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.

Prometheus (2012)


My God, We Were So Wrong…

When Samrizon recommended that I watch today’s movie, she seemed a little deflated that I said it may have to wait quite some time. As with most movies in theaters, I can’t really afford to go and see everything people want me to when it’s in theaters. I’d much rather wait until I can find it for a dollar on RedBox or on Netflix. But I did indeed want to see this movie, being a fan (to different degrees) of the quadrilogy that already existed. When Friendboss Josh heard the Who’s singing in Whoville and his heart grew three sizes this day, I was afforded the ability to go to a theater that was playing the movie for only $5. This movie is Prometheus, written by Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaihts, directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall, Kate Dickie, Emun Elliott, Benedict Wong, and Patrick Wilson.

In the year 2089, two archaeologists, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), find a cave painting in Scotland that, along with similar murals from groups that never met each other from around the world, points to a star like our own sun and a habitable planet. They take this as an invitation from a group they call “the Engineers”, who they believe created our species. The elderly CEO of Weyland Corporation, Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), funds a ship called Prometheus to take the two archaeologists and a group of other people to the planet to see if they can find the Engineers. An android called David (Michael Fassbender) wakes up the crew as they arrive in the year 2093. They find a collection of non-artificial structures and start to explore them, soon finding dead bodies of the Engineers, which are more human than they originally thought. Also, there’s a black goo that they find that starts some bad things into motion. And also some good things. I mean, have you seen Alien? That’s a good movie!

I went into this movie REALLY wanting to be blown away, but try as it might, the movie never really resonated with me. It wasn’t a bad movie, but I was hoping for a major nerd boner that never arrived. And I need this, guys. I’m single and hurting. I’ll probably need to watch Avengers again to get my fix. This movie just didn’t excite me. It was pretty slow moving until the last half hour. At first it’s just archaeology, then it’s just space travel, then it’s just a mystery that’s not that mysterious. Not until someone gets infected later in the movie does shit start going down that captures my attention. The mystery part is somewhat excusable because I went into this movie know it was a prequel to a movie I’ve already seen, so this entire movie just becomes a waiting game until we get to see a Xenomorph. I got a little excited that shit was gonna go down when Shaw told one of the other crew members to leave the weapon behind when they were heading into the structure. I didn’t get excited because that’s a good idea, because it’s entirely not. Sure, it’s a scientific expedition, but better safe than sorry, right? But usually when a bonehead decision like that is made in the name of noble scientific enterprise, shit goes down and people start dying. That didn’t happen. Around the time when someone gets infected is when the movie starts to pick up, but I was also getting angry because some jerkfaces in the audience were talking and someone said, “He’s infected,” really loudly. Ya think? Are you basing that on what you’re seeing now or the part where we watched the guy cause him to get infected in a super obvious way? Later on, there’s a hurried surgery scene that is rich with thrills, and from that point on it doesn’t let up, but I wished it had happened sooner. For one more thing, I won’t spoil it directly so I’ll just turn it into a metaphor. If two people are running away from a hula hoop, should it really take that long to realize that you can side-step it instead of continuing to run in front of it? If you see the movie, that’ll make more sense.

I would say that, by far, the best thing about this movie is definitely the look. It’s a spectacular visual feast. The movie lets you know that much pretty quickly into the movie as they open with a big sweep over huge and gorgeous landscapes on the moon LV-223. Almost everything looks amazing in this movie. The Engineers (though they look like Powder on steroids) are great looking creatures that could look either benevolent or malevolent, so you never really know which way they’ll go with the story. The structure and the aliens are still heavily influenced by H.R. Giger, which means they’re going to be creepy and dark, but also awesome. The first version of the aliens that are encountered bummed me out for two reasons. First, they didn’t look like the facehuggers that we know and love. Second, they were REALLY phallic. And they go into the mouth. I can’t wait until they turn Prometheus into a porn. The holographic star map that David watches later in the movie is also a visual delight, but I couldn’t help but think that it was the futuristic version of a laser light show, without the benefit of REO Speedwagon. The only real visual problem with the movie was Peter Weyland. You could have actually hired an old guy instead of putting really unconvincing old guy makeup on a young dude. And you didn’t even try when it came to his feet!

The performances in the movie were good, but not what I’d call great. They were what the roles called for, but that usually left them being not altogether compelling to me. Noomi Rapace did a good job, but I was disappointed by her character. I think one of the things that’s been a staple in all of the Alien movies is a badass female lead. Sigourney Weaver was a boss. Ellen Ripley was always right up there with Sarah Connor as some of the most badass women to ever grace the screen. And it’s not like Noomi can’t do badass; she was the original Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movies. But in this movie, she was never a badass. She was pretty standard damsel in distress all the way through that was just a scientist and was only our heroine because we were watching the bad things happen all around her. I know it wasn’t really the character she was going for, but I missed it. Charlize Theron was kind of a badass bitch, but way more bitch than badass, so certainly no replacement for Ripley. I liked that apparently all it takes to have sex with her is to suggest that she might be a robot. Speaking of which, Michael Fassbender was good in his role, but it was totally ruined for me when Samrizon ruined that he was a robot. Okay, so you find that out pretty quickly, but Samrizon should shut her damned cake hole. Fassbender definitely acted like a robot, but a robot isn’t always the most impressive performance. You have to be stiff and robotic, which isn’t all that interesting to watch. And you kind of get the idea of where the movie is going from his performance because he doesn’t hide the fact that he’s not that big of a fan of humans.

I really wanted Prometheus to blow me away, but it didn’t really manage to do so. The story was fine, but it takes a while for it to get going. Once it does, it remains pretty awesome for a while, but I started to get bored waiting for that to start. The look of the movie was completely fantastic and worth seeing for just the spectacle alone. The performances were fine in the movie, but never blew my mind. I understand that you couldn’t put Ellen Ripley in this chronologically, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a character that’s just as awesome. The movie didn’t impress me, but I still think it’s worth seeing in the theaters. It’s a good movie, but not as good as I wanted it to be. Check it out, but it might help to have lower expectations. Prometheus gets “Big things have small beginnings” out of “WE are the gods now.”

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.

Gladiator (2000)


Today I Saw a Slave Become More Powerful Than the Emperor of Rome.

Today’s contest was admittedly difficult to manage.  I decided that I would pick a movie from the drama genre, but as I’ve mentioned many times, I hate dramas.  How would I be able to pick a movie that depressed me and call it my favorite?  I would have to be deceptive and find a movie that was inarguably a drama, but perhaps with enough elements of a type of movie I do like it will overcome the melancholy.  And that’s when it struck me.  I could think of a movie that was definitely a drama but with plenty enough action in it that I wouldn’t hate watching it.  It’s also one of my favorite movies, so the decision was clear.  I would call Gladiator my favorite drama, written by David H. Franzoni, John Logan, and William Nicholson, directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Richard Harris, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, Derek Jacobi, David Schofield, John Shrapnel, Tomas Arana, and Ralph Moeller.

The great warrior and general Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe) leads a victory for the Romans over the Germanic tribes.  The dying emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) makes the decision to make Maximus the leader of Rome so that he can return the power to the people.  When he informs his son, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), of his decision, Commodus murders him.  Maximus realizes what happened, but is betrayed by General Quintus (Tomas Arana) and sentenced to be executed, as well as his wife (Giannina Facio) and his son (Giorgio Cantarini).  Maximus escapes his execution and rushes back to find his family already dead.  He buries them and is later found unconscious by slavers and sold to Proximo (Oliver Reed), and forced to become a gladiator.  With Commodus reinstating the games in honor of his dead father (even though his father disbanded them), Maximus figures that, if he performs well, he will be able to stand before the new emperor and finally have his vengeance.

This is how I take my drama movies: barely being able to be considered a drama.  It’s great action and a great story, but with a fair share of drama mixed in.  Revenge is an easy but great motivator in movies.  The movie starts itself off pretty strong with the war in the beginning, but then I start getting emotionally invested when Commodus not only kills the likeable emperor, but also tries to kill Maximus and succeeds in killing his family.  I’m instantly on board.  I love Maximus and I hate Commodus.  That keeps me interested past the satisfying, albeit a little depressing, conclusion, and I enjoy the entire ride.  The dialogue in the movie is extremely well-written as well.  Most of it’s very crisp and stinging, including a lot of smarter versions of “fuck you”.  Any time that Commodus is talking with Maximus, every line ends with a version of “fuck your face”.  I was confused by the relationship between Commodus and Lucilla though.  I don’t know if it was more common back then, but Commodus was really aching to jump Lucilla’s bones, regardless of the fact that they were brother and sister.  They never said half-siblings or step-siblings, so I just found it weird.  That part of the movie felt like watching Clueless all over again.  The movie was beautifully filmed though.  It starts off really cold and blue and gritty when they’re in Germania, bright and hot and orange in the middle when he’s first becoming a gladiator, and colorful and bright and beautiful when they’re in the majesty of Rome.  The recreation of Rome was fantastic as well.  The fights are what really interest me about this movie, and they’re all great.  Not a lot of flourish to the fights, but every one of them was exciting and awesome.  Maximus never seemed to be the strongest or the fastest, and was never super human in any way, but he won all of his fights with skill and cunning.  They’re gory and exciting and you’re always rooting for the home team.

The performances are what set this movie apart for me.  Them and the action.  But the performances were really good.  Russell Crowe was great all the way through the movie.  I’d say there was one part that was iffy with me, but it was only partially his fault.  When he was crying over his dead wife and kid he had snot running out of his nose and drool coming out of his mouth.  Then he kissed the feet of his wife and had it sticking to her feet.  They probably should have taken that out with CG or something.  I found it not only distracting, but icky.  Also, in the part where he was kissing the wooden figures that represented his wife and son, he got a little too freaky deaky with the figure representing his wife.  He’d been alone for a while though.  I hated Joaquin Phoenix from the very first time I saw him, but that’s a credit to him because we weren’t supposed to like him at all.  He played the role so utterly despicable in every way, but it wasn’t in a cartoony way.  You could kind of get a handle on his motivations, though it doesn’t justify his actions.  And the entire movie we watch his slow descent into madness and paranoia, and he pulls that off very well.  Connie Nielsen was a good character as well.  I started off not trusting her because she always acted as if something was going on behind the scenes.  As they say in the movie, she would make a great leader if she was a man.  But, by the end of the movie, you side with her as her brother’s craziness starts getting to her as well.  And mother fuckin’ Dumbledore was up in this bitch!  Richard Harris is always great though.

It doesn’t come as any kind of a surprise that Gladiator is an awesome movie.  Yes, it’s a drama, and it’s also a bit mopey at times, but the action and the excitement override that, and the story is something that gets me involved almost immediately.  The action is great, the look is fantastic, and the performances are all top notch.  You don’t always like all of the characters, but they’re very well performed.  If you have managed to not see Gladiator by this point, I hate you.  Fix it or we’ll have troubles.  Gladiator gets “Smile for me now, brother” out of “At my signal, unleash hell!”

Congratulations to Fabio, who guessed my favorite drama correctly, despite his learning disability.

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.