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Great Scenes – DISTRICT 9

district 9

Continuing with our Exploding Heads series, we bring you 2009’s District 9, Neill Blomkamp‘s go-for-broke big-screen debut. When people die in this film, they die horribly – limbs flying hither and tither, aliens popping like balloons, and yes indeed – heads exploding. More than once. In case you haven’t seen the film here’s the plot in a nutshell: aliens (known locally as ‘Prawns’) have landed on Earth – South Africa to be exact – and they are in poor shape. We humans have set aside ‘districts’ to keep them in order, or better yet away from us. With that Apartheid vibe locked firmly in place we have our particular exploding head scene, as Poor Wikus Van De Merwe (played masterfully by Sharlto Copley) is tasked to relocate the ‘Prawns,’ from one district to another. He learns rather quickly this will be no easy task, and to complicate matters, he himself is slowly becoming a Prawn, thanks to Alien “black goo” (Take that Prometheus)! (moral of both stories: don’t touch alien stuff). To further complicate matters, some superstitious human locals believe that by eating his newly formed Prawn arm they will gain magical powers. Crazy, right? Seconds away from having his arm eaten, Wikus needs a miracle. And it comes in the form of some new-found Prawn friends, and the human tendency to stockpile weapons, even if they can only be operated by aliens. Yay! Human greed comes to Wikus’ rescue! Enjoy the mech madness – the head pop comes at the 1:05 mark.

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July 3, 2012   No Comments

It’s a 3-way! The IOC takes on – PROMETHEUS

Well it finally came, and it finally went- one of the more anticipated of the summer tent-poles, the much anticipated return of director Ridley Scott to the Alien franchise (and the sci-fi/horror genre which put him on the map)- 2012’s Prometheus. Isle Of Cinema scribes Amber Wilson & Rockie Juarez attended the midnight showing at Alamo Drafthouse, seeing it in 3-D, while Boaz Dror watched it a week later, in that other, “lesser” D. Here the three of them take on the originator’s return to the cosmos populated by those iconic H.R. Giger baddies.

AMBER - I’m going to start by mentioning Terry Gilliam – a director with insurmountable creativity who doesn’t always follow through in his execution, and whose films can be something of a mess. To my mind Ridley Scott is the polar opposite – a director whose execution is flawless, but whose work I sometimes find lacking in creativity. And though it’s no Robin Hood or Body of Lies, Prometheus suffers from this lack of creative spark – falling somewhere between those two films in the director’s canon – the execution amazing, the cinematography & the 3D stunning. And despite having a story with themes that are not altogether original (faith vs science, technology vs man, etc.), it doesn’t detract from the experience of watching this film. I was simultaneously disturbed and riveted by this movie- most of the creatures resemble genitalia (a common element in sci-fi movies nowadays) and I almost squirmed down to the floor to hide under my seat several times (this is DEFINITELY a body movie). I must say the performances are fantastic: Michael Fassbender is reliably phenomenal as the android David, Idris Elba is… just so cool, and Noomi Rapace is my new favorite bad-ass survivor chick. I don’t want to spoil anything about the plot – I know it’s flawed, and the reason for many negative reviews – but GO SEE IT ANYWAYS. IN 3-D. WITH A DROOL CUP FOR WHEN FASSBENDER MAKES YOU GIDDY. Simply stated, Prometheus is engrossing as all get out, its world is worth exploring (both metaphorically and literally), and it has actors you (should) like. So take your girlfriends and watch ‘em squirm!

ROCKIE – Ridley Scott returning to sci-fi is a huge deal. Unfortunately for the world he’s been decades away from the genre, lost in a land of swords and sandals, horses and crossbows, and bodies of lies. Fans have damn near yearned themselves silly for a glimpse of the dark, multi-layered futures that put him on the map. So naturally poor Prometheus has a truly tall mountain to climb; that of our pent-up expectations. The one two punch that is Alien and Blade Runner have left people woozy, more to the point, inspired for decades. How do you top that? Simply put: you don’t. Scott and this polished slab of sci-fi horror aren’t really out to do that – this film is designed to keep the xenomorph saga mysterious by stacking on two questions on every one it answers. And though it’ll frustrate most, this trait is actually what I found the most stimulating about Prometheus. While this film is loaded with all the best bits of an ‘Alien’ ride (incredible spaceships, horrible situation, tough female lead, suspect android, slimy squiddy creepy crawlers, etc.), it still manages to keep tons of its lore secret. For that alone I applaud it. Prometheus is my favorite kind of story: the one where you dig too deep and unearth the worst results. Like the Cloverfield monster or the Balrog before it, it’s about the horrors you unearth that threaten not only your own survival but also that of millions of others. It’s in no way a flawless picture, or the culmination of all things science-fiction that we hoped for, but it is a badass piece of rated-R creature-feature, meant to make you writhe in your seats in a summer of superheroes. The 3-D works, smooth and subtle throughout, and adds to the intensity of every scene. But either way – in 2d or 3d – it gets my recommendation!

BOAZ - Like The Phantom Menace, Prometheus suffers from the fact that it was a surefire $100 million-grosser, no matter how good it was or wasn’t going to be. There’s simply no way we (sci-fi nerds) weren’t lining up like lemmings to see this movie. But the sad thing is that with a little more effort it could’ve been great – because even with all its many faults it remains beautiful and spectacular – a testament to Ridley Scott’s direction. So why isn’t it great – or even good for that matter? Simple. There are just too many ideas in this movie, none of them ever forming a recognizable, unified whole. Face-huggers have been supplanted by new fandangled “mouth tunnelers” for no real good reason and new mythologies have been caked over the old mythology, not to elaborate or improve but simply to compete for attention. The movie opens sublimely enough, with a beautiful “Alien Martyrdom” scene you’d expect to see in a 70’s Heavy Metal magazine, but then takes a nosedive with unnecessary subplots, unsympathetic characters bordering on the unlikeable, and a WTF? scene in which our suddenly 3-month pregnant lead performs a Caesarian on herself, only to then run around for the rest of the movie (after tearing through all the muscles in her abdomen). This is preceded by some surprisingly lazy exposition in which her scientist boyfriend insults her by conveniently forgetting she’s infertile (his line something akin to “these aliens are so not-infertile”), and this awkward two-step is an early guffaw the film never really overcomes. And don’t get me started on the black goo – the Midi-Chlorians of the Alien franchise – a pointless reach for some Kubrickian 2001- like importance that falls flat. Did I enjoy it? Begrudgingly – I enjoy all of Ridley Scott’s films for their sheer beauty and visual virtuosity. But will it ever be mentioned in the same breath as movies 1 & 2? [me taking a new breath]. Absolutely not. And that’s all we poor lemmings have been clamoring for. : (

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June 20, 2012   No Comments

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