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Monday, February 13, 2012

Outdated Movie Reviews and Sunday Brunch

Is it a new week already?
Well yesterdays day off was one of peace and reflection.  In other words Mom and Dad were to popped to pop for a day out!  We slept until noon, got up, did the house picking up thing (you know where you spend three hours to keep the house clean for 10 minutes) Then did a Sunday Brunch.  As with all meals at our table it degraded into a silly free for all where upon completing what they were going to eat they began to pick and play at what was not.
case in point...
Yep!  pretty much normal.
Then as the little ones scattered from the table conversation between Angi and I and the older boys fluttered about until it landed on movies.  Having just picked up a re-release copy of Gremlins on DVD and the kiddo's having seen it for the first time, we began comparing movies from our generation VS theirs.  Granted the technical advancement in Hollywood movie Magic has propelled by leaps and bounds but personally the art of the Mega Block Buster of my day in Miniatures, set design, matte paintings and make-up will always win out.  But in all fairness the sheer spectacle of the boundless limits provided by computer generation was what made the Super-Hero fly, if you get my drift.  not only that but the alien disaster movie, that the conversation eventually focused on.  Having recently watched "Battle: Los Angeles" and "Skyline" they held them up as shinning examples as the pinnacle of the "Alien Conquest" genre.
I had to disagree.
First a couple notes. 
1: there WILL be spoilers!
2: (side note)
What happened to the friendly alien movies?  Short of supporting role aliens in Star Trek (remember Diora Baird as the Orion Slave Girl in the new film?  now THATS a friendly alien!) movies like "E.T." "Batteries Not Included" and so on seem to have gone the way of the Dodo to make room for the "decimate the palnet, destroy or enslave the population, and steal all the natural resources the planet has to offer" movies.
hmmm?  Come to think of it, that whole scenario IS a little more topical...don't you think?
Short of the seminal "Cloverfield"  (A Blair Witch-esque perspective of an inter-dimensional Cuthulu- like monster popping into down town New York to enjoy the night life, BRILLIANTLY portraying the panic and anarchy brought on by this "close-encounter") I think the producers and writers in Hollywood have forgotten the George Lucas quote " A Special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing."
So here's my take (for what it's worth) on the two landmarks the boys pointed out.  First the worst of the two. 
Skyline (2010) set in LA (go figure) a group of good looking 20somethings meet up for a hip Birthday bash.  Ad mist the hyjinx at the posh residence of one of the protagonists, amidst the high schoolish love dramas, a "surprise; alien attack takes place.  The alien ships, emitting bright rays of light, that upon looking at, they anaesthetise your brain and draw you up to the awaiting ships.  Shock troops and Leviathan mixtures of biology and technology storm the cities searching for stragglers.  The would be victims of course do their utmost to ward off capture, and at one point think the best course of action is to try and outrun the alien onslaught via the use of one mans Ferrari.  Hmmm?  I'm not sure it was rated to outrun these beasties.  Needless to say, it is ineffectual.  The chaos continues and in the end the two remaining characters make it to the roof top (yes, seriously.  The ships are hovering overhead, in broad daylight and they think this is the best place to be!  I would have opted for the boiler room closet!) At this point as the awaiting U.S. Military is decimated, the couple are drawn together, embracing into the awaiting ship.
Now personally, I think a fresh approach had been reached here.  Minus all the obvious Hollywood ploys at dramatic tension, I would have ended it there, with a bright white dissolve as they disappear into the bowels of the ship...roll credits.  Every now and then the human race should fall.  I believe that kind of ending, at times resonates strongly and leaves the audience talking about it longer, but as it turns out, you are brought aboard the hellish alien "Body Shop" where the humanoid like alien hulks hang upside down in a grotesque cocoon of fleshy membranes, as robotic arms akin to an automotive factory hoist up the humans and (forgive the blunt recap) tear the brain and spinal column from them, discard the body down a deep shaft and insert the icky goodness into an awaiting "drone" alien.
I'll stop here for a moment and offer an observation.  When designing and creating an alien, I feel you  MUST allow for so  semblance of natural evolution, adaptive or otherwise.  How could a species evolve that requires an alien brain to function?  Who designed the technology to facilitate this?  If these creatures were in fact the underlings, the shock troops of some higher species, where were they?  They should have at least shown another type of creature, perhaps in a control booth twisting some knobs or something, to give that impression.  Yes, this was a MAJOR sticking point for me!
ANYWAY, as the brain of our would be male hero is inserted into the skull of the alien critter, a battle for motor control of the beast ensues as he looks upon the squirming body of his pregnant girlfriend, at which point he takes control and attempts to save her.
Obviously leaving room for a sequel should the box office gross warrant it.  Lets hope not.
On to "Battle: LA"
Aliens attack!  In this film science is taken a LITTLE more seriously.  Storming the beaches, our newest alien menace enter the atmosphere in what appears to be smaller "ships' and upon breaking through the atmosphere plunge into the oceans (and good Science major will tell you hitting the water uses it to quickly cushion and dampen the impact.  At which point shock and awe troops decimate a "day at the beach" as seen on the local news cast.  Watching the newscast, of course is the military who quickly set out to offer resistance.  I skip ahead.  Now on the ground, a small contingent of soldiers set out to evacuate survivors before the big missile launch.  Led by Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) a troubled LT. back from over seas where a decision left his troops dead, they engage in a fierce urban battle filmed gritty, in POV perspective that does leave you breathless.  The conflict gives way to a cathartic "coming to terms" encounter over the LT's combat losses and his new troops.  Ending in a emotional plea for their understanding and commitment to follow and trust him.  It plays REAL well!  My only problem with this film, again lies in the scientific and more importantly battle tactics of the aliens.  Far superior in armaments they have one MAJOR flaw!  Their unmanned (or is it Un-aliened?) air support are controlled by ONE central transmitter.  NO BACK-UP?!  Which our human heroes figure out, and destroy.  At which point the ground troops can't even communicate with each other.  Once destroyed the aliens try and make a run for it? 
Well, at least in this case the acting and story are a little more palatable so I'd have to say it was worth the watch.
But in the end, I'll always re-watch Forbidden Planet and Star Trek ANY day!
WOW!  I'm long winded!
As all re-pairs are caught up, I will be moving onto the re-paints and special orders.  Hopefully, as paint dries, I can FINALLY get out some new stock.  here's Hoping!
And as a side note I'll be reminding of you through out the week, this Saturday we will be open 9-5.  Angi and the girls will be watching the shop, as the boys and I are headed to Orlando to partake in the MEGACON!  Yes!  A geeky Fanboy paradise of three days of media blitz fandom!
All right, now off to work!

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