, which is just awesome, even if she didn’t win.  I also love me some Michael Biehn, and he’s the male protagonist of the movie.  This guy has had some career, even though I wouldn’t consider him a household name.  The guy was Johnny Ringo, he was the sperm behind John Connor in the Terminator franchise, and he was a couple moments of downtime away from knocking boots with Ellen Ripley.  Carrie Henn was also a great character as Newt, the little girl who survived the Xenomorph infestation.  She was naïve and cute when we were supposed to be growing attached to her, but she was also more mature than her age would suggest because of the things she had seen, like when she told Ripley that her doll couldn’t have dreams because it was just a piece of plastic.  Paul Reiser was a very unlikeable character, but that’s what he was supposed to be.  He was likeable on the surface, but a giant piece of shit underneath, and I was thrilled that he got what was coming to him.

Though the first movie was great for its minimalist approach, Aliens takes the same premise and pushes it over the top with some great action, great characters, and the fantastic performances to pull it off.  I would say this movie is easily the best movie in the Alien franchise, which says a lot because Alien was a great movie itself.  Both Alien and Aliens are required in any respectable movie collection.  Aliens gets “My mommy always said there were no monsters – no real ones – but there are” out of “I like to keep this handy … for close encounters.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Alien (1979)


I Can’t Lie to You About Your Chances, But … You Have My Sympathies.

When I reviewed Prometheus, I was a little bummed out that I was not able to review the movies that made that movie possible.  I always review the movies in order!  But, Prometheus was so spur of the moment that I didn’t have the time to review 4 – and possibly up to 9, if you count the Predator series that later became intertwined – movies.  Though I can’t fix that problem anymore, I can still review the movies now.  Most people are entirely familiar with these movies, and I would probably consider at least two of these movies to be in my favorite science fiction films of all time.  In fact, I probably would’ve called the second movie my favorite if I wasn’t holding off the review until I could review Prometheus.  But reviewing these movies after Prometheus has a hidden benefit in that I can now go into today’s movie with an eye towards what happened in the prequel.  So let’s get into it with my review of Alien, written by Dan O’Bannon, directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm, John Hurt, Harry Dean Stanton, Yaphet Kotto, Veronica Cartwright, Bolaji Badejo, and Helen Horton.

The commercial towing spaceship called the Nostromo has been rerouted from their trip back to Earth by their ship’s computer that they call Mother (voice of Helen Horton).  They’re told by Mother that their orders are to investigate a transmission from a nearby planetoid (later known as LV-426).  They land on the planet and 3 of the crew members – Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Executive Officer Kane (John Hurt), and Navigator Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) – go to investigate, with Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Science Officer Ash (Ian Holm) monitoring from the ship and Engineers Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) and Parker (Yaphet Kotto) making repairs to the ship.  It’s not long before Dallas, Kane, and Lambert come across a derelict alien aircraft.  On further inspection, Kane comes across a room full of eggs, one of which opens up when he gets too close.  Back at the ship, the three crew members return because Kane got some alien creature making sweet love to his face.  Ripley refuses to let them in because of quarantine procedures, but Ash lets them in anyway.

Though it’s true that this movie has aged somewhat, it still completely holds up.  The story is fairly simple in that it’s not a whole lot beyond a horror movie with an alien in it.  The story points are also simple: land, get infected, hunt alien, all die.  Even had it underlined.  No one gets that but me…  What elevates those pretty basic story points is the imaginative ways they happen, and the fact that they’re vaguely sexual.  I had never thought about it before, but something on the bottom of the Wikipedia page shows that sometimes people read way too much into these movies.  They talk about how the facehugger represents male rape because it forces itself onto something’s face, jams it’s alien penis down the throat, lays a baby in the belly, and then it pops out as another phallic looking creature.  I never read this much into the movie, and I recommend you don’t either.  I’m sure the people making the movie weren’t intending to make a commentary on rape as much as they were trying to make an alien movie.

After having seen Prometheus, I did take notice of the fact that the derelict ship did look the same as the one in this movie, but it also can’t really be the same one as best I can guess.  The pilot of the derelict ship definitely looks as it did in Prometheus, but it had a pilot that was in the pilot’s chair and had one of the creatures burst out of its chest, unlike in Prometheus, so it must’ve been a different one.  The look of this movie, though it can’t possibly live up to Prometheus, still holds up.  It’s still designed by H.R. Giger, so it still looks really creepy and gothic.  The movie had to make up for its limitations by making the movie really dark, but it also helped for the creepiness that comes with not knowing where this thing was coming from.  The darkness also helps hide the fact that the Xenomorph itself does not usually look very good.  It’s pretty obviously just a guy in a suit, but they keep that from becoming a problem by having it be hidden most of the time.  I really liked the part where it was hidden in the ship because of how well it blended in before it was time for it to come out.  In contrast, the facehugger still definitely works.  That little bastard makes my skin crawl every time, whether it’s still alive and clinging to a guy’s face or when it’s dead and splayed out.  It’s part spider, part snake, and part deep-throating penis; three of the things I’m most afraid of in life.

The thing I respect most about this movie is the fact that the woman character is not the typical damsel in distress character.  Sigourney Weaver isn’t quite playing Ripley up to her badass potential yet in this movie, but she’s on her way, especially near the end.  At first the biggest badass move is making the very unpopular decision to not let the infected guy onto the ship.  Sure, he got in anyway and Ripley got slapped in the face for it, but she could’ve had loads of “told you so” time that she didn’t take advantage of.  And sure, it was pretty fuckin’ stupid to make such an effort to save a stupid cat.  I love my cats just fine, but if there’s a Xenomorph between me and my cats then I’m about to save some money on cat food.  Even though she saves the cat, she gets to be fairly badass near the end of the movie, and that’s very respectable since it was not that common at the time for women to be anything other than distressed damsels and sex symbols.  …Okay, they do get her into her underwear for no particular reason but it’s a step in the right direction.  I never really liked Ian Holm in this role, but I suppose that’s what he was going for.  I think I just thought he made some odd decisions.  For instance, don’t you think there are better ways to kill someone than trying to stuff a magazine into their mouth?  I mean, you can still breathe through a rolled up magazine, so you really weren’t doing much other than mouth raping her with a copy of Seventeen.  Damned Wikipedia page got me mentally fixated on mouth rape!  Also, I’m not sure why the choice was made to defend himself against Yaphet Kotto by grabbing a handful of his man tittie.

Though I would say there were things that could’ve been done better, Alien is still a great movie that entirely holds up.  The story is arguably basic, but it’s still told in a fairly creative and imaginative way, and the look is still very gothic and the facehuggers still make my skin crawl.  And they know that no creature could be scarier than the audience’s imagination, so they don’t show it very much and let us get used to it.  And though she’s not quite there yet, a certain character in this movie is well on her way to going down in history as one of movie’s biggest badasses.  There’s no logical reason that everyone in this world hasn’t already seen this movie, so fix the problem if you haven’t yet.  Alien gets “Mouth rape!” out of “We Ain’t Outta Here in Ten Minutes, We Won’t Need No Rocket to Fly Through Space.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.