Tag Archive: aliens


Back in 1975 Jaws became the highest grossing film to date. It’s arguably one of the most famous films ever that has been parodied and referenced in countless numbers of films and has a theme tune that everyone can hum and recognise. The release and the popularity of Jaws marked the arrival of the summer blockbuster, which would become a staple in the cinema calendar; the summer blockbuster spots are reserved for the biggest studios to bring out the big guns and rake in the profits over summer. The whole idea of a ‘blockbuster film’ has gone through celebration and survived criticism but you can not deny that they are still apparent and, as we have seen this year, are the most bankable films of the year. But the originality has gone, and with that so has some of the fun.

Among the top ten highest grossing films of the year so far there are eight films that have been released in the summer. Only one of those is an original concept: Pacific Rim. When Jaws was released it marked a trend of ‘event’ films that major studios released to compete with Jaws and its sequels. Taking this into account Pacific Rim seems like a typical summer blockbuster remade for a modern audience. It seems like everything a summer audience want: mindless action, giant robots fighting gigantic aliens and what’s more the film had major clout behind it as it was directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Pacific Rim only just managed to double its budget worldwide despite all the hype surrounding it and Idris Elba booming “today we are cancelling the apocalypse” before every other summer film that you would go and see. Of course, one reason why Pacific Rim could have fallen short of expectations is because Michael Bay did such an awful job with the Transformers film that any film with robots in will now be tossed aside without thought.

 

But then a film with fighting robots also became the fifth highest grossing film of all time: Iron Man 3. So this seems to suggest that that was not the only reason for Pacific Rim‘s failure to make a huge impression on the audience. In a world with so many sequels it is becoming more important to see those sequels when they come out, especially with what Marvel are doing with each film becoming a huge stable of cinema in itself and an unmissable event. People want to see what they already know because the first films are so good and successful that it gives a sequel credibility before it is even released. The likes of Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast and Furious 6, Monsters University and even Despicable Me 2 cracked the top ten highest grossing films – all coming off the back of successful franchises or original films. World War Z and Man of Steel also join the list but they’re coming from hugely successful books and comic books. With World War Z it also seems to suggest that star power is also important for a summer blockbuster with Brad Pitt no doubt being responsible for some of the surprisingly huge audience the zombie action film found.

So what of Will Smith, Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp? Three of the biggest movie stars on the planet absolutely tanked at the box office in 2013. Smith’s After Earth and Cruise’s Oblivion both seemed pretty similar in their basic premise: Earth has been abandoned and now Will Smith/Tom Cruise come back to Earth and find out that it’s not as bare as they might have thought. It was assumed that one film would take the spoils because they were too similar but as it turned out, neither film did and both failed. Johnny Depp looked to bring a new franchise to the big screen and should have been more successful being as though The Lone Ranger is integrated in popular culture – everyone has heard “Hi-Yo, Silver!” at least once in their lives. But a difficult time in production seemed to put an end to any plans Disney had of making a sequel. And the less said about R.I.P.D the better.

 

Another one of the most anticipated films of the year was Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium. After Blomkamp’s debut feature District 9 was an Oscar nominated film people were expecting something exceptional from Elysium, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. However, as of now it has only just managed to make back its budget and not set the world alight as people expected. Of course, a late summer release won’t have helped being as though it seems everyone had already spent their money on previously mentioned films. So why is it so hard to find a spot for originality in the summer months?

For me, I think it comes down to the cost of going to the cinema. Over summer the children are off school and people go to the cinema as a family. This means that you’re going to be spending around £25-£35 on tickets and then another £20ish on drinks and popcorn which makes it seem pretty expensive just to go and sit down for a couple of hours. Nobody wants to go and see a bad film at the cinema anyway but when it’s costing that much you want to know that you’re going to enjoy what you watch. Therefore, I believe people are more likely to go and see Iron Man 3 when Marvel have a spotless record and you’re guaranteed a great performance from Robert Downey Jr. rather than take a chance that something like R.I.P.D or Pacific Rim which you don’t know much about.

 

In the next couple of years we are going to see more Marvel films – Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015. The Man of Steel sequel featuring Batman is coming out too, the same as the seventh chapter of Star Wars and presumably a third in the new Star Trek trilogy: add to that another Fast & Furious film, a sequel to World War Z and X-Men: Days of Future Past. It seems like so many huge franchises are begging for people’s money that it seems impossible for anything new to turn heads. For the sake of cinema that has to change sooner rather than later.

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District 9 (2009) Review

Back in 2008 a viral marketing campaign began entitled “Human’s Only” that first brought people’s attention to District 9. Then, upon its release, it received acclaim from all angles and really helped to launch the careers of its South African director Neill Blomkamp and leading man Sharlto Copley.

District 9 is the story of Sharlto Copley’s Wikus van de Merwe. Almost thirty years prior to the events of this film a large spaceship stopped above Johannesburg in South Africa and its alien occupiers came down to Earth and now inhabit the slums of South Africa. Wikus van de Merwe is a government agent chosen to lead the camp relocation by serving the aliens with eviction notices. However, after uncovering a deep secret about the alien’s technology he becomes a kindred spirit of the alien race.

The film begins in a very interesting documentary style and remains this way throughout the first half an hour. This allows the audience to be given a fantastic insight into the alien race and their history, as well as the opinions held of humans about this new species on their planet. There is a strong sense of foreboding throughout as we hear the talking heads talking about their colleague Wikus and we know that something bad happens to him, but we are never quite told what. Meanwhile, we are introduced to Wikus, this happy, charming, loved up government worker who is, not all the time competent, but always means well.

Then the story moves on and we suddenly come out of the documentary style and we are welcomed to a more conventional style of story telling. We know get introduced to the aliens and learn what they are doing here and what they intend to do with their spaceship, and how they intend to go back home, if they want to. The aliens are brought to life magnificently by Jason Cope who plays a huge part in the making of this film by providing the voices for all as well as playing the lead alien, Christopher Johnson.

As well as being an enthralling piece of drama District 9 also brings up several strong themes surrounding humanity. Right from the title through to its treatment of aliens District 9 is a sure fire criticism of Distric Six. District Six, an inner-city residential area in Cape Town, was declared a “whites only” area by the government in 1966, with 60,000 people forcibly removed and relocated to Cape Flats. Racism and xenophobia are explored with the aliens being the subject of the hatred. The use of the word ‘prawn’ is a very evident replacement for racist words used in the past. It’s not the first time the science fiction genre has done this but District 9 is certainly one of the best to have used this tact in their film making.

It is amazing that on such a low budget Blomkamp has managed to bring to life one of the greatest science fiction/fantasy films of this century so far. A fine piece of art!

My Rating: 9/10.

After the tragic loss of action director Tony Scott a few weeks ago this is another sad week for Hollywood. The incredible Michael Clarke Duncan has sadly passed away just two months after suffering a heart attack that he never really fully recovered from. It’s horrible news especially considering the fact that news reports have emerged that Duncan and his reality television personality girlfriend planned on getting married next year and had talked about having children together. Michael Clarke Duncan is best known for his role in The Green Mile which he was Oscar nominated for but he also starred in Sin City, The Green Lantern and Armageddon.

In other news there is yet another film in pre-production about former American president Abraham Lincoln. This follows the unique take on the 16th president Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and the upcoming Steven Spielberg biopic starring the hyphenated cast of Daniel Day-Lewis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt entitled Lincoln. The title of the new film is The Green Blade Rises and will be directed by Terrence Malick. In the past Malick has taken long gaps between his films but his schedule seems to be pretty busy for the next two or three years. It’ll be interesting to see whether the success of Spielberg’s Lincoln affects this new take positively or negatively, if even at all.

Daniel Day-Lewis as President Lincoln

As many people will know by now The Hobbit has been announced as a trilogy and there has been a release date and title change for the films. The first part, out later this year, will still be named An Unexpected Journey. The second instalment will be titled The Desolation of Smaug to be released around Christmas 2013 whilst the third and final (for now) chapter adopts the name There and Back Again (originally the title for the second film) and will hit summer 2014.

Michael Bay continued to ruin childhoods this past week. He managed to anger Transformers fans when he continued to make each film worse than the previous one and then angered Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans by deciding their new origin would be that they are aliens from another planet. Now the terrible explosion happy director has had to come out and deny that the leaked script for the new TMNT film is actually the final one because everyone who is anyone has been slating it and saying how awful it is. Michael Bay has a lot of work on his hands and is quickly becoming very very unpopular among movie fans and anyone with taste.

I actually enjoyed the most recent CGI outing of TMNT.

Finally, it has been in the pipeline for some time but it has now been announced that Metal Gear Solid, the hugely successful video game, is to be adapted into a film. Avi Arad, who has produced almost every single movie about a Marvel character, will be producing the film. Metal Gear Solid has already been integrated into a hilarious comedy routine by Dara O’Briain but will it be turned into a film just as good? The main problem is who should play main character Snake? Some of the names being touted around fan forums so far include Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Bradley Cooper and Sam Worthington. The favourite and specifically mentioned by the games creator Hideo Kojima seems to be Hugh Jackman. I think Jackman would be a great choice as he can clearly pull off being a bad ass like he has done in the X-Men films playing Wolverine. But if they are to get Jackman they need to start moving forward with the project soon before he gets too old.

Ted Reviewed.

It’s a strange career that Seth MacFarlane has had; he wrote for Cow and Chicken, Dexter’s Laboratory, Johnny Bravo; he’s appeared in Gilmore Girls and FlashForward, but it is his more adult animation that he is known for: Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show. Now Seth MacFarlane has released his first feature film to be written and directed by himself and he also voices the main character: Ted.

Ted is the story of a young boy’s teddy bear coming to life after a special Christmas wish is made. And if the storyline sounds right out of a children’s book the humour is completely grown up, grown up in the sense that it is for adults, not that it is mature. The boy who makes this wish is John Bennett, played by Mark Wahlberg who I had my doubts about when the film was released because he doesn’t seem like the usual go to guy for a comedy but he turns out to be a brilliant choice along with his co-star Mila Kunis who’s relationship with John originally gets in the way of John and Ted’s friendship. The supporting cast is full of people who made their names on sitcoms: Patrick Warburton, Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi and a cameo appearance from Ryan Reynolds. There is also a voice over in the wonderful tone of Seth MacFarlane’s unlikely friend Patrick Stewart.

The humour comes in all shapes and sizes; the verbal humour and the physical humour are equally as funny and Ted seems to find the right balance between the two. The conversations between Ted and the supermarket boss are comedy gold, although you might not know if you’re laughing because it’s funny or whether you’re laughing because what Ted is saying is completely outrageous…but as long as you’re laughing, does it really matter?

Basically, watching Ted is a bit like watching a 100 minute long episode of Family Guy. The jokes seem to always be in that vein and you wouldn’t be surprised if they had been used in the television show, there are a lot of references to popular culture figures and there are even a couple of cutaway scenes that Family Guy is famous for. All this is great… if you are a fan of Family Guy, but it isn’t very original if you just take your television show, change a couple of characters and put it on the big screen which is what watching Ted felt like. Luckily though, I really like Family Guy so I didn’t mind at all. Again, I love pop culture references but I think if you insist on making pop culture references then keep them limited or else you are at risk of alienating your audience if they don’t know what you’re on about and Ted had everything from Justin Bieber, Van Wilder, Brandon Routh, Aliens and a hell of a lot of Flash Gordon. There were a lot of jokes that fell dud because of the audience’s lack of knowledge about aspects of popular culture but there was just enough brilliant lines throughout the rest of the film to keep everyone laughing.

I am a big fan of Giovanni Ribisi and I’ve seen a lot of his work and I think he is very funny but I thought the whole storyline with him trying to kidnap Ted seemed a little bit thin and it wouldn’t have really mattered if that never took place. The storyline just existed to give a very cliche ending bringing John and his girlfriend back together and so Seth MacFarlane could make jokes at the expense of an overweight child (not complaining about the last bit, it was really funny!)

Ted is not for the faint hearted but if you like cure, close to the bone humour, then you’ll love it.

My Rating: 7/10.

Monsters (2010) Review.

Monsters is a sci-fi adventure film that takes place six years after Earth suffered an alien invasion thanks to a deep space probe crash landing in Mexico. A cynical journalist, Andrew Kaulder, agrees to escort the daughter of his boss, Samantha Wynden, through an infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the US border.

Monsters is a British film ‘written’, shot and directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able in the principal roles. The performances put in by these two is vital as they are the only real characters in the film. Monsters takes the two characters on a journey and their relationship grows throughout the hour and a half that the movie lasts and to make their relationship believable and in order to hold the audience’s attention the chemistry needs to be perfect. Fortunately, at the time of filming McNairy and Able were in a relationship (they are now married) and their chemistry really comes across when watching the film. Their back and forth dialogue and blossoming love story is a treat to watch and their performances are second to none, absolutely flawless in every way.

Monsters is gripping from start to finish.

The story that the film tells is a gripping one. Whilst being a sci-fi and the alien invasion being a huge plot point the aliens actually have a very insignificant role in the film. This was largely down to the minuscule budget but I think the lack of focus on the aliens really adds to the suspense and the fear created within the atmosphere of the film. Monsters is very much a character story and the lack of huge special effects really places the emphasis on the actors’ performances which make us, the audience, feel closer to the characters and places us as more intimate to their relationship.

A lot of what makes Monsters as good as it is is in the back story and behind the scenes of the film. As mentioned earlier, the two main actors were and are a couple so their chemistry was real. What’s more, the film was shot on such a small budget that there were only five members of the crew; all the extras in the movie were just people who happened to be at the location at the time as the whole film was shot on location with no permission asked in advance. It was largely ad-libbed and improvised with McNairy and Able being told the main points they had to mention in the scene but nothing else. The drama was filmed with store bought cameras and Edwards added all the special effects later on using software on his laptop.

Monsters is an absolute huge achievement for everyone involved and the hard work gone into making the film really comes across when watching. My attention was help throughout the film, Monsters was a tense, heart pumping film that gets the pulse racing as the drama unravels in a very natural way. We are made to feel as though we are part of that world and there is no higher praise for a director than that.

I think that, without a doubt, Monsters is a must see for fans of drama, romance, adventure and sci-fi. Whatever you like, give it a try.

My Rating: 9/10.

UK Release Date: 29th August 2012.

The Watch (previously known as Neighbourhood Watch) is an upcoming sci-fi comedy film following the lives of Evan, Bob, Franklin and Jamarcus who make up their town’s neighbourhood watch. They use the neighbourhood watch front as a way to get away from their families but they are forced into real action when they accidentally uncover an alien plot that threatens the world.

The Watch features some of the biggest and best names from comedy in recent years. Akiva Schaffer is the director and he has earned his trade primarily on Saturday Night Live where he has written and directed many of their famous sketches. The script for The Watch is written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the duo behind hits Superbad, The Green Hornet and the fantastic Pineapple Express. The cast brings together Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn, veterans of the comedy circuit; Jonah Hill who is currently churning out hit after hit and fast becoming hot property; and Richard Ayoade who is best known for his performance as Maurice Moss in The IT Crowd.

The trailer, I think, looks great! I haven’t been impressed with much of Stiller or Vaughn recently with films such as Little Fockers and The Dilemma coming out in recent years but they both look good in this trailer. Jonah Hill will no doubt be a highlight and his comedy turns in the trailer really highlight his talent and sense of humour.

The premise has the potential for great comedy already; bringing together four guys who just want to stay away from their families for a bit only to end up trying to save the world from an alien invasion is something that should write the comedy itself and with such an experienced cast it should be done easily. The comedy in this red band trailer is very much based on sexual humour and things usually seen as disgusting but these are the things that make majority audiences laugh and it is this that people want to see.

I’m not a huge fan of comedy films usually but this is one that I will be looking forward to!

‘The Host’ Trailer

UK Release Date: 29th March 2013.

This is the first trailer of The Host, based on the novel by best selling author Stephanie Meyer, who also wrote the Twilight series of books that have dominated teen cinema for the last couple of years.

The plot is a lot different to Twilight, instead of vampires we now have aliens. Alien beings from another planet have invaded the earth and have begun to take over the bodies and minds of humans. Melanie Stryder’s body has been inhabited by one of the “souls” named Wanderer, but she refuses to fade away.

The film is being led by Saoirse Ronan, a young and upcoming actress who has received critical acclaim over and over again for her performances in Atonement, The Lovely Bones and Hanna. So the casting of Ronan in Stephanie Meyer’s latest adaptation is surely set to guarantee big box office takings.

Of course, this is only a teaser trailer and it does well to get the story of the film across. The images of the eye over and over again, as being the key to human soul, really add to the effect of human bodies being taken over by these aliens. I’m not too sure about the use of a series of stills of people who have all been inhabited as it just comes across as a little sloppy, but then again, there isn’t going to be any footage they can turn into a trailer at such an early stage so perhaps it was the best option.

The trailer may not get new fans too excited for the film but as for people who have read the book, I think they will be very excited at the prospect of this.

So it seems as though Michael Bay is on a one man mission to destroy the childhood of millions. First, he enraged a large majority of Transformers fans with his franchise that consisted mainly of blowing things up and now he has incurred the wrath of millions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans with his latest announcement.

At the annual Nickelodeon presentation producer Michael Bay said of the loveable Turtles in their new film: “These turtles are from an alien race, and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely loveable.”

Aliens?! The heroes in a half-shell are not aliens, they are mutants: Teenage MUTANT Ninja Turtles.

Seriously, what is Michael Bay’s problem?

I was looking forward to this film before the latest announcement. Changing the origin changes the whole story of the Turtles and the millions of people who grew up loving the green heroes tutored by a rat are set to be disappointed. And speaking of the mentor rat, Splinter, is he a mutant rat or another alien? Absolutely ridiculous!

This Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle film has been slated for a Christmas 2013 release.

The Turtles' last film outing was an enjoyable CGI adventure back in 2007.

UK Release Date: 20th April 2012.

Iron Sky is a science fiction comedy war film (packing in the genres). Set in the year 2018, it tells a story of German Nazis who, after being defeated in World War II, fled to the moon. Here, they built a space fleet and prepared to return to Earth and conquer it as they tried to before. The events of Iron Sky is what happens when the Nazis try that.

Iron Sky doesn’t feature any actors/actresses that mainstream film viewers will be familiar with. The names attached to this project include Julia Dietze, Gotz Otto, Christopher Kirby and Tilo Pruckner.

The synopsis seems ridiculous, of course it does. But here we have a film that does not take itself too seriously and never intends to, that much is obvious by giving the Nazis the line “we come in peace”. The trailer is very cleverly made, in my opinion, as it opens much the same as alien invasion science fiction films before revealing the ‘aliens’ in fact to be Nazis from the moon. It sounds so wrong, but the trailer looks so right.

The comedy elements in the trailer work well, the action scenes look good, the special effects look really good and the trailer on a whole really sells the film well. Iron Sky will not be getting a wide release and has not really been publicised at all, but I think it could turn out to be a very good film indeed.

UK Release Date: 25th May 2012

Here we have one of the films that has split opinion through the film world: some see Men in Black 3 as one of the most anticipated films of the year, set to be one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters. Others see it as a huge risk because of the time elapsed between the second instalment and this one (ten years) and because the second film was such a flop.

Men in Black 3 reunites Agent J and K (Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones) in their mission to rid Earth of evil aliens. One day J wakes up to discover that K is dead… and has been for over 40 years. This forces J to quite literally jump back in time and team up with a younger Agent K (Josh Brolin) to stop him from being killed. After teaming up with young Agent K, J discovered that there are even more secrets to the universe than even he has seen during his time as part of the Men in Black.

I think this film looks a lot better than Men in Black 2. Will Smith seems to look back to his best, slicing together action and comedy. He’s been away from our screens for three and a half years so there must have been something good in the script to tempt him back to the big screen. They’ve also done some brilliant casting in the form of Josh Brolin who can do an uncanny impression of Tommy Lee Jones which will hopefully make the transition of older to younger K more believable.

The trailer treats us to a lot of new aliens and new gadgets; giving a sense of the modern headquarters of MIB and the 60s version too. The film will rely a lot on how they deal with the time travel aspect and the alternate reality angle but ultimately it is Will Smith that grabs the attention of the audience and he will do the same here. The special effects look great, I wouldn’t expect anything less from the MIB franchise, and the film should hopefully bring about a great ending to the trilogy.