Tag Archives: aliens

Movie Review: A Quiet Place (2018) *Sound = Fury*

John Krasinski in A Quiet Place
Go a whole hour without make a sound.  You can’t sit still; you have to go about your daily life, but you can’t make a sound.  If you do, you die.  That simple sonic twist is the bread and butter on which John Krasinski (who both stars in and artfully directs the film) bases A Quiet Place.  Alien invasions have been done to death.  Post-apocalyptic is so last decade.  Everything in A Quiet Place is something that’s been done before, but never, to my knowledge, with sound as the difference between life and death.

Back to you, trying to be quiet, what are you doing?  Reading?  Did you drop your book?  You died.  Laughed at something clever in the writing?  Dead.  Now, what if you had to live in a barren world with those kind of stakes, gather food, raise your family, communicate, protect yourself, just simply walk…..with no noise or you die.  A Quiet Place is a familiar thing done in an original way and the result is and extraordinarily tense, well-acted, unforgettable film.
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My Favorite Scene: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) “Musical Conversation”

While I give Steven Spielberg plenty of flak for the turn his career has taken over the last 15 years, that in no way diminishes from his early masterpieces.  I don’t know that Close Encounters of the Third Kind would be the hit today that it was back in 1977.  It’s a very deliberately paced film for Spielberg, and the fascination with UFOs isn’t near today what it was even back during the heyday of The X-Files.  We’ve all but shuttered the exploration of space.  We’re a very inward looking species, rather than looking to the stars and thinking about what or who might be out there, and how we might talk to them were they to someday show up.

Today’s planet would almost certainly start lobbing nukes at anything it didn’t understand, and maybe 1977’s would have too, but I love Spielberg’s optimistic and beautiful take on a first encounter with extraterrestrials.  Math is the universal language, and music, at its core, is math.  It’s logical that would be a way to communicate, and if you have John Williams as your composer, you can have a five-minute sequence of simple notes building into a cacophony of musical dialogue that is as spellbinding as any written words could be.  The five tones of initial communication are the most easily iconic thing about Close Encounters.  Over 40 years after its release, this sequence is still chillingly beautiful….and then Richard Dreyfus gets on a spaceship and leaves his family behind (that part I never quite got).

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

10 Sequels Better Than the Original

Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight
We live in the Age of the Sequel. Studios want franchises with multiple sequels, and increasingly, shared movie universes copied on the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While sequel fatigue may be creeping into many movie goers minds, the fact is that sequels are here to stay. Sequels do have advantages over original films. They have a built-in audience connection, the opportunity for deep character exploration and the chance to build large and challenging plot lines that wouldn’t be possible in a single installment. When filmmakers take advantage of these unique tools, the sequel can even eclipse the film that inspired it. The best sequels build on and expand great films. Here are 10 films where the sequel managed to top (even by the slimmest of margins) the original.

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Sigourney Weaver’s 10 Best Movies

sigourney-weaver-jake-chessum-varietySigourney Weaver has the best resume of any actress in the science fiction genre (including impressive turns in the Aliens franchise, Galaxy Quest, The Cabin in the Woods, Avatar) in addition to being one of the best dramatic and comedic actresses in Hollywood for three decades.  She is THE template for a female action star for her work in Alien and Aliens, and she’s done some very covert work as a voice actor in two of Pixar’s gems (WALL-E and Finding Dory…ok, not so covert in Finding Dory).  Her body of work is even more impressive than I realized when I began putting her list together and was forced to leave off things like Gorillas in the Mist or The Year of Living Dangerously that would easily make most actresses’ lists.
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My Favorite Scene: Aliens (1986) “Ripley vs. The Alien Queen”

First of all, shame on YouTube for not having one of the greatest fights in film history in one clip, and yes, the annoying intro for each part ruins the flow, but believe it or not, this is the best take I could find on the infamous climax in the second film in the Alien Franchise.  While Alien was a horror movie, James Cameron (remember when he wasn’t just the Avatar guy?) came in and made Aliens a war film.  It’s a total toss-up as to which is the better film.  They’re both perfect at what they were trying to achieve.  Back when sequels that matched the original really only had Godfather Part II and Empire Strikes Back as peers, Aliens completely matched its predecessor.  Instead of just one xenomorph, now there was an entire hive, which leads to the reveal at the end of the film of one of film’s greatest monsters: The Alien Queen.  Whereas in the first film, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is really just a survivor and a victim, in Aliens she becomes a warrior.  Weaver broke ground on what a woman could do as the star as an action movie, and remains the standard (she even managed to shake an Oscar nomination out of the Academy for something cool, which still blows me away).  From the discovery of the Queen and her nest to the loader battle in the dock, this titanic battle of two mothers over their “children” still remains one of science fiction’s greatest moments.
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