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horror

Alien: Covenant (2017)

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

CAST: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, Billy Crudup

REVIEW:

In 2012, Ridley Scott returned to the universe of his 1979 sci-fi horror classic Alien with the ambitious, sporadically compelling, but in some ways unwieldy and half-formed Prometheus, but those who went to the theater expecting more traditional xenomorph action were disappointed.  Originally, Scott intended to follow up Prometheus with a follow-up tentatively titled Paradise which would have gone even further afield from Alien, but in the wake of Prometheus‘ lukewarm reception, Fox decided to play it safe and explored other options for getting back to the aliens as we know them, including with Neill Blomkamp’s proposed sequel to James Cameron’s 1986 Aliens which would have reunited Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn and potentially wiped all other sequels out in favor of an alternate storyline (which, given the declining quality level of Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrectionmany fans would have been okay with).  However, when the grandfather of the franchise Ridley Scott himself expressed willingness to make an Alien movie that was less like Prometheus and more like the traditional films, Fox gave him the green light and Blomkamp’s project became indefinitely dead in the water.  The result bears all the hallmarks of a movie stuck in some netherworld between being a follow-up to Prometheus and a more conventional Alien movie, but serves up enough of what fans liked about the series in the first place to be an engaging diversion, even if it doesn’t approach the franchise at its height. Continue reading

Life (2017)

DIRECTOR: Daniel Espinosa

CAST: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanda, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya

REVIEW:

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS “SPOILERS”

Among the various sci-fi thrillers over the decades that owe greater or lesser degrees of inspiration to Ridley Scott’s 1979 AlienLife is one of the worthier indirect descendants/homages.  Daniel Espinosa is not terribly subtle about borrowing a page (or several pages) from Alien, but screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (the same men behind 2016’s very different Deadpool) also come up with enough twists and turns on their own for it not to be unforgivably derivative.  But while fans of Alien may find Life worth a look, be warned: this is a dark, gruesome ride that is not for the faint of heart or for those who demand happy endings. Continue reading

World War Z (2013)

world-war-z-poster-bannerDIRECTOR: Marc Forster

CAST: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, David Andrews, Fana Mokoena, Ludi Boeken, Pierfrancesco Favino, Peter Capaldi, David Morse

REVIEW:

Fans of Max Brooks’ book of the same name, a pseudo-documentary collecting accounts of survivors from a worldwide zombie apocalypse, are not likely to be impressed with Marc Forster’s screen adaptation, which owes little more to the written source than the title, basic premise, and some plot ideas. Taken as a standalone film, World War Z is still flawed but fares better. Its scattershot focus gives it a fragmented, episodic feel, but it’s entertaining and boasts some impressive set pieces and tense sequences. Continue reading

Prometheus (2012)

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

CAST:

Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, Rafe Spall, Sean Harris, Benedict Wong, Patrick Wilson

REVIEW:

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL MENTION SPECIFIC ASPECTS OF THE FILM’S PLOT

One’s appreciation of Prometheus might be heavily-influenced by what one goes in expecting.  Despite Ridley Scott’s attempts to downplay Prometheus‘ description as a prequel to his 1979 sci-fi horror classic Alien and have it viewed as a stand-alone story, many were disappointed by its loose connections and markedly different aims to its predecessor.  While it does contain elements of horror, Prometheus is less single-minded in its intentions than Alien and has far broader themes it’s trying to tackle.  Chief among Prometheus‘ flaws is that it bites off more than it can chew, but it’s still an intriguing sci-fi entry for those not expecting too much xenomorph action. Continue reading

28 Weeks Later (2007)

DIRECTOR: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

CAST: Robert Carlyle, Catherine McCormack, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Mackintosh Muggleton, Imogen Poots, Harold Perrineau, Idris Elba

REVIEW:

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL DISCUSS ELEMENTS OF THE FILM’S PLOT

Another day in the film industry, another superfluous and uninspired sequel…28 Days Later was one of the most frightening movies of 2003 (or any other year), but while tension-packed and involving, it wasn’t a movie that especially cried out for a sequel, and like most unessential sequels, 28 Weeks Later fails to justify its existence, regurgitating more generic retreads of the first movie’s chills and action while lacking its strengths. Continue reading

28 Days Later (2003)

140804165912-01-infectious-movies-horizontal-large-galleryDIRECTOR: Danny Boyle

CAST:

Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns, Christopher Eccleston, Noah Huntley

REVIEW:

Hailed as one of the most frightening movies ever made, 28 Days Later is one in a long series of films addressing mankind’s fear of and fascination with the end- a catastrophic apocalypse that nearly wipes out the human race, but in a different vein than most. Continue reading

Alien Resurrection (1997)

DIRECTOR: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

CAST:

Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Ron Perlman, Michael Wincott, Dominique Pinon, Gary Dourdan, Dan Hedaya, J.E. Freeman, Brad Dourif, Leland Orser, Kim Flowers

REVIEW:

Like many a film franchise, the Alien series started out strong, then didn’t know when to quit. Greed to make more money overrode the artistic integrity of stopping when the series was ahead and had fresh, original places to take the story. Alien Resurrection is at least not the dreary, depressing experience of the morbid Alien 3, but that’s damning with faint praise. Continue reading

Alien 3 (1992)

DIRECTOR: David Fincher

CAST:

Sigourney Weaver, Charles Dance, Charles S. Dutton, Brian Glover, Ralph Brown, Pete Postlethwaite, Lance Henriksen

REVIEW:

The phrase ‘third time’s the charm’ doesn’t ring true for the Alien series. Alien was a solid start, and Aliens represented the series at its peak; everything else was downhill from there. Continue reading

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Demme

CAST:

Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine, Anthony Heald, Diane Baker, Brooke Smith, Chris Isaak, Charles Napier, Daniel von Bargen

REVIEW:

Few cinematic villains are a source of as much morbid fascination as Hannibal Lecter. Like the heroine Clarice Starling, we are frightened and disturbed by him, and yet we are too intrigued to turn our eyes away. Continue reading

Aliens (1986)

DIRECTOR: James Cameron

CAST:

Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, William Hope, Mark Rolston, Al Matthews

REVIEW:

Aliens, along with James Cameron’s sci-fi hit five years later, 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day , is both among the best sci-fi action thrillers ever made, and a rare example of a sequel surpassing the original. Continue reading

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