Feb 262012
 

Director:  Thom Eberhardt

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 95 minutes

Release Date: 11/16/1984

Genre:  Comedy, Science Fiction, Horror

Cast: Regina ‘Reggie’ Belmont (Catherine Mary Stewart), Samantha ‘Sam’ Belmont (Kelli Maroney), Hector Gomez (Robert Beltran), Audrey White (Mary Wornov), Dr. Carter (Geoffrey Lewis)

Synopsis: In this nearly forgotten 1984 flim, two sisters, Reggie (Catherine Mary Stewart) and Sam (Kelli Maroney) wake up the morning after a much hyped comet has passed over earth.  They find that they are among the few survivors in Los Angeles, and almost everyone else has been turned into red dust or are murderous but disintegrating zombies due to strange radiation emmenating from the comet.

Quickly shrugging off the death of everyone they know, Sam and Reggie have fun in the deserted city by getting expensive clothes and driving fast cars and find survivors.  Another survivor, Hector Gomez (Robert Beltran), meets them a unmanned but automated radio station and despite initial distrust they band together.  Another group of survivors, former stockboys at a department store, are not as friendly and Sam and Reggie barely get away from them.  Luckily the girls know how to use firearems and are now packing some  serious heat and are able to outgun the opposition.

Later, they encounter a group of scientists led by Dr. Carter (Geoffrey Lewis).  After some trickery,  Reggie is taken back to the scientists’ base while Sam and scientist Audrey White (Mary Wornov) wait for Hector to meet up with them.  Audrey tells them that the scientists were exposed to the comet radiation and are performing dangerous experiments on survivors to help find a cure and that Reggie is in danger.

While Reggie is being menaced by a degenerating Dr. Carter, Sam and Hector break into the facility.  After much chaos and shooting,  Sam and Hector rescue Reggie and two kids, and in a spectacular explosion, kill all of the rest of the scientists.

Since all threats have been removed they throw their weapons away in a trash can.  Reggie,  Hector and the kids  have become the last nuclear family on earth, but Sam is alone.  As they are crossing a street, Sam is almost hit by a fast car driven by the only other living man and they drive off into the sunset!

Pro: I loved this movie, when I first saw it in 1984, I thought that all Reggie and Sam were really cool, that the special effects were awesome and the story written by the smartest writers in the world.  Since then, I have ended up seeing it about once every 5 years.  My opinion of it has changed during that time.  I still really like it, but I see it more as a time capsule from 1984 and when I want to explain 1984, I show people this movie because;

  • I think that the comet reflects the fear of nuclear weapons and that everything could be destroyed in an instant.  The comet even killed with radiation and the surviving victims were falling apart like those hit by a real bomb.
  • Contains a music montage consisting of Cyndi Lauper’s, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” while Reggie and Sam are trying on clothes.
  • Reggie’s obsession with the arcade game Tempest and anger at someone else taking the top spot on the scoreboard.
  • Geoffrey Lewis being in it, because I think that he was in most films from the early 1980s.

Con: I already mentioned that even though I thought it was the greatest film ever, but it has some major flaws;

  • The dialogue is horrible in general.
  • Some of the special effects are not top notch, even by the standards of the day.  In particular, I’d say they did a really bad job with the funky looking skies.
  • The fact that the survivors were safe because the happened to be inside metal structures with no special air system, but the fact that the scientists happened to have the windows open they were doomed seems a bit of a stretch of the imagination.

Conclusion: Night of the Comet is pretty typical of 1980s horror, but I think that it does things better than most of the genre.  Even though it is rarely on tv, this is one of my guilty pleasures, and I will watch it every time!

Bonus Trivia: Geoffrey Lewis is the father of Juliette Lewis and also, in 2005, Geoffrey Lewis and Mary Woronov both appear in the Rob Zombie movie, The Devil’s Rejects

 

Frank’s Ratings

(1-5)

Characters 3
Story 2
Special Effects 2
Would Watch Again? 4
Average 2.75
Feb 252012
 

Director:  Zack Snyder

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 110 minutes

Release Date: 3/25/2011

Genre:  Action Adventure

Cast: Babydoll(Emily Browning), Amber(Jamie Chung), Sweet Pea(Abby Cornish), Blondie(Vanessa Hudgens), Rocket(Jenna Malone), Stepfather(Gerard Plunkett), Dr Gorsky (Carla Garski), Blue Jones(Oscar Isaac), High Roller/Doctor(John Hamm),  and Wise Man(Scott Glenn)

Synopsis:  Sucker Punch begins with a 20 year old girl,Babydoll(Emily Browning), struggling with her abusive stepfather(Gerard Plunkett) and her sister accidentally being killed.  Fearing he will be implicated in the murder and past abuse will be uncovered, her stepfather takes her to a mental hospital to be locked up and he bribes a crooked orderly, Blue Jones(Oscar Isaac), to put her on the fast track to getting a lobotomy. Babydoll soon realizes that she must escape the hospital and enlists the help of other inmates, but then has a break with reality and imagines that she and Amber(Jamie Chung), Sweet Pea ( Abby Cornish), Blondie(Vanessa Hudgens), and Rocket(Jenna Malone) are all dancers in a brothel.

Each time that Babydoll must dance in the brothel she halucinates another reality  Initially, she imagines that she is in a Japanese temple where she is  given weapons and quest to find five items by the Wise Man(Scott Glenn) and then she fights 3 demonic giant Samurai.  After she defeats the Samurai, she is transported back to the Brothel and everyone is impressed with the dance she just completed.  She has several more episodes that include; zombies, dragons, and defusing bombs, each one more vivid and stylized than the last, reminding the viewer that the director, Zack Snyder, also directed 300 and Watchmen.

Once she finally gets all of the needed objects, she is able to attempt her escape along with Sweat Pea.  Both may be able to escape, but it might not be how the view expects.

Pro:  Sucker Punch is a very visually impressive movie and the soundtrack is pretty good too.  The best parts were;

  • The first fight against the giant Samurai golems accented by the remix of Bjork’s “Army of Me” and the impressive sight of the temple being knocked down.
  • The WWI flashback scene reminded me of a combination of the old pc game Crimson Skies with a healthy dose of steampunk and zombies thrown in and included a great remix of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”.
  • Jenna Malone was good in the movie Saved! and I think she was also one of the better actresses in this film.

Con: I think that while the movie was nice to look at and had great music it was lacking in plot and more like a disconnected series of music videos.  It did not go into great detail explaining why Babydoll was having all of the hallucinations and why she was having hallucinations within her hallucinations.  I would have also liked some more details of her life before the movie starts.

It was also strange that they never really showed Babydoll dancing, she would always shift into a deeper fantasy when the dances went beyond undulating. Then she was just shooting monsters for a bit and then back to the brothel world where everyone was amazed with her dancing ability.

Conclusion: When I saw the tv commercials for this film I was really excited to see it because it looked like a really good fantasy-adventure, but once I saw the movie I was disappointed with it.  I thought that it could have done without the brothel aspects of the movie, not because it was dirty too sexy, but because they were boring and took away from the action aspects of the film.  The movie was trying to convey some sort of grand message in the end, but I really couldn’t find it and I wouldn’t recommend this movie and would not watch it again,  but I might buy the soundtrack!

 

Frank’s Ratings

(1-5)

Characters 2
Story 2
Special Effects 4
Would Watch Again? 1
Average 2.5
Feb 232012
 

Director:  Jonathan Liebsman

Rating:  PG-13

Running Time: 1hr 56 m

Release Date: 3/11/11

Genre:  Science Fiction

Cast:  SSgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart),USMC 2ndLt. William Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez), USMC Cpl. Lee “Cowboy” (Imlay Will Rothhaar),USMC Cpl. Jason “Cocheez” Lockett (Cory Hardrict) ,USMC LCpl. Peter J. “Irish” Kerns (Jim Parrack) ,USMC Cpl. Nick C. “Stavs” Stavrou (Gino Anthony Pesi) ,USAF TSgt. Elena Santos (Michelle Rodriguez)

When a freak meteor storm turns into a full blown alien invasion,  retiring SSgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) must  help a newly placed officer, 2nd Lt. William Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez) fight the aliens with the marines of  1st Platoon. They must protect civilians and find a way to defeat the Alien menace.  Along the way they pick up new tactics and get the help of some National Guardsmen and USAF TSgt. Elena Santos (Michelle Rodriguez).

The film does a good job at showing the chaos and total destruction an alien invasion would bring upon a densely populated city like LA.  It had great special effects showing the unique alien artillery and the first time people see the aliens coming out of the ocean. I also really liked the way that 2ndLt, Martinez looses his cool at one point and the veteran SSgt. Nantz must bring him back to reality and focus on keeping his men alive.

The way that the alien aircraft flew is also really unique.  They were non-aerodynamic heavy objects that were constantly almost falling, but a thruster would fire to counteract gravity’s pull and the all of the thrusters firing sounded like a high performance race car’s engine. It made the invaders seem like they weren’t so far ahead of us technologically after all.  I wonder if they writers wanted to show how the US military would handle and enemy that was as advanced over them as the US is over other places they have fought recently.  When confronted with more advanced technology, the Marines had to take a less straight forward stance and relied more on things like hiding and even  a suicide bomber.

At times the film was like a video game and the characterization was not very strong.  I had a hard time telling individual Marine’s apart. That might have to do with the uniforms and military speech, but usually I don’t have this problem with other military oriented films.

I had a few nit-picky issues with the film.  At one point there was a four legged mortar/missile  robot, and it seemed a bit pointless.  The thing took so long to fire and was so random with the things it shot at.  I don’t think it would have lasted long in real live, but I guess it looked pretty cool when it fired.  In so many movies with Aliens, the aliens take a basic humanoid shape with a head, 2 arms, and 2 legs and to me it just seems that the chances of this would not be very likely if they developed on an alien planet.  Even though the aliens have some sort of strange non humanoid biology, like a mashed up squid, they still are pretty much humanoid when they are wearing their battle gear.  That doesn’t make much sense to me.  There is also a scene where the Marines are riding in a huge bus and it takes forever for them to get attacked even though they are the only thing driving around for miles and they were just previously surrounded by aliens.  I just don’t find that plausible.

“Battle: Los Angeles” is an ok film with a few memorable scenes, but there were some problems with the portrayal of the aliens and there was very little memorable dialogue.  I would recommend this film if you don’t have anything better to watch and don’t have any 1st person shooters to play.

 

Frank’s Ratings

(1-5)

Characters 2
Story 3
Special Effects 4
Would Watch Again? 2
Average 2.75