David Giler

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Prometheus Review


Excellent
There are clear echoes of Scott's last outer space thriller (1979's Alien) in this big, bold film, but this is something very different. It's certainly not a clear prequel. And even if the plot is full of holes, it's utterly mesmerising.

When archaeologists Shaw and Holloway (Rapace and Marshall-Green) figure out that ancient civilisations share a map to a specific star system, the Weyland CEO (Pearce) funds a two-year mission to get answers about the origin of humanity. Led by Weyland crony Vickers (Theron) and Captain Janek (Elba), Shaw and Holloway are accompanied by a helpful android (Fassbender) and a team of not-so-enthusiastic scientists. But what they find on this distant moon isn't what they expected, and the remnants of this civilisation aren't as dead as they seem.

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Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem Review


Grim
Coming on the heels of 2003's disastrously pedestrian Alien vs. Predator (or AVP), Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (or AVP:R) is a perfect example of how studio stupidity and fanboy obsession can ruin cinema. Why Fox chose to destroy one of its best franchises will be debated for decades to come, but there is no doubt that the Alien saga (and to some extent the perpetually fledging Predator series) is effectively over. What was once a playground for inventive directors with clever scripts has quickly devolved into a wasteland of lowbrow rubbish. Sure, blame Fox, blame the producers (Walter Hill, have you no shame?), but don't forget to put a pudgy, popcorn-flaked finger at the comic and computer jockeys who have been slavering for another cosmic smackdown between the two titular baddies. They screamed, the studio heard, and now, well, now we have this.

AVP:R starts off on what should be an engaging note. We're aboard a predator spaceship zooming away from Earth when the body of a deceased predator (killed in AVP) bursts open to reveal an alien baby. Only, and here's where things start to slide downhill, this chestburster has predator-styled dreds. Or maybe those are Hasidic payos. This little booger tears the crew apart and the ship crashes into the mountains of Colorado (though the forest is decidedly deciduous). Within minutes the woods are teeming with alien spawn and the human population of Gunnison, Colorado is minutes from annihilation. Good thing the predators have sent their equivalent of John Wayne to clean up the mess. Is he powerful enough to stop not only the wave of xenomorphs overrunning the town but also the "predalien" hybrid (seriously, I wish I made that up) leading the invasion? It only takes 86 minutes to find out.

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Ritual Review


Weak
Fun fact here: Ritual was meant to be the third film in the Tales from the Crypt movie series, but after Bordello of Blood bombed, the trilogy was scrapped and the film was sold to Miramax. I'm not sure it ever got released theatrically, but five years later, it's back on DVD... with the Tales from the Crypt tag reinstated.

And thus the trilogy comes to a sweaty, silly end, with this remake of, believe it or not, 1943's I Walked with a Zombie. Here we have Jennifer Grey, still sporting the same hairdo from Ferris Bueller after all these years, as a disgraced medical doctor who, out of desperation, takes a job in Jamaica as a personal physician to a wealthy tycoon (Craig Sheffer) and his mysteriously sickly brother (Daniel Lapaine). What follows is -- you guessed it -- a ridiculous swirl into the world of voodoo done up the way only Hollywood can.

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Alien 3 Review


OK
Since Alien and its sequel Aliens received universal praise, Fox just had to make a trilogy (which later became a quadrilogy). Trilogies (and especially quadrilogies) can pose some risk since a premise can lose its edge and outlast its welcome. Ironically, Alien 3 doesn't suffer from the trilogy syndrome as much as it suffers simply from bad writing.

Alien 3 continues with the series tradition, beginning exactly where Aliens concluded. When we left Lt. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), the android Bishop (Lance Henriksen), Cpt. Hicks (Michael Biehn), and Ripley's surrogate daughter Newt (Danielle Edmond), they managed to destroy the creature, board a spacecraft, set course for Earth, and fall into deep sleep. Unfortunately, another alien has found its way onboard with them.

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Myra Breckinridge Review


Terrible
The appropriate response to Myra Breckinridge is wide-eyed bafflement; anybody with anything resembling taste will recognize it as an awful movie within ten minutes. Released in 1970 and under practically Soviet-style repression until now, it is clumsily edited, horribly acted, and practically plotless. It is lascivious without being provocative, and it did damage to the public images of both Mae West and John Huston. No movie has worked harder to try one ironic gag after another and fail every single time; it is idiocy disguised as camp. Yet there's something transcendently misbegotten about Myra Breckinridge that makes it worth studying; the differences between the excellent book and a horrible movie has a few interesting things to say about Hollywood as it stumbled from the '60s into the '70s.

The film is based on Gore Vidal's bestselling 1968 novel, which gave us Myra as a magnificently over-the-top symbol of changing sexual mores, greed, revenge, Hollywood, and how they all intersect. In the hands of director Michael Sarne, the story became a messy sex farce; Vidal stepped away from the project, and for good reason. In the book, Myra romanticizes the great movies of the 1930s, arguing, in fact, that it was the best decade ever for movies. This inspires Sarne to raid the 20th Century Fox vault and cram in seemingly dozens of clips from Laurel & Hardy and Shirley Temple films, sometimes ironically, but mostly sitting there like a bad joke told at a dinner party. (It may be that Myra's sole usefulness is that it inspired a similar idea in the HBO TV series Dream On, actually done well.)

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The Parallax View Review


Good
Stylish yet devilishly confusing, this film has Warren Beatty as an investigative reporter trying to hunt down a conspiracy that begins with the death of a congressman and continues with the deaths of his reporter friends that are snooping into the affair. Beatty uncovers a company behind it all called the Parallax Corporation (think Scientology meets The Manchurian Candidate), which may be a kind of temp agency for assassins. Naturally, he applies for membership, getting in far deeper than he ever realized. Dreamily designed and archly retro, I had to watch bits and pieces three or four times just to put it all together.

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Undisputed Review


OK
The last of his breed of filmmakers, Walter Hill is a prolific, old-school screenwriter/director who's worked in everything: sci-fi, westerns, musicals, noir thrillers, comedies, and action. Over the last couple decades, Hill has produced a plethora of notable gems such as Streets of Fire, 48 Hours, The Warriors, and Southern Comfort. His latest flick - Undisputed - falls smack dab in the middle of cinematic quality: A straightforward tale of two lone, boxing warriors going head to head (and toe to toe) inside a microcosm of violence, power, and greed fueled by the almighty dollar.

Ten years ago, rising boxing superstar Monroe Hutchen (Wesley Snipes) was sent up for life imprisonment due to a fit of passionate and murderous rage. He's serving time in Sweetwater Prison in the Mojave Desert and continues to box in the Inter-Prison Boxing Program with a flawless record and the title of undisputed champion. To prove that he could have amounted to something outside the prison walls, Hutchen unexpectedly gets his chance to fight the undisputed World Heavyweight Champion, George "Iceman" Chambers (Ving Rhames), an arrogant megalomaniac who has recently been sent up for six to eight years for a charge of rape. Hmm, who does that sounds like?

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Alien Review


Excellent
The good news: Sigourney Weaver's famous underwear shot, which probably launched millions of now middle-aged men straight into puberty and beyond, has survived Ridley Scott's keen eye in his digitally remastered 2003 director's cut of Alien.

As for the bad news, well, there really isn't any. Alien, first released in 1979 and in theaters right now, has stood the test of time remarkably well. The beautiful and ballsy Weaver is a heroine for all seasons, the movie is suspenseful in all the right spots and it plays beautifully on the big screen with big sound.

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Dragstrip Girl Review


Terrible
You could make a worse movie than Dragstrip Girl, but you'd really have to try awful hard. The story: Bad Hispanic boy (Raymond Cruz) falls for good rich white girl (Natasha Gregson Wagner), with tragic consequences that play out over a backdrop of 1950s amateur drag racing. Will their love be able to overcome the enormous obstacles -- namely, that he's a car thief and she's a cheerleader -- or will society crush their budding romance?

Who cares!? This movie is so bad that the ending (which, by the way, is just about the worst part of the film) slips out of mind as soon as the disc pops out of your DVD player. Made for TV way back in 1994 and only now getting its DVD and home video release because Wagner and Cruz have become minor stars, you won't see any hint of the performing ability you might find from them today, simply because the story is so poorly written it couldn't have been saved by Cary Grant. Just about the only joy to be found in the film is from a grizzled Traci Lords, playing the hooker next door whom our scruffy hero likes to spy on through the enormous hole in the wall.

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Southern Comfort (1981) Review


Excellent
Curious cross between Deliverance (which came out nine years earlier) and Predator (which came out a lot later) has National Guardsmen on a boring weekend exercise in a Louisiana bayou, only to find themselves under attack from local redneck Cajuns, all due to the troop's own stupidity. The dysfunctional group dynamic is far more compelling than the traps the group will face en route to death or freedom (and there's a lot of the former), with a solid cast of notable faces that eventually add as many corpses to the body count as their attackers. Very intriguing film.

Runaway Daughters Review


Unbearable
Looking at the talent lined up for Runaway Daughters, I can only assume the whole affair is an elaborate joke that no one ever got.

This is a bad movie, folks, and here's why.

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Alien: Resurrection Review


Grim
I'm not entirely sure how to begin a review of the highly-anticipated (at least for me) fourth installment of the Alien series except to say... what a letdown.

Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley died in Alien3, the movie that was supposed to put the nail in the Alien coffin, but thanks to the miracles of next-millennium cloning, she's back, and full of alien DNA to boot (thus making her invincible, giving her acid for blood, and generally a pretty creepy chick). This new twist has great potential, as Ripley's alien side gives her a strange kinship with the creatures... creatures that once again are loosed by idiot scientists trying to tame them.

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Fun with Dick and Jane (1977) Review


Excellent
Never mind the silly title, Fun with Dick and Jane is fun indeed but it's not for kids. George Segal loses his job, and his domineering wife (Jane Fonda) pushes him to get a new job immediately, seeing as they're crushed by debt. Jane tries to land something too, but fails miserably, and in one of the most dryly pointed moments in the film, Dick notes that the only job she's qualified for is as a prostitute. After giving welfare a try, Dick and Jane's fun really begins: they turn to armed robbery. Very lighthearted and surprisingly witty, it's not just a caper comedy, it's also an indictment of the 1970s class struggle. Poor director Ted Kotcheff would end up directing mostly TV and Red Shoe Diaries installments later in his career. Watch for the remake with Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz in 2005.
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