REVIEW: Memory: The Origins of Alien [2019]

It lives in our dreams. Here’s the thing you should know up-front: Alexandre O. Philippe‘s Memory: The Origins of Alien doesn’t break new ground. No crazy revelations unknown before the documentary began production are discovered. Instead we get first-hand accounts of the struggles to get Alien made, the communal artistic synergy that ultimately helped propel it (the majority of talking head interviews), what it was like to be on-set as an actor (Tom Skerritt and Veronica Cartwright are the only participants save archival comments from John Hurt), and how critics,…

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REVIEW: Alien: Covenant [2017]

“One wrong note eventually ruins the entire symphony” I was in the minority with Prometheus in 2012, declaring its brilliantly nuanced story diving beneath its genre conventions as the best entry in the Alien franchise since the original. It was spirituality-tinged science fiction whereas Ridley Scott‘s 1979 classic was character-based horror with palpable emotion-laden terror. Both were disparate worlds that fit together if not reliant upon each other. Scott found this new success in large part to screenwriter Damon Lindelof and the decision to scale back Alien references so that…

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FANTASIA15 REVIEW: Pos eso [Possessed] [2014]

“What he did left his teacher speechless” I didn’t know I wanted a horror parody in the style of “Celebrity Deathmatch” until about halfway through Samuel Ortí Martí‘s [Sam] pitch black skewering of the genre Pos eso [Possessed]. His and Rubén Ontiveros‘ script is littered with homage to The Day the Earth Stood Still in dialogue, The Omen in characters, The Exorcist in plot, Raiders of the Lost Ark in its cold open, and countless others—Alien, A Trip to the Moon, etc.—in visual flourishes. A fun pastiche of anything and…

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REVIEW: Terminator 2: Judgment Day [1991]

“You’re really real” Oh what seven years can accomplish through cinematic technological achievement. While The Terminator still looks good today, Terminator 2: Judgment Day looks amazing. Director James Cameron acknowledges his evolutionary leap by opening the follow-up with a near-replica 2029 Los Angeles prologue as the first to showcase exactly how far forward. These new sentient machines are carbon copies of the old moving with marginal hitching to physically belong next to their human adversaries. Besides the sequences inside cars with flat projections whooshing by (Hollywood still hasn’t perfected this…

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REVIEW: Pitch Black [2000]

“Looks clear” People weren’t kidding when they used Chronicles of Riddick‘s expanded budget to blame for its box office demise. I always knew its predecessor was made with much tighter purse strings, but the level of ingenuity necessary to make it still look good surpassed any expectations I might have had. Not only does co-writer (with Jim and Ken Wheat) and director David Twohy play with color tints, vision filters, and an abundance of darkness to hide some of his CGI creatures’ fabrication, he ensures the plot and characters are…

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REVIEW: Total Recall [1990]

“A man is defined by his actions, not his memory” By the time Total Recall began filming—about a decade after its Hollywood genesis—quite the team of science fiction luminaries had been assembled. With inspiration from Blade Runner‘s Philip K. Dick; a script by the creators of Alien, Ronald Shusett and Dan O’Bannon; the directorial expertise of RoboCop‘s Paul Verhoeven; and The Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, out front, this colossal undertaking was put atop the shoulders of dreamers. Spring-boarding off the question of whether reality can be proven alongside an authentically…

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REVIEW: Independence Day [1996]

“We will not go quietly into the night” The man who proved we could only take so many disaster films and yet still made more, Roland Emmerich shouldn’t be denied the astronomical success of the one that jump-started the genre’s big budget revival in the first place. After giving us the rather smart science fiction actioner Stargate, he and writing/producing partner Dean Devlin came up with the treatment for Independence Day as a response to the constant questions about their opinions on alien life. Wanting to take a step back…

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REVIEW: Prometheus [2012]

“How far are you willing to go?” **Potential thematic spoilers** The age-old question has always been an unanswerable, “What is the meaning of life?” It’s a query that could easily be solved on an individual basis as far as wealth, family, success, fame, etc., yet so many desire the all encompassing knowledge we were possibly never meant to have. Gods are created and worshiped to give us purpose—be they deities, idols, or even ourselves. We all strive for more and hope to accomplish whatever it takes to reach whatever form…

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REVIEW: Alien: Resurrection [1997]

“You’re a beautiful, beautiful butterfly” An obvious predecessor to screenwriter Joss Whedon‘s revered “Firefly”, Alien: Resurrection breathes new life into a franchise that could have easily been left alone. Reviving the iconic Ellen Ripley through the hot button topic of cloning, his script found a way to coax Sigourney Weaver back with a uniquely dark spin on the character. Part alien, part human, and all Petri dish, ‘Number 8’ is cognizant of her former self’s rage against the xenomorphs two hundred years before while also acknowledging her role as mother…

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REVIEW: Alien3 [1992]

“We’re on the honor system” After James Cameron reinvigorated the Alien franchise to huge success with his action-packed sequel Aliens, Twentieth Century Fox’s desire to keep going shouldn’t have surprised. Looking to retain the level of craftsmanship and professionalism of the first two installments, they tried bringing original director Ridley Scott back to helm an ambitious two part continuation from producers David Giler and Walter Hill—eventual cowriters with Larry Ferguson also—to no avail. So with sci-fi writer William Gibson hired to script them way back in 1987, Alien3‘s lengthy gestation…

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REVIEW: Aliens [1986]

“Game over, man. Game over!” Leave it to über action champion James Cameron to turn a darkly serious sci-fi thriller into a brutally fun romp successful enough to spawn two more sequels and a separate spin-off series that has kept H.R. Giger‘s grotesque xenomorph relevant today. Fresh off the success of Terminator 2, Cameron joined original Alien producers David Giler and Walter Hill to flesh out a new concept that would take the saga into another genre and wider audience appeal. Proving a strong female lead could carry a film…

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