Aliens: Colonial Marines (2013)


Hey, Hicks. Man, You Look Just Like I Feel.

Aliens: Colonial Marines (2013)I have a weird disorder that makes me continuously want to give things a chance even though they’ve disappointed me so much in the past. It usually starts with them putting out a few things that I love, and then usually devolves into a series of shit in a row that I still try based on my love for the past. After enough of these, I can break myself of this habit, but not of the addiction. I still WANT to try these things, but I can restrain myself. Well Alien and Aliens were great movies, and some of the early Alien games did some things very well. Then there was a bunch of shit in a row. Has that continued to their most recent release? We’ll find out as I review Aliens: Colonial Marines, developed by Gearbox Software, published by Sega, and including the voices of Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Mark Rolston, Al Matthews, Travis Willingham, Derek Phillips, Nisa Ward, and Jason Douglas.

The “story” of this game takes place between Aliens and Alien 3. 17 weeks after the events of Aliens, people in the world desire to make more mistakes. A ship responds to a distress signal from the USS Sulaco, in orbit around LV-426. Xenomorphs are everywhere, and killing as they are known to do. Then Weyland-Yutani sends in mercenaries to kill you as well. Then they ruin what Alien 3 already ruined. Then other stuff and the game ends.

This game was pretty shitty. Let’s get that out of the way up front. Well, let’s be honest and agree that we all already knew this game was going to be shit, but let me tell you about it because I was dumb enough to rent it. It’s hard to pin down what is worse though. There are tons of problems with this game that could be what causes it to be terrible. I’ll start with the story. The story was crap. It’s simplistic while simultaneously ruining the continuity of the Alien franchise. I believe I’ve already complained about the fact that Aliens got the audience super involved in Newt and Hicks as characters, just to have Alien 3 crap all over that by killing them before the opening credits had even completed. Well this game ruins Alien 3’s story by having Hicks show up in this game. How did he get off the rescue vessel without bothering to save Newt and Ripley, but having plenty of time to drop a decoy body in his place? This game will answer that by having someone ask Hicks and him responding with, “Long story.” Great. Fuck your face. I hate you. Best I can assume is that they were able to get Biehn to be a voice in this game and they would figure out how that worked out later. And then it came to crunch time and they had forgotten to do anything about it. “Write it off. Fans of the Alien franchise aren’t at all protective of their continuity. Also, I know it LOOKED like Hadley’s Hope was destroyed by Ripley on her way out, but you can act like that didn’t happen either.” They even happily spoil their own story in the game. There’s a point where we’re supposed to be surprised that our teammate Keyes has an alien in him, but all you needed to do was look down from the place you freed him to see the dead facehugger on the floor to realize that he was infested. And speaking of infested people, they also didn’t pay attention to the fact that the Xenomorphs don’t really bother attacking people that are already infested with the aliens, so why would they attack that Bella girl? Ripley got out of that on more than one occasion.

The look is also crap. The videos of people look awful and are never even trying to convey emotion on their faces. And they have the dude whose face they’re using! Why can’t you do a scan of Biehn like they do in so many other games? Hell, I’ll settle for you slapping Biehn’s face down in a Xerox machine and stapling pieces of paper to the character. The acting would be no more stiff than what you’re already showing us. They also have a pretty hard time capturing the feel of the Alien movies. The ship they’re in early on is too clean and bright for a place where a sci-fi/horror movie is supposed to be taking place. They got a little better at it later on, like when they were aboard the Derelict ship and just had to recreate the H.R. Giger look. They also were able to get the guns to look right, and you’ll be able to tell because you’ll be looking at them a lot. And though the nerd in me appreciates that they included the motion tracker, the gamer in me doesn’t like having to stare at it while being unable to shoot while holding it.

You’ll probably be shocked to find this out, but the gameplay is also not enjoyable. On the surface, it’s a standard first person shooter. With slightly more playing, you’ll find that it’s also an awful first person shooter. Too difficult in parts, and made more difficult by stingy armor and health drops and stupid AI. I understand the idea of trying to capture the feel of the movie by making the Xenomorphs very difficult in their ability to swarm you and by making you take damage if they get too close because their blood is acid. All that stuff is in the movie, so why shouldn’t it be in the game? Because it makes the game not fun. If I were in the movie, I’d probably die because Ellen Ripley is the only one allowed to survive in the world of Aliens. But why would I want to play that? The short answer is, “I wouldn’t.” That is also probably the long answer. Another issue I took was with the battle they threw in with the Power Loader. It’s a nice reference to the movies where Ripley gets into the big yellow suit to fight the Queen, but they probably should’ve made it more interesting than just having me swing wildly hoping I connected, and then wrapping it up by making me twist one of the Loader hands like a drill with no graphical reaction from the Xenomorph. And if the Xenomorphs aren’t hard enough for you, don’t worry because your teammates will probably do something stupid to get you killed. Multiple times in this game would I be going for a frag grenade kill, just to have my AI teammate run in front of me causing me to blow myself up. In fact, the only reason I found the challenges in the game difficult was because of the AI teammates. There was a challenge for never missing a shot from a rifle, which would’ve been vaguely difficult on its own, but my teammates decided that they should amp that up by getting in my way and fucking everything up.

I can tell you the same thing about both the multiplayer and the achievements: nothing. I don’t know how many achievements the game has or how easy they are because I didn’t care enough to get them. That’s one of the biggest insults I can give a game. With as big of an achievement whore as I am, I could not stomach playing this game further to get them, regardless of their difficulty. And with as bad as the single player campaign was, there’s no way they knocked it out of the park with the multiplayer. I wasn’t even willing to give it a shot.

Aliens: Colonial Marines was an expectedly terrible game. The story was either uneventful or filled with events that ignored the story set up by the movies it based itself on, it was mostly ugly, and the gameplay was frustrating. There is nothing in this game that would lead me to recommend it to you at any price. Aliens: Colonial Marines gets “We can’t afford to let one of those bastards in here” out of “This bullshit that you think is so important, you can just kiss all that goodbye!”

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Alien vs. Predator (2004)


We Have to Consider the Possibility That We Might Not Make it Out of Here.

After having watched far too many Alien and Predator related movies back to back, I think I figured out what probably got today’s movie started.  I wouldn’t personally have drawn any comparisons between those two movies myself were it not for today’s film until I rewatched Predator 2.  In that movie, you can see what is clearly a Xenomorph skull inside the Predator’s ship, implying that the Predator could defeat the Xenomorph.  Fanboys being what they are, the Predator fans probably started to rub that in the face of Alien fans, causing Alien fans to defend their preferred series.  Over time, it became very similar to the Star Wars/Star Trek debates, and studios decided that they needed to make two movies that answered the questions of the fans.  Either that or the studios wanted to make more money.  Either way, the movie came out, and later became the subject for my review of Alien vs. Predator, written by Shane Salerno, written and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, and starring Sanaa Lathan, Lance Henriksen, Ian Whyte, Tom Woodruff Jr., Raoul Bova, Ewen Bremner, Colin Salmon, Tommy Flanagan, Joseph Rye, Agathe de La Boulaye, Carsten Norgaard, Liz May Brice, and Sam Troughton.

A mysterious heat signature shows up underneath the island of Bouvetøya, 1,000 miles north of Antarctica, attracting a lot of attention, most notably from Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen), head of Weyland Industries.  He hastily assembles a team of experts to go and investigate what appears to be a temple buried beneath the ice, and contracts Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan) to lead the expedition, against her better judgment.  When they arrive, they find that some airborne anomaly has burrowed a hole from the surface to the temple in less than a day, even though the technology to do that doesn’t exist as far as humans know.  They get down to the temple and quickly find that this temple is a training ground for the Predators, who have kept a Xenomorph queen on ice in the temple until she’s needed to produce eggs, which then produce facehuggers, which then produce Xenomorphs, which then battle the Predators.  And the humans are now caught in the middle of the fight.

I can’t remember it that well, but I feel like my biggest problem with this movie was the same that I had with the movie Freddie vs. Jason: the studio/writer is too afraid of fan feedback to make a decision about who would win the fight that is the entire basis of their movie.  Freddie vs. Jason refused to make the decision and Alien vs. Predator made the wrong one.  And by that I don’t mean that I had picked who I wanted to win and they didn’t.  I mean that they made the humans win, or at least the one human win.  That’s not how the word “versus” works!  I’m not a huge boxing fan, but I’m pretty sure the winner of the famous Ali vs. Foreman fight was not Steve from row three.  Make either the Alien or the Predator definitively win, or don’t bother making the movie.  The world wouldn’t have missed the movie that much either since it really wasn’t that good.  Not horrible, but not great either.  I’m sure most of us know – because of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – that two great things can work great together, like chocolate and peanut butter.  But some of us (namely me) know that two great things can be horrible together, like chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter.  And yes, I know that from experience.  The story was weak and barely worth paying attention to.  It was mainly just there for the purposes of the setup and then completely forgotten about, just like Alexa’s rules.  I distinctly remember her first rule being that everyone stays together, but the whole problem stars because the group splits into two.  Later on, she even brings it up again.  I guess getting six people killed by forgetting your rule will make you remember it a little better.  They also take to something I’ve hated about movies like this for a long time: why the hell would you even bother bringing an expert when you have no intention of listening to them?  When the expert on ancient cultures tells you not to take the Predator’s guns out of the coffin, why are you going to not just ignore him, but look him right in the eyes as you disobey him and single-handedly get everyone killed?  I also don’t like the Predator working with the humans.  That’s entirely out of character.  The closest thing Predator’s do to work with humans is occasionally to not kill them.  I didn’t even like the entire premise of the movie.  I don’t think the Predators and the Xenomorphs are a good match for each other.  The Predators are skilled hunters and the Xenomorphs are just semi-dumb creatures (at least as they’re portrayed in this movie) that don’t win with cunning or power, just sheer numbers.  This movie is supposed to be a battle between two powerful creatures and it turns into more like the battle I had with the ant hill the other day.  Granted, the Xenomorphs did their damage, but it was more to the humans and only against the Predators with either surprise or numbers, which kind of takes away from the power of the Xenomorphs.  The only occasion where they seemed to show any intelligence was when they raptor-ed the guy in the hallway at one point, having one appear in front to distract him but then hitting him with two from either side.  I was surprised that he didn’t applaud the girl’s cleverness.

I didn’t find any of the performances to be anything special.  Sanaa Lathan was the de facto lead of the movie.  She performed alright, but I get the feeling like they were trying to mooch some of Ripley’s badass chick character, but never really managed to do it, even though this chick did do ridiculous things that should never have happened, like at the end of the movie when she saved the Predator from something really big that it was fighting.  Lance Henriksen was also in the movie, and he was solid in his performance, but it didn’t usually require much more out of him than coughing in the background of a scene.  I was also shocked to see that I had actually seen more than one movie with Ewen Bremner in the cast, the other being the Rundown.  I’ve probably seen more, but I hadn’t yet paid attention to him until I saw him in a role I liked, as with his character in the Rundown.

Alien vs. Predator is two great things that probably should have never been put together.  They didn’t make it a decent fight, they made a silly decision on the outcome to the battle, and they didn’t put very much of interest in the movie to make up for that.  They did much more to damage the two things they brought together than they did to help it along, and for that I say you should skip this movie.  It’s okay, but there’s so many things that would probably bother fans of either of those two creatures, and people that weren’t fans of either probably wouldn’t consider watching the movie anyway.  Alien vs. Predator gets “It’s a bomb.  Well, I hope it kills every fucking one of ’em!” out of “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

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.

The Quick and the Dead (1995)


We Both Have Guns.  We Aim, We Fire, You Die.

Westerns are some of my favorite movies, so including it as a category in my contest was a given.  What wasn’t a given was which movie it would be.  Being a fan of the genre, it could have been any number of movies.  I’ve already reviewed True Grit, so that was out.  I really like the Unforgiven, but it’s a little too slow for my tastes so I don’t think it’d make it as my favorite.  It could’ve been any number of Sergio Leone and/or Clint Eastwood movies, but I don’t have that much love for older movies.  That being the case, one western movie caught my attention, so I picked it.  Going into it, I remember being very fond of this movie, but wasn’t sure how well my memory holds up.  So I’m throwing the dice and hoping that I was right in thinking I really liked the Quick and the Dead, written by Simon Moore, directed by Sam Raimi, and starring Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Roberts Blossom, Gary Sinise, Kevin Conway, Keith David, Lance Henriksen, Mark Boone Junior, Tobin Bell, Jonothon Gill, Lennie Loftin, Sven-Ole Thorsen, Josef Rainer, Pat Hingle, Raynor Scheine, and Olivia Burnette.

A lady named Ellen, but referred to almost exclusively as “The Lady” (Sharon Stone), rides into the town of Redemption, where a single elimination quick draw contest is about to start.  The town is run by the ruthless John Herod (Gene Hackman) and the Lady enters the contest shortly after Herod does, and shortly after saving the life of a reverend named Cort (Russell Crowe) who used to ride with Herod.  Then she gets drunk and sleeps with another contestant, Herod’s son “The Kid” (Leonardo DiCaprio).  As the contest movies along, the Lady is revealed to have a deep hatred for Herod, but we find out why slowly.  Will the Lady be fast enough to kill Herod?

Hey!  I was right!  I still really liked this movie.  It’s just badass.  The action is well realized, the directing is great, and the story was very involving.  At first, the movie makes itself seem like it has a pretty obvious story, being all about the quick draw contest.  It would be interesting enough with this, but wouldn’t be anything special.  It’s not until the Lady’s motivations of revenge bubbles up that I started getting more invested in the movie, but it works very well.  She’s definitely got a really good reason for hating Herod, and when it’s finally shown in its entirety, it’s such a horrible thing that happened to her that you can’t wait for her to kill this dude.  Not that he had made himself seem like a likeable character at any point in the movie as everyone hates him, but even he has some decent reasoning for the way he is.  Cort also has a pretty great back story.  As a matter of fact, a lot of the characters in the contest are given enough story that they’re mostly not just bullet fodder.  I would say that one thing didn’t make sense about the story.  If everyone in the town knew how fast and deadly Herod was, why would any of them join the contest?  Cort didn’t have a choice, the Lady had revenge on her mind, and the Kid wanted to earn his father’s respect, but all of the other people should’ve known better.  The dialogue in this movie was also very crisp and most of the characters had a nice snappy line prepared for any old situation.

All of the action in this movie worked very well for me.  Some people might think quick draw shootouts move a little slow, but I appreciate them so long as they build up the tension well leading up to the draw.  And Raimi does it very well, using a lot of quick cuts, close ups on the faces of the contestants, and quick zooms on the clock that will set things in motion.  He also uses the montage a lot, but not in an annoying way.  It just works for getting the lesser contestants taken care of quickly so we don’t waste too much time.  And one of them was the people preparing for the contest, using various period-correct ways of loading their weapons, which would seem to be pretty boring, but I was interested by it.  He also uses shadows and lighting very well, like the part where it showed a guy had gotten shot clean through by having his shadow have a hole in the chest.  There was also a part where a character got his head canoed by a bullet that is one of the coolest and most memorable moments in the movie.  Even with my dim recollection of the movie, I remembered that part before I started watching.

The greater majority of the performances in this movie were just fantastic.  Sharon Stone sets herself up as a badass quick, fast, and in a hurry.  She’s got this gruff, abrasive exterior at all times, but sometimes shows that underneath she’s out of her element and frightened.  I thought this worked excellently for a character, starting her off as the classic, fearless protagonist, but then humanizing her.  Of course, at the very end of the movie she is just straight up badass.  She was almost scary when it came time for the climax of the movie.  Gene Hackman was almost always intimidating.  He played it as almost nice on the surface, but if he was even slightly crossed he turned very intimidating.  He even cracks that intimidating façade slightly when something actually happens that he seems to regret.  He’s mostly holding it back, but you can kind of see a hint of it.  I really liked Russell Crowe’s character in this movie.  He was always made out to be this epic badass and stone cold killer, but he had denounced violence and claimed he wouldn’t pick it up again.  When he did, it was great.  He has a little scene near the end of the movie where he takes out something like six guys in a very short amount of time and it was fantastic.  I liked Leonardo DiCaprio too.  He always had this cocky little twerp attitude, but it was clearly covering up some serious low self-esteem issues that had been beaten into him by his father.  He also performs it very well around the time when he’s going to face his father in the contest where he gets very serious for the first time, and has a very well-acted emotional scene shortly after.

The Quick and the Dead may not accurately be considered my favorite western movie, but I think it’s up there.  It’s a lot of good action, a very engaging story, and some pretty top notch performances to back it all up.  I’ve liked Sam Raimi as a director for a while, and he seems to fit into the western genre very nicely.  It’s not the most groundbreaking movie, but it’s pretty awesome.  Check this movie out.  The Quick and the Dead gets “Me and Jesse James think it’s the best handgun in the world” out of “Is it possible to improve on perfection?”

Congratulations again goes to Chris for guessing today’s movie and winning his third DVD in this contest.  A more paranoid man would begin to think that he’s got cameras in my bedroom and can see the stack of DVDs waiting to be reviewed, but I think I’ll just assume that he’s madly in love with me.

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.