Friday This ‘n’ That – Alien edition

I have an Alien problem.

Alien

I first saw Alien at the theater in 1979. I was fifteen years old and my friend John Gervais and I were waiting in line at the Dadeland theater. We were a little nervous about sneaking in but talked a young couple into purchasing our tickets. Not only did Alien scare the pants off me and warp my fragile little mind but it made a lifelong impression.

Alien and Aliens are my two of my three favorite horror movies of all time (John Carpenter’s The Thing being the third). Alien 3 is a terrible mess (though the ‘director’s cut’ fixes quite a few issues) with some nice visuals. Ditto Alien Resurrection (love the underwater scene). Alien vs. Predator is stupid, short, and PG-13. No Alien film should be PG-13. The sequel Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem was just a slasher movie dressed up with Aliens. Prometheus was a well-meaning misfire that tried to shoehorn in an Alien at the end.

I watch all of these films periodically because I just love the Aliens. I’ll also gladly fork out my money to see Prometheus 2 and Alien 5 in theaters. Recently I picked up Alien Isolation for my Xbox (though I haven’t found time to play it yet). I’ve previously shared photos of Alien figures and the Alien quilt my wife made.

Recently she bought me an Alien Buddha off of Etsy:

Alien Buddha

I haven’t decided where to put it as yet.

Alien game

I also couldn’t resist this expensive card game, simply because it features Alien.

Own the first ever Alien Deck Building Game! Use Legendary moves from battling Super Villains to battling chest-bursting, face-hugging, acid-for-blood-having Aliens. This game features some of Alien’s greatest protagonists, including Ripley, Dallas, Bishop and Private Hicks, as they go to battle against some of the most terrifying creatures in the universe. Players must work with each other to defeat the terrifying Xenomorphs!”

I haven’t found the time to play it either. Like I said I have a problem.

Now when oh when am I going to get to see Alien 5?

 

 

Alien 5, Prometheus 2, Yes Please!

Terminator Genisys was a disappointment but not hugely so. The first two entries in the franchise are classics but the third one was a step down and the fourth a slapdash hodgepodge so that Genisys would not live up to the first two is not a surprise and at least it was better than Salvation (which is remembered more for Christian Bale’s offscreen antics than his onscreen performance).

Alien 5

So why should I be excited that my absolute favorite franchise is getting an eighth movie (ninth if it comes out after Prometheus 2)? Neill Blomkamp made an exciting feature debut with District 9. District 9 was an excellent science fiction movie that proved that Blomkamp could handle unique extraterrestrials and weave in social commentary without it being overbearing or pedantic.

Alien 5

Then Blomkamp made Elysium which was interesting science fiction but unfortunately was overbearing and pedantic and just okay. I haven’t yet braved Chappie because it looked just awful – Short Circuit should never be a model for a movie. However Blomkamp has always avowed his love for the Alien franchise and his concept art for Alien 5 makes it clear that he wants to correct Alien 3.

Alien 5

Alien 3 certainly had an intriguing concept (Ripley crashlands on a prison planet with no weapons) but somewhere along the line, someone decided to give the finger to fans of Aliens and killed off two of the four survivors in the opening credits and still wasn’t through. It is not that nihilism in a franchise is bad and certainly right from the start, we knew that Weyland-Yutani considered crew expendable. It is just that the unceremonious dumping of half the cast is really poor storytelling.

Honestly, Dark Horse comics came out with a ridiculously large series of Alien comics miniseries. The first three would have made excellent movies and began where Aliens left off. After Alien 3 was released, all further rereleases of the comics had to be scrubbed and the characters of Ripley, Hicks, and Newt were all renamed.

Clearly the Blomkamp concept art showing a burned Hicks along with Ripley indicates a desire to revisit Alien 3’s plotline. With the two actors being thirty years older now, I’m not sure where Blomkamp intends to go but I’ll certainly buy a ticket. Of course I’ll buy a ticket for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus 2 as well.

End of Summer – Time for a Report Card – My Favorites

Well we are fast approaching Labor Day aka The End of Summer. I have been blessed this year to have been able to see most of the summer films. Here are my favorites:

The Avengers: The Avengers is absolutely the best of the summer movies.The heroes are all wonderful (even if Hulk gets all the big laughs), the villain is quite heinous, the action is constant and for comic book fans, there are tons of character beats and plenty of hero face-offs before the big finale.

The Dark Knight Rises: How do you follow-up the best Batman movie? Christopher Nolan did it by making an even better Batman movie. That was The Dark Knight. The Dark Knight Rises is wonderful but flawed. The themes are marvelous and the plot intricate but some of Bane’s dialogue remains unintelligible, a key scene between Bruce and Alfred is thrown away, and a few things just don’t gel right.

Prometheus: I really wanted to love this film and I did. That does not mean that I’m ignorant of the glaring faults contained within. I really enjoyed Charlize Theron’s ice cold executive but it is Michael Fassbender’s performance that commands every scene.

The Amazing Spider-Man: I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed this, especially as I thought Sam Raimi and his cast had done two definitive Spider-Man movies with all the definitive roles perfectly cast. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are wonderful here and they are the reason the movie is so good.

The Hunger Games: Okay not technically a summer movie but I only just caught this one at a second-run theater. I found The Hunger Games to be quite good though necessarily skimming through the book. The funny thing is that the action scenes are terrible – the usual over-reliance on shaky-cam to give the impression of urgency. The rest of the movie is really good as are the performances, particularly Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.

Ice Age, Madagascar 3, Busby Berkeley, & The Company of Friends

Wow! I spent all day yesterday at Carolina Cinemas. Before leaving the house, my daughter Els, my granddaughter Dorothy and I all tattooed up in preparation for Madagascar. I got Alex and Melman:

Els got Marty:

and Dorothy got Gloria and the penguins:

We arrived and Els took my picture as a penguin in the Madagascar display:

We were on a tight budget so it was a good thing that Els and I were armed with two FREE movie vouchers (from a contest) and a FREE popcorn (from our Carolina Card). Refills on popcorn are FREE at Carolina Cinemas if you are an Asheville Film Society member and soda refills are always FREE.

We saw the FREE showing of Ice Age, grabbed some lunch at French Fryz, and then came back to use our tickets for Madagascar 3. A great time was had by all and Madagascar 3 turned out to be pretty funny.

Els and Dorothy went home. I went to see Prometheus again to kill the time before my wonderful wife was due to show up. After Prometheus, I got to luxuriate in the upstairs lounge with Jen and a couple of good friends for a couple hours.

At 8 p.m., the Asheville Film Society put on their FREE Tuesday night show. This week was the Busby Berkeley musical The Gang’s All Here (1943). The movie itself was somewhat incoherent but still thoroughly enjoyable with great dance numbers, Carmen Miranda and her tutti-frutti hat, Benny Goodman and his orchestra, and lots of wonderful costumes.

I couldn’t improve on my wife’s description of the movie:

It’s a timeless story of: Boy has Girl, Boy wants different Girl, Boy lies to new Girl, Boy Loses Girl, original Girl decides to run off to Broadway, Boy’s Father declares everyone knows he wants new Girl, Boy gets new Girl (presumably since the film ends before that’s confirmed).

One further note: I saw this comic titled “How movie theaters SHOULD be laid out”. WARNING: Comic contains profanity. It is not actually one of Oatmeal’s better comics but it seemed appropriate for today’s activities.

FREE Summer Movies – Prometheus, Spider-Man, Men in Black 3

Now that I have already seen (and thoroughly enjoyed) my most anticipated film of the year, The Avengers, I am gearing up for my second best, Prometheus. I love the Alien series (even the bad ones) and I love Ridley Scott’s ability to present a uniquely defined world (Alien, Blade Runner, Blackhawk Down).

* Best Buy and Wal-Mart are offering FREE tickets to Prometheus with purchase of a participating Blu-Ray. These films MUST have the FREE ticket sticker and, in most cases, the Blu-Rays are under $10. Participating Blu-Rays include the Alien movies (obviously), Predator, Taken, Day After Tomorrow, I, Robot, the X-Men movies, The Last of the Mohicans, The Planet of the Apes (classic Heston version – not the Wahlberg misfire).

* Best Buy also has FREE movie tickets for Men in Black III with purchase of either Men in Black or Men in Black II on Blu-ray. Those movies are currently $14.99 – make sure you get one with a sticker on it.

* Best Buy also also has coupons for $5 towards a ticket to The Dark Knight Rises. These are on their exclusive steelbook version of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. $5 isn’t enough for a ticket but I do love steelbooks.

* Target has FREE tickets to The Amazing Spider-Man with purchase of Spider-Man 1, 2, or 3 on Blu-ray. Their blu-rays tend to be pretty pricy though.

* For the kids, Best Buy has FREE children’s tickets for Madagascar 3 on blu-rays of  Kung Fu Panda 1 & 2, Madagascar 1 & 2, How to Train Your Dragon, Megamind, and Puss in Boots.