Leviathan (1989)

Talk About Having a Bad Day…

I really have no idea what inspired me to put today’s movie in my Netflix queue.  It wasn’t requested and I’ve never heard of it.  I know a couple of people that starred in the movie, but none of them would ever drive me to watch it.  My best guess was that Netflix recommended it to me based on my love of either the Abyss or Sphere and it decided, “Oh, he likes movies that happen underwater.”  Well, they were wrong.  I like GOOD movies that take place underwater just fine, but this movie wasn’t even well reviewed.  Netflix didn’t even think that I would like it, thinking that I’d give it a 2.5 out of 5.  Were they right?  Let’s find out as I randomly review Leviathan, written by David Peoples and Jeb Stuart, directed by George Pan Cosmatos, and starring Peter Weller, Amanda Pays, Ernie Hudson, Richard Crenna, Meg Foster, Hector Elizondo, Michael Carmine, Lisa Eilbacher, and Daniel Stern.

A mining crew run by Steven Beck (Peter Weller) is ahead of schedule in their underwater mining until one of their group named Buzz ‘Sixpack’ Parrish (Daniel Stern) discovers a wrecked ship called the Leviathan.  He brings back a safe he found on board for the crew to loot, but he pockets a flask for himself.  The ship’s doctor, Dr. Glen Thompson (Richard Crenna), finds a series of files marked “Deceased” amongst the findings, as well as a video tape that shows that something bad happened on the ship, but not what.  I suppose we could’ve reached that conclusion from the wrecked ship.  Something always goes wrong on a wrecked ship.  Sixpack shares the contents of the flask he found with crewmate Bridget Bowman (Lisa Eilbacher) later that day.  Shortly after that, Sixpack develops a rash and a strange, scaly skin condition and dies shortly after that.  The doctor decides he needs to examine the crew to make sure no one else is infected, and more specifically Elizabeth ‘Willie’ Williams (Amanda Pays), who was the one that retrieved Sixpack from the ship.  She’s fine, but Bowman starts showing signs of infection as well.  While Willie and Justin Jones (Ernie Hudson) go to retrieve the doctor, Bowman stumbles upon Sixpack, whose infection has continued after his death and started turning him into a strange creature.  She kills herself so she doesn’t go down the same path.  The infection continues as Bowman and Sixpack’s bodies start to fuse together into a creature, threatening the lives of everyone else on the ship.

This movie sucked all up on them balls.  It’s a super basic story that steals from anything and everything that it can while simultaneously being completely stupid, poorly crafted, and filled to the brim with actors who did not seem to want to participate.  As always, I will first mock the story.  It was the balls.  It’s poorly written and completely obvious in every way but worse still is that it can’t seem to decide what kind of monster movie it wants to be.  The first problem is the infection that turns people into zombies after they die.  But that zombie creature likes blood, apparently.  So now it’s a vampire movie.  But it’s also a hive mind, so is it an alien now, or just a science gone bad type of thing?  I’ll tell you what it is: it’s a rip off of better movies.  You got some Abyss in there; you’ve got a lot of The Thing in there, and then various things from whatever monster movie they felt they could cram in there.  For other movie clichés, you also have the group of people that are right on the border of going home, and we all know nothing bad ever happens to people that are so close to retirement.  There’s also plenty of stuff in the movie that are just stupid.  I thought it was dumb that everyone in the movie got so mad at the doctor in the beginning of the movie because he wasn’t in the command center when something went wrong with DeJesus’ suit while he was in the water.  What the hell was he supposed to do that Beck couldn’t?  And he lived anyway, so fuck off.  Later, when they are putting the creature in the airlock to send it out into the ocean, one of its limbs gets obviously cut off.  Why didn’t they jettison this as well?  When that same creature scratched Cobb’s chest, how did they not think to keep an eye on him for when he inevitably became infected himself?  When the corrupt company said they couldn’t pick up the crew because a hurricane was coming, why did they not think to even check on the surface weather themselves after they all already showed that they were suspicious of them, and showed that they had the ability to do it?  They didn’t figure that one out until the last ten minutes of the movie.

All these things make this movie super obvious.  You can see everything coming from a mile away.  When Sixpack and Bowman drink from the flask, you know it will start the troubles.  When they blatantly ignore the severed limb of the creature, you’re sure it will return.  When Cobb gets scratched, you now he’ll be infected.  When Jones and DeJesus decide to work on a puzzle together and he strangely goes into the next room and puts on headphones, you know that DeJesus is not long for this world.  That one was so blatant it made me angry.  Why would he agree to put a puzzle together and put on headphones as he got set up for it?  Did he just really want to hear about 30 seconds of his favorite song, or were they just obviously having the background noise blocked out for him so DeJesus could meet his demise?  The whole weather thing was completely obvious as well, and turned out exactly as I expected.  I predicted it so much sooner than the people in the movie that so much time had passed by the time they actually decided to check on it that I started to believe they weren’t going that way.  Then they did.  The ending of the movie fit spectacularly in with the rest of the movie by also being a pile of shit.  Having their escape pods lost to them, they just hop in their suits and have balloons drag them up to the surface.  Then, someone that knows the slightest thing about how the ocean works must’ve informed them that they would die without decompression (or they just watched the Abyss again to see if there was anything else they could steal) and fixed that problem by having the display on their suits say, “Decompression,” in big red letters.  All better.  Then, they’re up in the water, about to be rescued by a helicopter, and they decide to just throw one more thing in by randomly having a shark come in their vicinity.  They said it was trying to attack, but it didn’t seem that interested.  I guess I can’t be that bothered by this because they opened the movie the same way, trying to throw some “exciting” or “suspenseful” moment in that had nothing to do with the story and was just a random attempt to get their audience interested.  So, fuck you, movie.

I was extremely confused by the look of this movie.  When the opening credits were rolling, I saw that Stan Winston did the creature effects for the movie.  I thought to myself, “Hey, I know that name.  So at least this movie will have something going for it.”  I was wrong.  He must’ve just knocked out the creatures for this over a weekend.  They were all super goofy looking.  The first one that occurred to me was the little spider thing early on.  I thought it might have been a facehugger at first, but then I realized that it didn’t have a tail, or the ability to articulate its limbs.  It was about as effective as putting a rubber spider on the end of a stick and bouncing it up and down on the floor.  They could’ve opted for strings instead.  Later, when the creature’s limb was cut off, it split about three inches away from the point where the compression was happening.  Near the end, I started to wonder why they weren’t showing the creature full on.  Was it to create suspense?  To let our imaginations run wild?  Or because it looked like a retarded walking fish?  Probably that last one.

None of the performances in this movie were any good.  I recognize at least a few of them as decent enough actors, but I got the feeling that they were all aware that the movie they were in was a piece of shit.  Peter Weller seemed completely bored by the movie, and barely entertained the notion of emoting.  At the end of the movie, when only he and Willie survived to be greeted by the Martin (Meg Foster), the woman who owned the company that sent them down there and also decided to lie to them about their possibility of evacuation, I thought the movie couldn’t get any worse.  Then Peter Weller punches this woman in the face … and the movie won me back.  Excellent movie!  But seriously, is that what you want our hero to do?  Punch a woman in the face?  Yeah, she was a bitch and tried to leave them to their death, but you also had Willie standing right there.  Let her punch the bitch in the face.  No harm, no foul.  Ernie Hudson never did anything to impress in the movie, and Daniel Stern only annoyed the piss out of me.  Thankfully, he was the first one to die.  But before that, all he did was semi-constantly bang his dick against the two girls on the vessel, both of which just grinned and took it like a good, subservient woman should.  His only personality trait was being horny all the time, and not at all afraid to show it.  Speaking of which, I got really bummed out when Lisa Eilbacher killed herself in the movie, but only because I was sure she was the only chance I had of seeing boobs.  Both of the girls in the movie were hot, but Amanda Pays’ character was being obviously set up as the heroine, so we’d only see her naked if they did some unrealistic “let’s fuck because we’re about to die” thing with Beck.  When Eilbacher died, I knew there would be nothing in this movie at all for me.

Leviathan sucked.  It sucked out loud, in stereo surround sound.  The story was just a blatant cash grab, stealing from far better movies without the good sense to do anything right as they did it.  The look was goofy even though they employed one of the most famous names in monster effects, and every performance phoned it in.  Next time I can’t figure out why a movie is in my Netflix queue, I should probably trust my gut and not watch it.  On the other hand, this was a fun movie to make fun of.  But the movie itself is no fun, so don’t bother watching it.  Leviathan gets “I realize you must’ve gone through hell” out of “Gone?  Bitch, we’re still here!”

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Ghostbusters II (1989)

Death is But a Door.  Time is But a Window.  I’ll Be Back.

Because I cannot watch Ghostbusters without finishing the series, I watched Ghostbusters II today.  This is a movie that has taken a bit of a beating, which is even more noticeable as it follows it’s amazing predecessor.  But was this a bad movie, or just a movie that suffers from being in the shadow of Ghostbusters?  Let’s find out!  Ghostbusters II was again written by Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd, again directed by Ivan Reitman, and mostly again starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Henry and William Deutschendorf, Wilhelm von Homburg, Peter MacNicol, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, Harris Yulin, Kurt Fuller, David Margulies, Cheech Marin, Walter Flanagan, Ben Stein, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Bobby Brown.

The Ghostbusters are back, and better than ever!  Oh wait, no they’re not.  They’ve actually fallen on hard times in the 5 years since the first movie.  Turns out, the mayor (David Margulies) stiffed them on that little job that saved the city/world in the first movie and they’ve mostly lost the respect of the people of New York, all of whom seem to have forgotten how they’re alive because of the Ghostbusters.  Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) make ends meet by performing at kid’s birthday parties, Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) hosts a TV show about the paranormal, and Egon Spengler does tests involving making kids sad.  One day, Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) stops by to visit Egon because the stroller of her baby, Oscar (Henry and William Deutschendorf), went crazy, weaved through traffic, and stopped abruptly in front of the museum she works at.  She asks Ray and Egon to investigate, but asks that they not tell Venkman because they had broken up after the first movie, leading her temporarily into the arms of Oscar’s father.  Venkman tortures Ray into spilling the beans, and three of the Ghostbusters are reunited.  Their investigation leads them to dig a hole into the middle of a busy street, where they find a strange pink ooze.  Then they get arrested.  This ooze, and a certain painting of interest, lead the Ghostbusters to have to save the world yet again.

I will flat out defend this movie as still being a great comedy.  I think what hurts this movie is that it will forever be in the shadow of a far superior movie.  Ghostbusters was so gundamned good that it would inevitably lead someone to go into this movie with high expectations that it couldn’t possibly meet.  And, since it did not manage to either surpass or even match Ghostbusters, I think people assumed they hated it more than they should have.  It’s still very funny and easily as quotable.  I know I’ve busted out lines from this movie at random times for comedic effect.  Some of my favorites are “He is Vigo!  You are like the buzzing of flies to him!”, “I have all NEW cheap moves”, “Carpathian Kitten Loss”, and “Do. Re.  Egon!”  I really don’t understand people hating on this movie so much.  I understand the first one set that high bar, but you couldn’t have not laughed in this movie.  It’s still very humorous and the story is at least nearly as good as the first one.  A very minor step down from the first movie.  Also, I wasn’t a fan of the whole “people should be nice to each other or ooze will form under your city” message.  And the dialogue is just as clever.  It does take a step up graphically.  One can assume the great success of the first movie netted them a good amount extra money for the sequel, so you would expect the graphics to step up.

Murray still brings it.  You can’t keep that man from awesomeness.  He’s still hilarious and charming in a way that makes you believe that this dude could land Sigourney Weaver … twice!  Aykroyd and Ramis give the same quality of performance they gave in the first movie, and I feel no need to retype it.  It was yesterday, for crying out loud.  Ernie Hudson still isn’t in it very much, but he did get a few good moments, like when the ghost train ran through him.  Sigourney is still good here, and the 80’s hair is beginning to calm down.  Annie Potts got hotter, in my opinion, and I don’t need your approval for that.  Psst … call me …  Rick Moranis’ characters little attempt to be the hero didn’t do anything for me, and I might be hating on him because he got to knock the boots with Annie Potts.  Peter MacNicol was a new addition to the movies, and a welcome one.  I felt like he could have been the second funniest character in the movie.  That crazy accent he got from being from the Upper West Side was ridiculous.  Baby Oscar, played by William and Hank Deutschendorf perhaps didn’t need to be credited here, but they were adorable as babies.  Wilhelm von Homburg was a little hit and miss.  Sometimes he was freaky as Vigo the Carpathian, and sometimes he just looked goofy.

So there that is.  Back up off Ghostbusters II’s jock, alright?  Yeah, it’s not as good as Ghostbusters, but neither are a lot of movies you like.  And I’d wager Ghostbusters II is still a contender with any of those movies you may be thinking of because it still has a good story, still has great characters that are performed well, still has clever dialogue, and even has better graphics when compared to the original.  Not AS good, but definitely good.  Ghostbusters II gets “And you don’t want us exposing ourselves!” out of “How many of you people out here are a national monument?  Raise your hand.”

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Ghostbusters (1984)

When Someone Asks You if You’re a God, You Say “Yes”

Allow me to pose a query to you.  Assume, for a moment, that you are in the area in which you live.  Suddenly, you notice that something rather peculiar is happening there.  You have only your cell phone with you and 1% left on the battery life; time only to make one call.  Given all of this information that I have given you, to which group of people will your call be most efficient?  Today’s movie!  A lot of my movie reviews happen at the behest of someone else; either through requests or simply my thoughts about which movie could I most make fun of to entertain the people that read these.  Today’s movie was at my own behest.  What caused me to behest myself was a video playing on one of the TV’s at my job.  I was only able to see bits and pieces, and was able to hear none of it.  And since I love this movie, I needed to watch it.  That movie is Ghostbusters, written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, directed by Ivan Reitman, and starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, Slavitza Jovan, William Atherton, David Margulies, Alice Drummond, Steven Tash, Jennifer Runyon, Rhoda Gemignani, and Michael Ensign.

Three parapsychologists are called in when a strange occurrence happens at the New York Public Library.  Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) is already on the scene by the time Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) and Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) arrive.  Venkman immediately begins grilling the spooked librarian (Alice Drummond) to see if she’s just crazy or not.  Relatively assured that she actually may have seen something, the trio go to investigate, quickly finding that there is, indeed, a ghost.  They then run for their lives.  Egon feels that the readings he took could allow them to capture such spirits and this gives Venkman a business idea.  Unfortunately, as Ray points out, they already have jobs…or do they?  Nope, they’ve been fired.  So they go into the ghostbusting business, purchasing a retired firehouse as their base of operations.  At first, the only client they have is a woman named Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), who claims to have seen eggs cook on her counter and a creature in her fridge.  The only thing that really comes out of that is Venkman’s immediate – and unrequited – love for Dana.  Then, their receptionist, Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts), gets the call that the Sedgewick Hotel has a ghost problem.  Capturing this ghost rockets them into stardom, making them so busy that they have to hire a fourth Ghostbuster, Windston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson).  But when the strange occurrences start to elevate for both Dana and her neighbor, Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), the Ghostbusters have to get involved, and may just have to save the world.

Let us cut through the formalities and just get right to the nitty gritty.  I hate this movie.  I hate this movie because of how damned awesome it is.  It has no right to be so great in every way!  It makes the rest of us look bad!!  OM to the G this is a great movie.  I would go so far to say this is one of my favorite movies ever.  Let’s talk story first.  Now, it’s been well documented (by myself) that I love ghost movies.  I love ghost everything, for that matter.  I certainly love these ghosts things more than most people who have never seen, and are skeptical about, ghosts.  Next to ghost movies, another one of my favorite things in movies is comedy.  Either the combination of my loves made Ghostbusters one of my favorite movies, or Ghostbusters made me love good comedies and ghost movies.  Who knows?  The story itself in the movie isn’t that spectacular, it’s the comedy and the performances that bring a good story to great stature.  And the look is amazing too.  I assume there was a certain degree of budgetary concerns to this movie, but everything looks great.  Granted, New York City has a great look to it already.  The stone lions in front of the library, for example.  They were already there, but you would have to use them.  They have a great look for a ghost movie.  Dana and Louis’ apartment was also well done.  If I remember correctly, it was a real apartment in New York that they added a section to the top of digitally because most buildings don’t have Gozer-gateways on the top.  The gargoyle that comes to life looked mostly great, but there were parts where the limits of the time made it stick out.  The ghosts looked pretty good though, like Slimer and the librarian ghost from the beginning.  They’re reminiscent of the ghost style used in Poltergeist.  Worked great there, works great here.

The performances are what really make this movie work for me.  And I would say that it is mostly one performance that stands out and simultaneously made me love that actor forever: Bill Murray.  Every moment he is in this movie, he’s doing something that makes me laugh, even on my 50th viewing.  Love Venkman, love Murray.  The second best performance would have to be the hands that popped out of the recliner to grab Sigourney Weaver, ’cause one of them grabbed himself a whole handful of Sigourney boob.  But both Sigourney and her boobs performed well in this movie.  She mainly acted as the straight-woman to Bill Murray’s craziness, but she did it very real, acted terrified as hands were groping her and she was being pulled into her closet, and shifted gears completely as she was inhabited by Zuul.  She also was still well within hotness in this movie, even with the 80’s perm.  I personally dug more on Annie Potts though.  Something about that nerdy little girl does it for me.  Even with that voice.  Rick Moranis was, perhaps, a bit over the top as his uber nerdy character, but got a nice dose of crazy to him when he was inhabited by Vinz Clortho, the penis to Sigourney’s vagina or, as they called it, the keymaster to her gatekeeper.  I went on a tangent and almost forgot about the rest of the Ghostbusters.  I would say my second favorite Ghostbuster would have to be Harold Ramis as the eccentric, nerdy scientist Egon Spengler.  He was pretty funny and I relate to him because I too collect spores, molds, and fungus.  Dan Aykroyd was the heart of the Ghostbusters, playing Ray as a kind of dopey but sweet guy.  I also like thinking about William Atherton as the douchebag from the EPA that fucks everything up.  I mainly like thinking about him because he could be the nicest guy, but I’d want to punch him in the mouth because of his character in this movie.  Such a douche and he gets the Ghostbusters arrested because HE fucked everything up.

One of my favorite movies, Ghostbusters combines a good story, fantastic performances, hilarious comedy, and a great look to make itself an epic win.  It holds up every bit today as it did back in ’84.  The only thing dated in this movie is the music, but it’s still enjoyable so that’s not a negative.  It’s just clearly 80’s music.  If you haven’t seen this movie, there’s something wrong with you.  If you don’t like it, I don’t like you.  If you don’t own it, I don’t own you!  Oh, that’s wrong.  Either way, go buy this movie already.  It’s amazazing.  Ghostbusters gets “We came, we saw, we kicked it’s ass” out of “Dogs and cats living together … MASS HYSTERIA!”

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