"Don't Breathe" Will Leave You Breathless!

4/12/2020

Writer/Director Fede Alvarez burst onto the horror scene with the 2013 remake of Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead”.  In a refreshing twist this remake was incredible and one of the most intense and bat shit crazy horror films in a number of years.  Trying to avoid the sophomore slump, his follow up was the 2016 film of his own creation “Don’t Breathe”, which turned out to be the sleeper horror hit of the year.

Taking place in a vacant and rundown Detroit three small time burglars look to score big off a blind ex-veteran sitting on a mountain of cash he received after his daughter was tragically killed in a car accident.  Our thieves are Rocky (Jane Levy), a girl looking to escape her white trash abusive mother and take her younger sister to live in California.  Alex (Dylan Minnette), the strait arrow kid whose dad is a security officer.  He is able the gain access into people's homes so the trio can do their thing.  He also has a crazy teenage crush on Rocky.  Last, there is Money (Daniel Zovatto) a low rent wannabe gangster who sells off the goods they steal.  He and Rocky are mentioned as a couple, but vaguely.

Once the new job is proposed Alex is out, but in no time Rocky sweet talks him into it.  They do their research on the house and it looks to be their easiest job yet.  The Blind Man as he is called, we are never given his real name, looks to be an elderly man but as the trio comes to find out he’s still up to the job when defending his home.  At this point, the Blind Man has been built up as this great sympathetic character.  But we soon run into a disturbing twist that spins things around and really makes this movie into what it is.

Once our bandits slip into the house the terror and suspense grips you until the end.  Although they try to sedate the Blind Man with a sort of homemade pop bottle fogger.  He is soon awoken, he is blind not deaf.  Although that being said, they use this to the story's advantage or disadvantage at certain points.  The Blind Man knows every inch of the house both upstairs and down in the large dungeonous basement.  Although this movie could have devolved into some kind of cheesy B-movie the storytelling and characters make this thing work.  It takes a certain level of talent to pull off a movie like this and Fede Alvarez definitely looks to be up to the task of not only making it work but to elevate the material into something special.  I don’t want to spoil this film but the third act reveals more about the Blind Man and his twisted plan to regain a new daughter.  This includes one of the most disturbingly cringe inducing scenes in recent memory.  I highly recommend checking this out while we’re all stuck inside in this crazy new world we live in.


Let the "Sunshine" In

4/5/2020

Science fiction writer Alex Garland has written some of the most intriguing and interesting scripts in the 21st century.  He wrote the script for the hit 2002 film “28 Days Later” which was directed by Danny Boyle and starred Cillian Murphy.  Five years later Boyle and Murphy were back for the space drama “Sunshine”.   A crew is sent on a mission to save mankind and reignite a dying sun after a previous mission had failed.  

The Icarus 2 and its eight member crew are carrying a bomb to launch into the sun in order to save humanity.  “Sunshine” is beautifully filmed with absolutely amazing images which are kind of essential for any space film.  The fiery golden glow of the sun sparkles throughout the film in an almost hypnotic way.  The ship's captain spends a lot of his time in the observation deck in view of the sun which can only be seen at a max of 3.1% of its true brightness.  He develops an obsessive curiosity about what it's like at 100%.  Like a lot of space travel films, the psychological effects of long term space travel are always present.  Cillian Murphy’s character, Robert Capa, is the ship's physician and is responsible for making one the mission's most critical decisions.  While the ship passes by Mercury they pick up a transmission from the Icarius 1.  The question then becomes do they continue on their current path to the sun or do they go after the Icarius 1 and take their bomb?  Two is better than one right? Basically, if they don’t go after the Icarius 1 you have no movie, and he plot stalls out so of course, they decide to go after the extra bomb.  

What makes space travel so difficult is the human element, humans are not machines and always fallible.  When crew member Kaneda screws up and a bunch of heat shields are burnt up this also causes the ship's oxygen garden and crops to be incinerated.  After this, he is mentally destroyed.  With their oxygen reserves now extremely low, they don’t have enough to complete their mission.  They arrive and dock with the Icarius 1 and find it abandoned.  The crew is huddled in the observation room their bodies burnt to a crisp as a result of viewing the sun at full power.  They are able to find a garbled video of the ship's captain who has seemingly lost his mind.  The ships are then violently undocked leaving four crew members stranded on Icarus 1 with only 1 spacesuit.  The spacesuits used in “Sunshine” are very unique as they are completely gold, I guess in order to protect them from the sun.  After some creative thinking two members make is back to the Icarus 2, with one having to remain aboard and sacrificing himself and another who didn’t quite make it and floated away into space.

The third act gets a little crazy but is still enjoyable.  Like I said before the visuals are amazing and although I never saw the film when it was in theaters I’m sure it would have been even better.  All good sci-fi films should leave you with questions about what you have just seen and with a sense of wonder and amazement, “Sunshine” does this.


"Prometheus" Love it or Hate it?

4/1/2020

This prequel to the original “Alien” films is very polarizing among fans, it seems that you either love it or hate it.  I originally saw the IMAX 3D version when it was in theaters and thought it was nothing short of amazing and jaw-dropping.  Seeing it at home, obviously, the visual spectacle is diminished but overall I am a big fan of the film, flaws, and all.

Many things have been said about “Prometheus” and most of them a lot better than I can explain in this short little review.  The story is extremely ambitious and does fall short in some areas but creator Ridley Scott initially planned this to be the first film in a trilogy.  “Prometheus” starts off with some epic landscape shots and we arrive at this large white being at the edge of a waterfall.  He proceeds to drink this black liquid and in a short time, his body starts to disintegrate and falls into the water.  These beings are to be known as the Engineers and thought to be the creators of humankind, Sorry God.  Our main characters are the crew of the space ship Prometheus led by Vickers (Charlize Theron) of the Weyland Corporation.  Dr. Shaw (Noomi Rapace), her boyfriend Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), the ships pilot Janek (Idris Elba), and the android David (Michael Fassbender).  While on Earth Dr. Shaw and her colleagues find numerous cave paintings around the world pointing to a certain location in the cosmos.  With the help of the ridiculous overly made-up old guy Peter Weyland, they chart a course to discover the origins of mankind.

They end up finding a distant moon that looks to be harboring life.  Upon further investigation, they find these giant mounds and a tunnel system that was once inhabited by these giant beings.  Something terrible had happened and what they find could not only endanger the crew but all of humanity.  Horror movies in general always seem to depend on at least a few characters doing something incredibly stupid to advance the story and create chaos for everybody else.  We have no shortage of those here.  The crew opens a giant door that unveils a sort of cathedral, a massive head monument surrounds by these silver vases, and as the saying goes “curiosity killed the cat”.  But does the saying apply to androids?  Throughout the film, David shows a great capacity for human curiosity.  He is also interested in his own origins but is devastated to find out the truth.  There are also conspiracy theories out there that say Vickers herself is also an android, but this is never answered by the film.  David then starts conducting his own experiments but spiking Holloway's drink with a drop of the mysterious black goo.  Like a virus Holloway in infected and slowly starts to change, but not before having sex with Dr. Shaw.  He eventually turns into this rage-filled beast that is taken down by Vickers and her flame thrower.  Shaw soon learns that she is impregnated by something not human and in the movies greatest scene makes her way to the surgery pod that extracts the flailing alien from her abdomen and staples her back up.

David goes out on his own to investigate these beings, the Engineers, and we find out a little more about them.  The Engineers for some reason or another decided to terminate the human race with this weaponized black stuff and they had set course for Earth, until something catastrophic happened and they were all destroyed, except for one.  David finds a bunch of cryo pods with one surviving engineer.  Looking for answers, the remaining human crew are disappointed as the Engineer proceeds the kill everyone except Dr. Shaw.  David even gets his head ripped from his body.  It's now a fight for survival for Dr. Shaw as she looks to escape, however she does get help from the Alien that was inside her.  Dr. Shaw and the disembodied head of David fly off deeper into space looking for more answers.

Five years later in 2017 the sequel “Alien: Covenant” was released and takes place 10 years after “Prometheus”.  “Prometheus” is a far better film than “Covenant” in my opinion as it just doesn’t have the same feeling of awe and wonder.  Since “Covenant” didn’t do much at the box office the third film in the trilogy is currently up in the air and right now in 2020 seems it will likely never get made.