Although I enjoy Star Trek: The Motion Picture I have to admit it’s slower than death. I re-edited the movie and trimmed the excess bloat making it much more streamlined and exciting. So without further ado here is my Exciting Cut.
Writing my review of Mad Max got me thinking about movie and TV cars and that of course led me to write up a list of my favorite and least favorite fantastical road and off road vehicles of all time. So here is that list. These are ordered by the release date of the movie or TV show.
1979 Kennedy Miller Productions
Before Mel Gibson’s career faded and his outlook dimmed he had built an impressive catalog of movies. Mad Max is the movie that launched his career all those years ago before he turned into a loon. Made on a shoestring budget in Australia Mad Max took advantage of the crazy car culture and long stretches of empty road in that country and cashed in big time.
Mad Max is set in a dystopian future where civilization appears to be breaking down and law and order are on the verge of collapsing all together. Mad Mel portrays Max Rockatansky, the best driver in his police force the MFP or Maximum Fluoride Protection. Their job is to stamp out tooth decay and gingivitis. Well not really they actually are battling roads gangs and guys who shave off half of the eyebrows and like to torment anyone they possibly can. Max is married and recently became a father and is torn between leaving the police force or staying and becoming another casualty. When his best friend Goose (no not the one from Top Gun) is burned beyond recognition he quits the force. In an amazing coincidence his wife gets into trouble with the same road gang that took out Goose and Max is forced back into action.
Mad Max is an interesting movie. The story is bare bones and there is not really any explanation at all as to why the world is going to hell. It’s basically a western with the good guys and bad guys trading their horses for cars and motorcycles. The characters have no real depth they’re all just kind of nuts and like to drive fast and wreck things. Max and his wife are just about the only somewhat normal characters in the whole movie every other character is weird as hell.
This movie is not about the people anyway Mad Max is all about the cars and stunts. There are some seriously wacko stunts in this movie. The car chases and crashes upped the ante in a decade that was dedicated to destroying as many road vehicles as possible in almost every movie and TV show being made. Director George Miller in my opinion is second to none in filming intense chase scenes that really get the adrenaline pumping. His filming style actually brings an amazing sense of speed to the road high jinks that I have never seen done as well.
I have to admit to being a big fan of movies with a dystopian setting. There is just something so interesting to me about modern civilization in decline. Maybe it’s because I expect something like this happen in the real world any day now? I don’t care how cheesy the movie is I can enjoy it if it has a cool vision of a wasted world . Mad Max is not quite as high on the cheese meter as some end of the world movies such as Omega Man but it has its moments. It also has a lot of energy and is a lot of fun.
Mel Gibson was great as Max. I enjoyed his movies immensely before he went bonkers.The cars especially the black Pursuit Special. The car chases and the wreckage. There is an amazing sense of speed in the chase scenes and the various crashes are awesome.
The not so good:
Toecutter is not that interesting a villain in my opinion. Neither is his gang all that great.The singer that Goose is attracted to is scary. Random thoughts and observations:
What are the odds that Max’s wife goes to get ice cream and runs into the same gang that Max and Goose had trouble with? Small world isn’t it?
Why doesn’t anyone swerve around or brake when they’re in a car being pursued by motorcycles? I would pretend my car was a bowling ball and the bikes were pins.I was so happy when they finally released the non dubbed version of this movie with the original Australian language track. I absolutely hated the dubbing and I think it made everyone sound like a complete and utter retard.
I actually saw The Road Warrior in the theater in 1981 before I even saw the first movie. The second movie is by far my favorite of the series.
1978 Universal Studios
The runaway success of any movie pretty much guarantees that copycats will soon be popping up to try to ride the popularity wave it generates and no movie had more copycats and wannabes than Star Wars. Probably the most blatant Star Wars ripoff of all was the TV series Battlestar Galactica. Made solely to cash in on the success of the Twentieth Century Fox mammoth blockbuster this expensive series became very popular very quickly and then died, a victim of the incredible expense of producing it.
Being ravenous for anything Star Wars or resembling Star Wars I jumped on this like a kid in a candy store. Even back in my childhood I knew this was a ripoff but I didn’t care. Strangely enough though this had a charm all its own with a very likable cast, an interesting storyline, and some good special effects. It soon built a very passionate fan base and was doing pretty good in the ratings. The pilot episode was also released in the theaters to take advantage of the science fiction/fantasy craze.
Battlestar Galactica has a grand story with an epic scope, as the pilot episode begins we are introduced to the human citizens of the twelve colonies of man who are celebrating a peace armistice with their longtime foes the Cylons. During the celebration when their guard is down the Cylons attack and devastate the twelve colonies. The survivors flee their home worlds and rendezvous with the lone surviving Battlestar, basically an air craft carrier in space. In an attempt to avoid genocide the remnants of mankind flee their solar system and begin a quest for the mythical thirteenth colony located on a planet called Earth. The Cylons, a machine race, pursue the rag-tag fleet of assorted space vessels hellbent on extermination every living human in the universe .
For television back in the 1970’s this series was huge: huge budget, huge cast, huge sets, and a huge story to boot. I was in heaven and impatiently awaited each new episode. I collected the model kits and other toys and was just enjoying it all immensely. Then it was cancelled and the world just sucked! My friends and I were very bummed when this show went off the air. We had a blast talking about the show at school and playing my handheld Battlestar Galactica Space Alert video game in which little red dots would rush toward your Battlestar and you needed to fire red dots at the red dots to destroy them. Awesome graphics.
The good:Some of the special effects are impressive.
The handheld Battlestar Galactica Space Alert game. I mean just look at it!
The not so good:Some of the special effects are not that impressive.
The reuse of special effects. Even in the pilot episode they were recycling effects shots.
After the fleet reaches Carillon the story gets kind of dumb. None of the people there are aware that the twelve colonies have been destroyed and no one in the fleet seems to be in a hurry to tell them. Clearly these are citizens of the colonies seeing how there are already colonial warriors in the casino when Starbuck and Boomer arrive.
Random thoughts and observations:
Even as a child I always thought it was a bit peculiar that the Cylons would have let Baltar live. In the theatrical release they didn’t, they beheaded him.
Early in the pilot episode Apollo and his younger brother Zac go on patrol. Just after they leave a Cylon Raider is seen for a few frames following them. This is a case where the editor neglected to trim the scene short enough, the Cylon was not supposed to be there!
About a year ago I decided to try and write down every movie I have ever watched in a movie theater. This project came about because of a desire to find the source of some very vivid images I had floating around in my head. I knew these images were from a movie I had seen in a theater when I was very young but I wasn’t sure what the movie was or when I saw it. I am blessed (or cursed sometimes) with a very detailed photographic memory and I rarely forget things even if I want to. This can be a great ability to have and a major pain in the ass. These images have popped up regularly over the years and it was time to investigate!
I sat down and tried to remember everything I could about this movie: I remembered two young kids in a crowded outdoor area pushing through a crowd and going up a flight of stairs. I remembered a girl making a wish for a horse and having her wish granted by a magical machine. I remembered a brightly colored room, a colorful glass ball, and the kids in a rocket ship that landed in back of a house in the country.
After pulling every possible detail out of my memory I headed for the internet to try and track down the source of these images. The machine that granted wishes was the key. It turns out the movie was a Ukrainian production made in 1967 called Automat na prání or The Wishing Machine. This movie was dubbed in English and released in the US in February of 1971 when I was three years and four months old. I remember sitting in the theater watching this with my brother Joel who is two years older than I am.
I find it funny that the first movie I remember seeing was made in the Ukraine but it does make sense, the movie theater near our childhood home used to play quite a few foreign children’s movies in the seventies.
Since the first movie I remember seeing is a fantasy movie I have to wonder if that somehow led to my extreme love of the genres I am most drawn to?
I found this movie on YouTube and I was surprised how much I remembered. Here are the images I remembered most vividly:
2012 Twentieth Century Fox
Thirty four years after Alien was released Ridley Scott returns to the universe he helped create with this kinda sorta not quite maybe a possible prequel. Much has been said about the wishy washy nature of the story already and since I wasn’t there I have no freaking idea what the original intent was for this movie. I have heard that this was originally supposed to be a direct prequel to Alien but who knows? So as it stands it’s a standalone semi-prequel that tells us a little more about the race of big space jockey dudes and their horseshoe shaped spaceships.
Prometheus begins on a primitive and lifeless Earth as a big grey muscular guy with abs of steel and wearing a diaper drinks a nasty looking concoction and then precedes to disintegrate. Fast forward millions of years to 2089 A.D. and we are introduced to some archaeologists who have made an absolutely fabulous discovery in Scotland. In a cave they find a painting of stick figures pointing at a group of stars. Bitchin stuff. We jump forward again to the year 2093 as the research vessel Prometheus makes it way to the very group of stars the stick figures were pointing at.
During a show and tell session it is revealed that this same star chart has been recorded in artwork from seven ancient civilizations so an expedition is planned to see what’s so damned exciting in this particular star system. Like all similar expeditions throughout the history of cinema this does not go according to plan and the shit really starts hitting the fan and everything else in range.
Prometheus is a film of great ambitions that sometimes hits the target but other times trips and falls flat on its face. While trying to delve into some deep thoughts on life, creation, and whatnot the story gets a little too silly and some of the characters come across as really idiotic and implausible. On the plus side this is an absolutely beautiful looking movie with some impressive set and costume designs and top notch special effects. The music score by Marc Streitenfeld gives the production a nice sense of wonder and discovery, something that is missing from many science fiction movies. The cast is filled with very talented actors who, with two exceptions, manage to elevate their somewhat underwritten roles to something better than they probably should have been.
This is one of those movies where it seems a great deal of tinkering was done in post production and it gives the story a herky jerky feel to it and makes you wonder what the original intention was. Prometheus is an amazing attempt at making something a little more thoughtful and ambitious than the average movie and even if it fails to reach the heights it could have I still applaud everyone who worked on it for trying to rise above the usual drivel.
Visually stunning movie. I love the set designs that mirror many aspects of designs used in Alien.
Amazing visual effects. CGI is finally evolving past its awkward early years (in some cases at least).
The not so good:
The characters of Fifield and Millburn are pathetic. It seems like they wandered in from another movie entirely. Their actions appear to be random and directly tied into whatever the screenplay needed them to be in any given scene. They are what I refer to as puppet characters and their actions don’t seem plausible or real.
Random thought and observations:
The Engineers are an interesting race. They obviously were a highly advanced race before we even existed and yet they seem to cling to ritual. I would think a truly advanced race would have grown out of such silly things.
The fact the Engineers created life on Earth allows for both a creationist and evolutionary theory at the same time. That should piss off quite a few people.
Interesting to compare the technology available at the time Alien was made with the tech we have now. Look at the differences in display screens:
The graphic designs on this display are easily recognizable to any fan of Ridley Scott’s movies:
The deleted and alternate scenes:
There is a longer version of the scene where the Engineer is released from the sleep chamber. There are subtitles explaining what David and the Engineer say to each other and Weyland has more lines giving a clearer view of what he was seeking. I would have kept this scenes in the movie personally.
There is an alternate scene of the mutated Fifield that has a different makeup design than the one used. I prefer the unused design.
1997 Twentieth Century Fox
I remember when Ripley died a heroic and graceful death falling into a fiery pit on a forgotten world. Four years later Alien Resurrection managed to erase any grace that was left in the Alien movie franchise and made me want to undergo brain surgery to forget I ever saw it. This is one of those movies that after the initial viewing I was absolutely puzzled why no one who was watching dallies during production came out and said “My god this is a piece of shit!”. Would that there were some brave individuals in the world of motion picture production who could speak up and spare the audience the pain of watching a truly excruciatingly bad movie. The entire Star Wars prequel trilogy would never have come to pass. What a nice thought…anyway on to the review.
Set two hundred years after Ripley kicked the bucket Alien Resurrection takes place mainly on a giant science vessel on which mad scientists have successfully cloned Ripley and the alien queen growing within her. Where they managed to get the genetic material for both is a mystery but many things in this movie are so it fits in a totally illogical kind of way. So of course Ripley becomes the center of things yet again this time in a different form as a basketball wiz and mega bitch with all the warmth of Pluto on a cold winters day. Soon a smaller ship, the Betty, arrives and delivers kidnapped people who are to be used as hosts to create more aliens, cue the evil music, twist the mustaches, etc. The Betty is manned by a crew of the most charmless and uncharismatic characters to be found outside of a Michael Bay movie. Well of course things go very wrong on the ship and soon blood is flying, acid is eating through things, and characters that we don’t give a crap about are dying left and right. That pretty much covers the story. What it doesn’t cover is the total horrid nature of just about every aspect of this movie.
To be totally blunt this movie is one of the worst big budget movies I have ever seen. I found almost nothing to like, the story is boring and ludicrous, the characters, except for one, are unlikable assholes, the pacing is choppy, the music is bland, and the special effects are strange. Worst of all in my opinion is the decision to bring back Ripley. There seems to be some unwritten law in Hollywood that a franchise cannot continue without its star. I say bullshit. The James Bond franchise is still thriving despite the title role being recast six times. The Planet of the Apes movies did quite well with rotating actors. If the story is good and told well the audience will come back for more. It’s clear the studio had no confidence that an Alien movie without Ripley could be successful so here she is again only this time she’s a bitch with a terrible wardrobe and her character did not draw the audience back to the theater in huge numbers.
Michael Wincott as the Captain of the Betty. He’s the only likable character and he gets bumped off way too early.The Betty is a cool ship and the model is awesome. They actually built several interesting models for the movie but totally underutilized them. When they are used they are not filmed well and don’t look that good onscreen.
The aliens are still a great design.
The swimming aliens are kind of fun, too bad the sequence sucks.This movie had an awesome teaser trailer. It has kickass music and doesn’t give any of the plot away. Too bad the movie wasn’t anywhere near as interesting.
The characters all walk around with the same “I’m so bad” attitudes and they all look like they just ate a lemon.The pacing is awful, after every somewhat fast paced scene there is a scene of the characters slowly walking around the ship and then they stop and talk. There is no sense of urgency the way they casually saunter about. Even during so called action sequences the pace is so slow and the sequences are so dragged out I got bored a quarter of the way through them. The ricochet the bullet off the duct work and hit the guard in the head sequence is ridiculous.
Hard to take Brad Dourif’s character seriously when he’s smiling and babbling like an idiot during the birth of the hybrid.
The special effects look like paintings.
Why does the alien operate the big red button with its pop out teeth? They do have hands. Looks like a situation where someone said “hey you know it would be funny if it used its teeth”. It’s not funny.
How long can these people hold their breath? Look at them expelling air to make pretty bubbles that look great on camera!Ripley’s alien orgy scene is so dumb it’s stupid. As much as I loved director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s The City of Lost Children I have to say he was completely the wrong choice for this movie. There is a definite weird French vibe going on that clashes big time with the story and genre.
Why is the science vessel programmed to return to Earth when things go horribly wrong onboard? Wouldn’t you want to get the ship as far away from Earth to avoid endangering the population?
What is with the apocalyptic ending off the extended version? I can see why they cut this. How generic can you get?