Tag Archives: Sigourney Weaver

Movie Review: Galaxy Quest (1999)

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Rating: B+/ The sci-fi Star Trek parody Galaxy Quest is a delightfully good bit of fun, and rings true in terms of showbiz satire. It’s hard for a normal everyday person to imagine fame becoming a terrible burden, but we see many celebrities making a downward spiral into drugs, alcohol and general excess and we wonder; with all the money and prestige in the world, how could they let themselves go like that? I think one of the main reasons is the negative influence of fans and paparazzi who insert themselves into every aspect of an actor’s life. I mean, they pretend for a living! You don’t know them personally because you ‘loved them in that show’ and you have no right to fill their websites with sycophantic emails and stalk them at comic con. People don’t realize that actors are human beings with a right to their own lives and their own privacy.

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Aliens (1986)

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There’s something inherently terrifying and grotesque about the creatures in Alien and it’s sequel, Aliens. The way they scuttle across the floor like crabs. The way they latch onto your face and impregnate you with their evil spawn. But nothing has posed quite as epic a threat as the alien queen mother in James Cameron’s 1986 sequel, Aliens. She’s fucking huge, for one thing. She has a vendetta. No wonder, Ellen Ripley, our heroine, abhors her.

Let me just say that Aliens is not a bad movie, by a long shot. It has good production values, effective acting, a solid story, and sympathetic characters. But, frankly, it just didn’t measure up to Ridley Scott’s original in my opinion. I know, right? Let the incredulous comments begin.

The plot of Aliens picks up right where the original left off. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) hops in an escape pod on the doomed spaceship the Nostromo and puts herself in cryo until rescue arrives. hopefully sooner rather than later. Fifty-seven years later (later, definitely later) a large ship picks her up and she soon finds herself at war once again with her mortal enemy, the face-huggers. Engineering her return to the vile creature’s planet is the weasley, manipulative Burke (Paul Reiser,) and she sets forth to save the settlers that have inadvertently arrived on the planet from the original with a bunch of soldiers with huge egos who, in the end, don’t stand a chance.

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The character of Ripley is consistent with the original, but we learn new things about her, like she has a daughter that aged and died while she was in cryo. Ripley’s new daughter figure comes in the form of Newt (Carrie Henn,) a little waif who’s whole family has been killed and who has been living in the ventilation system in the  compound where the face-huggers attacked. This adds an emotional component, as Ripley struggles to protect Newt and the soldiers from a larger-than-life menace and her extra-terrestrial children.

Now on why I think this is a good movie, but not as good as the original film. The first movie in the series was claustrophobic and loaded with atmosphere, whereas this one is more of a standard action flick. Alien incorporated modest practical effects and was done on a fairly low budget, while Aliens has a much larger budget and is much bigger and brassier than the original.

Now for the good. The characters are more sympathetic and more fully developed in this one, from the soldiers played by the likes of Bill Paxton and Michael Biehn to the little girl, Newt. You didn’t care as much about the protagonists in the first movie (other than Ripley,) but the side characters here are given some serious consideration by the writer. Aliens is also much less of a slow-burn, so if you like fast-paced action films that are not so much mood pieces as roller-coaster rides, this is the movie for you. The first was less of a Hollywood film, which was what I liked about it. But this one has more of a character arc, exciting mood, and a sense of mainstream appeal.

I was occasionally not as into Aliens as I probably should have been, I’m not much of a action fan. It gets to the point where I actually get bored by explosions and gunfights no matter how well they’re done for that sort of movie. I very much enjoy more atmospheric/ ‘slow burn’ films, but don’t let that deter you from this action-packed, entertaining movie. Alien and Aliens are very different films, despite being linked by the same heroine and universe, and they’re both worth watching in their own way.

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Alien (1979)

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Seven intergalactic travelers. One fucked-up alien antagonist. Apart, they don’t stand a chance. Together, they’re still pretty much screwed, unless the intrepid Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) can find a way out.

    Alien is a hugely influential, claustrophobic sci-fi thriller which makes fantastic use of practical FX. Director Ridley Scott (who would later helm one of the other all-time sci-fi greats, Blade Runner) creates a irrepressible heroine in Ripley, who exudes coolness and confidence but has enough of a soft spot to make a mad dash to save the cat when shit goes down. She also makes a mean science fiction-horror ‘final girl.’

Ellen wasn’t always in a position where she was forced to be a hero. A passenger on the spaceship Nostromo, her job is is help the crew mine ore on friendly planets. However, when Kane (John Hurt) crawls into some kind of hatchery on a downed ship and gets an unidentified creature glued to his face, his unwise and ultimately fatal misstep gets the rest of the crew into a whole lot of trouble. Stalked by an alien of superior intelligence and an aptitude for hunting prey, the film’s desperate band of characters must overcome their differences and their power struggles and attempt to survive an overwhelmingly dangerous entity. On top of that, one of the passengers is hiding a secret- one that could potentially get them all killed.

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People get the impression from the much talked-about and riffed-on ‘chest-burster scene’ that Alien is a big gorefest, but they would be not entirely accurate to assume this. In fact, Alien is less a schlocky splatter fest and more an atmosphere-filled, even subtle thriller which is also a bit of a slow burn. People are picked off one by one and try to pull together and overcome helpless terror in a pretty hopeless situation. Moreover, the Nostromo is not a overly friendly place for women passengers to begin with; there are only two female passengers among a group of men with big mouths and big egos. In a way, Alien can be seen as a feminist allegory; it is only when Ripley decides to shed her anxieties and her clothes, believing the creature to be dead, that it viciously tries to bring her in particular down.

Ripley is a strong protagonist in (a she doesn’t scream and fret a lot like many heroines. (b she doesn’t need a man to save her, (c she doesn’t amble around clad like a prostitute while strangling men with her legs/inadvertently turning on the  fanboys who watch and (d she doesn’t have an unnecessary and poorly defined love interest. She does have one gratuitous pantie shot to please the gents who are watching but she mostly doesn’t fall into any of the traps of science fiction heroines. Although Weaver is very good, it should also be mentioned that all the actors do an outstanding job in their respective roles.

The design of the monsters is very good, the film ratchets up the suspense masterfully as the body count makes a steady rise, and Ridley Scott manages to keep this tale grounded in reality. Sure, the spaceship setting and face-hugging creatures are fantastical, but the ongoing barrage of fear and squishy sound effects- and the reactions of the characters- feel all too real. Alien is an effective scare flick that created an innovative world for the spin-offs and sequels to follow and leaves you feeling satisfied at the end. Tune in to The Cinematic Emporium for my follow-up review of the film’s sequel, Aliens, coming soon.

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The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Fast-paced, gory, and with a razor-sharp sense of humor, “The Cabin in the Woods” borrows elements from older horror films and twists them around, making them its own. Never since “Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil” have I seen such originality and creative scriptwriting in a modern horror-comedy.

“The Cabin in the Woods” is truly a marvel to watch, and stands as an excellent addition to co-writer Joss Whedon’s repertoire. The plot starts out “typical” and soon reveals itself to be a lot murkier (and more awesome) than it initially seemed.

Five friends- innocent Dana (Kristen Connolly), “cool dude” Curt (Chris Hemsworth), slutty Jules (Anna Hutchinson), amusing pothead Marty (Fran Kranz), and sensitive guy Holden (Jesse Williams) go off on a trip to a cabin in the woods. Marty quickly establishes himself as my favorite, with his pseudo-profound pot-addled ramblings and surprising perceptiveness.

But wait! Something is amiss! As the gang break the various rules of horror-film etiquette (Don’t have sex. Don’t go in the basement. Don’t wander off…) they find themselves fighting for their lives. But it gradually becomes clear that a lot more then the lives of a couple of college kids may be at stake.

Naturally, the pothead gets all the best lines from the very beginning, Marty establishes himself as a humorously addled and continuously likable presence, even if half the time you don’t know what the hell he’s talking about. The acting is good, not extraordinary but decent, particularly for this kind of movie.

One of my favorite character actors, Richard Jenkins, is here as an ethically dodgy and somewhat dirty old man. The script is funny, cool, and sometimes willfully ludicrous, as characters get bear traps in the back and somehow get up with little to no permanent injuries.

“The Cabin in the Woods” is definitely worth a watch to anyone who wants to see a new twist on an old story. You actually root for these kids to live, which is a rare occurrence in a dead-teenager movie. The script is often funny, sometimes hysterical, and worth a go for the killer-unicorn sequence alone. My professional opinion? Watch it, and don’t take it too seriously.