Predators

I suppose it’s a sign of the times that instead of a highly trained and diverse team of American special operations troops we have a motley crew of killers from around the globe in Nimród Antal’s Predators.

The story suffers from the same problem that most franchises these days have: it’s a really awesome piece of fan fiction. I found myself wondering how good this movie could have been if they’d have just said “Predator inspired us,” but went further in other directions.

Adrien Brody plays the grizzled main character, who we meet in mid-air as he plummets toward an unknown jungle. He and his full-auto-shotgun cross paths with six other internationally known types of bad-asses, like a member of the Yakuza, a Spetznaz soldier, an Israeli sniper and others who were all deposited the same way. Then there’s Topher Grace. Grace’s presence leads to several fish out of water jokes and the most dramatically brain-dead twist since it turned out Harry J. Lennix was behind it all in Dollhouse.

The plot is the Schwarzenegger original turned up to 11. Brody and his Testosterone Team are being hunted by god knows what only now it’s on a whole other planet, which would have been revealed in the movie with a neat skyline shot had they not given it away in the previews two months before the release of the film.

And then they get hunted some more. That’s pretty much it. There are hints, provided in the form of a Laurence Fishburne cameo, that there is some sort of war going on between two separate Predator races, but it adds almost nothing to the plot. Fishburne does have fun as a sort of human answer to the Bald Headed Bear to the Predator’s John Candy in The Great Outdoors , but that joy is short lived as the movie is intent on hinting that man is the real monster despite the fact that these people were kidnapped by aliens.

I hate to come across as a jingoistic when it comes to alien cultures, but you know what? If you are going to abduct people from our planet for sport hunting, well you had best be prepared for me to not care how “evil” the people you are hunting are. Up with the Humans!

The movie gets a lot right, including building tension like the original and having some of those really nasty “These people are being hunted!” moments, but it actually feels hamstrung by the Predator premise.

Let’s think a minute on action movies. You find an excuse to blow things up and shoot and things, and you build a narrative around it. Predator was cool precisely because we had never seen anything like it, and the tension comes from people having no clue what the hell the Predator actually is. After one hard sequel and two spin-offs, we know what the hell a Predator is so now the only surprise is how the predator kills people. That sounds a lot like an intergalactic slasher franchise, which Jason X already did and while it was terrible, it was at least fun.

Forgotten, The

The Forgotten asks a very important question: What if there were aliens who had no concept of science, yet had the technology to do what they please?

Julianne Moore plays Telly Paretta, a woman mourning the loss of her son who died in a plane crash. Gary Sinise plays her therapist, and he can't shake his villain voice.

Then suddenly everyone starts forgetting she had a kid. Then she can't find any pictures of him. Then Sinise tells her he's been gradually working toward telling her that it was all in her head.

Did I mention my hero Dominic West is in this movie?  He plays Ash, a guy Paretta met at their children's funeral, which he also does not remember. He plays the character as a drunk, because hey, if you have a strength.  .  .

He doesn't remember his daughter or Paretta's son, so he calls the cops to take her away. The cops pass Paretta off to a pair of feds, one of whom is another alum of The Wire: Robert Wisdom.

Ash suddenly remembers everything, races down to the street and busts Paretta out the car and the pair bolt. They wander around for awhile, while the Feds attempt to help the aliens do whatever it is they want to do  and it turns out that yes, extraterrestrials took their kids. Roughly half the cast as well, just gets yanked up into the sky whenever the get too close to the conspiracy. No exaggeration on my part either. People start talking about the conspiracy and then they are yanked into the sky via an invisible bungee cord.

No one remembers any of this... except Moore.

Moore is an outstanding actor, and plays this whole drama out with such gravitas that the stupid twists are like a spork in the eye.

Of course, it turns out the aliens have been experimenting with humans to see if they can wipe people's memories and understand human bonding. The movie also falls into the the classic "Puny Human Fallacy" of the Sci-Fi Bad-B movies-with A-list Actors and effects. As a matter of fact, the further down the Fallacy trap during said scramble as  rabbit we follow him down the hole...into a cave...with alien super-tech. Which leads us to the next logic flaw.

If these aliens have all this technology, what good does psychologically torturing humans actually do them? Sounds like those Nazi experimentsSpace Nazis! The alien scientist, played by wonderful supporting actor Linus Roache, says the entire thing is an experiment, and if Paretta doesn't forget her son, the experiment fails.

Brief aside about science and experiments: an experiment does not fail if you don't get the result you were looking for. It's an experiment. The result always teaches you something! Unless it's political science.

This is movie is so overwrought and self-consciously serious that it begs to be mocked. It's like that one kid in middle-school that read Nietzsche and thought they'd figured it all out. In addition, it's trying so hard to fit the conventions of multiple genres (Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller), it doesn't manage to work on any level. I'm not really sure what other movie takes itself so painfully serious that could go with it, outside of Mother Night with Nick Nolte as a Nazi.

Day the Earth Stood Still, The

How do you make a Sci-fi movie these days? 1 oz super powerful aliens, 1 oz environmental message, shake well, garnish with nanomachines.

Everything goes to hell the day astrobiologist Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) summons the Goblin King to take her son (Jaden Smith) away. Instead, she gets Klaatu (Keanu Reeves), who doesn't take the child, but rather decides it’s time to wipe out humanity to preserve the Earth. He doesn’t even sing about it, which is kind of a bummer.

Klaatu shows up in a rubber organic space suit, and some idiot decides the best way to communicate with a brand new life form is with a bullet. This pisses off a giant Sentinel thing and sends out a wave of pain, giving the unarmed people a chance to medevac the alien before it molts into Keanu Reeves. Klaatu then has a meeting  with the Secretary of Defense (Kathy Bates), who finds that while he’s not openly hostile, he doesn’t recognize that Earth belongs to humanity. Turns out all this polluting we’ve been doing is bad, and somewhere there is a council of beings who aren’t too happy about it, as the number of planets in the universe that can support complex life is quite limited.

The fact that this never seen council even thinks that shows the screenwriter did his job. The dialogue is sharply written and well delivered, and they also didn’t do anything stupid like cast Tara Reid or Denise Richards as scientists. It’s pretty fascinating to see a believable sequence of events that may surround an alien encounter. This is embodied in the performance by Kathy Bates, who accuses the alien who just landed on earth-you know from another galaxy-of violating U.S. air space. Yeah. Not seeing the big picture. The second time she says that historically, when two civilizations meet, the more primitive one is either enslaved or destroyed. Now you’ll pardon me, but if a super-advanced alien race gave us the option, I’d vote for enslavement and immediately begin planning a Spartacus. Pick you battles, I say. But I digress.

So Klaatu meets with his contact, an operative who has lived on Earth for 70 years and the dude pretty much says, "yeah, wipe out humanity, except that I lurv them, and you’ll never understand." This conversation is mostly in Chinese, and Reeves shows that his accent is quite impeccable.

The rest of the movie is more or less Klaatu learning what love is so he will spare humanity from a nasty death by nanomachines. There are a few veryeffective scenes, and some more good acting from Jaden Smith, but really it's just sitting through one boring-as-crackers effects sequence after another to see how they arrive at the conclusion we all know is coming. So while It's is pretty well done, it has a heavy-handed seriousness (John Cleese even makes an appearance that doesn’t involve being funny). but with the right crowd you’ll probably be able to pull some laughs from the material. Professional Cavalcaders only need apply.

Monsters Vs. Aliens

This is precisely the sort of movie I would make if I wanted something kids could watch in awe, while the adults laugh themselves silly.

Starting out with some SETI-style researchers-who only took the job because they wouldn't have to do anything-end up having their plans foiled when they detect a U.F.O. It turns out to be a meteorite that crashes into Earth, specially on top of Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon), turning her into a 50-foot-tall woman.

Oh, and ruining her wedding.

In short order, the usual black helicopter goons show up and whisk Susan off to the secret government lab, where she meets all the great b-monsters of the 1950's. B.O.B the blob (Seth Rogan)-a lovable pile of sentient goo, Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie)-a not-too-subtle reference to The Fly, The Missing Link (Will Arnett)-who is more Creature from the Black Lagoon than walking ape, and Insectasaurous-the requisite giant monster that resembles nothing less than the product of an unholy union of a gerbil, a puffer fish, and a ladybug. These characters are wardened by the hysterically funny Gen. W.R. Monger, played with verve by Keifer Sutherland-who, quite frankly, sounds like he wrestled a bull by the horns, took said horns, and carved them into the microphone he used to record his voice over.

Apparently the Monster crew has been sequestered for some time, only to be released when the world is accosted by the (slightly) intelligent alien warlord, Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson ). Their mission: Defeat Gallaxhar's terrifying probe robot, then his army of very stupid clones, and finally Gallaxhar himself. I'm not really spoiling anything when I tell you they win. It's a kids movie after all. That's not really the point, it's not that they win, but how.

Full of hysterical sight gags, clever bits of dialogue ("This place is an X-file, wrapped in a cover-up and deep-fried in a paranoid conspiracy!"), a dash of satire, and a surprising number of adult contemporary hits. Phrases like "Code Nimoy! Code Nimoy!" are frequently mixed-in with references to Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Beverly Hills Cop-nevermind the fact that the entire movie is a nod to Dr. Strangelove. Even so, there's a good balance between the referential pop-culture humor and jokes that stand on their own. It doesn't hurt that the supporting voice cast is top notch as well, with Stephen ColbertPaul Rudd, and Ed Helms all contributing.

The icing on the character cake is Susan, who does the full Sarah Connor/Ellen Ripley Hero's Journey: going from delicate flower to destroyer of robots and stomper of alien ass. More importantly, she realizes she doesn't need a man to make her happy. You go, girl!

We don't do "family" movies on the Cavalcade often, but when one comes down the pike that has so many nods to the movies that inspired our love of schlocktacular cinema, we have to take a look. Fortunately, this movie's great on all levels. If you were to Cavalcade it, feel free to mix and match it with one of the fore-mentioned 50's romps, Monsters Inc., or Bolt-which has even more nods to Hollywood b-movies.

Xtro

Why does this movie exist?

Xtro is the touching tale of the reunion between an English man (Sam) and his son (Tony) three years after he was abducted by aliens, transmogrified, and then returned by the same aliens...to get more victims. Namely his wife (Rachel), her asshole fashion photographer boyfriend (Joe) and their live-in...I-don't-know-what (Maryam D'Abo).

As the director and co-writer, Harry Bromley Davenport, explains in the featurette on my DVD (What's that look for?  Of course I own it), "the movie is dreadful" and they were really just trying put in as many revolting things as possible in 84 minutes.  You'll see that, among the alien tentacle porn, pseudo-incestuous necking, and an overabundance of bodily fluids that shouldn’t come from any body, they do an outstanding job.

This film cannot be reviewed through conventional methods.  So forgive me if I abandon journalistic standards, and instead provide the stream of consciousness as I attempted to watch this movie again.

And drink.  A lot.

  • Ah, New Line Cinema, we have you to blame for so much pain in life.
  • Playing the part of Julie Delpy is Maryam D’Abo in her first film role.  Nowhere to go but up.
  • The 80s, a miraculous time when anyone with a Casio keyboard could be a film composer.
  • Who wears short shorts?  Little English boys!
  • Generally, one shouldn’t play fetch with high explosives.
  • It’s hard to mime being sucked into a space ship on a low budget.
  • We should all be so lucky as to be creative enough turn a father’s abandonment into a sweet alien abduction story.
  • Fee Fie Fo Fum, I hear a bad American accent done by an Englishman.
  • “I don’t what I’m looking at” Incident No. 1.
  • Well don’t you have a purdy mouth?
  • Now that’s an English mullet.
  • That’s what you get for caring about the person you just ran over.
  • Once again, a dog is trying to get its master killed.
  • It would appear that the alien’s rape tentacle is coming out of its stomach vagina.
  • Oh look, our Tony’s finally becoming a woman.
  • “Snuggle right down, sweetheart” just sounds wrong with an English accent.
  • “Nobody asked you, Joe” incident No. 1.
  • There has to be a morning after…..
  • Now that’s a spontaneous belly expansion.
  • Oh good, she just gave birth to Tony’s fully grown father.
  • Well how else would you cut your own umbilical cord than with your teeth?  Honestly…
  • Of course, Sam leaves the dead girl in the front seat?
  • For those keeping track, Tony’s annoying traits include: night sweats, delusions, spontaneous bleeding, and snakes.
  • And now for a change of pace: consensual sex.
  • Direct quote: “Think of that foot as your face and smile.”
  • It’s a fact: all English children are one bad day away from being the kids from Village of the Damned.
  • No matter what the problem, alcohol is always the solution.
  • “Nobody asked you, Joe” incident No. 2.
  • Raw Snake Eggs: a tasty treat that’s good to eat.
  • Perversion wears a cable-knit sweater.
  • Rachel just can’t keep track of the men in her life.
  • Time for a father/son bonding moment when Sam places his lips gently on Tony’s bare shoulder and projects his mouth fluids inside.  Which give Tony superpowers.  Seriously.
  • “Nobody asked you, Joe” incident No. 3.
  • Like alcohol, violence solves many of life’s problems.  See: marital issues and snakes in the salad.
  • Well, now Tony is angry.  Not to worry though, it’s not like has telekinesis … oh shit.
  • Of course, Sam breathes propane.
  • The words hypnotic, midget, and clown are just a bad combination no matter what the order.
  • “When Toys Attack!” a recurring horror movie theme.
  • He’s mortally wounded the couch!
  • That’s a leather tie.
  • Goes well with the extra tight blue jeans.
  • Who’s the grown-up in this situation?
  • Oh sweet Jesus, the hypnotic, midget clown is also a ninja.  Game over, man.  Game over.
  • Tony has inherited his father’s mouth fluids.
  • Rachel just doesn’t get what movie she’s in.
  • Maryam is so much sexier as an alien egg incubating device.
  • Uh oh, Manimal is pissed.
  • Of course, Sam is peeling apart.
  • Burning hair always sets the mood just right…
  • Tony’s refridgerator is one of the lost portals from Time Bandits.
  • That’s right, Maryam now lays giant black jelly beans out of her utero-tube.
  • And now, sparkly yo-yo death.  Wait, which movie is this?
  • If I had a nickel for every time I’ve had to apologize during sex…
  • Ah, so this was an extended Oxy 10 commercial this whole time.  Makes much more sense.
  • And that’s what you get for that haircut, Joe!
  • Hard to tell if Sam looks better or worse now.
  • Rachel is not seeing the upside of having every annoying man out of her life all at once.
  • Why would you pick the pulsating alien egg out of the green goo?
  • And that’s the moral of the story: touching something you shouldn’t and you get a tentacle in the mouth.

I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, it’s just that awful. Even the director hates it.  I own it almost solely to add to my collection of hideous films.  The other reason is to watch it when I forget how disgusting it really is.  Like I did before I put in the DVD.  It’s like when you forget how miserable your life was with that one ex and call them up again.  I need to take a lesson from Xtro, and apply alcohol to my brain problem.

Split Second

Is there anyone here who does not worship and adore Rutger Hauer? No? Good, if there were I would hope you’d go somewhere else because this website is simply not for you.  Everyone has a favorite Hauer film.  Some may enjoy his role as the terrorist baddy, Wulfgar, in Sylvester Stallone’s Nighthawks.  Others may remember him as the cursed knight in Ladyhawke . I bet everyone here loved him as Roy Batty in Blade Runner .  I love him as John Ryder in (the real) The Hitcher .  But my absolute favorite Hauer performance is homicide detective Harley Stone in Split SecondSplit Second is set “far in the future” of 2008 when global warming has caused flooding in London of biblical proportions.  Everyone walks around wearing waders.  Stone is hot on the trail a serial killer who murdered his partner.  After having witnessed the slaying and been powerless to prevent it, Stone now survives on “anxiety, coffee, and chocolate.” Seriously, that’s all he consumes through the entire film and he consumes A LOT of it.  And you would too if you saw the H.R. Giger-inspired monster that is murdering random Londoners and eating their hearts.  Doesn’t a movie get ten times better when the bad guy eats his victims’ hearts? For those of you who wish to dress as Harley Stone for Halloween, you will need:

  • A leather trenchcoat (complete with impossible 80s shoulder pads)
  • Black leather pants (in flood conditions!  They must shrink like there’s no tomorrow.)
  • Black Lennon-style sunglasses (which he wears even in an unlit sewer)
  • Fingerless gloves (but only on one hand)
  • Oversized boots with silly buckles
  • Cigars (which he lights with a blowtorch)
  • Carrying no less than three gigantic guns at all times (don’t worry they pick up bigger ones at the end)
  • Awesome hair

You may have guessed looking at the cover that he is a lone wolf that plays by his own rules.  His superior relates how he has been fired from every hellhole on the planet and that he is “the best” to his new partner, Dick Durkin.  Let’s take a moment and reflect on that name.  Alastair Duncan’s performance as Dick Durkin is so much fun that he nearly steals the movie. Durkin has all sorts of psychological theories on our 7 foot tall, heart eating killer.  The best part of the film may be when Durkin, the heretofore straight-laced, by the book, intellectual, comes face to face with the monster and goes as bug-nuts as Stone, eating chocolate and downing coffee like there’s no tomorrow.  All of the sudden, we understand that Stone hasn’t been crazy.  He’s just been dealing with the situation as “normal,” sane individuals are supposed to.  You never see that sort of a change over in movies. Okay, so the plot is simplistic and almost pointless in the face of Hauer’s performance, the concept behind the plot is overused, the budget is particularly low and the sets seem to be one rung above a Troma film, but there is Rutger and a pretty sweet monster. If nothing else, Kim Cattrall is our female lead so there’s a guarantee of a nude scene!

Wild Zero

The members of Wild Zero are the Ramones of Japan, however they also have the divine calling to kill zombies with a thick gooey coating of Japan's Rock and Roll Spirit. This movie is just that goddamn awesome. As such, we've decided to resurrect one of our dead features, the live stream event, and rock it out-jingle style-on this Christmas evening. However, as opposed to just having one of us here tonigh, we've got a full cast of characters who are going to be offering input across the twitter-verse

(Oh. Yeah. Keep your eyes peeled for the Japanese Steve Buscemi)

Standard rules apply here, everything here is something shouted out during the course of the movie. By the way, it had its own drinking game, so things became kind of incoherent near the end as all the participants started slurring their words a bit. The lines in quotes are actually taken straight from the film. So don't blame us.

Enjoy!

  • Why are all Asian zombies blue?
  • Hubcaps...in SPACE!
  • Japanese Rockabilly hair combing!
  • We should mention that Wild Zero ships with its own drinking game as a special feature
  • WHY CAN'T I SHOOT LIGHTING OUT OF MY GUITAR?!?
  • "There's a wallet on my ass with a rock and roll license!"
  • Did we REALLY need the POV shot of him peeing in the urinal? SQUEEEEZE it out, SON!
  • Seriously, how many f***ing times do you need to comb your hair in a day?
  • What's with those shorts. . oh, that's a woman.
  • Why. Does. his. underwear. tie. up. on. the side? And did the actor REALLY have to have an erection during the ENTIRE scene?
  • Because cocaine in the milk is like a protein shake?
  • ZOMBIES!
  • And...uh...why is that zombie holding sandals?
  • Big. Giant. Hearts? on the screen? WHAT?
  • Stick your penis in it, the zombies go away.
  • That tiny bike says his penis is at LEAST a full pinky length in size. No overcompensating there!
  • never. Ever. Faint in front of the zombies.
  • The zombies are going to east Asian Moby! We won't hear it though, because his shirt is too goddamned loud.
  • Mop against zombies= WIN
  • At some angles she looks like a man, at other angles she's a very cute girl? Winona Ryder?
  • Why do zombies go straight for the panties?
  • Naked Marksmanship FTW!
  • Who has fire shooting out of their MICROPHONE?
  • They've wandered into some sort of building and um. . . SHE IS A MAN!
  • It's the crying game all over again!!! AGGGHHHH! *Runs away to the bathroom*
  • "LOVE HAS NO BORDERS NATIONALITIES OR GENDERS!! DOOOO IT!"
  • Atheism Limit Break CROWBAR ENGAGE!!!
  • God, Guitar Wolf is like this sexy Terminator-alien-thing-man-beast. . .
  • That gun's not a penis. No. Not at all.
  • His package has luster. Billy Mays here for the package buffer. . . Giggity.
  • Every time they fucking back-fist Asian Steve Buscemi, take a drink.
  • Why are they naked . . . and blue. . . and wearing. . .cod. . pieces?
  • They've just found ALL the guns. . .
  • charred barring hips. . . . . . charles brawlin' herps. . . charlz broilin hips. . . she's got 'em. . .
  • Ok. Higgins is apparently tweeting everything I'm failing to say during the drinking game.
  • Guitar Wolf has got so much rock n' roll he can kill zombies just with Guitar Picks. . .LIGHTNING GUITAR PICKS!
  • Let's do a bunch of drugs and kill some zombies. Yep, sure. That's what I'd do.
  • "THERE ARE NO BOUNDARIES IN ROCK N' ROLL! BELIEVE IN ROCK N' ROLL."
  • He still has an erection. . .
  • Gosh he is cute. Wait. That's not right. . .
  • Nipple twist! Tune in Toyko!
  • Oh, that's right, because he's a wolf. He's a Guitar Wolf. STILL A MAN!!!
  • He took off the wig and he's EVEN GAYER, how does that work?!
  • Well, If this going to be that kind of party, I'm gonna to stick my dick in the mash potatoes.
  • ZOMBIE LOVE CAM!
  • "I swear by my leather jacket, and by rock n' roll, I swear, I love you."
  • "Courage and Rock n' Roll, that's what he taught me that night."
  • Ladies and Gentlemen, this concludes this mass of the Church of the Cavalcade, we thank for your attendance and my penis is not that big.
  • The previous is what happens when you leave the twitter window open for random people to type. BAD Christmas guests! BAD!

Fourth Kind, The

The Fourth Kind begins with the comely Milla Jovovich informing us, PSA-style, that she will be portraying Dr. Abigail Tyler (a fictional person) and that the events we are about to see are based on some sort of fact, and apparently Nome, Alaska is this hotbed of alien abduction.

Furthermore, we are treated to the ghostly pale waif of the "real" Dr. Tyler, who narrates her story with heart breaking certainty of the events. She's all eyes and lank hair; nothing like Jovovitch, giving the film this weird deconstructionist bent. We've all seen TV and entertainment, and we've seen a few alien abduction movies as well, so the angle they take assumes you are used to the effects of both. In a way, it's interesting.

But in a more accurate way, it's as pretentious as this next sentence:

As  a deeply cynical man who shaves with Occam's Razor, I must point out that technically everything is "based on a true story." Good fiction writers tend to derive most of their stories from real life, to inform believability.

And while not really believable, I can't fault this movie's construction. Many of the scenes throughout the film, are shown in split screen, with the "archival" footage right next to dramatized version of what we're watching.

Initially this is irritating, but it grows on you. This dramatic sleight of hand forces you to choose which version you're going to watch, and because a good deal of the archival footage is in the grainy black and white we usually see on America's Dumbest Criminals' convenience store robbery footage, you will probably end up watching the one with Ms. Jovovitch.

Veteran character actor Will Patton plays the town's "Don't Trust me no science" sheriff, who believes that Dr. Tyler is causing every single problem the town has with her "brain magicks". At one point, Tyler's daughter is abducted, and the sheriff immediately asks her what she did with the tot. Tyler says she was taken through the ceiling by aliens. It's an odd scene because the audience really isn't on either side. The sheriff is being a douche, Tyler is rightfully hysterical, but we start to realize that both of them acting like they're in a community theater audition and it's not going to get them anywhere productive.

However, they do get somewhere fast though, as movie has momentum in spades. There's barely a moment where something is not going wrong, people are shouting over each other, or having disturbing physical reactions to hypnosis.

Is this movie schlock? Not in terms of construction of story, but in terms of the "this is totally real!" conceit, oh yeah. To sell its point even further, the film wraps up with UFO sighting calls to local law enforcement, almost all of which are in California, and Utah. One was most disturbingly from Baltimore, Md.

Really? I can deal with the absurd Gotham-before-Batman crime rate in Charm City but Aliens, too?

You are told several times to believe what you want, by people who supposedly hold a Ph.D. in something other than bullshit. After seeing the film, I'll believe the residents of Nome were disappearing due to the always deadly but far more mundane combination of cold weather and alcoholism.

District 9

This is a damned near perfect genre movie.

It's momentum flings the narrative along from plot point to plot point, and the movie is filmed in a way that is fast paced and exciting but not confusing.

Director Neill Blomkamp has a virtuoso sense of how to make a movie exciting without making it dizzying. The cuts are fast, but they jump to things that are readily recognizable, so you get a ton of information without getting lost. It was a heart pounding way to see a movie. In terms of action, the movie has a lot of great "DAMN!" action moments, not to be spoiled here, but they are eye-popping and fast.

In other movies of this past summer (cough-cough-Transformers-cough-cough), the senses are pummeled with too much information, and while I'm sure I'm supposed to excited, I'm just numbed. In addition to how the film is presented, what is presented is  engaging and thought provoking without being preachy or overwrought.

There's a lot of heart in addition to some jet black humor about bureaucracy, the story focusing mostly on relocation efforts headed by Wikus van der Merwe, played with amazing authenticity by Sharlto Copley as a man in way out of his depth. He finds a bizarre contraption, and then pushes buttons and such until getting sprayed in the face with mist. Suddenly he is ill, and  more importantly his DNA has been altered such that he may use alien weapons, a coveted resource that his company, Multi-National United (Doesn't that just sound sinister?) has been trying to utilize since the E.T.s landed a decade ago.

Wikus is a classic everyman. In fact, seeing his transition from self-interested corporate stooge to self-interested freedom fighter is actually quite compelling. What's more, he never really has a revelation along the lines of "what we're doing is wrong," he more or less keeps getting deeper and deeper into the whole mess because of that ever-present self interest. First his career, and then fixing his rapidly changing DNA compel him to do what he does throughout the story, and it's presented in such a way that we the audience can almost pictures ourselves doing the same.

The final frame of the movie is also very compelling, and while it may or may not have set up a sequel, the director would have his work cut out for him if he tried.

The oversimple description to get friends to see this movie? Blood Diamond meets Alien Nation. Even simpler, Blood Diamond with aliens. In fact, you could Cavalcade this movie with Alien Nation, though the cuisine would have to be . . . funky.

Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem

We've invited our friend John P. Higgins to share with us his thoughts about, well.. pretty much whatever he feels like. Schlock Games, Movies, TV-nothing is sacred. John's columns will be a bit more in-depth than our usual reviews, and may feature significant spoilers. You've been warned, but you'll like it.-The Management

This past weekend I watched Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem, which was probably one of the most visually misogynistic movies I’ve ever seen this side of American Psycho.

Now, the Giger’s Alien is a pretty horrid creature in and of itself, with it’s perverse use of the human body as an incubator after a borderline sexual assault from the infamous face hugger, the beast dehumanizes everything around it.

The first time I tried to see this movie, it was with a friend who is a staunch opponent of violence against children, pregnant women or animals in most contexts.  So as one of the creatures prepared to assault a pregnant woman, he cried out with his signature, “Aw, heelll-naw!”, and we left before the true nastiness could begin.

Through a compulsion for closure, I decided to see the film again. And since I saw the directors cut, it was even more violent and disturbing than I remember from what I caught in the theater.

There’s a creature in this film that forces a tube down the throat of a pregnant woman, and her throat throbs luridly as it forces its spawn into her lower torso, where she already has a baby, because it only attacks pregnant women. Now, when taken out of context, the scene is extremely offensive. When taken in context, it’s is the icing on a cake of sci-fi depravity the likes of which we haven’t seen since Event Horizon.

On top of that, characters that should have lived-because they didn’t have sex at any point-die anyway. It’s a rule in horror movies that if you don’t have sex or do drugs you don’t die, making nearly all of them an allegory for wildly excessive retribution visited upon youth by outside forces. But apparently, if the horror is from space, everyone is fair game. In the case of this film, the young and/or the pregnant are the proverbial chum in the water.

In addition to this nastiness, I hate the idea that the Aliens apparently have made it to earth on several occasions, making Ellen Ripley’s eventually fatal quest to keep them off-planet sadly moot, perhaps even more than her being cloned in the fourth film.

As the movie opens, a hybrid of the titular Predator and Alien crash lands on earth in a stolen space ship, and the standing governing body of the Predator race apparently sends an elite “cleaner” who takes care of these sorts of things. This particular Predator is a gangly sort of cross between a CIA agent, a Green Beret and a park ranger. I found the concept of Earth as a sort of intergalactic wild-life preserve to be rather funny, but when the only humor of a movie is more from the things you have to think of after the fact, something is lacking.

A good amount of action is spent in a massive sewer system that seems completely out of place in the small southwestern-western town of Gunnison, Co., standing in for the typical isolated, suburban Mainstreet, USA, where aliens, zombies, vampires and werewolves invariably schedule their showdowns with humans and each other between Spring parades and local music festivals.

There are a ton of issues throughout the film. Details that would ordinarily grab my attention are wrong, and other details that you don't care about are over-emphasized. An example in the former category has one character coming from the U.S. "ArmyMarines", judging from the half and half uniform she wears upon her arrival home from Inconsequencistan. She is a member of the branch that has female Stryker combat vehicle drivers, of which I’m fairly sure there are few.


On the other extreme, too much time is devoted to a character’s back story (whose name I don’t even remember, despite other characters screaming it before they die several times) about jail time and vague crimes that may have been committed whilst a member of the police force (though it’s never made clear). His entire “dark past” turns out to be wholly irrelevant in the grand scheme of an alien invasion, as most petty crime wouldn’t make you capable of handling sub-machine guns, let alone an extra-terrestrial shot-gun intended for creatures two feet taller than you.

Topping this mess is the inevitable “Man is the real monster” ending in which a shady government organization nukes the entire town to prevent the spread of the deadly phallus-headed Aliens, killing the remainder of the town's initial 5,409, minus the survivors who escape on a hospital helicopter, which of course the surviving veteran ArmyMarine knows how to fly as well (which means she had one of those rare military jobs in which she learned to drive a Stryker and fly a chopper). The argument could be made here that somewhere in her back story, she learned to fly a chopper as a civilian, but that’s giving the production far more credit than they gave me as an audience member.

The final insult occurs after the survivors land and they are confronted by a group of face painted commandos who insist they were “only following orders.” That’s not what got to me, though. What annoyed me was the surviving-woman-who-was-supposed-to-also-be-a-member-of-the-nebulous-military, regardless of branch, should have kicked that guy’s ass until candy came out and asked him if it would be acceptable if she nuked his hometown in the process of “following orders.” Instead, she shrugs it off and looks wistfully at the sky, where we are supposed to see her slight resemblance to Sigourney Weaver.

Aggressively terrible as that ending was, it doesn’t compare to the film's actual tacked-on ending, in which a man in a suit, who at this point is a war-criminal-having nuked more people than were killed in 9/11, delivers the Predators’ shotgun-like weapon to a Ms. Yutani.

Dun-Dun-Dun!

This last scene was, of course, a desperate grasp for continuity with the series-as Yutani is the other half of the soon to be Weyland-Yutani Corp. We met Weyland’s CEO in the first AVP, and, as in this film, we didn’t much care then either.

On a final note, a film snob moment: The finest scenes in any film involving the Predator are the scenes where the Predator is alone on screen and doing its thing, telling a story entirely with physical acting. It is pure cinema to have an actor tell a story through motion alone, rubber suit or not. I found it fascinating in the first Predator, and still interesting in the second. AVP sorely lacked that little touch, and AVP:R at least had the good sense to bring it back. Unfortunately, that’s really all the sense it had.

Management again-Independent of Higgins' experiences, we happened to screen AVP:R at our Alien Invader Event. Yeah, we shut it off after 45 minutes out of sheer boredom.