Category Archives: alien


Prometheus ~ First things first, get any notion out of your head that this flick has anything to do with the Alien series. It may, but waiting for those bits that connect it, or even expecting them, will lessen your enjoyment of this otherwise fairly good scifi horror. It’s Ridley Scott, it’s terror in space, but Alien it is not.

Motivated by ancient cave drawings, a space mission in the future travels to a distant planet described in those drawings. The assumption is this is where to find the origin of man, our creators, who the scientists in charge call The Engineers. Yes, it’s vague, and attempts are made to explain it along the way, but in the end it gets us to the planet, and starts the action moving.

The Prometheus and its crew land on the planet, explore an abandoned complex full of dead Engineers and one by one get picked off by various horrors from within and without in Alien-like suspense. Ghosts, monsters, mystery goo, infections, its all here. There is also the obligatory robot we don’t know whether to trust or not. Paranoia is the name of the game, and Scott does it well.

Now for the cringeworthy spoiler alert and reason you might not want to see this flick. After being quite suddenly impregnated, Noomi Rapace (from the original, and superior, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), playing a character named Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (yeah, I couldn’t get the Doctor Who reference out of my head either), gives herself an abortion. It is every bit as horrifying, and more so, as it sounds. Definitely one of the hardest things for me to watch in a movie in quite some time. Consider yourself warned.

There’s a terrific ensemble cast including Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Wong, Guy Pearce, and the always terrific Idris Elba. Can that man do no wrong? There’s also Sean Harris, who played the assassin Micheletto, the best thing about Showtime’s “The Borgias.” He is equally as good at scene stealing here too.

Worth seeing, but with several provisos, you have been warned.

Battle Los Angeles

Battle Los Angeles ~ This wannabe summer blockbuster took a new spin on the old alien invasion story by telling much of it through modern day news coverage and also through the eyes of one group of young Marines as they hold the line in Los Angeles against nearly indestructible extraterrestrial assault.

It’s a creative war movie rather than a scifi flick, but it’s spoiled by some dumb plot elements and tired clichés early on. I found it hard to swallow that if the powers-that-be knew we were up against aliens, they would not beat around the bush with the combat forces going in to fight them, they would tell them outright, and not let them find out by watching TVs as they go into battle. I was wrecked by stupidity for the movie at that point before we even saw any real action. And this is sooo full of dumb, like the victims in a teenage slasher flick.

That’s not to say that the effects aren’t spectacular, especially on a good TV with HD Blu-Ray, but I was already frowning by the time they actually do show up. What’s not news coverage is done with shaky cam, obviously trying to copy the effects of Saving Private Ryan, but it’s a loftier target that it should have been trying to attain. It got tired real quick. With all its special effects, the two decades plus old Aliens is a better marines vs. aliens movie, and The Boys in Company C has less war clichés.

On the surface, Battle Los Angeles tries to mix the new knowledge we Americans have of ‘real’ war and combat footage with the concept of alien invasion. It works for the two-minute trailer, but not for the two-hour movie. Good cliché TV movie about the Iraq war (or Viet Nam) with cheap District 9 and Transformers aliens thrown in for good measure – wait for the free TV viewing, a bowl of hot popcorn, and possible a good nap or two.

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Galaxy of Terror

Galaxy of Terror ~ I remember this flick from years ago but had never seen it, nor had the desire to see it, until I saw it on a list of the worst movies of all time. When I saw that it was Roger Corman produced, and starred Sid Haig and Robert Englund, as well as a grown up Erin Moran, Joanie ‘Shortcake’ Cunningham from “Happy Days” – I had to see it. It’s just as bad as you might imagine.

The movie also stars Eddie Albert and Ray Walston, and roughly follows the plot of the first Alien film. They’re on a rescue ship and when they reach their destination, an unspeakable horror picks them off one by one. It’s horrible. It’s not even worth the MST3k treatment, it’s that bad. Making sure that they can rip off as many movies as possible, the monster changes into whatever you fear the most.

Sid Haig is kinda cool, for the short time he’s in it, but even he can’t save this mess. Sid Haig hated his dialogue, so he asked Corman if he could play the role as a near-mute. Corman agreed, and Haig barely says one complete line. Robert Englund is more Willie from “V” (but not as cute) than Freddy, and Erin Moran is less than a poor excuse for Ripley, no matter how hard she tries.

Both James Cameron and Bill Paxton worked behind the scenes on this flick. At least they both went on to better things later, including Aliens, the sequel to the movie Galaxy of Terror ripped off most. And if you dare watch this terrible flick – beware the Mothra rape scene. Otherwise, avoid this movie at all costs.

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Pandorum ~ When this first came out so many of my friends were buzzing about saying “You have to see this.” Having finally seen it, I really don’t understand what the big deal was. It’s a horror flick on a spaceship. Old idea, and it’s been done before – and one of the first – Alien – is still the best.

In the future Dennis Quaid and Ben Cooper (looking distractingly like Justin Timberlake) wake up from hypersleep missing huge chunks of their short-term memory – specifically who they are and what their mission is. They start to explore what at first seems like an empty spaceship and find – surprise surprise – they’re not alone. Hilarity ensues, as they say.

What follows is pretty much textbook O Henry and “Twilight Zone” fodder. It’s predictable, but nowhere near as predictable as Avatar. Pandorum is good if you see it for free, but don’t pay for it. Dennis Quaid could really do better.

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October Film Reviews

Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem ~ Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, King Kong Vs. Godzilla, Freddy Vs. Jason, and even this movie’s predecessor – the monster team-up/fight is a staple of cinema horror fantasy, heck, Godzilla has even made a career of it. This type of event movie is almost a surefire hit, especially considering the combination of two blockbuster franchises like Alien and Predator. This sequel just goes to show it can miss, and miss bad. The special effects and built-in audience are already there, all that is needed is a good story and good characters – and that is where AVP: R fails. When the monsters are introduced before any human characters a precedent is set; the human cast is made secondary. And that secondary cast, rather than a strong team of adventure templates like in the first AVP, is typical slasher flick fodder, and that’s just not how it should be done with this specific facet of the genre. Even when this flick attempts to be what it should it fails in the attempt. As promising as it could have been, don’t bother with this one.

Swing Vote ~ What could have been a clever political satire or a touching father/daughter drama ends up simply being yet another preachy whiny Kevin Costner flick. Sigh. It has its moments, but wait for free TV for this one.

Black Legion ~ Infamously known as Humphrey Bogart vs. the Ku Klux Klan, this underrated flick is a period piece that’s very telling of the era in which it was made. Bogie is excellent as the anti-hero Frank Taylor in this one that got an Oscar nom for veteran screenwriter Robert Lord. The best part of this DVD package however is the inclusion of a full afternoon at the movies – trailers, a newsreel, a cartoon, and the main feature. Great stuff.

Zombie Honeymoon ~ All things considered, not all that bad for a Z-grade zombie flick. It has its unintentionally funny moments, which are much better than the scripted ones. And it seems to me that a lot of the trouble in this flick could have been avoided had the zombie husband not been such a sloppy eater.

The Proud Family Movie ~ I’ve never seen “The Proud Family” TV series, so this was my first exposure and I have to say I was impressed. Yes, it did take a bit for me to get my mind right with an evil Dr. Washington Carver and cloned-from-peanuts super-soldiers, but I made it through. It’s actually quite a bit of fun, and the soundtrack’s not bad either.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets ~ The only thing worse than conspiracy theories are conspiracy theories that don’t make sense. The Lincoln conspiracy equals Mount Rushmore equals the lost city of gold? Riiight. While it tries very hard to be clever it’s just as predictable as it is improbable. It’s also about an hour too long. Some shining moments but on the whole, so not worth it.

The Affair ~ This early Spelling/Goldberg television production from 1973 is proof positive that even an amazing cast – in this case, real life married couple Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood, along with Bruce Davison – can’t save a bad script with inept direction. The possibly adlibbed, music-less scenes between Wagner and Wood are almost unbearable, as was her singing voice. Avoid this like the plague.