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Aliens Versus Predator, Alien Versus Predator Requiem and Ghidorah– episode 146

Alien Versus Predator

The two Aliens Versus Predator movies, and the kaiju Ghidorah, plus:

  • Age of Mythology (PC game)
  • Blind Fury
  • Legend
  • Hardware

All This And World War II 3/5


A very odd movie, with a montage of world war 2 footage in chronological order with a soundtrack of Beatles covers (minus the really, really inhuman pieces of footage).

Some of it works quite well and is poignant, but others seem trite and insulting, but overall I quite liked it. I’d even buy the soundtrack.

Alien Quadrilogy – 139

Alien

Sam and Mark discuss Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection, as well as:

  • Far Cry 3 (XBox 360)
  • Bioshock Infinite (Xbox 360)
  • Ask A Policeman
  • Alien Vs Predator (Xbox 360)
  • Haywire

Ask A Policeman 4/5

Ask A Policeman

This is a lot of fun, I’ve liked Will Hay comedies since I first saw them as a boy, and this one is solid, with snappy, amusing dialogue from the shady, but good-hearted, boys. Also with the wonderful Graham Moffatt and Moore Marriott.

This is a very British comedy, however, and I’m not sure it will travel well. It’s like an early prototype of the St Trinians movies, if that paints a picture.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa 3.5/5

Alan Partridge Alpha Papa

Reasonably funny and diverting comedy from the cringe-tastic Alan Partridge, that works well if you watch it in 2 or 3 servings, rather than one sitting – Partridge is definitely a characters that works better in several small doses than one big pigout.

Does this work overseas though? I think it’s a very British offering.

Aladdin 4.5/5

Aladdin

This is easily the second most funny Disney movie after The Emperor’s New Groove, but it does feel a little dated with some of Robin Williams topical references – I think everyone will recognise Jack Nicholson for years to come, but maybe not Rodney Dangerfield and Scorcese-esque De Niro – but the really good turns from the incidental comedy characters such as Iago, Abu and the carpet keep it cracking along at an excellent pace. There’s also some very creative ideas going on in the fast-paced sequences, such as the escape from the closing treasure-pit or the final fight.

Very enjoyable.

Abby 3/5

Abby

This was a film of that was a distinct mix of good and bad (fittingly). Condemned to purgatory by legal threats from Warners about it being a ripoff of the Exorcist, it’s been hard to catch, and even now it’s only possibly in a terrible print.

It’s an interesting take on possession, and this time it’s about a Nigerian demon possessing a church-going, demur housewife who becomes sexually aggressive/rampant, and violent. So here’s the breakdown:

– Good: William Marshall is masterful; Carol Speed is pretty decent as Abby; the sound design is very effective in places, there was even one decent song in the middle of the movie playing as background.
– Bad: Rest of the cast. Even Austin Stoker, who went on to be pretty decent in Assault on Precinct 13, is bad. The direction, scene-setting is poor; the set design/budget is super-cheap, and whoever was involved didn’t have the talent or time to hide it.
– Odd: Why the hell was Warners threatened by this? Legal action seems ridiculous to me, and I’m guessing the makers of this movie didn’t have the financial clout to make a case (they’d have won against Warners imo).

Enjoyable, for a one-off watch.

An American Werewolf In London 4.5/5

An American Werewolf In London

This movie holds up, and remains one of the great comedy-horror movies, for several reasons. The transformation scene, done entirely using practical effects, still looks pretty great (apart from some of the elongated hands moments, but I stress ‘some’), the writing is done with wit and the acting of the minor characters feels pretty real, and overall the story zips along in an uncomplicated way. There’s very little of that most common fault of horror movies -people have to act stupid at some point to drive the story (inadvertently leaving the road to go on the moors is something we’ll ignore for the sake of the entire plot, rather than a contrivance to help drive the plot), and the central performance of Jenny Agutter, David Naughton and Griffin Dunne are wholly believable.

I feel a bad moon rising.
Link to my podcast about An American Werewolf In London

Star Wars 2: Attack of the Clones 3.5/5

Attack of the Clones

Well, I think whenever Annakin is on screen in dramatic parts, it feels quite poor and drags by his mopey teenager persona, but there were two dramatic scenes I thought were decent. The first, the death-scene of Shmi Skywalker, was actually very good, and the second, where Annakin reveals what he did to the Sand People to Padme, was reasonable. The action parts are mostly fine as long as Annakin isn’t speaking.

On the other hand, I very much enjoyed the scenes where McGregor was present and not encumbered by the presence of Annie, as well as any scenes with Yoda, Mace Windu and Count Dooku. Particularly enjoyable parts were the fight between Obi-Wan and Django Fett, and the whole last act in fact (especially the fantastic fight between Dooku and Yoda).

Also good was Jar Jar was in this one much less than I remembered, thankfully.

I think, and I need to rewatch Revenge of the Sith to be sure, this is my favourite among the main prequel movies.

Book Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman 7.5/10

Book Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

This is my first time reading Neil Gaiman, having decided to give him a try after his excellent episode of a recent Dr Who, where the Tardis become personified as a woman.

This particular story involves the premise the gods and mythical creatures from all major pantheons are alive and well and living as (mostly) people (except the Greek and Roman pantheons – they seem absent) in America – ostensibly because people from all across the world that believed in them migrated to America.  However, the old gods are fading as less and less people actively believe in them, whilst new gods (such as TV, the motorcar, etc) are rising.  The main protganist is a man who gets sucked into this by one of the old Gods to help gather the old gods into a coherent force, as this old god believes the new gods are trying to actively destroy the old gods.

He’s an efficient writer, keeping a good balance of dialogue, narrative drive, and interesting asides that inform and enrich the story. The story is twisty enough to not see the turns coming, and I thought I’d spotted the ending half-way through – and was completely wrong.  It takes an unexpected path and avoids what looks like the predictable ending, and keeps readable and engaging to the end.
Rating: ODD, 7.5/10
Suitable for older teens upwards

Movie: Attack the Block – A fresh fun B-movie – hoodies vs aliens 7/10

Attack The Block

Attack the Block concerns itself with a group of South London street-kids who bring the wrath of an alien swarm on themselves when they kill the first one they meet.

It’s a fun, short, punchy movie, permeated throughout with South London lingo, scared but brave kids born and bred in the London ghetto, trying to survive. 
It starts with the gang who become our main characters mugging a lone woman (who becomes part of the group trying to escape/fight off the aliens), and they seem like a gang of scumbags.  As it develops, we see a more human side to them, and get a sense of a tough life (though not as much of a sense as could have been explored – but hey, this is pure B-Movie, so that’s fine). As one of the characters says after someone says they don’t like going through corridors waiting to be picked off, “sounds like another day to me.”  It’s fresh, and lively, and keeps up a good pace, showing both the courage and the fear of the protagonists, and it does a reasonable job using the young cast (who I think are non-actors in the main) to best effect.  It was also very well directed by the debut director, Joe Cornish.
A lot of fun.

Overall: 7/10
Rewatchability: Yearly, suitable for older teens up (lots of strong language)

 

 

Movie: Arthur (1981) A good comedy with an excellent first and third act 3.5/5

ARTHUR (1981)

Arthur is a cool little romantic comedy about a playboy gagillionaire that is being shoved down a path of marrying a girl he really doesn’t love (Susan), and being forced to shape up into someone respectable to please his family and future in-laws.

The lead is played by Dudley Moore, in his best movie role. The role does seem to be written for a younger man, but Moore is charming and likeable, and makes it easy to overlook this (and the fact he’s English among a family of Americans). Rather than being a spoilt, obnoxious playboy, he’s a spoilt, likeable, but rather sad playboy.

The first section, where Moore plays a happy drunk, is fantastically funny, but it soon settles into a reasonable romantic comedy, where he starts to fall in love with an average working class girl, played very nicely by Liza Minelli. However, as usual, the course of true love doesn’t run smooth, and Arthur is given an ultimatum…marry the girl he should, or possibly lose access to all his money – an awful lot of money…

As I said, Moore is great here, as is Minelli and the guy playing her character’s father (who, when his daughter rejects Arthur, weeps like he’s the one with the broken heart). Even funnier is John Gielgud, playing Hobson, Arthur’s butler, best friend and, in effect, guardian. Hobson is a truly great comic creation. No one can do condescending and sarcastic like a posh Englishman.

The film cracks along at a good pace, and is definitely the funniest at the beginning and whenever Arthur has a good drink, and it’s a pretty cool ending. The theme song ‘Moon and New York City’, was a huge hit at the time, and is okay.

OVERALL: 7/10
Rewatchability: Very rewatchable, at least yearly.
Age suitability: Middle teens upwards.

Movie Review: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein – Top horror comedy, with monsters and comedians really delivering 7.5/10

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

This film marked the final film for several of the universal monster franchises, such as the Frankenstein, Wolf Man and Dracula series, and is touted by some critics (but by no means all) as some sort of low-point.

Junk! This film works a treat on horrific and comedy levels – the monsters are treated with some respect, and not turned into clowns or parodies of themselves (unlike, say, Freddy Kreuger). To me, it marks a going out with a bang, and I consider this probably the best Abbot + Costello film by far. The title itself is a joke – Frankenstein is not a character in this film, much less someone the guys meet!

It’s consistently funny, old-fashioned scary and good for young (probably 6-7 upwards) and old alike, and cracks along at a fair pace.

It’s nicely filmed, nicely plotted, gives the boys time to do their funny stuff, and there’s some crackerjack lines. Example:
“You don’t understand. I sometimes turn into a wolf!”
“You and 20 million other guys!”

Even those that don’t like Abbott and Costello, there’s plenty here to like.

Alice, Sweet Alice – Interesting American Giallo with plenty of atmosphere and weirdness 7/10

Alice, Sweet Alice  aka Communion

An interesting little thriller that plays like an Italian Giallo, but is set and made in America.  Got famous for the brief presence of Brooke Shields at a young age (and she never acted better than in this), but I find many of the actors interesting – particularly the girl under suspicion for murdering her sister and others – played by Paula Sheppard very effectively.

The movie borrows from a few sources among Giallo, and is also strongly reminiscent of Don’t Look Now, but it also seems to be an inspiration for later movies.  The music and the use of the music, for example, seems a direct precursor to the music and its usage in Halloween, coming 2 years after this.

The director shows flair, with a good build up of tension both in plotting and his use of shots and music, but also in the use of some very strange characters (like the grossly overweight, effeminate landlord who seems morbidly interested in the young girls who live in his apartments, and seems to eat the catfood he feeds to his kittens).  He also uses in-plot music to add to the weirdness (watch out for ‘three little fishies in an itty-bitty pool’).

Overall, recommended and worth seeing.