Daily Archives: May 22, 2021

Cinema Saturday, 5/22/21


Year: 1979
Runtime: 1h 57m
Rated: R

Director: Ridley Scott

Writers: Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett

Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt

“You are my lucky star. You… Lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky.”

Initial: A rewatch, though I’ve probably only seen Alien once or twice in the past. I’ve seen Alien³ more often.

What Did I Think:
A couple of observations:

I feel like Alien has gained such a reputation as a horror film that it’s thought of disconnected from the science fiction genre. Given the trailer above, that is what they were going for in the marketing in the first place, but first half of the movie does contain many of the “grandeur of space” scenes that I often associate late 1970s science fiction. You can find the same sweeping shots of stars, moons, and planetscapes, accompanied by an appropriately majestic musical score, in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and StarTrek: The Motion Picture (1979).

James Cameron does such a good job playing off of small details in the sequel, Aliens. Aliens is such a different movie in style, but it’s the little details that keep the two in the same universe: lighting choices, background sounds, cornbread, suspicious artificial humans… I think I mentioned a similar thing when looking at The Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2 (1991). The audience knows these details, even if they’re not necessarily things that stick out.

Army of the Dead

Year: 2021
Runtime: 2h 28m
Rated: R

Director: Zack Snyder

Writers: Zack Snyder, Shay Hatten, Joby Harold

Stars: Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Ana de la Reguera

“Somewhere between leaving your ass and saving my own, I developed a conscience. It’s exhausting.”

Initial: After watching Peninsula (2020) last month, I figured I should watch the other heist zombie movie.

Production Notes: (Spoiler-ish) Everyone probably knows this by now but… Late in production, allegations of sexual misconduct where brought against Chris D’Elia, who had already filmed his scenes. He was digitally replaced *in the entire movie* with actress Tig Notaro, who was filmed in front of a green screen. The replacement ends up being a little awkward in places, mainly because Notaro has a different energy than the rest of the cast in certain scenes. It would have been fun to have seen her as actually part of the cast.

What Did I Think:
I am not a fan of Zack Snyder. I really haven’t ever forgiven him for making the Persians into deviants in 300 (2007). (You don’t read Xenophon as an undergraduate without having opinions about the ancient Persians.) He over-burdens his films. We can’t have Superman without Supes being a conflicted alien, and we can’t have a heist zombie film without it also being about quarantines and confinement camps.

(Seriously, what’s the deal with the quarantine camp? It’s been long enough since the Las Vegas outbreak for Dave Bautista to be given a medal of honor and then go back to being a short-order cook (and for his daughter to grow up?). Shouldn’t all of these former Las Vegans be relocated?)

And the zombies have to be more than zombies. Which I don’t think are as scary as force-of-nature zombies, really. In Peninsula, the zombies are an obstacle, but an obstacle that can be manipulated. Peninsula‘s story does come down to being “man is worse than zombies,” but also that man can help their fellow man. There is an aspect of fun and hope to Peninsula that is (not surprisingly) absent from Army of the Dead.

This film is about an hour longer than it needed to be, but I do give Snyder props for making it with a budget of $70M–90M.