Empty Balcony: Alien Nation

There is a nasty amount of racial tension in America right now, accentuated by President-elect Trump’s impending inauguration next month. I hate that current events are affecting my perception of Alien Nation, the 1988 sci-fi film from director Graham Baker and screenwriter Rockne S. O’Bannon, but they are. Really, the filmmakers bear most of the blame, here. A huge part of the fictional universe Graham and O’Bannon crafted deals with refugees assimilating into American culture and having an effect, both positive and negative, on native demographics. Boy, I really need to find a way to flip off the politics switch in my brain when I’m watching movies. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: Alien Nation”

The Empty Balcony: Terminator Genisys

Fair warning. This trailer is packed full of spoilers.

It’s incredible how little redundancy is built into Skynet. Not long after Terminator Genisys opens, we see the mythical John Connor leading an assault on Skynet’s time travel facilities. Connor, played by Jason Clarke, has ordered the bulk of his forces to attack Skynet itself, farther north, much to the consternation of Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), who hasn’t been let in on the Terminator series canon at this point. As the battle rages at the time machine, all of Skynet’s killer robots go inactive, signaling that Skynet has been destroyed, and only the war in the past remains undecided. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Terminator Genisys”

October Horrorshow: The Relic

I love a good monster flick. Hell, I love a mediocre monster flick. Which is good for The Relic, because, while it’s a passable diversion, it’s not the second coming of Alien.

From way back in 1997, The Relic, from director Peter Hyams, features one of the more complicated beasties I’ve encountered in my decades of watching horror flicks. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Relic”

Schwarzenegger Month: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

This is it. The penultimate film in Arnold Schwarzenegger month. I have one more film in mind, but Terminator 3 is the perfect film with which to conclude the chronological portion of reviews. Terminator 3 is the last film in which Arnold starred before he retired to become governor of California. After his time in Sacramento was over, he returned to acting, but so far, it’s been all coda (for reviews of two of these post-governorship movies, click here and here). There would have been no shame at all if this were the last Arnold film. Continue reading “Schwarzenegger Month: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines”

Schwarzenegger Month: Terminator 2: Judgment Day

There cannot be a Terminator movie without Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s just silly talk to pretend otherwise. But, by the time Terminator 2: Judgment Day was released, in 1991, Arnold was no longer a semi-anonymous hulkster who could believably play a robot. Audiences were too familiar with him. Said another way, in the original Terminator, we viewers saw the character of the terminator. In the sequel, we see Arnold. This factor set up a delicate dance for director James Cameron, one he did not execute perfectly. Continue reading “Schwarzenegger Month: Terminator 2: Judgment Day”

Schwarzenegger Month: The Terminator

Is The Terminator the best movie Arnold Schwarzenegger has ever been in? There’s a strong possibility that it is. Some viewers have an affinity for Terminator 2, others for Conan the Barbarian. As for me, I voted with my eyes a long time ago. Of all the films Arnold has made, The Terminator is the one I’ve watched the most. It is impossible for me to recall just how many times I’ve seen it, but I would not be surprised if it’s somewhere in the 20s, maybe even the 30s. So, pardon me while I gush. Continue reading “Schwarzenegger Month: The Terminator”

October Horrorshow: Tremors

I’ve written about this before, but my old man had an affinity for bad cinema. Especially the sci-fi variety. It didn’t matter what it was or how bad it was. If it had something to do with space or monsters, he had a hard time looking away. Good sci-fi got the wheels turning, while bad sci-fi brought out his guttural chuckling and whooping. If it was too bad to be funny, then came groans and profanity. Hmm...kind of like me. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Tremors”

October Horrorshow, Retroactive: Aliens

Alien is an artful film. It is frightening and suspenseful, but it also has operatic grace and gritty realism, despite being set mostly aboard a spaceship. It’s hard to imagine Alien spawning a sequel so tonally different yet still so successful, but Aliens does just that. The two films are poles apart, sharing with each other only the alien creatures and Sigourney Weaver, who reprises her role from the first film as Ripley. Continue reading “October Horrorshow, Retroactive: Aliens”