Heartbreakers (2001)


If I Were a Guy, I’d Do You.

Back from my October Horrorthon, I decided that I needed to try to focus on some outstanding requests that I’ve had building up.  The first one I decided to take a look at was from my friend Grabooski.  A while ago, the ‘Booski requested two movies of me that I kept putting off.  I think I was thrown off by how random the two movies seemed to be, and also put off by the fact that they seemed more like chick flicks.  But I’ve never reviewed a movie for her, so I decided to do one of her movies first.  I knew about the movie that I picked because I saw the poster for it and specifically decided not to ever watch it ever.  But that was before I took requests.  Now that I do, I wouldn’t even bother acting like there is something that I wouldn’t watch.  And so, to expand my horizons, I decided to review Heartbreakers, written by Robert Dunn, Paul Guay, and Stephen Mazur, directed by David Mirkin, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ray Liotta, Jason Lee, Gene Hackman, Nora Dunn, Anne Bancroft, Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifianakis, Carrie Fisher, and Kevin Nealon.

Max (Sigourney Weaver) and Page Conners (Jennifer Love Hewitt) are a mother-daughter con artist team.  We start our journey with them watching as Max cons small-time Mafioso Dean Cumanno (Ray Liotta) into marrying her, and then getting a divorce on the first day by getting Page to seduce him into cheating on her.  After collecting the settlement, they are confronted by an IRS agent (Anne Bancroft) who informs them that they owe a lot of money in back taxes.  This forces them to head to Palm Beach to find one last big score.  They pick a tobacco baron named William B. Tensy (Gene Hackman), whose addiction to his own product has significantly reduced his time amongst the living.  While Max is working on him, Page finds a bartender named Jack (Jason Lee), who stands to gain a large sum of money if he sells his bar, and Page decides to try to take on this con on her own, behind her mother’s back.

I wouldn’t say Heartbreakers was a bad movie, but I also couldn’t bring myself to act like it was good.  Probably the first thing I noticed about the movie is that it was entirely predictable.  Around the point of the IRS thing in the story, I could’ve guessed how the rest of it was going to turn out.  I guess I couldn’t have predicted that they were going to entirely forget to wrap up the Gene Hackman story though.  Did they get his money?  Did they get nothing?  Did the police suspect the strange woman he had been spending all his time with?  Or are we just going to forget about that storyline and jump back into the Jason Lee love story?  Probably that one.  This could easily be tolerable if the movie was entertaining, but it sadly fell short.  It just wasn’t funny to me.  There were maybe one or two mildly amusing moments in the movie, but one or two will not sustain me for over two hours of movie.  If it had ended about a half hour earlier when it should have … well … I probably still wouldn’t have found it very entertaining.  And I’m always confused about how that happens when they have the good sense to hire some really funny people to act in the movie.  Kevin Nealon, Sarah Silverman, and Zach Galifianakis were all in this movie.  You couldn’t have asked their opinion on punching up a few jokes?  Instead, you have a joke where a guy dies by falling over and hitting his face on a statue’s penis, a penis that then ends up in his mouth while he’s on the floor.  I wrote that same joke once … when I was 10.  It got lots of laughs.  I ended up spending a good portion of the movie focusing on these two women and their abilities as con women.  They did not seem all that great at their job.  When they reveal that they are con women early in the movie, they are super blunt about it, revealing everything at a gas station with all the wig removal and conning a guy into buying their gas.  Was I not supposed to have figured that out a long time ago?  When I saw Jennifer Love Hewitt for the first time, I knew they were con women.  Well, first I touched myself, and THEN I knew they were con women.  Later in the movie, I started to realize that they weren’t that good at it.  Why would they leave their money in a bank, especially if they weren’t going to pay the IRS?  Even though you know they have money and would be afraid of government investigation, why would you con someone in organized crime?  That just seems dangerous.  If you’re going to decide to take on an unnecessary Russian accent to woo your target, shouldn’t you learn more than the word for “Yes” and the lyrics to a Beatles song about the USSR?  Or at least try to stay out of situations where someone might find out that you didn’t do your research and learn the language?  And how did it take them so long to figure out that they should perhaps ask the mobster who shows up in love with Max how they should dispose of the dead body they had created?

All that being said, I’d say the real reason to watch this movie is the performances.  Well, not so much the performances as the performers.  And not so much the performers as Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt being really hot.  I found the movie predictable, a little dumb, and extremely rarely funny, but they were able to keep me watching by having those two lovely ladies wearing some skimpy clothing through the greater majority of the movie.  I spent most of the movie trying to figure out which one I’d rather have.  Physically, JLH is hotter, and almost to a ridiculous extent.  When they were talking about how fast they could get a guy to marry them, I was thinking that 3 months seems like a long time and either woman could probably get me to do it way faster than that.  But I actually think Sigourney could do it faster.  I mean, she’s got way more nerd cred.  She was in the Alien movies AND Ghostbusters.  And did you see the underwear she wore on her honeymoon with Liotta?  Ridiculous.

For as much as I thought Heartbreakers was predictable, too long, and not funny, I didn’t really find the movie painfully bad.  And I think it’s entirely based on Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt’s hotness.  There are people that may find this movie funny.  I wasn’t one of them, but I could see it happening.  But if you’re a guy and you can’t watch a movie with Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt dressed skimpy and hot, then there’s a very good chance you like penis.  You can check this movie out on Netflix streaming if vagina is more to your liking.  Heartbreakers gets “I love a woman who eats raw meat” out of “Isn’t that the same shoe you wanted to jam up my ass?”

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 and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

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The Cabin in the Woods (2012)


I’m Drawing a Line in the Sand.  Do NOT Read the Latin!

It’s time for another October Horrorthon!  I had heard so much about today’s movie that I was very excited to see it finally come out, not only on DVD, but also on RedBox.  When it finally arrived, I had already set my mind to go and pick it up when my roommate told me he had purchased the digital copy of it.  Score!  A few days later, when we both had the time to sit down and watch it, we prepared ourselves to watch the movie that our friends and many critics have been talking up since its original release.  That movie is Cabin in the Woods, co-written by Joss Whedon, co-written and directed by Drew Goddard, and starring Kristen Connolly, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Brian J. White, Amy Acker, Jodelle Ferland, and Sigourney Weaver.

A very typical scenario unfolds as a group of college students decide that the best thing they can do with their time is to go to an isolated cabin in the middle of the woods for a vacation.  The stereotypes involved are the nerdy quasi-virgin Dana (Kristen Connolly), the stoner Marty (Fran Kranz), the egghead who is actually a receiver on the football team Holden (Jesse Williams), the jock who is also on full academic scholarship Curt (Chris Hemsworth), and the whorish blonde who is actually only recently blondized Jules (Anna Hutchison).  Okay, so they’re slightly off the normal stereotypes, but they get much closer as time goes on.  As does the story, as the group find the basement of the cabin, filled with various items of creepy origin.  They pick a journal and read Latin words aloud, which sets a zombie redneck pain-worshipping family on the loose to kill them.  As typical as all of this sounds, there’s something very atypical happening behind the scenes…

A lot has been made of the idea of “the twist” in movies, mostly since M. Night Shyamalan made it super famous.  We’ve also seen movies before that mock the cliché’s of horror movies while adhering to them themselves, such as the Scream movies.  The twist to this movie takes that stuff to a new level.  But here’s the question that brings people to my reviews: is it amazing?  No, not really.  I was not nearly as charmed by this movie as I expected to be, and certainly not as charmed as everyone made me think I would be.  But I’m still trying to put my finger on why I didn’t like the thing.  I’ve watched it twice already and I remain relatively confused.  I’ll try to work it out as we go along.  The writing was probably a big part of my dislike of this movie.  I never really minded the idea of the twist in a movie, but when you spread that twist all the way through your movie, it hardly feels like a twist.  I was just confused by the two seemingly-unrelated movies until the reason for both stories made itself clear.  At that point I thought it was a really cool idea for a movie… and then the movie kept going.  I get it already!  You’re so clever for lampooning the entire horror movie genre.  Now get to making a good movie.  But the movie never salvaged itself as far as I was concerned.  I’ve no intention of spoiling the twist in this movie for anyone as I was given the pleasure of not having the movie spoiled for me, but I took issue with the fact that the movie seemed to spoil itself.  Hell, the movie actually starts with the twist before it gets into the typical dying college kids movie.  But I also don’t know how they could have made this movie work for me.  If the twist stuff wasn’t in the movie, it would have just been another underwhelming horror movie.  Maybe I would’ve liked it if they didn’t reveal the twist stuff until Dana and Marty were in the middle of it, but I can’t really know that because that’s not the movie I watched.  All I can really know is that this movie didn’t work for me, certainly not as much as I thought it would with Joss Whedon’s involvement.  But where I did see his involvement in the writing, I liked it.  I’m mainly referring to the clever and funny moments in the dialogue that really worked for me, though not enough to redeem the rest of the movie.  You could see that stuff in the dialogue from pretty early on, like the, “I learned it from watching you!” interaction between Curt and Jules.

The look of the movie was mostly fine, but there were parts of it that were less than convincing.  What made them better is that they were close to, but legally distinguishable from, many classic horror movie monsters, and that was fun to pick them out and recognize them.  There were zombies, werewolves, ghosts, giant bats, and angry robots, but they also had some more specific monsters like a Cenobite reminiscent of Hellraiser, a killer clown reminiscent of Pennywise from It, and there was apparently even a Reaver from Firefly, but I didn’t see it.  The main zombies were a bit of a problem from, but only because they were occasionally unconvincing and reminded me more of the creatures from the Thriller video.  Otherwise there were no complaints about the looks.

I liked the greater majority of the performances in this movie, so anything I didn’t like about the movie was probably not their fault.  I liked Kristen Connolly a lot, especially because she was really cute and opened the movie walking around in her panties.  Would girls actually walk around in their underwear with all their windows open in a busy residential neighborhood?  If they do, then I officially hate my mom for having us live on the outskirts of town.  Anna Hutchison got her boobs out in the movie as well, but that was disappointing because I didn’t find her nearly as attractive as Connolly or Amy Acker … or Chris Hemsworth for that matter.  I don’t wanna sound gay or nothin’, but I’d let that guy vacation in my cabin in the woods.  Wink wink!  I even liked Jodelle Ferland as Patience Buckner, but that may have been mostly because I seem to be inadvertently reviewing her entire career.  She was in Silent Hill, one of the Twilight movies, and the second Bloodrayne abortion.  That doesn’t sound like a lot, but four movies now for someone most people probably can’t name is pretty weird.  Also, she did fine in the movie.  The only performance I really took issue with was Fran Kranz.  I realize that they were going for the super cliché pothead character, and he was even probably supposed to be a little bit annoying.  If that was true, it worked.  That dude got on my nerves.

I guess expectations hurt Cabin in the Woods with me more than anything else.  When a movie is talked up too much, it will inevitably find a very difficult time matching those expectations.  I expected to be blown away by the movie, but instead it was just okay.  The idea of it was nifty, but it wasn’t surprising as I thought it might be because they put the twist of the movie right up front, the look was mostly hit but occasionally miss, and the performances were mostly excellent.  I still feel like, if you want to watch a movie that turns the horror genre on its head, you’d be better off with Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.  It’s not a bad movie, it was just underwhelming to me.  Pick it up at RedBox for a dollar so that you can find out for yourself.  Cabin in the Woods gets “And you have no pants” out of “Cutting the flesh makes him have a husband’s bulge.”

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 and Twitter.  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.

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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