“10 Cloverfield Lane”

10 Cloverfield isn’t so much a sequel as it is a “set in the same universe” follow-up to the original. Honestly this feels like an entirely unrelated film that didn’t really have an ending so they just added some aliens and tacked the word cloverfield to the title. The trailers for this movie didn’t inspire me to run the the theater so …better late than never? maybe?

10 Cloverfield Lane
Mary Elizabeth Winstead in 10 Cloverfield Lane

There’s that cliché that procrastinators always use … you know, “better late than never”. In the case of 10 Cloverfield Lane, I’m wondering if that’s an entirely accurate statement. It’s late, not only because the film was released so long after 2008’s Cloverfield, but also because it took me so long to get around to watching this film. The trailers for this movie didn’t exactly inspire me to run to the theater so I waited until it was available for streaming to do a review … better late than never?

10 Cloverfield Lane isn’t so much a sequel as it is a “set in the same universe” follow-up to the original. Honestly this feels like a movie that was completely unrelated to Cloverfield which didn’t really have an ending so the film-makers just added some alien creatures and inserted the word Cloverfield into the title. For all intents and purposes the setting for this film could have been an address like “43 Trout Lane”.

The premise: a young woman named only Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is driving along a stretch of road when she is struck by another vehicle and tumbles down an embankment. Waking sometime later, she finds herself trapped in a strange underground bunker with a surly doomsday prepper by the name of Howard (John Goodman). Michelle assumes she’s been abducted by some kind of torture-porn loving freak and immediately begins searching for a way to escape or call for help.

Howard soon informs Michelle that there has been some kind of attack and that that they, along with fellow survivor Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), must remain in the safety of his underground bunker because the air above ground has been contaminated. Despite Michelle’s apprehension, Emmett seems grateful to have found shelter in the bunker, telling her that he witnessed the “attack” and reassuring her that Howard isn’t a total nut-job.

After a token attempt at post-apocalyptic domestic tranquility in the bunker, Michelle begins to suspect her initial instincts about Howard were correct and attempts to escape. She makes her way to the outer door of the bunker, only inches from freedom. Before she can open the heavy steel door, Michelle is startled by another survivor seeking shelter in the bunker – a victim of the mysterious attack who suffers what appear to be severe chemical burns. Confronted with this seemingly obvious evidence of Howard’s claims, Michelle accepts that this underground confinement is her only means of survival. From this point on things only get creepier. I could tell you more but … spoilers.

Personally, I think this film would have been better off as a stand-alone title. The events which take place between the three characters in the bunker do not depend on Cloverfield in any way. Perhaps it would have been more surprising to learn that there was no alien attack or toxic contaminant. Remember the woman with the chemical burns who tried frantically to get inside the bunker? Maybe she just had a case of shingles and was running from her abusive husband. Wouldn’t you have been shocked to learn that her appearance, which persuaded Michelle to remain in the bunker, was purely coincidental?

So what’s the verdict? Save 10 Cloverfield Lane for a Weekend Rewind. While it isn’t a horrible movie and thankfully it’s not “found footage”, it’s simply not a must-see. There’s plenty of suspense and some terrifying revelations about Howard and the bunker before any association with the original Cloverfield becomes apparent. When that connection is finally made, it just feels like desperate film-makers were struggling to find some shocking twist to justify the majority of the film being set in a subterranean shelter.

UK Prometheus Trailer answers questions

The latest trailer for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus was released on Saturday and it is Intense! The footage hints at an intriguing search for the origins of humanity. There is also a UK trailer that’s a little less action packed, but also less choppy.

The latest trailer for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus was released on Saturday and it is Intense! The footage hints at an intriguing search for the origins of humanity. There is also a UK trailer that’s a little less action packed, but also less choppy.

I have been eagerly anticipating ‘Prometheus’ for the past two years. Wondering, like so many fans, about the connection between this epic new film and the 1979 classic ‘ALIEN’.

Ridley Scott had originally teased fans with his intent to make a prequel, but later recanted; saying that ‘Prometheus’ was an entirely new film. Perhaps that was some clever mis-direction on Mr. Scott’s part because as time passed between each stage in the film making process, he dropped subtle hints about the connection between the films. From early negotiations where it seemed like Ridley might not even direct the project, through pre-production and principal photography; Scott said that the ‘Alien DNA’ would be evident in this new film, but it was not a direct Alien prequel. Most recently in post production and marketing we’ve seen huge links to the ‘Alien’ universe.

The Thing reveals itself to be surprise prequel

If you haven’t yet made it to theaters to see “The Thing”  I highly recommend that you do so while the film is still in theatrical release. If, like me, you are a fan of the 1982 version starring Kurt Russell; I promise you will not be disappointed. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is excellent in this film.

There are certain films which lend themselves to re-interpretation. There are also those films which, although dated, simply cannot be improved. John Carpenter’s 1982 “The Thing” definitely falls into the latter category. Yes, that film shows its age at times with displays of outdated technology but as a work of sci-fi horror there is very little room for improvement. This is why I was initially skeptical about a reboot.

The new film gets off to a slow start but then shifts into high gear. Taut and suspenseful with excellent visual effects, this vision of the thing is no-nonsense survival horror at its best.

Throughout the film there are some subtle differences from the 1982 film which I attributed to the re-imagining of the source material. The bloody horror takes place in the Norwegian camp rather than the American camp and of course that bit about Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Dr. Kate Lloyd being the main character rather than Kurt Russell’s RJ Macready.

Then a funny thing happened at the very end of the film. A familiar scene began to unfold as a man fired shots from helicopter while pursuing a dog running from a Norwegian Antarctic research station. As you probably know the vents which follow that chase scene make up the plot of the 1982 film.

A lot of care was taken to ensure that this final sequence would match the introduction to the earlier film all the way down to the markings on the helicopter and the beard of the Norwegian gunner. The only noticeable discrepancy seems to be his rifle.

With no new Prometheus set photos, web searches in vain for “Charlize Therone naked push-ups”.

seems like security on the set of Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” must be pretty tight. This screen capture from comic-con seems to the only decent quality image which has been made available to the general public. You might think with a 2012 release date there would be some official publicity photos beginning to circulate around the inter-webs. It seems like every day someone posts new photos from the set of Batman: the dark Knight rises. How is it that no one has a single good image from Prometheus?

Judging from the Google search suggestions, what you are all really searching for is:

“Charlize Therone naked push-ups”.

Seriously? Ridley Scott  returns to the  genre he helped define and all you care about is Charlize Therone doing naked push-ups? That’s all you can think about? You’re not at all interested in the industrial design or the “space jockey” character? Wow, what an intellectual!

I’m just kidding. That was one of the first things I searched for too. That’s probably inspired by Ridley’s description of her character (Meredith Vickers) doing “nearly naked push-ups”. Scott insisted the push-up scene would be included in Prometheus even if the film received a PG-13 rating, but indicated an R-rated cut of the film will also be completed, which leads me to wonder what kind of footage might be cut from the final version of the film. If the theatrical release is cut for the PG-13 rating, at least you can look forward to the DVD/Blu-ray release.

I was really hoping to find some pictures of Noomi Rapace (the girl with the Dragon tattoo, Sherlock Holmes 2) in character. If you know where to find some more set photos from Prometheus, drop a comment and let the rest of us know where to look.

“Super 8” could have been E.T. for a new generation.

super-8
cast of super 8

I got out of the cave for a little while today to check out the new JJ Abrams movie, “Super 8″. I’ve become accustomed to the way that JJ Abrams tells a story so I never walk into one of his films expecting the obvious.

If haven’t caught on yet, ‘Cloverfield’ wasn’t about a giant Godzilla-esque monster, ‘Star Trek’ wasn’t about warp drive or other futuristic technologies, and ‘LOST’ wasn’t about a mysterious three toed statue or displaced polar bears. What JJ Abrams excels at is telling stories about people while distracting the audience with something quite outlandish. That’s unfortunate.  I think he’s trying to show us how characters react to unthinkable situations and how they relate to one another in the face of some absurd adversity.

In the case of Super 8 he succeeded in presenting the kind of movie I have not seen since E.T. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Super 8 could well have been this generation’s “E.T.”. Could have been … except for the fact that this generation is utterly incapable of responding to cinema in such a simple and honest way. Today’s audiences seem to be totally vested in effects laden superhero movies or romantic comedies which are little more than formulaic star vehicles. I’m sure you know what I mean. They put the current “it girl” together with the emotionally unavailable hunk or the improbable underdog and apply a generous helping of improbability. By t he end of the movie … it’s true love.

Super 8 allows the audience to connect with very human characters. The character development of Joe (Joel Courtney) and Alice (Elle Fanning) is once again reminiscent of Elliot and Gertie from ET The Extra terrestrial. I won’t spoil this for you. Go see for yourself.

Weekend Rewind: “Contact” starring Jodie Foster

Contact’s cast includes Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, and Tom Skerritt. The film is an adaptation of the book written by the acclaimed astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan. That should tell the film has some credibility. Not all science fiction is based on cheesy 1960’s robot toys

contact
Jodie Foster in Contact

On the weekends I like to watch  movies. Sometimes I catch up on recent films I missed in theaters. Other times I revisit older films that I haven’t seen in a while. This weekend I opted for the latter when I noticed the 1997 film “Contact” was available on-demand.

Contact’s cast includes Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, and Tom Skerritt. The film is an adaptation of the book written by the acclaimed astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan. That should tell the film has some credibility. Not all science fiction is based on cheesy 1960’s robot toys.

Contact is a story about the fist human contact with another intelligent species. When accomplished astronomer Eleanor Arroway (Foster) dedicates her life to the search for extra terrestrial intelligence, many of her peers think she’s throwing her career away. When she discovers a signal from the region of space near Vega people suddenly become keenly interested. The radio broadcast suggests the existence of intelligent life from another star system which raises concerns about national security, world politics and human spirituality.

If you’ve never seen Contact before its definitely worth a watch if you have some down time this weekend.

Interestingly, Jena Malone, The little girl who played young Eleanor Arroway has grown up a little bit. You can see her in Zack Smith’s upcoming film “Suckerpunch” as Rocket.

Weekend Rewind: “Battle Los Angeles 2011”

World Invasion, Battle: Los Angeles 2011 seems to be your standard alien invasion movie. Throughout modern history there have been eyewitness UFO reports of alien spacecraft. Their motives have never been understood… until now. Every major city in the world is under attack by alien forces. This is the story of a Marine platoon facing off against the invaders in the battle of Los Angeles.

Battle Los Angeles 2011
Aaron Eckhart in Battle Los Angeles 2011

Hey, does Will Smith know people keep making new Independence day films without him?

World Invasion, Battle: Los Angeles 2011 seems to be your standard alien invasion movie. Throughout modern history there have been eyewitness UFO reports of alien spacecraft. Their motives have never been understood… until now. Every major city in the world is under attack  by alien forces. This is the story of a Marine platoon facing off against the invaders in the battle of Los Angeles.

According to the Wikipedia entry The film premise is inspired by the 1942 Battle of Los Angeles incident in which a presumed enemy attack, later deemed a “false alarm”, led to an hour-long anti-aircraft artillery bombardment over the city of Los Angeles.

The film was directed by directed by filmmaker Jonathan Liebesman and has a fairly strong cast including  Michelle Rodriguez, Arron Eckhart, Bridget Moynahan, and the R&B singer-songwriter Ne-Yo (Shaffer Chimere Smith Jr).

Michelle Rodriguez does what she does best as Marine Corpse Technical Sergeant Elana Santos. She can keep playing tough chicks for as long as she wants. I never get tired of her in these roles. In fact, they should re-shoot all the scenes of Vasquez in “Aliens” and replace Jenette Goldstein with Michelle Rodriguez.

I have also enjoyed many of the films Aaron Eckhart has appeared in, although I don’t recall ever having seen him in a military role before. It should be interesting to see the normally sophisticated and soft spoken actor as a combat Marine.

While I generally don’t approve of singer-songwriters trying to be actors I get the feeling that Ne-Yo is probably a good choice. I’ll revisit that later.

I never did see skyline, the other recent alien invasion movie.Battle: Los Angeles looks a little more interesting. I think I prefer to see movies from a soldier’s perspective rather than that of self important Hollywood 20 somethings (or Will Smith).

I can’t help but wonder if any selections from the Rage against the Machine album “The Battle of Los Angeles” will be included on the film’s soundtrack.

Skyline trailer – Stephen Hawking warned us (how bad this movie would be).

There is a new trailer out for the scifi film Skyline. The basic premise is that NASA sent a message deep into space, where aliens live. And they got the message: Delicious humans still available on Earth? Yum! I don’t actually know that the aliens in this film eat people but really, what else are we good for?

Seen in the trailer are many large alien spacecraft sucking up little defenseless humans by the thousands like a cosmic vacuum cleaner. The fictional news reports used in the film repeat that Stephen Hawking warned us something like this could happen so maybe we should just leave aliens alone ok? By the way, did you know Stephen Hawking refuses to upgrade his electronic speaking voice even though newer more natural sounding speech synthesis is available? He says the ‘primitive’ electronic voice is how people have come to know him. Its a recognizable trait that people associate with him. Anyway, When Stephen Hawking says aliens are dangerous, you listen!

I was just thinking about why hostile aliens might come to our little planet. One reason that one of my friends my only friend suggested was resources. yeah sounds plausible but then again, if you could sustain a huge population aboard spacecraft capable of crossing the seemingly endless expanse of deep space, you’ve probably got resource management all figured out.

More likely that the entire universe views humans either as vermin and will undertake great pains to exterminate us at the fist sign of infestation; or alternately, the entire universe views us as a tasty delicacy and would cross oceans of space to snack on humans.

Now go watch the trailer before the aliens come to eat us all!

Naked Space Vampire: “Lifeforce” is awesomely bad

A joint US/UK space mission investigating Haley’s comet discovers a huge alien spacecraft concealed in the comet’s coma. The crew, not wanting to miss an opportunity which only comes once every 75 years decides to board the alien craft where they discover the desiccated bodies of giant bat like aliens.

lifeforce
Mathilda May in Lifeforce

Today out of sheer boredom I happened to watch an awesomely bad sci-fi film from 1985 called LifeForce. The film is based on the 1976 book Space Vampires by Colin Wilson. I’ve never read the book, but I can only hope its better than this movie.

The Plot? A joint US/UK space mission investigating Haley’s comet discovers a huge alien spacecraft concealed in the comet’s coma. The crew, not wanting to miss an opportunity which only comes once every 75 years decides to board the alien craft where they discover the desiccated bodies of giant bat like aliens. The alien craft begins to demonstrate signs of activity but the crew decided to continue exploring anyway and soon discover the bodies of three naked humanoids in some type of suspended animation. Needless to say the captain of the mission immediately feels an overwhelming attraction to the female.

The next thing you know ground control has lost contact with major Tom and the Space Shuttle Columbia is dispatched a rescue mission. OMG! There’s been a fire! Fire in space is beautiful and extremely dangerous. The entire crew is dead but guess what? The three naked aliens in their crystal cryo-capsules are aboard and unharmed. Right then, Better take them back to Earth where aliens never pose a serious threat to humanity.

So the space girl has great tits is some kind of freakish energy vampire. When she escapes the ultra security wing of the SRC (by SRC I mean ‘Space Research Center’ and by ultra secure, I mean one sleepy security guard and a set of unlocked double doors ) There is an outbreak of space vampirism. London is fraked. 28 Days Later fraked.

Oh, the captain from the original space mission managed to escape his burning shuttle and land safely back on earth in the shuttle’s escape capsule. Didn’t you know about the escape capsules aboard US space shuttles? Apparently they always keep a single Liberty Bell 7 style command module aboard the shuttle in case a single survivor needs to bail.

Blah blah blah. the humans beat up a British hooker and Jean Luc Picard. Then proceed to fight the space vampire zombies You get the drift.

Highlights? only this: Space girl Is naked most of the movie. That’s it. There is nothing else good about this movie. Space Girl has great boobs. That’s all you need to know.

One last note. ‘Space Girl’ is exactly how Mathilda May is credited. I guess her character doesn’t even have a name. Mathilda is twenty five years older now but she’s still kind of ‘MILFy”