Posts Tagged ‘Aliens’

While the ending to The Predator (2018) was outlandish enough special effects wizard Yuri Everson provided some behind the scenes images that hinted at a crossover time-travel ending to The Predator – with Aliens’ Ripley and Newt!

Stunt actress Breanna Watkins portrays both characters for the filmed but unused wacky endings.

Take a look:

 

 *** This review may contain alien monster spoilers ***

An American platoon on a mission to extract four comrades are ambushed by enemy soldiers and they must find their way to the extraction point through the alien infested Middle East.

In keeping with the format of the first film the aliens are a background entity to the main plot. Written by Jay Basu and Tom Green, aside from some tidbits of their off spring this follow up offers no great revelations about the aliens. Monsters: Dark Continent feels more of a sequel to a different alien film than Gareth Edwards first outing.

The effects are great, especially the larger Monsters when on display. The acting is outstanding from the cast. Oozing screen presence is Johnny Harris who is notable as the slowly unhinging Noah. Director Green offers a hard hitting war film that pulls no punches with mines, limbs, madness and pressure on display. Yes the analogies of the worlds conflicts is pushed in your face from outset, American politics, warfare, air strikes and its effects on the local inhabitants and the occupying soldiers. If anything, as the soldiers get picked off one by one it’s a little too real, relevant and close to the bone. The bombed school bus of children, torture and mine scenes spring to mind.

The opening sets up the relationships of the characters as they live in the ghetto watching illegal alien-like dog fighting. As the men are deployed, it borrows the voice-over of Platoon, unavoidable elements of Full Metal Jacket, Hurt Locker and Jarhead with Basu’s plot reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan. Green gives a gritty documentary feel similar to Battle: Los Angeles and Godzilla. Mix in the Middle East kidnappings and setting of Homeland and Rambo 3 and it should be painting a picture of Dark Continent’s palette. Yes, there’s every kitchen sink war cliché thrown in but it’s well written and handled finely by Green with a gusto realism. It’s a long hard slog and you feel you’ve gone through the mill with the characters.

To Greens credit it stands on its own, it’s dusty location setting adds to the tense ominous war atmosphere and Dark Continent shows the grim side of humanity. 

Those who enjoy modern war films will get a kick but as a sequel to Monsters it’s subject matter is a hard viewing experience, evoking all the wrong emotions which is not made any easier by none of the original cast returning.

What makes a good Thriller? I don’t believe there is a formula that makes a thriller, the aspects of a successful thriller usually revolve around the opposing forces of good versus evil, however, the line between good and evil can be very murky, it’s usually high-stakes…a ticking clock, life or death in the balance with some kind of realisation.

The thriller genre is packed with sub-genres and there are many classic thrillers. Hitchcock was the master of suspense thrillers, Rear Window (1954) and Dial M for Murder (1954) are two of my favourites. There are notable thrillers – Se7en (1995) ; Fatal Attraction (1987); Les diaboliques (1955) to name a few. From The Godfather (1972); Aliens (1986);The Usual Suspects (1995) to Jaws (1975) are classed as thrillers. While I wouldn’t necessary agree fully with all the categories of the aforementioned it’s clear that thrillers are hard to define.

 
Below are my comments on a few mystery thrillers that are  typical in some cases but in others definitive of the genre. I hope you enjoy my thoughts these thrillers, possibly seek them out or steer clear from them…


Angel Heart (1987)

P.I Harry Angel has a new case, to find a man called Johnny Favourite, only it isn’t a straight forward missing person’s case. Prefect, grounded, Alan’s Parker’s voodoo-laden, hard-boiled film is the ultimate mystery film.

This is without a doubt Mickey Rourke’s finest role. The supporting cast deliver some of the most interesting and story driven performance that include Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet and Charlotte Rampling to name a few.

You can feel 1955’s New Orleans warm rain, hear the jazz, taste the grit of 1950’s Brooklyn, the film’s Cinematography is amazing,. The films realism captures the time wholly, Trevor Jones mystery music builds up the tension as murders increase Harry Angel is drawn into eventful dangerous meetings. The dialogue is flawless and the ending has a mind-blowing twist that has been imitated but never surpassed. The Johnny Favourite theme tune will linger with you long after the end credits.

A timeless, eerie and realistic atmospheric classic. Perfect.


The Game (1997)

Wealthy financier Nicholas Van gets drawn into a live-action game that consumes his life. Douglas perfectly portrays the characters journey, excellently written by John D. Brancato & Michael Ferris.


It’s a psychological thriller packed with intrigue and suspense, a creepy clown and feeling of helplessness. Supporting actors are an array of familiar faces that include flawless performances from Sean Penn, Deborah Kara Unger and Armin Mueller-Stahl.

The flashback scenes of a younger Nicholas are captured beautifully by cinematographer Harris Savides and Howard Shore’s score heightens the pivotal moments elegantly.

 The Game is an exciting Hitcock-like yarn, with a principled message of wealth and youth, it’s a fantastic thriller with amazing twists and turns from David Fincher. A must see.

Basic Instinct (1992)

Known at the time for its nookie and infamous cross-legged interrogation scene, 50 San Francisco riot police had to be present at every location to deal with picketing gay and lesbian activists, it’s hard to believe the film caused such a stir at the time.

Michael Douglas plays a police detective investigating a brutal murder, in which a beautiful and seductive woman could be involved. It is without doubt Sharon Stone’s best and most memorable performance, as writer Catherine Tramell, who taps into every mans fear of being lied to, rejected and so on.

The supporting cast are effective, it has a few familiar faces in there. Jeanne Tripplehorn, George Dzundza and Leilani Sarelle are surprisingly good. That said, Douglas who gives great performance does seem miscast especially in the night-club, where he gurns and sports a jumper that will stick in your mind forever.


Despite the dramatic score being over powering in places it adds to the film stylised charm. Director Paul Verhoeven keeps set ups interesting and writer Joe Eszterhas puts in enough twists, albeit clichéd, to keep you interested.

Arguably less effective than Al Pacino’s 1989’s Sea of love, Basic Instinct is a big budget solid thriller that still stands up today.

Shutter Island (2010)

U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniel’s and his partner investigating the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane and is apparently hiding on the remote Shutter Island.

Martin Scorsese again demonstrates why he is one of the worlds best directors. The CGI is unnoticeable and only used to create the imagery of Shutter Island. A WW2 concentration camp, Dachau, is recreated for a disturbing and key scene. Scorese perfectly recreates the 1954, bring the best of location, sets, lighting and sound together to deliver a fantastic psychological thriller.

The cast is a fine line-up that includes Leonardo DiCaprio who manages to get away with the complexity of the characters situation; Swed’ Max von Sydow is on usual perfect form. Zodiac (2007) and Collateral’s (2004) Mark Ruffalo is excellent, although a little under used as Daniel’s partner. Thankfully Ben Kingsley has taken on a role worthy of his abilities as the empathetic Dr. John Cawley. In addition, Ted Levine and Elias Koteas show up in almost cameo appearances.
There’s plenty to like about Shutter Island, it exudes atmosphere, and it’s foreboding and eerie. The story tackles alcoholism, mental heath and asks the viewer to question what should be perceived as a dream and what should perceives as real. It’s an intriguing mystery that not since Angel Heart (1987) have I seen such a well constructed psychological period film. Credit must go to the Laeta Kalogridis’ screen-play and Dennis Lehane’s novel.

Possibly one of Scorsese’ best films.

The Alien film series produced by 20th Century Fox led to movie sequels, plus numerous books, comics and video game spin offs.

In addition to the franchise are the “Alien vs. Predator” films which I’ve left out as they don’t feature Lieutenant Ellen Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver).

Four very unique and visual directors brought the Alien to the screen giving a diverse visions of one subject matter, below are my comments and thoughts on the series that made aliens scary… and the latest spin off/ Prequel Prometheus.

Alien(1979)
Space, spaceships, androids and aliens, and no it’s not Starwars or Startrek
Alien is a perfect blend of characterisation, visual effects, sound and score. What separates this from the two franchises above is the gritty realism, a brooding atmospheric and claustrophobic feel that has given the film both cult and classic status. So much so it spawned its own franchise.
The acting is provided by a perfect heavy-weight cast that includes John Hurt, Sigourney Weaver and Tom Skerritt. Dan O’Bannon’s screen-play, coupled with Ridley Scott’s visuals stop this becoming just another monster alien movie or space film. The subject matter is delivered completely seriously and you become immersed in the dread, fear and uncertainty as even the main characters get killed off (which has become common place these days). Who will be the hero or the heroine.
H.R.Giger creature designs of the face huger and Alien is the ace in the hole and Jerry Goldsmith score mixed with the sound effects gives the film a nightmarish feel that build up the tension to breaking point. Scott’s direction is outstanding, creating the most fantastic and memorable moments in film history which push your fear threshold.
Compulsive viewing for Sci-fi fans who want story over action or in this case a steak to digest instead of fast food. If you’ve never seen Alien what it treat it will be to watch it fresh.
Aliens (1986)
The planet from Alien (1979) has been colonised, but contact is lost and a rescue team is dispatched. This 1986 sequel is action packed, bigger, louder, very gung-ho with Vietnam parallels.
I’m torn… I must say that at the time Aliens was the best action sci-fi films ever and probably still is), but overtime, I have grown less fond of Aliens and prefer the first Alien and re-edit of the 3rd.
What is superior about Aliens is that it builds on what Ridleys Scott created in first film, (even though some of Aliens ideas are based on cut scenes) surprise killings, misdirection and so on. The design and movement of the Alien is greatly improved, making the Alien far more menacing and agile than before.
There’s no doubt that James Cameron is an exceptional director and writer. All the characters are built up slowly, Lance Henriksen as the synthetic Bishop and Paul Reiser as Burke give subtle performances. Michael Biehn as Hicks and Sigourney Weaver are terrific. Ripley as a character is fleshed out further and the effects and sound are amazing (winning Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Effects).
Aliens is an unsurpassed solid sci-fi horror sequel packed with action and suspense but in retrospect it really is Alien pumped with testosterone and guns.
Alien³ (1992)

After a fire on the Sulaco an escape pod crash-lands on a refinery/prison planet killing everyone aboard except Lieutenant Ellen Ripley. As Ripley recovers she realises that fire was no accident and an Alien begins a killing spree that she must stop.The idea of coming away from Cameron’s Aliens (a fantastic mix of action, suspense and special effects) and go back to the gritty atmosphere basics of the first film was debatably a good idea. Producers, though misunderstood what director David Fincher was trying to achieve back in 1992.Plagued with creative differences, production and script problems the film was released… It seemed very disjointed and didn’t deliver the goods that the first two did…

After watching the new assembled version of Alien 3 I was pleasantly surprised. With the new version what you get is expanded and alternative scenes, more character development and a new subplot making it a more enjoyable Alien movie.

Like the previous version the Alien effects are still the same and not very well executed. That said, this version without a doubt is an improvement on the 1992 version coupled with a nice score, great performances, especially from Charles Dance and the sadly missed Brian Glover. Sigourney Weaver plays a very troubled shaven head Ellen Ripley convincingly. This time around with expanded scenes the supporting cast
get to show off their acting skills within the fantastic sets. Explained in the new cut is where and why some of the characters disappeared.

Overall with these adjustments the film finally sits nicely in the series. It’s dark, eerie and atmospheric.

Alien: Resurrection (1997)

I viewed the directors cut of Alien: Resurrection, it includes a few added bits – Lt. Ellen Ripley Clone #8 refers to Newt a few times, an alternate title sequence, a landing on earth and a few extra seconds here and there add to the mood making all the difference.
The down side though – some of the acting is too hammy, the Alien effects are computerised in parts which is just as distracting as they were back in 1997. They should have stuck to practical effects until CGI effects were perfected.
The New born is great and still gets my sympathy vote. The whole film isn’t a gritty as the previous but the sets are fantastic. Some characters do get developed,there are some memorable moments which usually include Perlman or Weavers characters.
The film including the extra bits bridge the earlier films making Resurrection a more enjoyable ride for Alien fans but to date, despite some good scenes it is the still the weakest of the series.
Watch if only to witness the resurrection.
Prometheus (2012)

The near future 2089 Earths historical artifact’s and ancient paintings prompt an expedition into space to find our makers but puts the crew of the Prometheus in grave danger when they land on LV-233 in 2093.
Veteran director Ridley Scott gives Prometheus its own unique look and rightly so as the action, suspense takes place on 233 not LV- 426 as in Alien(s). Without getting bogged down with Alien comparisons, this is a science expedition not a mining vessel, therefore differences in technology between the two is explained away at a drop of a hat. This change in location allows Prometheus to stand on its own.
Questioning our origins in a reasonable intelligent way the story written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof is intriguing and makes this film stand above your average Sci-fi. That said Prometheus does raise more questions than it answers yet it’s ambiguity is what makes this film special.
It’s excellently cast and includes international actors Guy Pearce Idris Elba and Logan Marshall-Green to name a few. Charlize Theron is stupendous as Meredith Vickers the cold hard nosed corporate mission director. Notably is Michael Fassbender as David who is every bit as interesting as Bishop and Ash with added a quirky ‘fondness’ for Peter O’Tool. Main protagonist Elizabeth Shaw played by Noomi Rapace is not your typical Ripley clone and carries much of the emotion for the film.
The effects are first rate, with the Space Jockeys, scenery, Weyland, ships and Aliens wonderfully realised and rendered. Some of the effects are practical and look organic for the most part. The location and environment feels real and makes everything more palatable. A nod should go to Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography and Pietro Scalia’s editing.
Scott delivers a few standout creepy scenes some particularly gut turning, notably the arm breaking, infection and decontamination scenes- it captures some xenomorph magic.
Marc Streitenfeld’s music score is an effective mixed bag although is a little over used. Both writers and Scott ensure to include a few character twists and wisely incorporate some elements from the Aliens series (in keeping with that world) whether it be a vehicle, a line or setup to possibly appease die-hard fans but for the most part it’s all new and fresh.
Prometheus tackles themes of origin, mortality and biological war fare to name a few. It’s a grower just like the spores themselves.
20th Century Fox hit gold with 1987 The Predator…

I don’t usually use the word cool but in 1987 that’s what the Predator was; sleeker and more equipped than any other E.T that had been seen before. The movie and its sequel lead to an array of spin offs, good and bad novel’s, comic book’s, toys and video games. I’ve chosen to include the Alien vs. Predator films that combine, with no surprise, the Alien creatures from the Alien film series. Here are my comments on the Predator feature films…

Predator (1987)

A team of commandos find themselves hunted by an extra-terrestrial hunter… John McTiernan directs the perfect cast including the likes of Carl Weathers, Bill Duke and Jesse Ventura who are just right in this action orientated alien film. Arnold Schwarzenegger is armed with some great one liners but packs in a good performance with some subtler moments. Apart from The Thing like shot at the very beginning, it’s and original piece that deservedly started a franchise.

To be picky only some of the editing and effects let the film down. Those aside, the music by Alan Silvestri is fitting with it jungle beats building up apprehension and suspense throughout the film. This film could have easy fallen into B movie territory, but the great Cinematography, creature effects and costume design keep it grounded.

The film builds up in true monster fashion by holding back the Predator’s reveal. Not since Alien has there been such hand iconic creature which Kevin Peter Hall wonderfully brings to life. John McTiernan notches up the tension in the final showdown and writers Jim Thomas & John Thomas give us a brave bold ending.

One of the most enjoyable rounded sci-fi films ever.

Predator 2 (1990)

The Predator is the star of this troubled sequel with its array of weapons a spear, pincers, Frisbee blade and net.

With editing re-cuts, budget issues and no Arnold Schwarzenegger its not all bad. The lead rogue cop played by Danny Glover and alien expert Gary Busey are fine. While the story is entertaining and there are some nice idea’s scenes and set pieces, setting it in the then future of 1997 was unnecessary and its credibility suffers. The film is let down further by the almost comical overacting sub-characters and it losses the semi-realism of the first.

It’s packed with Predator action graphic decapitations, shootings and mutilated bodies. The practical effects, accessories and costumes from Stan Winston look great, and Kevin Peter Hall as the Predator is once again out of this world. The music score is excellent and carries the same themes from the first, as to are the sound effects.

For fans an Alien skull show up on the wall of the Predator’s trophy room (to entice an AVP) and a tremendous thought provoking ending. Stephen Hopkins gives an enjoyable sci-fi but the film just let down by it’s Verhoevenesque future, hammy acting and over-the-top stereotypes.

There’s very little that is subtle in the 108 minutes, still its Predator and you can’t help but like it.

AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)

It shouldn’t have been mixed, Paul W.S. Anderson’s AVP: Alien vs. Predator was more so unjustly panned by critics and fans due to the hype and anticipation. It has the feeling of an Alien film, a great premise, stunning cinematography, some amazing effects and a fine score.

Paul W.S. Anderson is successful in bringing the franchises together, respecting ideas from both Alien and Predator movies. I haven’t seen a bad film that he’s made and I’m not sure why there is such a geek gang hatred against the mans work. The ever-improving Uwe Boll he is not!

The strong leads include Sanaa Lathan as the heroine and Raoul Bova,, however unfortunately actors Carsten Norgaard as Rusten Quinn and Tommy Flanagan as Mark Verheiden are killed off far too early. Overall the acting is good, Lance Henrikson show up as the ‘real’ Bishop but some of the characters lack development and the editing feels choppy in places.

The Predators and Aliens look great apart from some badly executed CGI. It not Ridley Scott or John McTiernan, but Paul Anderson pulls off the almost impossible task of putting these to aliens together on screen.

If there was not an Alien or Predator film prior to this it may have been haled as a science fiction adventure classic, but alas that’s not the case.

AVPR: Aliens vs Predator – Requiem (2007)

 Every day folk in a sleepy town get caught up in a fight for survival when a crashed spaceship releases Aliens on earth and a Predator is dispatch to clean up the mess.

It was always clear that the franchises should never have been mixed. Nevertheless, they’re here to stay and I have to say, even with their faults, their not too bad. Overall, AVRP appears have less CGI and more practical effects which is a good thing. There are plenty of nods to both Alien and the Predator movies, and the focus is more on the Predator in this instalment.

Shane Salerno’s story is fine but the script isn’t meaty and the characters are not gritty enough, the acting isn’t bad but it’s the clunky teen driven segments of script that bogs the cast and viewer down. Steven Pasquale is a strong enough lead, John Ortiz is not given much to do and limited screen time. Ariel Gade is a good enough actress but too reminiscent of Ripley’s character. The rest are a miss-mash bag of collective stereotypes.That said, there are enough set pieces and surprises to keep you entertained until the rushed ending.

At times the music distracting as it uses memorable themes from both series. Also there far too much shaky and dark camera work and you feel as if you’re not getting to see enough. Credit to directors Colin Strause and Greg Strause both Predator and Alien look fantastic and it’s nice to see that the film is more adult orientated.

Overall, the movie fails to satisfy.

 

Predators (2010)

Predators has been a long-time in coming, and any quality Predator film is a welcomed addition in my book. The story is that of a group of elite humans are hunted by members of a merciless alien race.

Things looked extremely positive with Robert Rodriguez as one of the producers with the excellent and talented director of Vacancy Nimród Antal at the helm. However, Predators really feels like a remake of the first film. Which isn’t a bad thing, however, there are just too many unnecessary on liners from the franchise which at times is distracting. The kills are too fast and there are other problems… Predators seems rushed, appears choppy and there’s just no characters you want to care for, they don’t have to be likable but you still want someone you root for.

There’s too much effort to put in new things like the bigger species Predators to excite the audience. The screen-play the actors have to work with is bland and lacks depth. That said the costume, set design , locations and effects are mouthwatering, it’s an atmospheric sci-fi complimented by John Debney’s reworking of the original score and fantastic sound effects.

The actors are first-class, notably new comer Alice Braga performance as Isabella. Broday carries the weight of the film and cult actor Danny Trejo puts in an appearance. ‘Arnie’ like Oleg Taktarov and Mahershalalhashbaz Ali stand-out. Sadly, Laurence Fishburne is wasted and Topher Grace is just out of place as a doctor who doesn’t tend to anyone. Nevertheless, the story is great and it nice to see the old style Predator in there played by Derek Mears of the Friday the 13th remake.

All in all it’s a good film but just isn’t great, let’s hope a sequel corrects this.

That’s all folks…

Science fiction is a huge spanning genre of fiction. It’s an incubator for imaginative minds to create visions that help us to glimpse not only the future, but also something about ourselves. It differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible. I’ve left Terminator and Alien(s) out both I’ll visit in the future, in the meantime here are my comments on a few old classic films and new comers of Sci-fi…

Repo Men (2010)

It’s is the near future, Jake and Remy are repossession men for body organs. After a repo’ goes wrong Remy’s heart is replaces and he finds himself on the run before his heart is repossessed.

It’s a high concept idea with a twist at the end. The gory repo scenes are cringe worthy and action scenes backed with a pumping music score are amazing. The sets, location and effects are attention-grabbing. Miguel Sapochnik’s directing admirable but its failing is the screenplay, Repo Men is a jarring mismatch of a film, it doesn’t know what it wants to be, one minute a social commentary, the next minute a comedy, then an action, a serious thriller and so on. It just doesn’t gel and as a result it’s a let down.

Schreiber’s Frank is menacing as one of “The Union” heads and there’s a welcomed cameo appearance by John Leguizamo (Asbury). A lighter, healthier Forest Whitaker makes an impression in this odd toned movie, quirky lead and ever reliable Jude Law looks uncomfortable with the role Remy. Alice Braga’s (Beth) performance is average and she isn’t atheistically beautiful enough to convince the audience of Remy’s infatuation with her.

Unfortunately, Repo Men tries to cater and appeal to a spectrum of movie goers and as a result fails to entertain or satisfy in any capacity or arena.

Planet of the Apes (1968)


Franklin J. Schaffner is never given enough credit when it comes to the genuine sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes. The talking points are usually the twist ending, or the late great Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowall.

A philosophical sci-fi made in 1968 and nominated for two Oscars it still holds up today as a social parable, effective drama with a relevant and underlining social commentary. It’s the primitive depiction of an ape civilisation rather than technologically society made Planet of the Apes standout as the iconic film it is haled as today.

‘Apes builds up nicely, there’s a wonderful score, (groundbreaking for the time) by Jerry Goldsmith, creating eerie and ominous atmosphere with the first exciting ape reveal at about 30 minutes in.

The film is wonderfully directed and has a solicitous and thought proving screenplay by Michael Wilson & Rod Serling. That said source material was from Pierre Boulle’s very wry, whimsical and thoughtful novel. Astoundingly Boulle is also author of The Bridge over the River Kwai.

The few visual effects are sufficient but the ape make up is admirable and star of the show. Recognisable only by their voices Kim Hunter as human conservationist Dr. Zira and the anxious Cornelius played by McDowall are splendidly magnificent as they assist Taylor played by the boldly cast film legend Heston to escape the command of the apes. The attractive Linda Harrison, who plays Nova is effective and the British classical actor, in orangutan make-up Maurice Evans is outstanding, giving a weight of believability to the subject matter.

Planet of the Apes is an original science fiction must see.

Blade Runner (1982)

I must admit I’m a huge fan of Ridley Scotts’ and Blade Runner is one of
his finest moments, panned by critics and by most on its release, it was ahead of its time on every level.

Whichever version of Blade Runner you prefer, it has atmosphere, great costumes and a mood of gritty realism about it. The neocityscapes, the dark street life and polluted air all paint a grim futuristic picture complimented by a score by Vangelis , which is touching and haunting. The lines are memorable and there are fantastic performances from Rutger Hauer, Sean Young and Edward James Olmos. Harrison Ford is perfect as the moody ex- Blade Runner and Joe Turkel should have won an award as the Frankenstein -like creator.

Blade Runner is quite a simplistic tale that is complicated by the fantastic visuals and effects. Lying beneath the plot that many writers contributed to there’s heart and soul, questions of what it means to be human and delves into our own mortality.

Its edgy hi-tech art-house that brings science fiction to life and while it’s not the most fulfilling sci-fi film it certainly is a fantastic visual experience.

RoboCop (1987)

A cop is brutally murdered in the line of duty only to be resurrected as a robot cop. With a mission to clean up Detroit stopping criminals and corruption unwitting Robocop meets his killers.

 Social commentary, religious connotations and cutting satire, Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop is now over 20 years old, some of the effects have dated and some of the acting is like two-day-old chicken, but it holds up. It is indeed an often-imitated sci-fi classic. It could have been just another Terminator rip-off but all it shared was a machine theme as it had a whole world of its own. That said, it borrows heavily from lesser known films Jean-Claude Lord’s The Vindicator and The Wraith both made a year prior.

Amongst the rival robot ED-209 and TV commercials what’s more interesting about Robocop (played by the now elusive Peter Weller) is the loss of his family and how they have moved on after Alex Murphy’s gory death which is only partly explored. There’s a lot going on in Edward Neumeier & Michael Miner writing underneath all the action pieces.

Miguel Ferrer as ‘Bob’ is excellent, his performance has all the 80’s Wall Street feel of the time, doing whatever it takes to get to the top. Ronny Cox plays ‘Dick’ Jones and gives the bad guy dimension. It shows a corporate structure and how they also use the underworld to get an immoral job done, in this case using Clarence and his gang played terrifically by Kurtwood Smith.

Basil Poledouris’ music is fantastic and heightens the films punches and subtleties, the action is great as to are the costumes and practical effects. It is a comic book film for adults but is unusually grounded in a surreal plausibility.

It’s Orion Pictures fine production, part man, part machine. All cop.

Moon (2009)

David Bowie’s son directs his debut film. Duncan Jones comes out of his fathers’ shadow and into his own in this low-key sci-fi which is destined to become a classic.

The style is without a doubt influenced by Silent Running and 2001: A Space Odyssey. You could argue that there is also a hint of Gattaca in there, but this does not detract from the strong emotional story line.

Sam Rockwell’s subtle and edgy performance is Oscar worthy, as to are the effects. As Duncan Jones first film it certainly doesn’t show, it screams traditional in the modern sense of film-making. Kevin Spacey voices the robot GERTY, his smooth tones and look are reminiscent of 2001’s HAL and his monotone voice adds tension.

The film is not an action; Moon is a well-rounded package, almost pure sci-fi, and thought provoking playing out a believable premise. It’s a tighter 2001 for a 2009 audience, compulsive viewing.

Star Wars (1977)

It was a long time ago when I first saw Starwars, I watched it as part of a trilogy and then Lucas’ CGI altered edits.

There’s not much I can add that isn’t already littered on the, net, countless books and so on. It has become ingrained in popular culture and it is impossible for me to watch it with fresh eyes. It was great to see my son watch it for the first time and no doubt his children will enjoy it too.

The story is that Luke Skywalker must try to save Princess Leia from the evil clutches of Darth Vader. It could have been an awful b-movie but its strength is a great bold script, memorial characters, fantastic effects, costumes and John Williams timeless orchestral score. It has a princess, lasers, alien creatures, spaceships, and more. It’s a good old fashioned tale of good versus evil and there really isn’t much not to like.

It has inspired and has been imitated in numerous films, books and games. It has changed the way Sci-fi is made and will remain a timeless charming classic.

If you only ever see five films in your lifetime, this is one of them.

Surrogates (2009)

In a world of masks, who’s real and who can you trust? A well made sci-fi, a hybrid reflective of high concept low-budget 70’s-80’s films. Sadly it was in and out of the cinema so fast I missed it.

Bruce Willis character tries to unravel the mystery conspiracy behind the surrogate phenomenon and is forced to abandon his own surrogate, risking his life.

Excellent direction by Jonathan Mostow Radha Mitchell is as usual on top form, Rosamund Pike (give a poor performance) and Ving seem out of place. That said, the effects and music are amazing – I was pleasantly surprised. Overall very entertaining, suspenseful and while not totally original, it combines the best ideas around to deliver a thought provoking piece.