Thursday, 21 March 2013

Which Alien Are You?

Usually with any trilogy or in this case quadrilogy each film stands on its own terms. Those terms can be based on any element in cinema but in most cases it’s usually the genre. From Ridley Scott’s 1979 Sci-Fi Horror Alien to the fourth final instalment in the Alien franchise Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 1997 Sci-Fi Alien Resurrection. But with the Alien franchise each film has a specific role in the quadrilogy. Everyone has its own opinion from personal preference from the 1979 Alien being more horror based to the James Cameron 1986 release Aliens being more action based. What I love about each Alien film is how it takes the Sci-Fi mise en scène and places it into different genres. Making each Alien film unique on the perspective what you like to watch most. Each Alien stands alone through genre if we take out the Sci-Fi. The 1979 Alien is horror, 1986 Aliens is action, and 1992 Alien 3 is survival and the 1997 Alien Resurrection being a combination of horror and action.

What made the 79 Alien such a success and most preferred is not only one of the most terrifying films for its time it’s one of the only horror and Sci-Fi films that takes it into a different realm from any other horror or Sci-Fi. In all honestly till this day I’ve never seen any other Sci-Fi and horror film that can even match up to Ridley’s Alien. Even today there is no film that can even compare to Alien apart from maybe the third instalment of the franchise but even then Alien 3 personally stands on the survival element rather than the horror. Being stuck inside commercial towing spaceship the “Nostromo” with a crew of seven in deep space is the perfect setting for any horror film.  Knowing that in space no one can help you and “In Space No One Can Hear You Scream”
James Cameron 86 Aliens is usually the first or second choice of the franchise. Usually the reason is being that the first Alien only had one Alien. But for the purpose of horror there can only be one villain or in this case one “Xenomorph”. But now you can’t have an action film with only one xenomorph especially when there are colonial marines. Watching Aliens is almost as if you’re watching Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 “Full Metal Jacket” but instead of the marines landing in Vietnam fighting the Viet Cong their landing on the planet LV-426 trying to fight their way out and back on the warship “Sulaco”. It’s a fantastic war film genre set in the Sci-fi world.
David Fincher’s gritty and dramatically obscure look into Alien 3 to me personally is one of my favourite of the franchise. Personally Alien 3 stands out as one of the most beautifully shot and visually stylized Alien franchise as of any other future Fincher films like; 1995 Seven, 1997 The Game and 1999 Fight Club. Fincher always visually sets the character of his films with a dark and stylish thriller sensation with a film noir and neo noir ambience. The plot is a fantastic setting with Ripley crash landing on a prison refinery planet with a population of just less than thirty most of them being violent criminals with a history of rape and murder. So not only Ripley has to discover if there is a xenomorph on the planet but she also has to keep her guard up against the convicts. The constant feeling of fear and that there are no weapons on the planet adds more to the atmosphere of danger. This is a fantastic ingredient for any survival film. The sole purpose of a survival film is that the protagonist and other characters have to survive with bare the minimum.

The last and fourth Alien is personally the weakest of the franchise however it is the only standing Alien film that every shot and every scene is cinematically and exquisitely shot. It created such a fantastic Sci-Fi atmosphere that only the first 79 Alien had accomplished. Watching and re-watching it is a stylized perception it truly does have elements to tech-noir. Having the visual an atmosphere for neo noir and noir Alien Resurrection really does remind of a darker and more thrilling version of Blade Runner with a monstrous creation of the first ever tech noir film Frankenstein.  

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Which Predator Are You?

Now this isn’t much of a question because we all know the 1987 Predator is not only the best out of the series but its personally one of the most fantastic Sci - Fi action films. But in all honestly I personally see the 1987 “Predator” as a brilliant Sci-Fi thriller rather than an action film. Don’t get me wrong no action sequence has ever topped "Dutch" (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his group of awesome elite Special Forces team raid the guerrilla rebel encampment. But my personal perception of the film transitioned from an action film to a thriller when the elite team began to be hunted by the Predator. Which made the 87 Predator more enjoyable to watch because this unstoppable elite force has the; latest technology, kickass weapons and huge muscles. But to be hunted one by one like animals makes the 87 Predator so much more than a typical action Schwarzenegger film but rather a film that touches on Herbert Spencer “Survival of the fittest” the evolutionary theory of animals evolving themselves to become better hunters. In the Predators case a species that with each hunt evolves its skills to become the greatest hunter. In the first movie the predator is characterised by its trophy hunting of other dangerous species for sport but in the third instalment of the Predator trilogy 2010 “Predators” the film focuses more on the evolutionary theory.

So much between the 87 and 2010 releases are very similar being that they’re both set in the jungle and both seem to focus on the Darwin’s theory. In the 87 release the elite group technology had failed them resulting in all of them to die except Dutch. In the last hour of the film we see him become one of the jungle using primitive weapons like the manmade spear and wood craft booby traps. Instead of becoming reliant with technology he uses his surrounding and own muscle to defeat the predator that seemed to rely on its advanced light-bending cloaking device and other technology. The 2010 release go a very similar path but rather using an elite group the alien Predators rounds up the best predatorily species  on meaning humans and throw them into a planet jungle and hunt them. You can say the third predator is again human vs. alien but the title of the film “Predators” referring that both species are predators in their home planets so they are both the same. And again in the final sequence of the 2010 predator we see our mercenary protagonist Royce (Adrien Brody) defeat the predator not with technology but using the jungle and muscle.

The main problem of the second 1990 release “Predator 2” was not only it had a very weak plot and focused on the action rather than the predator itself. There was no connection between the protagonist Lieutenant Michael Harrigan (Danny Glover) and the predator. It just seemed the Harrigan was on a revenge seeking mission and there was no element of the predatorily elements like in the 87 and 2010 release. The sole purpose of the predator films is the hunter that becomes the hunted. The only element I enjoyed in the 90 release was setting the Predator in Los Angeles marking the paradox between the jungle and the city but there was no concrete purpose of the predator to be placed there being that the only reason was the heat wave that attracted the Predator.

What I look for in any predator based film or game even is the predatory element that the predator franchise has to bring. The transformation in the 97 and 2010 our protagonist become almost like cavemen beating the predator to death rather than shooting the predator, which is more of a barbaric death. As a human species we first hunting with sticks and stones and we were like this for many centuries. Even comparing both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Adrien Brody in the final fight sequence they both transform from super solider or mercenary to a caveman Tarzan figure.  Personally without this key element the predator would just be another extra-terrestrial species trying to kill us which the predator isn’t.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Which Die Hard Are You?

Now we all can discuss which Die Hard is the best and usually of course the 1988 Die Hard is the most preferred, being the first movie to introduce our favourite yippee ki yay gun slinging cowboy cop John McClane and let’s not forget one of our favourite German villains Hans Gruber. None Die Hard fans would argue that the Die Hard franchise all 5 of them are typically all the same; a bad boy rouge cop always seems to get caught up in a middle of things, action packed, explosions, endless henchmen’s and villains that seems to have a gruesome end being thrown out of skyscraper, sucked into a jet engine or a fiery inferno helicopter crash. But saying that all the Die Hard films are the same in my opinion is totally bull! That’s like going to a Bond movie and saying I was expecting something different from the previous other twenty bond films. But what I love about the Die Hard series is that each film takes us into a totally different scenario being whatever the villain hopes to accomplish from hijacking a corporate building keeping its staff and CEO hostage to cyber terrorism systematically shutting down the entire U.S. infrastructure. All four Die Hard films has its own unique place but sadly the fifth Die Hard is not only the worst Die Hard it’s one of the worst action film. Comparing from my favourite Die Hard “Live Free or Die Hard” also known as “4.0” and the other Die Had series to the 2013 release “A Good Day to Die” you can see where the series went totally wrong.

The 2007 Live Free or Die Hard is a perfect mix between the 1988 Die Hard and the 1995 Die Hard with a Vengeance. The 88 release was stepping stone of the series when it is the first film ever to have the hero trash talk through to the villain through a radio throughout the entire film. And each Die Hard since then has carry on this tradition. Even in Live Free when technology is much more ahead of just the simple radio from the 88 Die Hard. McClane doesn’t just use the radio but uses webcams and cell phones to trash talk to the villain. And with this tradition our hero and villain never actually meet in person till the showdown at the very end. What I love most about Live Free is how much it takes from the 95 Die Hard. The first Die Hard is set in one building or one location but with Vengeance our location is one city. So the villain’s playground is Net York.  But Live Free villain    Thomas Gabriel a former US Defence Department analyst takes on the United States by hacking the computers of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and totally shutting down all transportation, gas, water and electricity almost taking the country back to the stone age.

What I found most lacking in A Good Day To Die wasn’t the fact the film had no radio, cell phone or even any trash talk to the villain but it was the relationship between John and his son. The two characters couldn’t bounce off each once and you would have thought being john McClane son he would have some witty comments like his father but no. It was as if they weren’t even related. Being a father and son based film you would think Good Day to Die would be a fantastic transition of old school Die Hard to new school but sadly once again it failed at this also. In my opinion in the Live Free or Die Hard relationship between John McClane and Matthew Farrell a computer hacker who unknowingly help set up the “Fire Sell” was a better father and son relationship even though they weren’t related. The transition between them is the typical computer based father and son relationship being that the son knows more about computer then the father in this case McClane being so old school he knows nothing about computers and Matthew Farrell knowing so much. The two fantastically bounce off each other whenever Farrell tried to explain anything to do with computers McClane just looks perplexed and lost. But when push came to shove McClane would shoot his way out of anything when Farrell would just whimper and hide. Live Free or Die Hard is a fantastic explain of putting someone who knows nothing about computers into cyber computer warfare and this is why Live Free is my favourite Die Hard. It’s taking our hero out of his comfort zone and into a totally different scenario.