Friday, May 29, 2009

Sci-Fi Movies That Influenced Me, The 90's

Continuing with my award winning discussion of Science fiction films that influenced me, I delve now into the 90's—the age of CG. And please note that while these movies did 'influence' me, they are by not all what I would call 'good'. But then, bad movies can be influential, too (and fun). So without further ado.. here we go!

Predator 2
This was one of those instances where the sequel actually wasn't a stinker.  I don't think it was as cool as the original, but it wasn't bad. I liked the dark-near-future setting, too—and the inclusion of Bill Paxton. Yeah. He had a tiny, goofy part, but Hudson- err, Bill cracks me up. I also loved the inclusion of the Alien head in the trophy room on the Predator's ship—linking the two mythos (though in retrospect, the AVP movies have been pretty crappy, so maybe this wasn't such a good thing).

This sequel was kind of a stinker. A hyper-violent stinker, but a stinker. Still, the special effects were okay, and the final fight with RoboCop-2 was kind of cool. I also loved the corrupt corporation guys. Man, the 'old man' was evil.

Total Recall
Get your ass to Mars! Heck yeah. This is a solid sci-fi movie with (for its time) some ground-breaking special effects. The story premise was awesome, too—making you wonder whether or not the whole thing was just in the head of the 'hero'. Though the movie got a lot of flak for its bodycount, it never really stood out to me as being any worse than its contemporaries. As far as a Star Wars conversion goes—it would be awesome to have a PC brainwashed and have to figure things out. Though, it would be a bit difficult to work into a 'standard' campaign.

The Rocketeer
As I've said before, I love the 'pulp' era of adventure, between WWI and WWII. I always liked to think that the Rocketeer existed in the same universe as the Mummy movies and Indiana Jones. I liked the hero in this, LOVED the villain (Timothy Dalton) and Jennifer Connoly looked great. What's not to like!? Loved the whole scene where the Gangsters teamed up with the FBI to fight the nazis. Awesome! So what if it doesn't really translate into Star Wars.

Star Trek VI
Admittedly, after Star Trek V, just about anything would be an improvement. But this was a good, solid movie. It had good old Klingon enemies, political intrigue, hot alien chicks and space-ship battles. Plus? Captain Sulu was pretty damn cool. The ending seemed a bit too stilted for me (what with all the posing as everyone applauded) but really? It was a great send-off for the original cast. Would make a fun Star Wars adventure, too—maybe the Republic is finally making peace with some old enemy—an imperial faction? Some antagonistic alien species? And someone on both sides tries to sabotage it. Could be fun.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day
In a decade of sequels, T2 is probably the best of the lot. In fact, it is one of the few sequels that I liked as much as the original. The special effects were great, and I felt that they really did justice to the characters and story presented in the first movie. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the fact that the same director was involved. Of course it helped that the director in question was James Cameron, who is great at what he does. Or.. was before he went nuts with his underwater fixation. 

Split Second
This was not a good movie, but I had a great time watching it—mainly because I associate it with gaming, and specifically with Doyce. Of all my friends, Doyce was the most 'adventurous' when it came to movie-watching. It was through him that I was introduced to a hell of a lot of really bad movies—and quite a few more that I wound up loving (Army of Darkness, Much Ado About Nothing, etc.). This movie (essentially an Alien/Predator critter loose in the sewers of a dark-future, flooded London) stands out to be mainly because of the line of the sidekick character. It happens right after he and the hero encounter the monster and discover it is impervious to most weapons—they head back to police HQ and raid the armory, with the sidekick muttering to himself over and over. "Must get bigger guns, must get bigger guns". Yes, I know its a rip-off of the Jaws "Must get bigger boat" line, but it still made me laugh.

Demolition Man
I don't particularly like Stallone, and I don't particularly like this movie—I found it way too corny and hard to believe that the entire world could change so completely in like.. what 50? 60 years? But that aside, Sandra Bullock looked good. Oh, and the running gag with getting fined for swearing was pretty funny.

Jurassic Park
As much as I loved dinosaurs as a kid, I am glad this movie wasn't out when I was young—or it would have seriously messed me up. The dinos in this movie were scary as hell and the CG used to realize them was truly incredible. It was the first time in a movie where I nodded to myself and said: "Yeah, they finally reached 'that' point." As an adventure in Star Wars this would work well with the whole 'theme park run amok' idea—i.e., mix it in with the 'Westworld' scenario. One part of the park has rampaging robots, another has rampaging giant beasts (Rancors, Krayt Dragons, etc.)

A good, solid Sci-Fi movie, though one that probably had a lot less impact than the TV series(s) it spawned. I loved the whole 'Egyptian Gods as Aliens' theme, though I was a bit disappointed with the final battle of the film. It was like...the bad guys only had one or two attack ships? That's it? Plus, the whole tactic of "oh no, we're under air attack! quick! bunch together in the middle of an open area". Not a great idea. But then, the good guys WERE being lead by Airforce guys...

Judge Dredd
Another movie that just wasn't good. The only parts I enjoyed of it were the special effects/setting (I loved the look of MegaCity One) and Diane Lane. She looked really good in this. But then, she usually looks pretty good. And no, not ALL my film-watching criteria is based around how good the female lead looks.. just.. most of it.

...speaking of female leads...Natasha Henstridge. I usually don't go in for blondes, but I might make an exception in her case. The whole...prehensile nipple thing is a bit of a turnoff-though. As is her tendency to kill after mating. I wanted to like this movie a lot more than I actually did. At the time, I was really getting into the Dark Conspiracy setting (not the game system, just the setting of a dark future plagued with supernatural horrors). This seemed to be a movie that fit the genre perfectly. Unfortunately, it just fell a little flat to me. It would make a workable Star Wars adventure, but as with many 'alien' movies, it loses some of its punch because aliens just aren't that shocking in a universe where you deal with them on a daily basis.

Escape from L.A.
The first 'Escape From...' movie was no masterpiece. This one? Well, its...crap. From story to execution to special effects, it just isn't good. About the only reason I enjoyed watching this was to see Kurt Russel as Snake Plissken. Again, the concept is interesting enough—fitting with my like of an apocalyptic world. The ending had a nice twist, too (though after the first movie, you had to be expecting that). 

Independence Day
Yeah yeah. It's a little hokey (or maybe a lot hokey). And okay, maybe it's just a re-working of war of the worlds, only with a computer virus instead of a biological one. But I enjoyed the hell out of this movie when it came out. I went into the theatre with low expectations, hoping for an entertaining action/disaster/war movie and that is exactly what I got. It delivered and then some—and it didn't skimp! So many 'end of the world' movies simply gloss over the destruction—maybe show you a few old newspaper covers or a brief montage—but not ID4! You get  city-wide devastation and titanic air-battles. Good stuff.

The Fifth Element
This movie totally caught me by surprise. I saw the ads for it on TV, but it looked too weird for my tastes so I never saw it in the theater. When I saw it on cable, though, I was very pleasantly surprised. It WAS weird, but (surprisingly) good! And funny! As annoying as he was, I loved Chris Tucker's 'Ruby Rod' character and Bruce Willis had a lot of memorable lines, including my favorite "Anyone else wanna negotiate?" I never have been (and am still not) a big fan of Milla Jovovitch, though, and to me, her 'accent/language' came off as a bit annoying. But still, liked this movie a lot and I found it especially amusing that the hero and the villain never actually meet.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Another sequel in the decade of sequels. And this one was a huge disappointment. Yeah. Loved the special effects (again) but the story was nowhere near as good as the first movie. Plus there was the whole greenpeace overtone that just wound up pissing me off. So the greenpeace guy sabotages the rifle of the big game hunter. The guy who is (after the shit hits the fan) trying to protect everyone else's life. And because of that sabotage, several people are eaten alive. So wait.. who am I supposed to be rooting for? the Greenpeace guy? Frak that. Ass. I was hoping he'd get eaten. I was SO glad the big game hunter survived, and I was so hoping he would at least knock the crap out of greenpeace man, if not just shoot him. Alas. No such luck. The whole T-Rex rampaging through the city was a little interesting, though its method of arrival was...retarded to the extreme. How the HELL did a T-Rex get loose on a ship and manage to kill the entire crew. It couldn't fit into the tiny corridors of the ship. So sure, maybe it managed somehow to eat a few guys on deck, but the rest would likely run in side. But no, it managed to kill everyone and THEN somehow managed to lock itself back in the hold. Whuuuu?

Men in Black
This was a fun little comedy with entertaining visual effects. Loved the whole 'training montage' with the agent hopefuls and Will Smith's character explaining why he shot the silhouette of the little girl holding the 'Advanced Physics' book. Fun stuff.

Starship Troopers
While it probably pissed off a lot of fans of the book, I enjoyed the spectacle this movie presented. The battles with the Arachnids were fun and scary to watch—and surprisingly 'realistic'. I mean, as far as CG goes, they did a pretty good job. I also remember being a bit shocked by the level of violence. Never saw so much dismemberment in a movie before or since. As far as acting and story goes, however, this movie was pretty much crap. The bugs would make an interesting alien menace in the Star Wars galaxy, though they are perhaps a bit too 'dark' (i.e. violent) an enemy for such a PG style setting. Oh, and p.s. It was fun to see Doogie Hauser all dressed up as a Gestapo Mentalist Officer.

Deep Rising
Another movie that flew beneath my radar until I caught it on lat night cable. It was a surprisingly well done (if over the top) little monster movie with a rather original plot. An entire ocean-liner attacked by sea-monsters and then boarded by would-be hijackers—who find out that the monsters are still onboard. It was a great twist at the end to reveal that the 'monsters' are in fact just tentacles of one HUGE monster (sorry if this is a spoiler). Treat Williams is the hero of the movie. A bit of a strange choice, I thought, but I get the feeling this wasn't exactly a blockbuster in terms of money involved. Stephen Summers was the director. I loved his Mummy movies and I can see his touch in this—unfortunately, I can also see his tendency to go a bit overboard. And what was with those gatling machineguns the bad guys had? They kind of looked cool, but...why?

I was really looking forward to a big budget, CG remake of the classic giant monster movie. The ad campaign for this was great—with those signs about 'his foot is this big' and stuff to give you an idea of the real scale of the monster. The fact that the ID4 guys were in charge actually made me think this might be good. Unfortunately, it was not good. Whereas in ID4, we are shown a true spectacle of battles, here it seems that there are just two guys in charge of the entire military involved in hunting Godzilla down—a Sergeant and a junior officer? And the SERGEANT is the one always giving the orders. What? Plus, the military just seems stupid. You have to look no further than the scene with the Apache being chased by Godzilla and the pilot screaming "I can't shake him!" I was thinking to myself. "Go up. You know.. fly.. up? That direction that is 'away' from the big lizard? The direction he can't really follow any further?". So, meh. This kind of silliness just ruined the movie for me. Still, though, giant monster on the loose in Coruscant? Still sounds like fun.

Lost in Space
I was never a fan of the original series. It always seemed too hokey and 'kiddie' for me. And Doctor Smith? GAH! Could he be more annoying? I think that Family Guy really had this right when they parodied the series: "Everyone, split up! Will, why don't you go off alone with this mincing pedophile." Still, the robot became something of a cultural Icon, as did his 'Danger Will Robinson' line. This remake was just not good. And for such a light-hearted 'family' style series, the movie was just plain dark and disturbing (the line where Future Will recalls hearing the screams of his mother and sisters as they're torn apart by alien bugs.. wtf? Yeah, that won't give kids nightmares). So I think the writers of the movie were trying to have their cake and eat it, too—include kids to make it fun and adventurous! Then  have scary adult stuff happening, too. It just didn't work. Oh, and the CG was horrible—especially the annoying space-monkey creature they picked up. Ugh.

I actually saw this movie in the theater. I wasn't particularly enthusiastic about it—just wanted to go out to a movie with friends, so we did. And this didn't disappoint. Turned out to be a very minimalist movie, dialogue wise—and that was interesting. I love Kurt Russel as an actor, and he was great in this. Yeah, maybe the bad guys were a bit too dumb, but it was enjoyable enough. It doesn't seem to be directly translatable into Star Wars, but it could make a cool adventure for a team of explorers who wind up (crash?) on a junk planet and find it inhabited—only to have to defend it from a sudden arrival of Imperial troops. Not quite the same story, but interesting anyway.

Deep Blue Sea
This is more of a monster movie than a sci-fi movie, but I guess when the Sharks are genetically altered, it crosses the line. Special effects were suitably gory and the scene with Samuel L. Jackson's survival pep talk was memorable (heh— he is almost finished with his inspirational 'we are going to get out of here' speech when he is suddenly devoured). But it wasn't entirely unexpected for me. The whole time he was standing near the giant pool of water, I was thinking to myself. "Uh.. dude.. you might want to.. take a few steps...". It did have more interesting twists though—the sexy scientist woman dies. Not typical for the lead heroine to buy it. The black cook lives! That was surprising, considering the fact that black guys in monster movies almost ALWAYS get killed. I especially liked the cook's comment at the end of the movie—as the hero lies exhausted on the dock with one leg dangling in the water: "How many sharks were there?" "Three." The cook looks at his leg in the water and presses. "You sure about that?" The hero looks back, then lifts his leg out of the water. Heh. Good stuff.

Galaxy Quest
A truly awesome movie, parodying Star Trek. I was a little skeptical when I first heard of this movie, but it really surpassed anything I had hoped for. And man does it have memorable lines—I find myself quoting this movie all the time! "I see you managed to get your shirt off..." "Quick, lets leave before one of those things kills Guy!" and of course "Just straight on through the Chompers..." Yeah, this is a true modern comedy classic.

The Iron Giant
A surprisingly good little movie about a giant robot and the boy who befriends him. Again, the first ads for this movie left me feeling like it was going to be too 'cutesy', but it was actually really well done. I loved the play on 50's anti-commie propaganda as well as the comic-book angle they played up with 'superman'. Good stuff.

The Matrix
When viewed alone, I actually liked this movie. When viewed in the context of the other two movies...ugh. I can barely stand it. I loved the idea of the virtual world juxtaposed with the real—and being able to have what amount to 'super powers' in the virtual. The special effects were fun and original—because we'd never seen people running on the walls and ceiling before. But man, did that get old in the sequels. I also began to question the premise of the 'saga' the deeper we delved into it, to the point where now I have a problem with it. So the machines were unable to come up with ANY other source of energy other than people, because they used to be powered by solar energy. What.. they never heard of nuclear energy? or wind...or geothermal, or hydroelectric... or anything that wasn't likely to rise up against them and destroy them later? Give me a break. I also found the machines to be horribly inefficient. Their 'squids' attack humans by mangling them with their claws? They don't have guns? Explosives? They have lasers they can use to cut through metal.. but none with which to shoot? It just didn't make sense. All that having been said, I think the idea of a matrix-like adventure for Star Wars would be interesting—a team of agents is 'plugged in' to an infected computer system and must battle within that virtual environment. Could be fun.

This is a nice twist on the typical 'alien on a ship' plot—since the ship is an actual sea-going vessel instead of a spaceship and the alien is essentially a computer virus (hence the name). I was surprised by the relatively big name stars they got for this: Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Sutherland. Overall, it was a solid enough movie, with a memorable and original villain—see, the virus constructs a body for itself and its minions out of bits of technology and human flesh (ugh). It would make a pretty good Star Wars adventure, though its pretty dark.

Wing Commander
This is another movie I wanted to like more than I did. I never really played the video game this was based on, so the only preconceptions I had about it were: Big ships and fighter battles in space. That sounds cool. But the execution left something to be desired—especially the acting. The capital ships were pretty interesting in their designs, but most of the fighters just looked plain goofy—so right there, some of the coolness factor was taken away. I liked the anachronism of 'loading torpedo tubes' and all that on the big ships, but.. when fired, they actually flare exhaust into the ship? Ummm.. okay. Overall, it was forgettable and 'meh'. 

No comments:

Post a Comment