Showing posts with label Sigourney Weaver. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sigourney Weaver. Show all posts

Monday, 3 June 2013

Galaxy Quest



Galaxy Quest is a loving homage to Star Trek and its associated fandom. Tim Allen stars as an actor famous for his portrayal of a ship’s captain in a formerly popular TV sci-fi series. He and his crew of actors travel from city to city appearing at various conventions, signings and store openings, events which some of the cast find demeaning. When Jason Naismith (Allen) is approached for a role playing gig with some super-fans, he discovers to his surprise that the ‘fans’ are in fact aliens who are at war with alien warlord and require Naismith’s help, believing the TV show to be a historical document and the actors to be real life heroes.

I saw a few minutes of Galaxy Quest a couple of months ago and thought that it looked like an interesting idea. A friend lent me the DVD last week and I was excited about watching it. Unfortunately I didn’t feel like the film lived up to its promising premise. There are some nice Star Trek references and the idea isn’t without intelligence but I failed to laugh once and felt that once the initial reveal had occurred that there was very little left of interest to me.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Ghostbusters



I haven’t seen Ghostbusters since the mid 1990s. I don’t know why this is as I remember liking it as a child, although Ghostbusters II scared me, and I also watched the cartoon The Real Ghostbusters when I was very young. If memory serves me right I also had some Ghostbusters toys. I don’t know then why it has taken me so long (over half my life!) to watch it again. I got the idea to re-watch it before a recent trip to New York as I was in the mood for New York based movies and it was recommended to me on Twitter. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time before I went but I saved it until today and wasn’t disappointed. It’s great fun!

Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Raymond Stantz (Dan Akyroyd) and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) are three misfit scientists working out of Columbia University. When they lose their jobs due to a mixture of incompetence and lack of results they decide to set up shop as Ghostbusters, investigated the paranormal and catching ghosts for the people of New York City. They are initially successful and gain a reputation and celebrity status but something big on the horizon threatens to derail them and the entire city.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Red Lights

"How did you know that?"
"I'm psychic"

Psychologist and paranormal investigator Dr. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and her assistant Dr. Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) a physicist travel around debunking supposed paranormal activity from bumps in the night to stage psychics. Dr. Buckley wants to investigate their most challenging person to date, Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), a redound psychic who is making a comeback after a thirty year absence from the stage. Dr. Matheson warns Buckley against this though after having come up against him in the 1970s and failing to prove him a fraud. With the help of student Sally Owen (Elisabeth Olsen) Buckley defies Matheson and begins investigating the illusive Silver.

As a radical atheist and sceptic the film’s ideas appealed to me. I was delighted to watch the scientists make fun of and debunk people who claim to see ghosts and be able to read minds. The script treats these people with distain and isn’t afraid to mention how these people can be responsible for giving stupid people false hope and can even cost lives. The cast is also amongst the best of any film this year. With actors such as Signourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy, Toby Jones, Joely Richardson, the delightful Elizabeth Olsen and my all time favourite actor Robert De Niro, anything less than a great film would be a disappointment. Well, this isn’t a great film but it isn’t terrible either.



Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Alien Resurrection

"What's inside me? What's inside me?!!"

Two hundred years after the events of Alien 3 military scientists create a clone of Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) complete with alien embryo growing inside her. After separating the two, the Ripley clone is kept alive for further study. One of the side effects of the cloning is that Ripley’s DNA has been crossed with that of her alien baby and she now possesses super human strength and acidic blood as well as a kind of telepathic link with the aliens. Meanwhile a group of mercenaries arrive aboard the ship carrying a cargo of kidnapped humans which the scientists implant with alien embryos. Unsurprisingly these aliens escape and run amok on the ship causing its remaining crew to run for their lives.

I was massively disappointed with Alien 3 (although FilmsRruss tells me that the Director’s Cut is much better than the theatrical version I saw) and Alien Resurrection seemed to be going in the same direction. I found the first half really boring and actually fell asleep after about 40 minutes. After I resumed viewing however, I really enjoyed the second half.


Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Alien 3

"Don't be afraid. I'm part of the family"

Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is back in stasis aboard the Sulaco when a fire causes the escape pod to separate from the ship and she crash lands on Fiorina ‘Fury’ 161, a penal colony inhabited only by men. Ripley’s fellow Aliens survivors all die in the crash, leaving her alone and stranded in the prison. Unfortunately for Ripley and the prisoners, an alien face hugger was on board the pod and has also survived the crash.

While I’ve been watching the Alien franchise for the first time over the last few weeks I’ve been told by numerous people that Alien 3 was by far the weakest of the series. So far, I’d have to agree. The film entered production without a completed script and the messiness of the film is some testament to that. It feels as though the film doesn’t know what it wants to be. It is less scary than even Aliens but has a bit more of a dramatic quality than Alien. The film also appears to introduce a comic element to the series but this fails miserably. The story feels incoherent and the characters are barely written. In both previous instalments the large cast always felt well written and as though they were rounded characters. In Alien 3 the majority of them appear to be just cannon fodder. The only new character that I cared a little about was killed off within the first half.  


Friday, 18 May 2012

Aliens

"Get away from her, you bitch!"

After surviving the onslaught of Alien, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) has spent 57 years in stasis, floating aimlessly through space. By chance she is picked up by a salvaging vessel and woken up from her deep sleep. Upon telling her story to the Weyland-Yutani Corporation she is met with scepticism and is reduced to working in a loading dock. Later she is visited by Burke (Paul Reiser) who informs her that Weyland Co has lost contact with colonists on LV-426 and he requests that she returns to the planet with a group of Colonial Marines to discover the fate of the colonists. Ripley reluctantly agrees and joins the expedition only to discover that the aliens have struck again, only this time on a much greater scale.

Unlike Alien which was a sci-fi/horror, Aliens is more of an action-adventure in the mould of director James Cameron’s recent super hit Terminator and reminded me a little of Predator. In the end the slight genre change had little effect on the final product as the film is in my view very close to as good as the original. The sets look incredible and realistic. I’m a big fan of a well designed and dressed set and those in Aliens are superb. The sets of 80s science fiction movies always look more impressive to me than those of today because you get the feeling that the actors are really there, interacting with their environment as supposed to being stood in front of a green screen and stepping over green boxes. The ships, vehicles, planet and colonist’s HQ all look great. The design of the guns is also very good. They remain grounded in reality but with a slight futuristic edge to them. The effects are a mixed bag with some looking as good as anything today but others looking noticeably aged.


Sunday, 6 May 2012

Alien

"I got you, you son of a bitch!"

With Prometheus just a couple of weeks away I thought it was about time I filled one of the most unforgivable gaps in my film history and finally watch Alien. The crew of the Nostromo are in stasis on a return trip to Earth, carrying a cargo of mineral ore. They are awakened early by the ship’s computer as it has intercepted a transmission for a nearby planetoid. Upon investigation, crew member Kane (John Hurt) discovers what appear to be eggs inside an unidentified ship. A life form hatches out of one of the eggs and attaches itself to his face. Returning to the Nostromo the crew try to detach the creature from Kane’s face but with no success. A short time later the creature removes itself from Kane and the crew find it dead. While preparing to go back into stasis for the return to Earth something extraordinary happens that unleashes an even greater threat to the ship and the crew.

My first thoughts were that the Nostromo reminded me of so much I’ve seen already. It is obvious how much influence the film has had on subsequent science fiction. The living quarters reminded me of the film Moon and in just about every other scene I said to myself “That’s just like Red Dwarf”. Everything about the film’s design was excellent. The ship felt large and real and the creature design was incredible. Considering the film is now over thirty years old, the latex or prosthetics that were used looked really good. Even now. Obviously some aspects of the film have aged noticeably. The computers for instance look as old as they are. This isn’t a major problem though as anything older than about five years or without a touch screen looks aged.


Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Wall-E

Pixar’s 2008 Wall-E is set in the distant future; at a time when the human race has left Earth due to an unmanageable build up of waste. While humanity has grown fat and lazy aboard giant space craft the last remaining Wall-E robot is busy on Earth trying to clean up the mess. Wall-E is dedicated but na├»ve. He takes pride in his work but also has a collection of interesting objects and a passion for the 1969 film Hello Dolly! That film makes him long for company. That company arrives unexpectedly one day in the form of EVE. EVE is a robot sent to earth to search for plant life, something that Wall-E has recently found on the otherwise desolate planet. Wall-E falls instantly in love with EVE and follows her into deep space in an adventure which will impact both them and the remainder of the human race.

I’ll say straight away that I love this film. It is probably my favourite Pixar film which puts it pretty high up my all time list. The animation is extraordinary. In my opinion it is up there with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs for the best looking computer animated film ever. The thing that stands out most is the way the film uses focus to such great effect. Backgrounds have the look of being in the background and it gives the film great depth of field. The focus also shifts from the foreground to background to give the film an incredibly realistic feel. This realism is heightened as live action is occasionally dropped in. The characters themselves are beautifully designed and animated. Wall-E looks exactly as you’d expect a trash compacting robot to look and has some lovely little details on him. He even has little scratches which look great. EVE looks much more futuristic than Wall-E but has a beautiful design. The man behind the design of the iPad, iPod and iPhone was consulted on her design and she looks as sleek and stylish as Apple’s products (though her battery lasts longer).

As neither Wall-E nor EVE really speaks much, the animators had to make sure they were able to give their characters expression through the use of body language. They well and truly succeeded with this task and both characters have great expression. Both characters use their eyes and the position of their bodies is very important. At no time was I in any doubt as to what the emotion was that a character was trying to convey and their personalities shone through, despite their lack of dialogue. I read that Wall-E was modelled partly on Buster Keaton who despite his stoic and expressionless face could convey great emotion in the silent era. You can see a lot of Keaton (one of my all time favourite film makers) in Wall-E.

The story has two main strands. The first is a sweet and timeless love story which is very charming. The second part of the story turns the camera on the audience and looks at the lifestyle of the West in the early part of the 21st century. It shows us a glimpse as to where we could be heading. There is only one giant corporation and people have become completely reliant on technology. They have also become so fat and lazy that they can no longer walk. The idea that we don’t appreciate what is around us is also hinted at. These themes fall into line with a lot of the messages from modern day ‘family films’ and can be considered a warning to us all. As well as the traditional Hollywood ‘left wing message’, there are also quite a lot of subtle Biblical messages in the film. EVE could be considered as a partner for the lonely Wall-E (Adam) and her guiding of the Axiom towards Earth has some parallels with the end of the Noah myth, I mean ‘story’. The corporation ‘BnL’ could also be seen as a sort of false prophet.

The whole film is incredibly sweet. It is lovely that all Wall-E wants from EVE is to hold her hand and it is touching to watch him attempt to do so. It almost bought a tear to my eye the first time I watched as Wall-E protected EVE from a storm while on Earth and the scene in which the two dance in space is one of the most magical I’ve seen. As well as being a lovely part of the story, it is also the best animated part and at times one of the funniest.


Wall-E is not the funniest of Pixar’s films but still has its funny moments. The character of a robot that follows Wall-E around, cleaning his track marks is very funny and with all Pixar films there are funny lines and incidents dotted throughout. The addition of the broken robots also created some laughs. It might not be Pixar’s funniest but I think that, with the possible exception of Toy Story 3 it is their most emotional and most endearing film to date. Your heart aches when Wall-E thinks he has lost EVE and again when the opposite is believed to be the case. It is testament to the strength of those two character’s love for one another that the fate of humanity plays second fiddle to their story. Wall-E is an absolutely fantastic film which is too good to be just considered as a children’s film. I believe that an adult would get more out of it than a child. It is touching, funny and sweet. And I love it.

10/10

Friday, 13 April 2012

The Cabin in the Woods

This is a film that is best seen without hearing anything about it so I will try to keep spoilers separate and in red ink.
The set up is fairly conventional slasher-horror. Five friends, two hot chicks, two football player types and a stoner head off to a cabin in the woods for the weekend to get drunk, get laid and get stoned. As you’d expect something is lucking in the woods and wants to kill them all. They must try to fend off their attacker(s), figure out what’s going on and escape alive.

The film opens a bit unexpectedly with two men in suits talking about a scenario that they are currently dealing with. Then we get to meet the five young people who are at the centre of the story. Apart from occasional cuts back to the scientists who give very little away about what they are doing the action remains conventional as the group set off to the woods. On the way they stop at a scary looking gas station and meet an equally scary, Wrong Turn looking man who insults them and warns them about the Cabin. The group arrive at the cabin and get the feeling that something isn’t right when one of the rooms turns out to contain a two way mirror. And that isn’t the half of it! After a night of drinking they stumble upon the cabin’s cellar and from then on things become very strange indeed.

Much of the action is as you’d expect. There are long periods of quiet and fumbling around in the dark then short, sharp scares. The characters are also what you’d expect, from the slightly slutty blonde, to the funny stoned guy and the shy virgin. The script is funny and isn’t too cheesy.

After the cellar scene the whole genre is subverted. The film draws from the likes of Scream, The Evil Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and even shares themes with The Hunger Games and The Truman Show but is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Unfortunately the opening titles give away a little too much for my liking but there is still more than enough suspense and intrigue. The film is like a puzzle which the audience has to try to unravel, combining ancient legends and practices with a modern Big Brother style subplot.  

While remaining gory, funny and scary enough to satisfy casual horror fans, there is so much more for the seasoned fan. The twists and reveals are excellent and the film never truly reveals itself until the closing minutes. The very last minute I found a bit poor but up until then, it was excellent. All of the cast are good but I think that Fran Katz stood out as the stoner, funny man who kind of has an inkling as to what is going on. The scientists played by The West Wing’s Bradley Whitford and Six Feet Under’s Richard Jenkins are also excellent. Their dead pan performance gives the film a really creepy edge and they appear to have great chemistry. The script manages to avoid being too cheesy for the most part but it does slip into corny teen horror territory a couple of times. How much of this is intentional or not I don’t know. Josh Whedon and Drew Goddard’s writing and direction will be evident to those who know their work and there is a lot of Buffy in there but with the WTF’s of the likes of Cloverfield and LOST. The special effects are excellent, especially towards the end of the film and there are plenty of surprises right up to the final scene.
The standout scenes take place in the underground complex and are amongst the best I’ve seen in a horror film. It is like having every nightmare and horror movie monster coming at you all at once and is a great sequence that will probably be remembered for a long time. It is a memorable part of the film which I absolutely loved.

This is a really original horror that almost reinvents the genre. There is an awful lot to like about it. It is funny, a little bit scary (though not overly so) and it is very well made by people who obviously know about and love the genre. What people will remember though is the twist and reveals and I’d recommend it to anyone. As well as looking into the traditional horror themes, it also turns the camera on the audience and looks at our relationship with reality television and our desensitisation towards death and violence which I think is an interesting idea.

9/10

Monday, 27 February 2012

Rampart


I’d been looking forward to Rampart for some time after hearing rumours of an excellent performance from Woody ‘cooler than Sam Jackson in a fridge’ Harrelson but left the cinema feeling a little disappointed. Harrelson stars as Dave Brown, an LAPD Cop who is from a different era and gets embroiled in scandal after scandal. He is considered a dinosaur by colleagues and friends for the way he goes about his police work and has no qualms about placing evidence on suspects, beating them or even killing them. We follow Harrelson as his character spirals ever deeply into trouble with both his family and the police department through a series of ill judged moves.



I felt that the film was quite boring. Despite a fantastic central performance from Woody Harrelson I didn’t really care what happened to him and it was obvious from the outset that there would be no way back for him. The film looks great. I am a big fan of the kind of beauty in urban decay shots found here and in films such as Tyrannosaur, Coriolanus and Lebanon. You get the sense of a never ending battle that the police are facing in both the visuals of the film and the actions of its characters. But as I said, I felt bored and the film seemed much longer than it was.

Woody Harrelson is fantastic as the bent cop, Brown. He is from a different era, the last of the renegade cops who sees nothing wrong is doing anything he has to in order to clean up the streets. His self destructiveness shows no bounds and he goes out of his way to piss off and alienate those closest to him. This is especially so with the female characters such as his partner and ex wives. The supporting cast is all good. Sigourney Weaver and Ice Cube are excellent and could have done with a bit more to do. There is a brief cameo from the always excellent Steve Buscemi but Ben Foster is the standout in the supporting cast as he wonderfully portrays a down and out, homeless Vietnam Veteran. He is quite superb in his few scenes.


Both Harrelson and Foster excell

Overall this is a film with a great cast, equally good acting and there is an interesting story in there somewhere but it just doesn’t seem to take off. Some of the director’s camera work was off-putting and for the most part it was dull. It’s a shame as the story and cast involved should have produced a much better film. While it isn’t terrible, it isn’t particularly good either.

6/10