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Life

The greatest question the universe has to offer.  Is there life out there?  And if there is what form will it take?  There have been beyond numerous films attempting to answer this question, and I’d say I enjoy the majority of the them.  Some are done much better than others.  Life…. it sits somewhere in between.

The film begins with members of the ISS finding a single celled organism in the far reaches of space.  It is the first organism of its kind.  They bring it on board in order to study it, and things start to go wrong.  I mean of course, why wouldn’t they?

Numerous tests begin on this new organism as the crew tries to understand what it is.  The crew each has their own specific roles on the ship, and everyone sticks to protocol.  When the organism attacks biologist Dr. Hugh Berry everyone’s get turned on their heads.

The organism which, looks like a piece of scotch tape meets a white banana peel, escapes and begins to move throughout the ISS, growing and adapting to its surrounding.  It’s up to the crew to find it and stop it before it kills them all….heard this before?

The film tries to be as realistic as possible if something like this would ever happen.  The problem is that it moves quite slowly.  40 minutes in to the film feels like 2 hours, and we’re wondering..where is this going?

There’s some great visuals and effects within the film, but in this day and age that’s nothing new.  Technology is at the forefront in films, and especially films involving space.  The acting is great as well with Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal being great in their parts, and even the direction by Daniel Espinosa is fantastic, but Life just doesn’t give you anything to walk away from saying wow.

The comparisons to Alien are much too strong, and I thought that the first time I saw the trailer.  Life is a film that feels like it was rushed to post production in order to beat the release of Alien: Covenant.  Does that make it any less entertaining?  No, not really, but that doesn’t make it very good.

Grade: C+

Urban Legend (1998)

The late 90s brought a pantheon of teen comedy and horror films to the big screen, making billions off teenagers such of myself with films that were basically repackaged films of older horror films.  The door was opened when Scream took the world by storm, bringing multiple copycats soon after.  Urban Legend is one of those.

 

In a completely un-original concept, we follow a number of college students around as one by one (I mean shocking right) they are picked off by someone re-creating urban legends, and wearing a parka…they couldn’t even be original with that (I Know What You Did Last Summer….same killer).

Who’s the killer?  Who could it possibly be?  The creepy school janitor? The professor? The school reporter?  We’re all in such suspense!  The big problem is that we don’t even get scares from anything.  At least give us some jump out of the closet moments.

The best part of the film is probably watching Jared Leto roll his eyes acting through this piece of garbage. (I’m just doing this for the paycheck and to get me on the road to winning an Oscar).

For some reason Robert Englund pops up as a professor teaching an urban legend class, but we never understand what he has to do with the film…except for using him for Freddy Krueger status to bump box office returns.

In the end Urban Legend is a film that took 10 pages from one horror movie, 10 pages from another horror movie, 10 pages from another, and so forth and so forth, and pieced together a real piece of garbage horror film.

Grade: D

Nightmares (1983)

Like a bad dream I somehow remember this film from the early 80’s.  There was a number of anthology films going around at this time (Tales From the Darkside, Tales From The Crypt, The Twilight Zone). For some reason I remember a major segment of this film that has followed me throughout my adulthood, and that’s the segment of the guy who gets sucked in to the video game.

It reminds of things I shouldn’t be doing in my childhood, like going to the local arcade at 10pm when I was….oh 11 years old?  My brother would take me and I knew it was something I shouldn’t be doing, but it was also something that wouldn’t harm me.  That’s the feeling of watching horror films.  They’re not real…but sometimes they affect you in a certain way.

The film is broken up in to 4 segments; A woman runs out of gas on a dark evening and must escape a maniacal Gas Station Attendant.  Emilio Estevez tries to break a high score on an arcade game called Bishop.  A priest deals with loss of faith as he is stalked by a pickup truck, and lastly a family battles a giant rat….which kind of makes no sense at all.  The majority of the film surrounds Estevez’s story, and part of me wishes they would have just made that the film.

If you look at Nightmares only as an anthology it will no doubt get lost in the pantheon of other film anthologies that have come before and after it.  However, some of these segments could have been broken out on their own as films.  It’s a film that seems somehow ahead of its time, but segmented unnaturally as well.

It feels unnerving almost like if you were watching 80s pornography, or perhaps Masterpiece theater as a child.  It doesn’t fit at times, and that’s what makes it most enjoyable watching it 35 years later.  It’s a bit of nostalgia, along with a bit of anxious adolescent viewing.

And you know what’s interesting, is that I see these types of films making their way to the small screen as anthology TV shows once again.  It was something that was done so well on shows like Tales From The Crypt, and the short-lived Nightmare Cafe to name a few.

Grade: B- (though Estevez segment gets an A)

A+ for the poster

Wonder Woman

I’m going to be the first to admit that I thought this film was going to make about $58 bucks at the box office. With the colossal failure that Batman Vs. Superman was I thought Wonder Woman was destined for failure.  DC < Marvel all day long.  However, what you get turns out to be not just a great Comic book film, but also a great WWI film as well.

The film starts with a little bit of mythology as to who Wonder Woman is, and where she comes from.  She comes from a mythical island that has been shrowded in secrecy for centuries.  A land of warrior woman who have been protected by the gods.  One day however someone breaks that veil as his plane crashes into the water surrounding the land.  That man is US Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and he brings a boatload of Germans  with him.

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) saves Captain Trevor only for her people to end up fighting a fierce battle vs. the Germans.  Once they defeat the Germans the land of women must decide what to do next.  Wonder Woman decides she must follow Trevor back to the world outside to find the unspeakable terror that is set to destroy the world.

Trevor tries to walk WW through her new world and explain to her all of the changes and dangers that await them.  There is some fun there as WW really has no clue how to interact with this new world, and has no idea that….she’s kind of the sexiest woman anyone has seen.  She also doesn’t understand why these humans fight, and what “war” truly means to them.  This is the major problem that she must face going forward.

Wonder Woman sits nicely in the DC universe, and it’s a breath of fresh air, because really the only thing that has been working has been Christopher Nolan’s Batman films.  It’s well done, and director Patty Jenkins does a fantastic job of bringing this character to life.

In the end Wonder Woman is original enough to be highly entertaining, and it’s shot extremely well.  The one thing about it though is that it still can’t find a way to get away from the finale of “Good Guy vs. Bad Guy” in an epic final battle.  THAT is something we’ve seen all the time.

Grade: B+