The 6th Day
I think this is probably a good example of a "product of its time", but the controversy lies more behind the idea of the horrors that "cloning" could potentially bring to the world. It all starts with the film opening with a credit sequence, taking you through what "happened" since the cloning of the sheep, Dolly (a real-life occurrence that no doubt inspired this movie). It then brings us to "the near future... sooner than you think". So, almost instantly, we get a hint of "preachy" with this one.
Cloning has become a sort of regular, everyday thing for people. Animals can be cloned, which can lead to plenty of food, but also, playing God and cloning your dying pets. Organs can be cloned for easy transplant surgeries, but so can entire human beings. Thus, the "6th Day Law" was put into place, where human beings are basically the only thing people aren't allowed to clone. Well, as any pot smoker will tell you, there are ways around laws... even if cloning a human isn't as simple as just finding a good hiding place.
We are soon introduced to charter pilot Adam Gibson (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his partner, Hank Morgan (Michael Rapaport). They are hired by billionaire Michael Drucker (Tony Goldwyn), who owns cloning corporation, "Replacement Technologies". The pilots are made to take blood and eye tests in order to prove they are good to fly. Eventually this all leads to the actual ski trip where something violent goes down, but Adam does manage to make it back home, only to see a clone of himself hanging out with his family (along with a horrendous doll that would give Chucky nightmares).
Here, we learn that the dangerous thing about having a clone is having people try to kill you, as there should only be one of you. The other thing is, the idea of a clone retaining all of your own memories, so you start to question your own reality. Before he knows it, Adam is on the run from Replacement Tech. Security agents Marshall (Michael Rooker), Elsworth (Sarah Wynter), Vincent (Terry Crews) and Wiley (Rodney Rowland) as he tries to figure out what in the hell happened to his life. All in all, it's an okay movie for Schwarzenegger fans, but I personally consider it a sort of "nail in the coffin" for Schwarzenegger's prime.
While one can appreciate a lot of the fun clichés we have come to expect from an Arnie flick, there's quite a bit here that overshadows all of that, and in a kind of negative way. First, it just seems like a clear project meant as a message to forewarn the world of the dangers of cloning. Nowadays (22 years later) all of that seems sort of irrelevant. Is cloning real? Sure. But we don't seem altogether worried about making full clones of ourselves as opposed to cloning things we really need for ourselves. I should also point out that I'm no scientist, and have no idea what the limits of cloning are, as it's surprisingly not a whole matter I've paid much attention to. I'm still sitting here thinking "duplicator tech from 'Star Trek' would be neat.
Now that I've probably made myself out to sound not so bright about sciencey stuff, let's get to my final word on the film itself. I think that the film is perfectly passable IF you watch it as a product of its time as opposed to a present-day thriller. You might look at it a lot like someone like me would look at an 80s movie these days - you kind of need to watch it through special lenses in order to enjoy it. I'll also point out that there are MUCH better Schwarzenegger titles out there, if you're on the lookout for that classic Arnie action. My personal favourite is still 'True Lies', but his library is a lot of fun to go through if one is looking to have a good time. This is just on the lower end of it.
Back in 1990, I can remember watching those Saturday morning cartoons of ours, and coming across an ad for 'Swamp Thing'. It was something I bypassed, and to this day, I have no idea if it was any good. I'm gonna guess probably not, since no one ever talks about it. But unbeknownst to me, there was also a live action series during this time, so for some reason, it was a real "thing" for some people. It even came back last year for the CW.
Well, to be fair, this is based on a DC comic series, so one has to figure it has its audience. To be honest though, I'd probably still have put this on the back burner if it weren't for this month's Wes Craven theme. 'Swamp Thing', from my perspective, seemed like someone threw together Frankenstein and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and in 1990, I was way too busy with my Ninja Turtles to give a damn. I never did bother with "Swamp Thing' until now, but I gotta say, I'm pretty glad I did. Here we have a 1982 comic book film that seems to be a pretty self-aware comedy, and it comes to us from horror legend, Wes Craven, whose previous two films are relatively brutal for their time.
To make a long and complicated story short, botanist, Dr. Alec Holland (Ray Wise) is on a quest to wipe out world hunger, and is placed under the protection of special agent Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau). Another scientist named Anton Arcane (Louis Jourdan) attempts a heist to steal Holland's research, which leads to an accident, turning Holland into the Swamp Thing - an odd blend of plant and human who defends Alice from Arcane and his henchmen, who remain constantly after his research.
Apparently, Craven had a desire here to prove to Hollywood that he could take on something bigger and better than his usual harrowing formula, and much more different. Some similarities can still be seen, as it still dabbles in some horror aspects, and uses its environment as a part of the characters - which was apparently criticized, but I tend to admire it. If you can make the setting as suspenseful as the characters in the setting, you've really got something. 'Last House on the Left' used the family home, 'The Hills Have Eyes' used the desert, and this obviously uses the swamp. Hell, even 'Nightmare on Elm Street' uses 1428 Elm Street.
So how is the film, as a whole? Well, it's bloody weird. This is one of those films that you watch and you don't know how to feel about it. One perspective sees it as so bad it's good, with a bunch of jokes and dialogue that just do not land, but another sees it as a positive message about environment and world issues in general. For me, I just can't see it as anything too deep. I personally find it campy and cheesy in all the right ways. This is a guy in a rubber swamp man suit, and it's about as easy to take seriously as the 1966 Adam West 'Batman' movie.
It's a situation where the stupid and silly Dad jokes are kinda what make it so likable. I therefore can't finish this review without bringing up Jude (Reggie Batts), who, to me, was both the best and lamest part of the film all at once. He's meant to be the comic relief, but the dialogue is often about as funny as a standard knock-knock joke, which in a roundabout way makes it funny. Unfortunately, saying he's what's best about it doesn't give the movie much headway in terms of seeing it as "good". But I think it can easily be seen as one of those guilty pleasure movies that a lot of people can share.
I enjoy that the film seems to embrace its tacky charm, and understands what it is, not trying to be anything more. The style is fairly comparable to 1960's 'Batman', as I mentioned earlier. Thinking about that, 'Swamp Thing' is also a DC property, and in 1982, the best superhero movie was either 'Superman' or 'Superman II', depending on your perspective (I'm a 'Superman' guy). Until Tim Burton's 'Batman' came along, changing the face of comic book movies forever, the cheese was what we not only got, but accepted. So for that, 'Swamp Thing' is a perfectly charming, silly, superhero time capsule. It drags at points, but all in all, not bad for a Wes Craven attempt at a superhero movie. Regardless, a couple of years after this, he created one of the biggest super villains of a generation. So consider this one of the higher steps on his ladder to success.
Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD
I decided to end Bad Superhero Month with another made-for-TV flick - this one based on Nick Fury before Sam Jackson started owning the role. Instead, Nick is portrayed by the one and only Hoff (that's David Hasselhoff for any newcomers), and he's a much more gruff and almost Wolverine-like character... who lost his eye by NOT a cat!
The plot is one gigantic cliche. Fury is retired after working with SHIELD, living that country life of solitude. He is approached by Alexander Goodwyn Pierce (Neil Roberts) and his old friend, Val Fontaine (Lisa Rinna) to come back to work to stop Hydra, now being led by Baron Von Strucker's daughter, Andrea (Sandra Hess)
Andrea poses a threat to release something called the Death's Head Virus over Manhattan unless Hydra is paid a hefty ransom of one billion dollars, and it's up to Fury and the other agents of SHIELD to take them down before the launch can happen because it's better than paying up.
Being that this was a made-for-TV movie, these cliches are almost to be expected. Truth be told, it's still kinda fun to watch AS the big cliche that it is. It's the same reason I enjoyed the 'Friday the 13th' remake - it's everything typical of that type of movie. And then we have the Hoff as Nick Fury, which is just as entertaining as it sounds.
There's really not much going on with this movie. It's kinda just a neat thing to watch as something that predates the MCU by about ten years. The funny thing is, I urge everyone to Google what Nick Fury looked like before Sam Jackson came along. Hasselhoff admittedly looks the part, and being that it was 1998, 'Baywatch' was still a thing, so he may have even been able to be taken more seriously back then. But today, the Hoff is one of those celebs who can get a good laugh at himself, and we love him for being so cheesy. This has just turned into a fun thing to see to kill an hour and a half.
I dunno that I'd say this is so bad it's good. It's not quite what 'The Punisher' was on that over the top fun level. This was made for TV, so a lot of the fun comes from the cheesy dialogue and action sequences that don't quite work. One of the funniest things is just watching Fury kick people. For what it is though, it's not that terrible. If nothing else, one could call this a guilty pleasure - but make no mistake, it's still pretty bad. If you can manage to get your hands on it, I'd say it's worth checking out just to see an original Nick Fury at work in all the corniest ways.
Captain America (1990)
Many people out there, including myself, have been unaware of this film's existence until finding some random review of it on the internet. It has gone under the radar since its initial release due to being one of the all time worst superhero adaptations in cinematic history. Once again, this one is definitely "so-bad-it's-good", maybe even more so that 'F4', and that's saying a lot! The difference being that at the very least, 'F4' had some accuracies. 'Captain America' is downright painful in its execution, right down to getting ethnicities completely wrong.
As one would probably guess, this film has a lot to do with Cap's (Matt Salinger) origin, and his big battle with Red Skull (Scott Paulin) the German baddie who for some reason is now Italian here, and, for most of the movie, is covered with plastic surgery. He ends up being one of the all-time worst villain adaptations in comic book movie history. But at the very least, his character is actually kinda funny to watch. Actually, the same goes with Salinger, because the dude is a terrible actor here. Plus, I mean, look at his costume.
And speaking of the costume, that gets me started on 'First Avenger' comparisons, and why that's actually such a good movie. 'First Avenger' gives a clear explanation for his corny costume, in this, he just kinda gets it, and it's even addressed that it lacks camouflage as a military soldier's outfit. 'First Avenger' allows us to get to know and like Steve Rogers as a person, giving leeway as to why he's the perfect candidate for the Super Soldier serum. Here, he's just some guy with Polio who volunteers so he can be somewhat normal again, and it's all done in a matter of minutes. By the time Steve turns into Cap, we don't care what happens to him from here on in because we have n idea who this guy is as a character, save very small details. And guess what? We never really DO get to know him. He's just a meathead throughout this whole thing to the point that it's comical.
At best this is an incredibly basic and poorly adapted superhero story of good guy vs bad guy before bad guy hurts too many people. Red Skull's motivation here is disagreement on environmental policies that the President (Ronny Cox) has put in place. Cap then has to rescue a kidnapped president. Again, very basic plot, but it's the overall execution that will have people laughing at this movie - and not in a way it's meant to be laughed at.
Indeed, this is most definitely on the lowest side of superhero movies that I've seen. It still has that "so-bad-it's-good" quality to it, and that at least gives it that rewatchability that you get from such terrible titles. But make no mistake, this is a movie to be passed around in the same way 'Troll 2' or 'The Room' is. You wanna introduce people to it because it's so bad.
I'm one of those seemingly few fans of Captain America's films and overall character arch in the MCU (seriously, I know a LOT of people who show Cap a lot of hate). To me, he's the moral compass, voice of reason, and the character who wears the title of "hero" on his sleeve more than any other hero in the MCU. I also enjoy his "underdog" story, as I, myself, wear THAT title on my own sleeve. He got to be the character we know now through several stories of solid development, most of which was told in his intro film - 'First Avenger'. This film will most definitely make one appreciate Cap's MCU films on the same level I do, because this offers nothing! It's just a goofy attempt from a director who seemingly only knew the source material incredibly loosely. As in the names of the characters, the look of the suit and... not much more.
The Fantastic Four (1994)
Here we have a film with a bit of an interesting history. Produced by Roger Corman and eventual big-budget 'Fantastic 4' producer, Bernd Eichinger, this film was never officially released. Eventually, however, it gained steam under the radar as a sort of cult "so-good-it'-bad" movie, and it's currently easy enough to find somewhere online.
Nowadays, with Disney making that Fox purchase, a lot of people are wondering if they can ever make the Fantastic Four into something good and not so cheesetacular. But while this adaptation IS by all means a rough movie to sit through, many argue that so far, this is the truest adaptation, between various 'F4' comics.
The plot is simply enough the origin of the Fantastic Four; when Reed Richards (Alex Hyde-White), Sue (Rebecca Staab) and Johnny Storm (Jay Underwood), and Ben Grimm (Michael Bailey Smith) get hit by cosmic rays on an experimental mission and turn into Mr. Fantastic (with the ability to stretch), The Invisible Woman (powers obvious), The Human Torch (again, powers obvious), and The Thing (a big rock guy with super strength), respectively.
Before all that happens, however, Victor Von Doom is the victim of a horrible lab accident and becomes Doctor Doom. He's after the Fantastic Four upon learning of their newfound abilities in order to harness their powers for himself and get more powerful, or something along those lines.
The whole story is simple, it does a decent job at adaptation as far as the characters and origin go, but sadly enough, none of it is good enough to save it from the painful dialogue, bad, low-budget effects, and way too many areas where it's funny, but not really supposed to be. It is, indeed, a "so bad, it's good" film. But the same could be said about any 'F4' film. At the very least, this one's something one can have a lot of fun with.
If you're into these classic comics, and have an itching curiosity to see a decent but horrible 'F4' film all at once, then I highly recommend checking this out. Keeping in mind that it's unreleased, you won't have much luck with honesty on this one, and paying for your very own copy. But again, it's easy enough to seek out online. It's worth the watch, if nothing else, for a good laugh. I actually had quite a lot of fun with it.
So, as a reviewer, is it a terrible thing that I didn't find this film to be really THAT awful? It's kinda dumb, yes, it's kinda weak, yes, but I can't find myself positively laying into it like every other critic seems to be able to do. It could even be that I had a bit of extra fun while watching this because I knew what I was walking into. It borders on "so bad it's good" for me, but it's not quite in the same realm as something like 'Troll 2' or 'The Room'. At the end of the day, it's a film I'm glad I saw, just to say I've seen it for myself.
With that said, it's simply a throwaway. Knowing that Shyamalan, and Will and Jaden Smith have all done better, we can just turn to those films for a refresher on their respective talents when this gets too stupid. So, I guess this is one of those movies that's really just kinda "there", for me. I don't like it, I don't hate it, and Shyamalan has since directed a couple of good films with 'The Visit' and 'Split' (at least in my humble opinion). Perhaps it would have effected me more if I saw it when it was released, bearing in mind this is the fourth to last Shyamalan film I have to watch, and two of these titles were from before his breakout with 'The Sixth Sense'. The other, I review next. But we'll get to that later.
Our story follows the badly-named Cypher Raige (Will Smith) and his son, Kitai (Jaden Smith). In an attempt to bond with his son, Cypher takes him on his last voyage before retirement. However, their ship crash-lands on a post-apocalyptic Earth, full of well-evolved predators. Earth had experienced some sort of environmental cataclysm that forced the human race off the planet, and had them settle on another planet called Nova Prime.
Cypher gets himself pinned while somehow Kitai survives with not even a scratch - and considering how the crash happens, it's an incredibly hard sell. Anyway, they need to send a distress beacon, but it's in the other part of the ship that's located a fair distance away. This sends Kitai on his "I'm-gonna-become-a-man" mission, putting him at odds with the savage environment, while Cypher guides him, using a communicator.
The premise on the whole doesn't sound SO bad, if its not a bit typical. But the bad parts of this movie lie mostly in the dialogue, crappy CG effects, weird decisions that contradict other plot points, and the fact that this whole thing is a bit of an ego trip on Will Smith's part. He wrote the story for it, and... well, I mean, just watch the film's execution of things. It's essentially Will nodding to the audience saying "Yes, I know. I AM badass."
Speaking for myself, as I mentioned before, everyone involved here has done much better. If you're looking for a good film with Will and Jaden together in it, check out 'The Pursuit of Happyness'. It's not a sci-fi flick to any degree, but Will is great in it, and Jaden even holds his own as far as a 6-ish-year-old goes. And as far as a good Shyamalan film goes, he's got several, but I'll always recommend 'The Sixth Sense' over anything else. But this, it can just be left alone. Unless we're talking about how goofy it is, no one's missing anything if they skip it.
I'm gonna pull the plug on my Shyamalan "marathon" after this one, seeing as a new month is upon us this time next week. So, here I am reviewing 'The Happening'. Widely regarded by many to be the single worst Shyamalan film of all time, it doesn't stop there. It also gets the worst performances out of both Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel - two actors who do just fine otherwise, and is seen by many to be in that "so bad, it's good" category. It might not meet the same level of terrible as something like 'The Room' or 'Troll 2', but it's certainly on-par with things like last years 'The Snowman', or even Shyamalan's own 'Devil', which at least for myself is practically a coin-flip.
What can I say about this movie that hasn't been said before? It boasts a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 18%, with a 24% audience rating, a Metascore of 34, and a total of 4 Razzie nominations, including Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Actor and Worst Screenplay, so quite a whammy of bad, but there are people out there who do seem to enjoy it despite how bad it is. Admittedly, I think I might be one of those people. Going back to 'Devil', I just see that as bad with no entertainment value behind it at all. Just a bunch of stupid people, and stupid rules about stupid bread landing stupid jelly side down. This however brings with it the bizarre performances from Wahlberg and Deschanel, the ridiculous plot and dialogue, and plenty of quotability.
The basic plot involves something... well, happening, that is causing people to commit suicide, and our main characters try to keep ahead of it in pretty much the same style they tried to keep ahead of the enclosing cold weather in 'The Day After Tomorrow'. It's believed very strongly to be caused by plants releasing some sort of toxin into the air that messes with our brains, but others believe something more like terrorism is involved. The movie plays out, you're entertained by how ridiculous it all is, and it ends on the strangest of notes. It's not a cliffhanger, but it doesn't really end by wrapping anything up, either. It just kinda stops and we're still left looking for answers and being confused by what the hell we just watched.
Anyway, it's no secret. This movie is kinda legendary for being bad, and I don't see it in much more of a positive light than most. It's stupidity is very entertaining, and it got a few solid laughs when it wasn't supposed to, but it's otherwise pretty irredeemable. That said, it does kinda have to be seen to be believed, and it makes me want to revisit it in the near future to see what craziness I may have missed the first time around. It's a pretty terrible flick, but I actually highly recommend checking it out for a good laugh.
M. Night Shyamalan, whether you love him or hate him is, admittedly, one of the most interesting directors out there. It's common enough for a good director to make a bad film, but there's something about M. Night that seems to have him split right down the middle. On the bad side of things, we have stuff like 'The Last Airbender', known to be one of the worst movies made in the last 10 years. But then, on the good side, you have deep and thought provoking films like 'The Sixth Sense'. It also seems lately that he has improved his craft with his last few films, according to many reviews.
So, for the next while, I will be putting some focus on this particular director as there's actually a lot of his films that I haven't seen. If nothing else, I figure I'll get a kick out of how cheesy the "bad ones" are. Anyway, kicking things off, this is 'Unbreakable' - one that I've seen before, but barely remember at all. When I did see it, it was very recently released to video, so that's going back a ways.
David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is a security guard who, through the guidance of a creepy dude named Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) discovers something rather extraordinary about himself - he seems to not be able to get sick, get injured, and is, as the title suggests, "unbreakable". Price, a man who's life is heavily influenced by comic books, explains to him that he is the polar opposite. He has a condition that causes his bones to fracture very easily, and has lived a life sustaining some pretty crazy injuries. Although it all seems unusual, Dunn soon begins to believe in the very possibility that he could be virtually indestructible, and explores what else he might be capable of.
The overall story is simple, and the famous Shyamalan "twist" was one that I didn't fully see coming, but once it happened, it felt obvious. You know, one of those "brain fart" endings that'll get you every now and then. This one, at least to me, was never like 'Sixth Sense' where EVERYONE knew full well how it ended. But I was satisfied with the ending as well. It almost felt like the perfect ending to the story the movie was telling. People will often refer to this one as "the other good Syamalan film" ('Sixth Sense', of course, being the other), and I can see why. It knows what it wants to say, and it gets to the point in a good, short amount of time, keeping things pretty simple.
Of course, being a Shyamalan film, it also has his typical dark setting with stiff, robotic characters. Bruce and Jackson can both lend themselves to this easily, which is no insult to their acting, but they can use the atmosphere to their advantage. The only performance that really made this "robotic characters" thing stand out was Dunn's son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark). No seriously, go to YouTube and check out the weight lifting scene. The kid just consistently looks like he's trying to catch flies with that gaping mouth. I'm not blaming him, he was a kid, but I gotta say he was directed poorly. Perhaps a little nitpicky on my part, but there it is. Otherwise, the movie makes for a cool story, and does a good job at keeping your attention as these characters develop.
In 2019, a sequel film called 'Glass' will be released, with a returning cast of characters. It may or may not be too late for this, but it's my understanding that 'Split' has already touched on being in the same universe, and he's gonna be in it as well. This can only mean one thing - 'Split' is coming next week!
A Clockwork Orange
"What in the hell IS A Clockwork Orange, anyway?" was the question I had to ask before going into this. Surely, there had to be some explaination within the film, but there really wasn't. I finally Googled it after watching, and came across something to suggest that the term has to do with a person who bears the appearance on a lively and colorful organism, but is really a "clockwork" toy to be wound up by "God, the Devil or the Almighty State". Upon viewing the film and figuring out what the title actually meant, things made a lot more sense.
Our story follows young Alex (Malcolm McDowell) who spends his free time with his "droogs", Georgie, Dim and Pete (James Marcus, Warren Clarke and Michael Tarn, respectively) as they go around living life on the edge, primarily getting their kicks from putting others in danger, be it by driving way too fast on a narrow road, or simply breaking and entering to perform some... shall we say... harsh and disturbing musical montages? Alex also leads with a sort of iron fist, making things go his way, whether his droogs like it or not. At some point, Alex gets caught and sentenced to 14 years of prison for murder, as his friends double-cross him.
While in prison, Alex learns about a new method of rehabilitation that would cure him of his own mind, and ensure that he wouldn't come back to prison ever again. However, after being subjected to the procedure and set free, Alex finds life on the outside not entirely welcoming. By the way, yes, the process is the famous scene involving Alex's eyes being forced open to watch horrible things on a movie screen - a scene that has been parodied in a number of different things.
So, how did I like it? First, I wanna just talk about McDowell in this. His performance consists of so much range here, it's actually kind of amazing. There are strangely enough a few times one may even sympathize with the character, even though society sees him as the worst kind of monster. His psychopathic look (like he gives in the corresponding picture there) is very reminiscent of Anthony Perkins' look from 'Psycho', and that's the character you pretty much end up taking away from the film. But there are moments he engages in rather serious conversation, cries, even shows tremendous fear. In my opinion, he was very overlooked for the Oscars that year.
The film was still nominated for 4 Academy Awards, which included Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and Film Editing, but sadly never managed to carry home a single one. Nowadays, the film stands as a sort of cult symbol of film, with its fans mostly appreciating what I appreciated about it - Alex, himself. He has this sort of sadistic charm that can't really be explained. You like him for the same reasons you like The Joker, or perhaps a better comparison, Hannibal Lecter.
The only real problem I had with it was a bit of the language barrier. I thought I was pretty good at determining old slang, but this takes things to a whole new level with "Nadsat", which is composed of Slavic (mainly Russian), English and Cockney rhyming slang. He narrates the story with this, and I was often found trying to figure out just what some of the words meant - not the least of which was "droogs".
In the end, I have to admit to enjoying this enough to know that I'll be revisiting it one day. For as uncomfortable as it can get, there's just this certain intrigue that comes from following the mind of a psychopath. Further to that point, it's intriguing to see the mind of a psychopath at it's most vulnerable as well. On top of that, it's just visually well filmed with an interesting score of synthesizers and Beethoven, setting a mood as only Kubrick can. It's the kind of movie I enjoyed, but could grow on me with multiple viewings. Also, Alex is now probably somewhere in my Top 10 all-time movie villains list now. So there's that. I give the following rating with great enthusiasm.
Here we have an interesting example of something that had such a positive message, and was timed relatively well with it's underlying message. Even as a very dated-looking sci-fi film, the story is still something that completely holds up today. I know that it was eventually redone, but it's my understanding that it was rather horrible. But we'll hold that thought for now.
Our story begins when an alien named Klaatu (Michael Rennie) comes down to Earth to make contact with us. When he exits the vehicle, he claims to come in peace, and approaches, holding an unidentifiable device. The device is immediately shot from his hand, and Klaatu is injured. At this, a robot named Gort (Lock Martin) emerges from the vehicle and one by one disintegrates everyone's firearms, as well as a couple of military tanks. Klaatu tells the robot to stop using a foreign language, and he obeys so well that he sits perfectly still through most of the rest of the movie. Klaatu proceeds to inform everyone that the device was meant as a gift for the President to study life on other planets. It's probably worth mentioning he's got a helmet/mask on this whole time.
Klaatu is taken to a hospital to treat his wounds, and is kept under guard. However, he manages to speak to the President's secretary, informing him of an important message he must give to Earth. He's denied, and eventually manages to escape his guard and head out into the world to get his message out. By now, he has no more mask, but no photos have been taken of him without it, so he ends up going incognito quite nicely when word spreads of the alien's escape.
Eventually Klaatu finds a boarding house and takes refuge there under the name "Mr. Carpenter". He befriends a woman named Helen Benson (Patricia Neal) and her son, Bobby (Billy Grey). At one point, he babysits Bobby for them and is shown around Washington, giving him a rather dark perspective on Earth's violent habits. Bobby points him in the direction of who he thinks is the "smartest person alive", Professor Barnhardt (Sam Jaffe). It's to him he secretly reveals that he is the alien, and tells of his message needs to be spread.
Earth has advanced to the point of using rockets and atomic power in a weaponized way. The message is to serve as a warning that his race, along with several other neighbouring planets, are concerned about this since Earth will soon enough develop the means for space travel. If the message was ignored, they would be forced to eliminate Earth as a threat. And I'll stop the exposition there, as that's what should really be taken from this movie.
The most interesting thing about this movie is that the aliens are actually fearing us and what we're gonna do. It's a total role reversal from the usual movies that are either about invasion or... actually no, invasion is about it at 1951. This movie dared to say, just a few years after the war, that mankind has become a huge threat. In this world, we are the potential invaders of other planets. Even today, this movie can serve as a consistent reminder of how we can be.
In the end, it's actually kinda funny and dated, but Klaatu mentions that the race of robots is meant to get rid of signs of violence when they come up, hence the disintegrating guns. Because of that, they are a society that lives in peace. But the whole thing they haven't really had a chance to touch on yet is the now popular theme of a robot uprising. I had to giggle to myself at the idea, but I digress.
Being that this was 1951, it was interesting timing. People would have still been talking all about the events of World War II, presumably, so the film did serve as a good message about mankind and how, not only quickly, but violently we develop. And, as mentioned before, it's clearly still a point to get across today. In all honesty, I'd say to expect the pure cheese of an early sci-fi movie, but it's totally worth checking out. If nothing else, you get to see where the phrase "klaatu barada nikto" (which most would know better from 'Army of Darkness') is originally came from.
Planet of the Apes (1968)
This title has been on my list of movies to see for a VERY long time. I did try watching it a few years ago, but there was issues with the video beginning right around the time the crew crash-lands on the planet... y'know, the very beginning of the movie.
Otherwise, I suppose I haven't really given it a good chance simply due to something it suffers from something I like to call "Spoiler Syndrome"; a movie with a potential spoiler that most everyone knows about. Other movies that have this include 'The Empire Strikes Back', 'Citizen Kane', 'The Sixth Sense' and, in recent history, 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince', and that was ruined for most people while it was still only in book form. Anyway, I finally decided this page would be a great excuse to make it happen.
For those unfamiliar with the story, basically, a crew of space explorers start heading back home toward Earth. With the way time works in space (which could be a whole different article), they happen to be arriving about 700 years into the future. They put themselves into hyper sleep, and crash land on an unfamiliar planet.
The planet happens to be ruled by damn, dirty apes, and the human beings of the planet might as well be what we'd recognize as apes. The whole thing is actually a pretty brilliant study in human behavior, when you come right down to it. It's a role reversal, basically, and it shows us just how cruelly and unfairly we can treat animals. Basically it's a movie that says "how do YOU like it, huh?" It ends up being a pretty scary concept altogether, and does manage to make one think what some of our creatures of science have to go through.
Now, one thing I'll point out is that if you DO know how the movie ends (and really, who doesn't at this point?) and you're seeing it for the first time, the ending feels PAINFULLY obvious from the get-go. I can't help but feel if I went into this 100% clueless, I'd be able to predict the outcome pretty quickly. That's NOT something I generally brag about, either. My friends can tell you that I've missed some pretty obvious stuff in the past. Like, I had to watch 'The Sixth Sense' more than once to make sure it was accurate.
With that said, I can honestly say that I still really enjoyed the movie. The whole concept is pretty intriguing. It's not like it hadn't been done before (an alien race treating human beings as animals), but I'm not really sure where that concept DID originally come from. If I had to wager a guess, I'd imagine an early episode of 'Star Trek', but this has gotta be damn close. Aside from that, the makeup effects were fantastic for 1968, and it managed to win it's well-deserved Oscar for it.
If you're like me, and have become a fan of the remakes (not including that thing Tim Burton made), then I very highly recommend seeing the original if you haven't yet... but again, as I said before, who hasn't? I really was quite late with this one.
The Running Man
I kinda used to think that I had seen all of the classic Arnold movies. Then this one came up at a recent local Film Festival, recently, so I decided to check it out. Main reasons being that what I knew about it (once I remembered it existed) was that it was a 1980's sci-fi, action movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and that it was apparently one of his most abundant one-liner films.
Basically, a guy named Ben Richards (Arnie) is framed for a crime he didn't commit, and is thrown into a futuristic reality game show called 'The Running Man'. Here, he has to run a gauntlet of sorts while the audience gets to choose who gets to chase him and eventually kill him.
Let me tell you, it was mostly everything I had hoped for. A movie like this is one you can look back on and be entertained solely based on the corniness of it all. Does that make it a "so bad its good" movie? I wouldn't say so. The whole idea is pretty awesome for the time, and I daresay this is one of those ideas that has potential to be remade well today... not that is SHOULD, but they could probably get away with it if they tried hard enough.
By far, the most entertaining thing about this movie was, indeed, Arnold's one-liners. I mean, they are everywhere! "I'll be back" is included (as I think the 2nd movie out of 5 he ever said it) along with such famous diddys as "Here's your Subzero, now plain zero.", the ever-famous "I live to see you eat that contract, but I hope you leave enough room for my fist because I'm going to ram it into your stomach and break your god-damn spine!" and my personal favorite one that got a big genuine laugh "Hey light head! He Christmas tree!" Seriously, just watch this and try not to at least crack a smile at how goofy it is.
I have to say, I also enjoyed the whole concept of the "stalkers" (being the guys who are trying to kill Richards in the gauntlet. They all have their own special abilities and entrances, much like a WWE wrestler. They all end up being pretty goofy, but it really does add to the fun factor of something like this.
Not sure, really, what else to say about it. But if you ever have the need to watch something old, goofy, and not to be taken too seriously, this is definitely a good title to do that with. I had so much fun with it! It's the kind of movie you wanna invite all your friends over to watch and just have fun with, despite how off the wall ridiculous it may seem.
Going back to 1976 for this one, it may not be too big of a surprise to people that this was one I never got around to seeing. I'm not sure a lot of my friends have even seen it. But it was always a well enough known title.
For those totally unfamiliar with it, it's probably a story that you've heard of nonetheless. Basically there's a population of people who live under a giant dome, and essentially live in their own pleasure paradise.
Every so often, there is an event called "Carrousel"; a cult-like event where everyone who is about to turn 30 goes into a sort of arena, and get to "Renew" (in other words, they get killed off because no one in this society ages over 30, but they think they get to come back as a newborn). The whole process is this weird, trippy UFO abduction-looking deal. Only instead of going up into some sort of spaceship, they pretty much just explode one by one.
Throughout this whole society, there are those who get scared near the end, so decide to run. Meanwhile, a team of soldiers called "Sandmen" (who apparently shoot worse than Storm Troopers) are meant to stop them. At one point, one of the Sandmen named Logan (Michael York) is put on a secret mission to pose as a runner, and find "Sanctuary" outside of the dome. Sanctuary being where the Runners believe they can get to if they skip Carrousel.
It's an interesting film that's pretty much split into two parts. The first part involves the initial mission, and getting outside of the Dome. The second half, and frankly better half, involves what they pair manage to find outside of the Dome. It may be strange to some that I like the second half so much more. The first half is pretty action-packed while the second is more of a pleasant surprise in story-telling.
I won't go into too much detail about what is found on the outside, but among what is discovered ends up being a very likable character, who's sort of crazy about cats, and you'd swear must have voiced Mr. Magoo at some point. Along with this, is the intrigue that the two have about what exactly it is they're taking in. With their limited lives in the Dome, there's so much they have never seen.
All in all, it IS a pretty damn dated movie as far as the action and special effects are concerned. It's enough that you can easily laugh your ass off at someone who gets shot because it looks so silly. But I have to admit that the overall story was something I was impressed with. It's an interesting concept when you have characters who have been locked away for so long interact with what we know as the modern world. It's what made that 'Room' movie so entertaining. And games like 'The Last of Us' do it, but more as though it was a life a character never got to be a part of.
Overall painfully dated to watch. Like, 'Mystery Science Theater' material. But with the story being interesting enough, and the action sequences being entertaining enough (even if the entertainment we're getting is laughing at it) that I can't help but really enjoy it in my own way. It's bad enough to be considered "so bad it's good" in some ways, but in other ways, the story is basically timeless. If you have a couple of hours to spare, get a group together and check it out. It's actually entertaining on several levels.