BEHOLD THE ILLUSION OF LIFE
Colin’s Korra, Version 2.0
Korra would make an amazing Tekken character.
Or Street Fighter, I guess.
BEHOLD THE ILLUSION OF LIFE
Colin’s Korra, Version 2.0
Korra would make an amazing Tekken character.
Or Street Fighter, I guess.
So, since I haven’t been to the movies lately, I feel that in lieu of review something new, I’ll go back to the past and write up my musings on a movie that for…certain reasons holds a special place in my mind: Starship Troopers.
In case you haven’t seen Starship Troopers (I envy you), it’s a 1997 military sci-fi flick directed by Paul Verhoeven, and is based on the back cover of a novel by Robert Heinlein. I’m going to be honest, I’m not sure I can be completely objective in this review. Heinlein’s novel, also titled Starship Troopers is one of my personal favorite books. Aside from being one of the most influential pieces of science fiction literature since the days of Jules Verne, it also is one of the best examples of the themes and concepts that Heinlein supported. Its core themes revolve around the idea that power and freedom are virtues that can only be truly appreciated and practiced by individuals that voluntarily take on a higher level of social responsibility. It’s a thought-provoking read that really gets you thinking about just what the ideal society really is. The basic premise of the novel is that, in the year 2XXX, all the former powers (i.e, U.S, Britian, Soviet Union, China) were eradicated by a third world war that was waged in the 1980s—remember, this was written in 1959, so this was a real concern. All of the nations of the world have been consolidated into one Terran Federation, a limited democracy were the right to vote and to hold public office are excluded to those who volunteer for federal service. Most of those seeking their franchise do so in the military, with the largest branch being the Mobile Infantry. The story is structured as the memoirs of Juan Rico, whose story jumps between his joining and rising through the ranks of the Mobile Infantry and his high school “History and Moral Philosophy” class. These classroom scenes are generally where Heinlein elaborates on his political and social views.
Anyway, I got a lot out of it, and after I finished reading the novel I was very eager to check out the movie, as I heard that it was pretty good (by people who probably don’t even know the book existed). After watching it, well let’s just say that Paul Verhouven’s name must be considered a borderline blasphemy in various nerd circles throughout the world. This movie blows. And to my knowledge, this really is a very love-it-or-hate-it. And by that, I only assume people mean that if you didn’t read the book you love it and if you did read the book you felt like Verhouven literally violated you. I really wish I had seen Robocop and Total Recall before this movie, because I may never feel like watching anything this jagoff has made ever again. Starcraft was a more faithful adaptation than this crap was. And that only borrowed (read: stole) elements from the novel. It’s a far shorter list to simply name what this movie had in common with the book instead of what it didn’t have in common. I think I will: some of the characters share names with some of the characters in the book, and they fight a race of insectoid creatures called Bugs. That’s about it. So enough analysis bullcrap. Let’s quit shaking and prepare to drop into Starship Troopers.
The movie begins and is interrupted every now and then by these obnoxious propaganda clips for the Terran government that are really just Verhouven standing on a soapbox and yelling about how militarism is bad, then thinking himself clever for it. Yeah, the novel was essentially Heinlein’s pulpit, but at least it was elegant. This is just annoying. Anyway, back to the plot. It starts off with Juan Rico, a high school student in Buenos Ares. Immediately I see some problems. In the novel, Rico is Filipino, and it’s only implied he has family in Buenos Ares and actually lives in the U.S. But this Rico is white. Like Aryan white. With annoyingly WASPish parents. And everyone in his high school is white. How the hell does a white guy get the name “Juan Rico”? Anyway, Rico’s circle of friends include Neil Patrick Harris (seriously), his slutty, thoroughly unlikeable girlfriend Carmen Ibanez (also white), and his platonic best friend/obsessive stalker Dizzy Flores. It was seeing Flores that first really got me pissed. In the book, Flores was a one-shot redshirt who got killed off in the first chapter. So obviously, the most logical way to adapt his character was to make him a woman and have her be Rico’s friend who’s also in love with him. Sure. There’s also his philosophy teacher Mr. Raczack. This confused me, because in the book the teacher was a veteran named Dubois, and Raczack was Rico’s lieutenant after he graduated bootcamp. This confusion is “alleviated” later in one of the most enraging scenes of the movie.
Anyway, they’re all about to graduate, and Carmen plans on applying to the naval academy to become a pilot. I find this funny, because for something like that you need to be intelligent and Carmen in this film is a textbook bimbo. Yeah, Book!Carmen goes on to be a pilot as well, but she’s also described as actually being intelligent instead of it just being implied. Anyway, since Rico is a masochistic tool who can’t function unless he’s being walked on by a woman, he decides to join up as well so he can be with her. Harris joins with him, but because he’s psychic (bullshit!) he winds up in the intelligence division. Because Rico’s supposedly dumber than a sack of hammers, he gets his ass thrown into the infantry.
All this happens around when mankind finds itself at war with the Bugs, a race of giant, well, bugs. Anyway, these bugs operate on a hivemind, and the war begins with them hurling asteroids at human worlds from their planet of Klendathu, clear across on the other side of the galaxy. This confuses me, because unless the asteroids were aimed and hurled by psychic Bugs several billion years before they even knew humans existed, this shouldn’t be possible. Let’s break off here for a second so I can describe this. Take a marble, tie it to a piece of string, and tie that piece of string to the rim of a basketball hoop in a professional stadium. Now turn off all of the lights, stand in the nosebleed section, and hurl another marble at the first one. You’re more likely to hit it than you would be able to hit a planet clear across the galaxy with an asteroid.
Back to the plot. So Rico heads to bootcamp where he encounters Clancy Brown, his DI and one of the only likeable things about this movie. I will dub him “Gunnery Sergeant Kurgan”. Shortly after he arrives, so too does Flores, who is so obsessed with Rico that she joined up and requested transfer to his platoon at boot camp. Rico tried to the same thing with Carmen, so I won’t judge her as being crazy when it’s clear that everyone in this movie is out of their minds. This whole boot camp sequence just feels weird. It feels like it would be more in place in an episode of the Simpsons. There’s co-ed barracks and showers (just an excuse to get the actresses topless), and the drill sergeant just spends most of his time yelling nonsensically, and breaking recruit’s hands before calling for a medic in a rather bored voice. Oh yeah, and then, when one recruit questions why they’re learning to use knives when they all carry rifles and hand grenade-sized nuclear explosives, GSgt. Kurgan just pins his palm to the wall with a well-thrown knife. Okay, in the novel they also learn to use obsolete weaponry, but their philosophy is that they’re training them to be able to rely on themselves as “dangerous men” rather than be handicapped by dependency on their weaponry. These guys in the film could be trounced by a bunch of twelve-year-olds with paintball guns.
Anyway, it’s also in boot camp that Rico meets and befriends Ace, played by Jake Busey. He really is one of the most nightmarish elements of the whole film. He looks and sounds like a frickin serial rapist. You know the kind who drags you into the forest and makes you dig your own grave before yelling at you to squeal like a pig? Oh yeah, and Carmen also calls him to tell him that they need to break up because long distance relationships are hard. You’ve been apart for like three weeks. And the whole reason he joined was for you, you fickle bitch.
So Rico gets promoted to squad leader, and then loses it almost immediately when one of his squad mates buys it in a training accident. And by “accident” I mean he got shot in head by another squad mate who was hit by TRAINING LASERS THAT CAUSE MUSCLE SPASMS. Seriously? Who the hell thought that it would be a good idea to train your boots by having them rush and fire at target dummies that shoot lasers that cause uncontrollable seizures? I think the Bugs may secretly be in command of the armed forces. Boot camp goes on, Buenos Ares gets flattened by one of the Bugs’ lightspeed asteroids, and soon plans for an invasion of the Bug homeworld of Klendathu are being drawn out. Rico, Flores, and Ace graduate, and soon find themselves heading out to the front lines. Oh yeah, and Carmen, despite being a blatantly incompetent (in that way where you know she sucks, but no one else in the movie seems to think so) pilot, also graduates. Because apparently, training for a battlecruiser command crew takes the same amount of time as basic training for the boots.
So they all mobilize to Klendathu, and the battleships all cluster up to the point where you could reach out and touch the nearest ship to yours. Because that makes sense. The MI’s drop down to the surface and all blindly rush forward with no semblance of rank and file. It should also be noted that they have no armor or artillery on the battlefield. Again, in the books, the soldiers go in without support. But because each of them wears a large, high-tech combat suit that allows them to serve the roles of tanks/artillery themselves, they don’t need it. Here, they’re just a bunch of foot sloggers wearing plastic combat armor rushing across an open battlefield. It doesn’t go well. The Bugs appear and absolutely slaughter them. The Bugs’ artillery, giant bugs with massive ass cannons (seriously) begin lobbing plasma into space. And because the ships are all stacked up, you really only need to hit one to take out the other four floating around it. So the fleet gets decimated as well. Rico survives, but is so seriously wounded he has to float around in the bacta tank from Empire Strikes Back. This also pissed me off because 1) it’s a ripoff; and 2) it reminded me of a movie I would much rather be watching.
The movie goes on, more of that annoying propaganda satire pops up, and I just start getting bored. Anyway, now the military has been called to Planet P to conduct “Operation ROYALTY”. That name makes no sense. In the book, ROYALTY was conducted to capture a living “brain Bug” or a queen to use as a bargaining chip to get the Bugs to release human prisoners (the Bugs in the book are a great deal more intelligent, though still a hive mind). But at this point in the film, they don’t even know that any of the Bug “royalty” exists. It’s now that Rico, Flores, and Ace are transferred to the Roughnecks, run by…Mr. Raczack. Their old history/philosophy teacher!
That is BULLSHIT. You’re telling me that the retired amputee veteran pushing fifty comes back as a boots on the ground CO? What’s the point? Why did you have to get rid of the established Dubois character if you were just going to use Raczack for his original role as lieutenant anyway?! Militaries do not work that way. I don’t care if he’s played by Michael Ironside.
…Anyway they land, and roam about the same badlands that every fight scene in the movie is set in. They get ambushed by some sort of burrower Bug with a laser on its head. Rico ices it with a grenade and everyone celebrates. That night, they make camp, and Rico and Flores enjoy a ah, private night together. Anyway, this is when Flores finally confesses that she’s in love with him, and Rico just gives the greatest blank stare. You know, that kind of “oh crap” look that people give when they’re completely put on the spot? It’s great.
The next day, they move on to the source of a distress signal. It’s a bombed out base filled with corpses. They walk around, and Lt. Ironside finds a body with a baseball-sized hole in its head. He sticks his prosthetic robot hand into the whole and delivers this amazing gem of a line: “they sucked his brains out”. Made even better by the fact that he’s trying hard not to laugh at how stupid of a line this is. Here’s the link. See for yourself.
Suddenly, a locker burst open, and out pops a general. He starts babbling and acting like Private Hudson from Aliens, going all “Game over man, game over!” Raczack knocks General Hudson out and drags him outside. The ground begins to quake, and soon they begin to see Bugs swarming over the nearby hills towards the base. They call for evac, but sustain heavy casualties including Raczack. Goodbye Michael Ironsides. You provided me with at least a bit of entertainment in this crap. So the dropship arrives, piloted by none other than Carmen. Wait, I thought she was the navigations officer on the bridge. This would be like if Mr. Sulu was the shuttlecraft pilot on every mission. So just as they board, Flores gets stabbed through the chest by a Bug claw, and she dies on the way back up to the ship. Well, Book!Flores died on an evac ship as well, so I guess I’ll give them that.
They have a funeral that’s taken straight from the ending scenes of Star Trek II. Neil Patrick Harris shows up, having been promoted to colonel and dressed in full SS garb. Okay Verhouven. There’s parody, there’s satire, and there’s being a pretentious, sanctimonious asshole who thinks he’s being clever. Is this over yet? No? Dammit.
So now the last scenes are being set up. Rico is promoted to the new lieutenant (because you field promote enlisted guys into COs in this universe). They put boots on the ground, and start looking for this brain-sucking bug. They go into this network of caves, and as this is happening Carmen’s ship gets hit by a blast of the Bugs’ asstillary. She and her copilot make it to an escape pod just before it blows, and crashes into the network of caves. Bullcrap. She and her copilot get out, but are captured by the Bugs. Suddenly the Brain Bug emerges, and I guess it commands the warriors to stand down. It lumbers towards the two, and brandishes this weird drinking straw-like proboscis. It punctures Copilot’s head and slurps his brains up like a milkshake. Brainmatter! Chock full of protein and Omega-3!
Rico and his boys are in the caves when he gets a distress call from the nearby escape pod. Believing it may be Carmen, he abandons the main objective to go find them. His men tell him he’ll hang for it if he does, but he says he doesn’t care. See this directly conflicts with one of the core philosophies of the Federation in the book. As Heinlein described it, the retrieval of a wounded or lost comrade superseded all other objectives whenever possible. The value of human life was a major thematic topic. But whatever, it’s all almost done. They find Carmen before her brains get slurped out. This sucks because she was so thoroughly unlikable I was waiting for her to finally get killed off. Some no name redshirt blows himself up to buy them time to escape. When they emerge, they see a host of soldiers pulling the Brain Bug out by some ropes. Its capture is attributed to a buck private, and lo and behold, it’s GSgt. Kurgan! He took a voluntary demotion so he could get out to the front lines. I guess he was right. Better to burn out than to fade away! Whatever. Same thing happened in the book, so I won’t give them crap.
So that’s it. You know, I’ve heard many people—including the creators—trying to defend this movie’s deviations from the book by saying they were intentional, as the movie as a whole was meant to satirize militarism and American imperialism. I don’t buy that. That just sounds like a half-assed attempt at justifying pissing off so many people. I looked it up. This was originally just going to be an Aliens ripoff. Ironic, seeing that Aliens is actually the closest thing to a true adaptation we’ll probably ever see. James Cameron even had the actors playing marines in that movie read Starship Troopers to prepare for the role. Then the studio came in and told Verhouven they had the license to make this movie instead. Of course, Verhouven tried to read the book but declared that he got sick of it after the first two chapters. So really what this came down to was some guy saddled with making a movie about a book he didn’t like and pissing people off in the process. Apparently though, director Neil Moritz has announced plans to remake the film and make it much more faithful to the book. Let’s hope so. Good God, let’s hope so.
So I’m gonna start this off by saying that no, there won’t be a Spider-man review. I did see it, and to my pleasant surprise was actually pretty good. However, it just wasn’t memorable. You ever see a movie and think it wasn’t too bad, and then come away from it realizing that there just wasn’t anything worth talking about? None of the action left an impression, the characters were well fleshed out but just enough to keep from being uninteresting, and I still think that Emma Stone has no business trying to play a 17-year-old. So that’s it. There’s nothing beyond that one sentence that I can say about Spider-man.
Now that that’s out of the way I can focus on the real point of this review: The Dark Knight Rises. I was pumped for this movie, but due to me being on vacation on its release day and my questioning the appropriateness of seeing it so soon after the tragedy in Colorado, I didn’t get a chance to see it until the day I write this; a week after the movie was released—that’s a long time for me, especially for a movie I’m pumped for. And I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed, though me being the cynic that I am, I will start off this review by listing the few things with which I had a problem.
First off, I’m going to say this. In the same way that Return of the Jedi was not as good as Empire Strikes Back, this film was not as good as The Dark Knight. Largely because it wasn’t a Batman movie. It was a Bruce Wayne movie, if that makes any sense. Whereas The Dark Knight was a melancholy study of just what it means to be Batman, this film was an exploration into what the experiences had been doing to Bruce Wayne’s psyche. In that regards (as well as many others which I will not spoil), it’s more of a direct sequel to Batman Begins. The character study is fine and all, but Batman did not appear until about a half hour into the movie, and rarely so after that. It was all mostly Bruce Wayne (yes, I am aware that they are the same character, but I differentiate between the two because Wayne is such a dynamically complex character that he and Batman really are almost two different people). And I did want just a little more of the Caped Crusader in all his batty glory.
I’ll keep this vague to avoid spoilers, but the ending was cliché. Scratch that, it was only kind of cliché. I can honestly say that I didn’t expect the culminating event of the last twenty minutes, but when it did roll around, I kind of rolled my eyes at how the writers—people who really have raised the bar in super hero story writing—decided to opt for such a “safe” ending.
Also as a side note, this film to my everlasting disappointment did NOT have Ellen Paige, as I had heard rumored. Dammit.
But enough of the negativity. I said at the beginning that this film was good, and I stick by that. I’ll start with the things that I had hoped would be good and were. The new actors all played their characters very well, especially Marion Cotillard, who played a welcomingly unexpected character from the comics. But I feel that Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Tom Hardy deserve their own paragraphs, largely because I can (mostly) talk about them at length without spoilers.
I’ll start with Anne Hathaway as Catwoman/Selina Kyle. I’ve always loved Catwoman and her love to hate, hate to love on-and-off again relationships with Batman. However, it saddens me to know that she has very rarely gotten a dignified appearance on film, with Michelle Pfeiffer’s otherwise excellent performance negating the cat burglar aspect (a major part of the character!) for this weird, overdone neo-feminist hatred of men. Distrust of men in general is part of Catwoman’s character, but it was way overplayed in Batman Returns. And I’m not going to even talk about Halle Barrey’s disgraceful film. But in Rises, we’re treated to the first legitimate non-animated portrayal of Catwoman since the 1960s. She was clever, manipulative, and maintained that oh-so-delicate level of lovable bitchiness combined with the reluctant altruism that makes the character so endearing to me. I got what I wanted from Hathaway’s Catwoman, and I’m looking forward to any future Nolan films she’ll be in.
Next is Bane, played admirably well by Tom Hardy. I know that there was some early criticisms from the comic zealots about how Bane’s ethnicity changed from Latin American to…I don’t know what. Hardy’s British accent was kind of hard to read coming from Bane’s mask, so sometimes he sounded British, sometimes Australian, or Russian, or even Brazilian. He grew up in an East African prison though, so who knows. It was strange. And I know that others still were disappointed with how they took away the Venom gas he uses to achieve his strength and replaced with anesthesia, but that kind of thing doesn’t really fly in the Nolanverse, so if you complained about that you’re probably one of the people that don’t like any of the Chris Nolan Batman movies. But I will say that Bane was one intimidating magnificent bastard. He was brutal, and he and his cronies were all portrayed as a frighteningly realistic terrorist group. While Hardy may not have brought the refined edge the late Heath Ledger brought to his famous Joker role, he definitely delivered the raw power and brutal intellect one should expect from the character.
And I should also mention Joseph Gordon-Levitt. His snarky persona in Inception made him one of my favorite characters in that film, despite him looking eerily like one of my little sister’s good friends and really enjoyed him here, where he played a very badass John Blake (a character that doesn’t actually exist in the comics, though those familiar with the Batman character with a similar name are in for a real treat). And I will say that his role in the last two minutes of the film is awesome, but you’ll have to see for yourself.
Beyond that, I don’t really have much to say. I know that I really only talked about the characters, but that’s because I have always approached the philosophy that the characters are the most important part of the story. If you understand how good or bad the characters are, you understand how good or bad the movie is. But I will say this: I urge you all to see this one for yourself, because I haven’t mentioned the best part of this movie yet. It completely does its job as a conclusion. The plot has gone full circle, and by the end full closure to the story has been given, without necessarily ending on a low note. Best film of the year? Probably not. But a well done conclusion to a gripping reimagining of one of the most relative and endearing fictional characters in modern media? Definitely. It’s been quite the ride, Mr. Nolan. I can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with next. *Gary Oldman Voice*: Because you’re not a filmmaker. You’re a watchful artist. A silent visionary. A Dark Director.
Well it’s 11:30 at night (as I write this) and I got nothing. I haven’t been to the movies since I last saw Prometheus. Nothing really interesting has come out. I flirted with the idea of seeing and review Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, but to be honest, I didn’t see a point. It looked dumb, and it even seems to KNOW that it’s dumb. I can’t go see a movie solely to complain about it if the entire point of it is to be over the top and stupid. There’s no point. To me, I don’t think that I would have had anything worthwhile to say about it. It doesn’t look good, but it also doesn’t look bad enough to where I could even rant about it.
I also thought of seeing Brave, but without someone to accompany me I would just feel weird, as an adult, walking into a family feature alone. I mean I could walk in with a pad of paper and a pen and say “Yeah, I’m here not because I’m really into this kind of movie, but because I need to take notes and rant about it on the internet…that’s why I’m here alone…”. So, that one may still be in the cards. Also, now that the first season is wrapped up I’ve also thought about maybe doing a recap and review of the first season of Legend of Korra (yes, I know it’s a little hip on the tumblr sphere right now, but who cares) but I wanna wait a little so that more people have a chance to catch all of it so I don’t have to be as careful about accidental spoilers (I would ask who would’ve thought that a “Saturday morning” cartoon could have such a tight continuity, if it wasn’t for the fact that we were given that answer with its predecessor series). But guys, long story short, for the time being, I’ve got nothing.
So I feel that I can lighten up the silence with my thoughts about the upcoming Dark Knight Rises. I gotta say, I am really pumped up for this one, for a variety of reasons. I’ve always loved Nolan’s spin on the Batman universe, and I feel that he has come closer to matching the elements of the comics than most other film adaptations, even with his trimming the proverbial fat that is the more outlandish elements of the franchise. I love these films, and it fills me with anticipation that we’ll now be getting the thrilling conclusion we’ve been waiting for since the last film.
The part that really has me most excited is the same that thing that has captivated me since Batman Begins: the casting. I love the actors. Christian Bale is the best live-action Batman since Michael Keaton, and is surpassed really only by the amazing voice acting of Kevin Conroy for the animated series. Heath Ledger was of course amazing, and again only outclassed by his animated predecessor, Mark “Skywalker” Hamill. Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine also deliver top notch performances that perfectly match the personalities of their respective comic characters. And now, it looks like they’re continuing the trend.
In Rises, we have multiple new actors. And by “multiple” I mean the entire cast of Inception, sans Leo DiCaprio. Tom Hardy is playing a very threatening Bane, which has me excited. For those of you who don’t know, Bane is one of the most physically intimidating members of Batman’s Rogues Gallery, as well as one of the few villains mentally on par with the Dark Knight himself. In his first appearance, Bane broke open Arkham Asylum and used the ensuing chaos to correctly deduce Batman’s identity and ambush him at Wayne Manor. He then broke Batman’s spine, leaving him wheelchair-bound for a year. Based on the new trailer, it seems that elements of this story arc are making their way into this movie.
We also have Anne Hathaway playing Catwoman, and it seems from the trailers that this is going to be the first live-action portrayal to finally get the character right. Catwoman is very hit and miss outside the comics, with works tending to focus too much on either her sexuality or her mental state, and never the strange balance of both mixed with her sense of reluctant altruism that is present in the comics. Again, some of the only works to really get her right have been the animated series from the 90s and her incarnation in Arkham City, which is still essentially her animated personality. But in film, the two most notable examples are Halle Barry (Catwoman in name only) and Michelle Pfeiffer, who hit the nail closer to head but still wasn’t quite right. I love the character, and look forward to hopefully seeing her given proper justice.
And we have the entire supporting cast. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marian Cotillard are playing all new characters, so I’m looking forward to seeing who they’ll be. Cillian Murphy is returning as Scarecrow/Jonathan Crane, and being one of my favorite villains, I wonder how he’ll factor in (probably just as another short appearance as a supposedly threatening character that gets reduced to a punchline). I’ve also heard that Ellen Page might be appearing; I am sincerely hopeful for that. I loves me some Ellen Page…
So that’s pretty much all I have to say. I know that this was really just a long wall of text talking about who’s playing what, but I feel that this should get some of the readers out there who aren’t paying as close attention as I am—which probably means that you guys all have lives. I hope that this has helped, as both some new content and as an explanation for why I haven’t posted anything in a while. Keep your eyes peeled thought for Amazing Spider-man, I am definitely seeing that and I will definitely review it.
I’ve long held the belief that I was born in the wrong time. Despite still being a wee lad, many of my favorite movies, mostly late 70s and 80s sci-fi and cult flicks like Terminator, Alien, The Thing, Escape from New York and many others came out before I was born or when I was too young to see them in the theatres. And like many with my tastes, I hate it—absolutely hate it when the nimrods in Hollywood decide to create a prequel/sequel/remake of these movies. Case in point: 2011’s The Thing, one of the most annoying films I’ve ever shelled out nine bucks for. But I gotta see it, right? I’m almost required by fandom law to see these films even if it’s just to go straight home and complain about it on the internet.
But I’m rambling. When I had first heard about Prometheus, all I had heard about it was that it was a prequel to Alien, which had my eyes rolled because I had just seen The Thing (2011) and was royally pissed at Hollywood. But then I did some research, and discovered that it was being directed by Ridley Scott, who not only directed the original Alien but is generally considered to be one of the greatest, if not THE definitive science-fiction director. So I was much more on board after that, and my enthusiasm and anticipation for release day grew with every announcement, every trailer, and every scrap of information that came out about this movie. And when that day finally rolled around, I rushed to the theatre, grabbed myself a soda and some skittles, and secured my seat right in the center of the (rather undercrowded) theatre and felt my inner fanboy get giddier and giddier as the opening credits started to roll.
Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed. This is in all honesty one of the best sci-fi flicks of the new millennium I’ve seen. It was a breath of fresh air for modern science fiction, a genre whose poster children are series of brainless action heavy grindfests like the new Transformers movies. The action, the cinematography, and the actors were all top notch and the movie as a whole maintained that melancholy and bittersweet hopefulness that is common in all of the great science fiction movies. Michael Fassbender completely stole the show (even people who hated this movie almost unanimously agree that this was one of his best performances yet) and Scott once again showed his masterful use of the set piece. I sat through the entire ending credits silently, and walked out after the movie speechless, something that has never happened to me before.
However, being that I am a jaded and cynical old man at heart, I have to say that this film wasn’t perfect, and has a few things that even after two viewings still bother me. The first is that this movie seems really high on itself. It starts off with this big, grandiose theme that blares off every time something “wonderous” or “mysterious” is supposed to happen (which is a lot), like it’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind or something. And in a movie that has this many horror elements, trying to act like it’s the most important movie you’re audience will see is rather inappropriate. And that’s the other problem. It wasn’t scary. I’m not a gore hound, but I was expecting this movie to be a lot more intense than this, especially considering how effective a horror movie Alien was. There were only really four “frightening” scenes, and none of them were really that intense. Except maybe Noomi Rapace’s emergency abortion. That was pretty rough. I was never really scared. The first time I saw the movie I was a little on edge during a couple of scenes, but the second time I wasn’t even fazed. I like good horror, and unfortunately this movie didn’t really deliver on that aspect.
Plus I may be nitpicking, but despite how good the actors were, I couldn’t really get engrossed in any of the characters. It’s probably because I’ve seen this kind of movie so many times, I knew exactly who would live and who wouldn’t, and when those that wouldn’t would die (except for one character, and that’s because Scott, the bastard that he is, flat out lied about one character living through the movie). I mean come one, look at what we’ve got: the heroine (which is a common trait in Scott movies), her nice white-bread boyfriend (who had this weird, seemingly pathological hatred for robots), the quirky android, the corporate suit, the salty military-trained space captain and his smart-mouthed crew, the money-hungry jerk, the overeager nerd (you can tell he’s a nerd cause he wears glasses), and the group of nameless redshirts that exist only to show off how scary the monsters are when they get killed in gruesome ways. I mean come on, go back to that list I just gave and think hard about their survival chances. Plus, some of these characters are flat-out stupid. I don’t care if your little tri-quarters or whatever says that the air in the structure is breathable, YOU DON’T TAKE OFF YOUR HELMETS. Aren’t they afraid of alien germs or viruses? But I’m rambling again.
But despite these shortcomings and the controversial nature of the film amongst the fanbase (this is one of the more divisive films in the science fiction community right now) I really did enjoy it. Did it meet my expectations? Absolutely. Did it exceed them? Unfortunately no. But in this day and age, you can’t be too picky about movies and need to take them as they come. This is probably going to be the last really good movie I’ll see until The Dark Knight Rises comes out. I’m still on the fence about checking out Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter but if I do then I’ll have a review on that out pretty quick. But I will definitely go and see The Amazing Spider-man, and good God, I could take up several pages with complaints about that movie already