Posts Tagged aliens

Dark Skies Review: Familiar Fun

dark_skies_aliens_the_greys_movie_reviewDark Skies is one of many horror movies of the last two years sporting the label “from the producers of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and INSIDIOUS” that it is starting to lose value.  But Dark Skies lives up to that label and may be able to add its name to it.  While the producers seemed to focus on the spiritual scares with their previous efforts this one tabs into a different realm of scares, foreign beings outer space.  If you are getting tired of all the ghost stories, vampire/werewolf tales, or zombies (like I am starting to) then a good alien movie like Dark Skies will entertain you.

A brief introduction to the plot of Dark Skies is as follows:  The Barrett’s were just your average suburban family in a struggling U.S. economy.  Parents Daniel and Lacy (Josh Hamilton and Keri Russell respectively) experience spooky break-ins on top of their youngest of two sons, Sam (Kadan Rockett), begins speaking to the mythical Sandman late at night.  The break-ins escalate to the point the home security company cannot explain it which soon becomes the least of their worries when they lose control of their minds and bodies.  Click here for the trailer.

The makers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious have gotten a fair amount of flack for their lack of originality.  Is Dark Skies any different?  Not really and that is okay.  I have said before that a movie does not have to completely be original for me to enjoy it as long as it is not the same scene to scene as a previous film.  To best explain this film would be Insidious meets Signs.  The plot and pace feels a lot like Insidious at times and has the subtle shock of Signs.  Another thing that it does not quite stray from is the alien mythos that has been already been established.  I do not want to elaborate on that too much because for those of you that have not seen it yet I would be giving you a check list of things to expect which would ruin the experience.  But all those supposed negatives did not bother me one bit.

Director/writer Scott Stewart tells a good story with Dark Skies.  The Barrett’s really felt like an everyday family that just moved up in the world in this nice new house when the Josh Hamilton’s character loses his job, Keri Russell’s character, a real-estate agent, cannot sell their old house, and their oldest son is hanging with an older yet more immature jerk.  All these everyday things suck to handle enough as it is before all hell breaks loose with youngest talking to the “sandman,” personal items rearranging or going missing, and unexplained blackouts where they are physically harmed.  Stewart’s directing credits are limited and most of his resume is visual effects and it showed with the appearance of the aliens.  It is similar to Signs in that you are given a rough outline of what they look like but they are never shown with great detail which I loved.

If there are any downfalls, it’s that Josh Hamilton as the father was a real douche.  He seemed very conceited and dismissal of anything dispute how obvious of a conclusion he should have drawn.  Then when he finally accepts the reality he acts completely illogically.  But then again if I was in his situation I probably would not think clearly either.

Final thoughts, I am a sucker for most alien movies and Dark Skies definitely strikes familiar chords but that never bothers me.  There are some good jump scares but this is more thriller than horror.  I give Dark Skies a 7/10.

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Prometheus Review: A Visually Stunning Sc-Fi Spectacle

The long awaited science fiction/action/horror movie Prometheus finally hit US theaters this past Friday and I could not have been more excited.  Ridley Scott has returned to the genre that made him famous and has done so in grand fashion.  The hype this movie has circulating it is well deserved.  Prometheus’ plot is well known but for review purposes I will give the dumbed-down version:  a group of scientists funded by a space travel industry juggernaut, Weyland Industries, travel to an undisclosed moon in a distant system of planets in an effort to discover where humanity came from.  This review may contain spoilers at the end but I will give warning.

Many people are labeling it is a prequel to Alien which is not completely fair and is why I would agree with what writer Damon Lindelof  called it, a parallel prequel.  It takes place in same universe as the Alien films but functions as its own movie.  It features familiar elements such as Weyland Industries, the space jockey (giant dead carcass found in Alien), and the horse shoe shaped, otherworldly space craft.  As far as content is concerned that is where the similarities end but stylistically there are similarities.

The film opens with fantastic, long establishing shots that do wonders for setting up the movie which is a Ridley Scott trademark in my opinion.  Scott seems to like to show you everything about the setting so there are no surprises later that leave you thinking: “Wait, how did they get there?” or “where is that place?”  It gives off that great sensation of isolation that adds to the terror.  On top of the feeling of being alone the shots are awe-inspiring especially in the 3D format.  Scott said he made it for the purpose of being in 3D and it shows.  There are unmatchable graphics in this movie I cannot even begin to describe.  Kudos to Scott and his team.

After the setting has been set we are introduced to the characters and the story line.  There two notable performances to be acknowledged, not that the others were not but these two were most prominent.  Starting with the unmatchable performance by Michael Fassbender as David, the android sent along to aid the scientists while fulfilling the hidden agenda of a higher authority.  Watching it I could not decide if he was humorous or creepy because of his perfect posture, precise diction, plain expression that come across as sincere or devious, and so much more.  If you have seen the movie or even the trailers and viral videos you know there is something eerie to him.  David also has some of the best lines in the movie that are both witty comebacks to his human counterparts and uniquely philosophical.

Noomi Rapace’s portrayal of the high-hoped scientist, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, in search of our creators was phenomenal.  Her idea of faith and desire to understand mankind’s origins is very clear almost in an annoying sense.  If you have seen the movie The Mist, there is a character that is very religious to the point is gets irritating, that is how I felt about Shaw initially.  But with every obstacle thrown her way Shaw confronts it head on and truly evolves as a character.  Is she like Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley?  Not at all.  Is that bad?  Again, not at all.  David says it best in the film that Shaw has “an incredible survivor instinct.”  This movie would have been boring if it too closely resembled any film that came before it.

Shaw’s faith and need for knowledge on our beginnings is what fuels Prometheus’ story along.  They find a collection of painting/etchings of ancient civilization that piece together what they view as an invitation to a distant moon with a system that watches the planet.  To illustrate just how far away that moon is, it took them nearly two and a half years to reach it.  As mentioned earlier this was the scientists reason for venturing out there.  Weyland however has a different goal in mind that is fairly obvious when it is revealed so I will not cover it.  But the story of the mythical Prometheus can sum up what they discover on their journey.  That is covered in one of my previous posts so I go check that out by clicking here.

Warning this is where the SPOILERS of my review are.  Now the most important topic which makes Prometheus a sci-fi movie, the extraterrestrial life forms.  The foreign beings in this movie are different from what I expected going into the movie.  There are essentially two types, the engineers (space jockey) and the others can be best described as a destructive weapon with tentacles that they created.  And the “tentacle” and eel like creatures were very gross and creepy so naturally I loved them.  As disclosed in interviews with Scott and Lindelof there is a tease of xenomorphs, aka the aliens we have grown to love and are very familiar with and how they came to existence.  END SPOILERS

So my verdict on Prometheus is a definite 9/10.  I will admit initially I scored it a tad lower but when I saw it a second time everything clicked a lot more so I you were a little disappointed when you first saw it, the second viewing may be better, keyword being maybe.  I will also say I like Aliens more than Alien because it is has more action which could explain why those who appreciate Alien more were disappointed by Prometheus.  This is just an opinion not a fact so do not get upset if you disagree with me.

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