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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TIFF12 REVIEW: Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story [2012]

“I’m crushed by my ideas” As easily titled by another of its subject’s mottos—”Expect the Unexpected”—as what documentarian Brad Bernstein chose, Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story re-exposes the world to one of its most influential illustrators/commercial artists. Disappointed by my own ignorance to the name, I looked up his work and discovered nothing but a passing resemblance to other children’s art I had seen before. Only when the late Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak came onscreen to laud his friend and peer’s bravery…

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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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REVIEW: Alien [1979]

“What is Special Order 937?” When you hear the title Alien, images are conjured up of Bill Paxton having a mental breakdown, Lance Henriksen rapidly stabbing a knife through his fingers, and Sigourney Weaver‘s Ripley inside a mechanical forklift suit engaging a slobbering, hulking monster. The most fascinating thing about this comes not from how iconic the franchise has become, but instead the realization that none of these moments occurred in the original film. Somehow James Cameron‘s action-packed sequel has usurped its predecessor’s slow, cerebral horror in our consciousness to…

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