Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Movie Reviews: Sigourney Weaver Edition

Three more movies are under my belt in my movie viewing project.  The last couple of days, I have tackled Alien, Aliens, and Alien 3.  There are definitely worse movies to have to sit down and see. 

Movie #4 - Alien
What more needs to be said about this sci-fi horror classic that hasn't been said before?  I am a HUGE fan of the Alien franchise, especially the first two films.  As this movie came out when I was only a year old, I wish I could pinpoint when I first saw this movie, but I know it had to have been at an early age.  Despite this, I don't remember ever being afraid while watching this film.  I can totally see why it does creep some people out, but I was never affected by it.  Instead, I just sit back and enjoy the film. 

It really is a brilliant film.  It has horror qualities, but it doesn't follow the horror structure that many people might be used to.  Hell, we don't even see the actual Alien until halfway through the movie and even then, we barely see him.  What we get in the first hour is a slow build up that sets the claustrophobic tone of the film.  You feel like something dire can happen at any moment, but tease after tease almost sets you at ease before things really get out of hand.  By now, everyone knows about the chest burster scene, but can you imagine seeing that for the first time and not knowing what would happen?  I would love to be able to experience that for the first time again.  Hell, not even the actors knew the full details of what would happen in that scene when they filmed it and that is why you really get some genuine looks of fear and disgust when you watch that movie.  As the scene was filmed in just one take, you really are seeing the full surprise of the actors. 

I have a hard time believing that a movie like this could be made nowadays.  Today's horror films often feel the need to show too much too fast and the slow build up would probably not be too popular.  And let's not forget that the film cast a bunch of adults in the film.  They make this movie now, the alien would be picking off teens or very young adults one by one over the course of 90 minutes.  It really is a unique and special film.  I give it 4.5 out of 5 cheeseburgers. 

Movie #5 - Aliens
It's Sci-Fi action, but I consider this one of the top 2 action films of all time.  You really have to hand it James Cameron for not messing this movie up.  Ridley Scott's Alien was such a suspenseful, slow moving (but awesome) thriller and to turn around and make the sequel an action film took some guts.  But it worked.  And it worked well. 

Now, despite me considering it one the top 2 action films of all time, there really isn't any action nor do we really even see the aliens until an hour into the film, much like the first film.  The first hour is necessary to the whole plot though, and really does a good job of making us like all of the characters.  And that is one of the main reasons why the movie is so enjoyable - the characters in this film are so fun.  And with these great characters comes great lines.  Just say one line from the movie around people and you'll instantly be flooded with many more memorable quotes.  It has to be one of the most quotable movies out there. 

And once the action starts, it is almost nonstop save for a few scenes.  And despite not being in a closed area like the first film and despite there being Marines with guns, the situation still fears just as dire as the first film.  A special nod to Sigourney Weaver for being so excellent in the role of Ripley that she was nominated for an Academy Award and to James Horner who also garnered an Academy Award nomination for his amazingly memorable score.  I can watch this movie over and over and despite Alien being a classic, I prefer this film because it combines everything I would want in a movie - action, suspense, humor, horror, and drama.  It really is a perfect movie.  5 out of 5 cheeseburgers!

Movie Review #6 - Alien 3
The Alien franchise could have ended after the first two films and I would have been happy.  Sure, I would have craved more films, but at least it could have ended on a high note and had no other films come along to tarnish the legacy of two great films.  Alien 3 doesn't necessarily tarnish the legacy, but it does start the downward spiral.

It really isn't even that bad of a film and I quite enjoy it but after two spectacular films, this was a step down.  I am sure that the main reason for this issue has to be with the developmental hell that this film went through prior to its release.  The storyline and script changed numerous times.  At one point, the film was going to be set on Earth.  At another point, the film wasn't even going to focus on Ripley but instead focus on Bishop and Hicks from Aliens and allegedly, this script is far superior to the one that was finally used.  Different directors came on and then left before David Fincher finally came aboard.  And after the film, he was at such odds with the studio, he was often not talking to them and editing went on for over a year.  This film was almost doomed from the beginning with all these issues and despite this, they were able to come up with a coherent storyline that stays fairly loyal to the story from the first two films.  The tone is much more similar to the first film than the second, but something about it has always seemed a little off to me.  It's a bit...preachy?  I don't know, when I watch the film, I do enjoy it, but if it didn't exist, I also wouldn't complain.  But it did get made and I am actually quite happy with how it ended.  It was a great ending and that last lines are absolutely perfect.  This is something they got totally right.  If only they had stopped there.  3 out of 5 cheeseburgers.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Animals, Airplanes, and Alice

I watched three movies during work yesterday to begin my movie watching project.  Don't know what I am talking about, well then check out this post.

Movie #1- Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
I know there was just a collective groan from the audience thinking, "Really, THAT is how you start off this project?!?"  Truth be told, I was kind of thinking the same thoughts when I put the movies in alphabetical order and realized that this was going to be my first movie.  I hadn't seen this movie in YEARS and am not sure I really had any desire to.  Why do we even own this movie and why don't we own the first Ace Ventura?  Well, it is actually pretty simple.  Back when Jess and I got married in 2002, Jim Carrey was still one of the most, if not the most, popular comedians in Hollywood and we loved his movies, especially once he strayed from just slapsticky comedies and ventured into movies with a little more depth like Truman Show.  Since we were such big fans, we got the idea that it would be fun to own all his movies.  To mix it up a little on our Wedding Registry (we aren't the register for fine china type of couple), we put a ton of his movies on our wish list and we ended up getting this one for our wedding.  I am not sure that we have seen it more than once since.

So I went into this movie with low hopes as my tastes have somewhat changed since I last saw it.  It really takes a lot to make me laugh (I've been called a comedy snob) and I was afraid I would just find this movie stupid.  When the opening scene came on the screen, it mimicked the opening scene from Cliffhanger and I instantly wished I was watching that movie instead.  But by 10 minutes or so into it, I was smiling and chuckling.  I had forgotten how funny Carrey could be with his facial expressions alone.  His ability to contort his face into the most awkward of positions is funny enough on its own, but you add his silly humor to the mix and you have something you really don't see in comedies anymore as almost everything is just raunchy, R-rated humor.  Not that I mind that, but you don't really see what Carrey did back then anymore.   The plot is pretty dumb and outrageous, but he makes the movie good.  I didn't really laugh out loud...well...until this scene which I had completely forgotten about.

A couple of other random thoughts while I watched the movie:
-Mr. Eko from Lost was in this movie.  I had no recollection of this.
-Even though I really remembered nothing from this movie, I have never forgotten one main thing: Guano.  The plot of this movie revolves around guano, or bat droppings, and I have always remembered that word since then.
-Tommy Davidson has a funny role I had forgotten about, but most of you who just read that probably forgot who Tommy Davidson even is/was.  Poor guy, he was pretty big in the mid 90s.

Overall, not a bad movie, especially considering the fact that I expected this movie to be pretty horrible.  It isn't great by any means, but it reminded me just how funny I thought Carrey was back in the day.  I give it two and a half stars out of five.

Movie #2 - Air Force One
I REALLY used to like this movie.  When I first saw it in the theaters back in 1997, I found it to be one of the best action movies I had ever seen.  In fact, after seeing it, it still is a pretty damn good action film, but what I didn't seem to notice the first time I saw it is just how cheesy the movie is.  I mean, it borders on an action film parody with how cheesy it can be during some of the scenes. Harrison Ford is his usual awesome self that he is in all action movies, but without the charm of a Han Solo or Indy Jones.  The supporting cast is pretty good with a who's who of character actors.  Although, there is one particular scene where Glenn Close does some of the worst acting I have ever seen, something you wouldn't expect from her.

So if it is still a great action movie, what is so goofy about it?  It really is hard to pinpoint, but something about it just seems off.  The little jokes seem inappropriate for the dire situation.  It actual really doesn't take a nosedive until the final act.  The scenes become too overly patriotic while the special effects become downright atrocious.  When American fighter jets come to the aid and start declaring that the good guys are here, it just becomes laughable.  And by the end, when the fighter jets escort the plane that Ford escapes to and the happy score plays in the background, I half expected the clouds to turn a shade of red, white, and blue.  And let's not forget the horrible special effects in this movie.  Hell, this scene below as the plane crashes is as bad as it gets.  It looks like something from a SyFy channel movie.

Don't get me wrong, I can still enjoy this movie for what it is, a no-brainer action film, but it isn't quite the complete action epic I thought it was back in the day.  I give it three stars out of five.

Movie #3 - Alice in Wonderland
I truthfully can't remember the last time I saw this 1951 Disney classic.  In fact, when I was watching it, pretty much nothing seemed familiar to me.  So what did I think of it being a big Disney fan?  I hated it.  I mean, this movie was just weird.  Ok, ok, I know the whole Wonderland is kind of supposed to be weird, but this movie just seemed off.  The plot just seemed to be all over the place.  Granted, I haven't read the books and it is probably how the books were written, but I had trouble staying interested because of the plot line and how it almost seem to feel like they were just winging it as the movie went along.  And rather than finding the iconic characters cool, I actually found most of them to be pretty damn annoying, Alice included.  I'm actually quite disappointed.  I wanted to really like this movie, but I just couldn't get into it and by the time it was over, I was convinced I wouldn't be seeing the film again for a very long time.  The only things I took from the movie are that I think I need an unbirthday party every day of the year that isn't my birthday and that Sega seems to have stolen the idea for Sonic the Hedgehog from the hedgehogs that are in the croquet scene.  I give this film 1 out of 5 stars.  

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Shrinking Away

One thing I forgot to mention in my last update post is actually big news in our household.  Since November, but really since the beginning of the year (because who can diet in November and December?), Jess and I have been dieting and exercising.  We really wanted to make a change and we have been pretty damn determined and the results show.  We reached a low of around 48 pounds lost combined before a week of bad that included my birthday weekend and a trip to Vegas had us gain back some of the weight.  I do anticipate we'll be back around that 48 pound weight loss combined by the end of this week.  We've been doing Weight Watchers as well as going to the gym and this past week, we started doing the p90x program as well.  It's been so fun seeing our progress and despite a few setbacks here and there, we are really sticking to it.  Since we have lost nearly 50 pounds combined by the middle of the year, could 100 combined by the end of the year be in our future?  Well, that is quite the lofty goal, but you never know!  Wish us luck!

As I have mentioned here recently, it does become more and more difficult to think of things to write here on the blog when I already talk so openly about my life on Facebook, something every reader of this blog already has.  Well, pretty soon I will be having a new feature here on the blog that will keep me writing here as simple as it may be.  As you all know, I work from home.  Well, last week, I added a TV to my office, mostly so I could add Directv and watch soccer during the day instead of having to take breaks to go to the living room.  But now that I have a TV in there, I'm going to do something I have been wanting to do for a while.  As you know, Jess and I have a pretty extensive movie collection.  We buy a LOT of movies.  Some we see over and over and some rarely get seen.  Heck, I am sure there are a good handful in our collection that I have not seen since we first bought them.  I want to change that.  I want to make buying these movies worthwhile.  So, I have decided to I am going to take advantage of having a TV in my office and gradually make my way through our entire collection of movies... in alphabetical order.  It is a massive undertaking and will take forever to do, but I want to undergo that challenge (Hell, it can't be harder than weight loss), and see it through.  On days when I work long hours and there isn't a soccer game on, I can knock out 3 or 4 movies so it won't be as bad as it seems. 

A few rules:
-Movies will be seen in alphabetical order
-If a new movie is purchased and I have already passed the letter it begins with, I need to watch that movie first before I move on
-Movies in a series will be seen together even if they start with different letters.  Example: "Live Free or Die Hard" will be seen as if it is just called Die Hard 4.  I'll decide the best way to classify a series name (First Blood or Rambo?)

How does this relate to the blog?  Well, I'd like to review these movies.  I think it will be fun to write down my thoughts on each movie, maybe find some trivia about the movie, etc.  We all know I like Star Wars:  A New Hope, but do I like it as much as you think I like it?  It will be fun and it will keep me writing.  And I get to watch my movies!  This will get a slow start at first because Euro 2012 is on until the end of the month and the Olympics start in July, but look for this gradually to become a fixture here on the blog.  I hope you enjoy.