Review: Aliens (1986)

aliens cover

“Just tell me one thing, Burke. You’re going out there to destroy them, right? Not to study. Not to bring back. But to wipe them out.”
– Ellen Ripley

SYNOPSIS: 57 years after her ordeal with an extraterrestrial creature, Ellen Ripley is rescued by a deep salvage team during her hypersleep. When she discovers that transmissions from a colony that has since settled on the alien planet suddenly stop, Ripley is offered a chance to team up with a group of marines to descend on the planet and investigate the alien presence. Determined to end the memories of the alien creature, Ripley agrees to the offer and is once again thrown back into her living nightmare. – via IMDB

aliens

GRADE 8Now, I might be burnt at the stake for this, but as much as I liked this one, it does not hold a candle to the original (for me). I know most people find it an equal sequel and, in some cases, superior to the original, but I don’t think so. Obviously my score says I liked it just fine, and I did. Aliens is a damn fine film that has a hell of a lot going for it and is a supremely fun film. It is shot well, looks great and allows you plenty of time to ogle the xenomorphs, which is awesome, and offers immense amounts of action and drama, but there are a few things that irritate me.

I think the biggest irritation for me in this is Bill Paxton’s Private Hudson. He is whiny and screaming constantly and shouting and just sounding like a dweeb without fail, and it isn’t cool. It starts out as one thing and ultimately ends up working on your last nerve. It isn’t funny. It isn’t entertaining. It induces eye rolling. Also, sometimes the score just didn’t seem to work as smoothly as it could’ve, and some of the performances were overdone in places. This all, however, does not make it a bad movie. There is much to love.

Ellen Ripley is back and she is kicking some major ass all over the show, and the queen xenomorph is nasty as sin, and that birthing system? Ick. Then there is Hicks, and the relationship that is budding between him and Ripley the whole time, allowing you to hope for the best, and Newt becoming an important redeeming point for Ripley, whose daughter had passed while she was lost in space, and Newt (who can scream like few others), who lost her family to the aliens on the planet her folks had relocated to. Michael Biehn and Sigourney Weaver were brilliant opposite one another, and I really enjoyed seeing every second of them together.

I was also a fan of Bishop, though it was incredibly evident that Ripley couldn’t give a damn about him, and after Ash, who could blame her? Lance Henriksen was a great Bishop, and I liked him from the beginning, even with the misgivings after the last psycho android that Ripley came upon. The ending, while I liked it, dragged in places. It’s almost like a test to see how many times you can throw a life-threatening a last minute xenomorph encounter up and have it accepted. It carried on for just a tad too long, in my opinion. I loved seeing the xenomorphs here, while they were still creepy as hell and not killed with CGI *hem hem Alien 3*. It was great for them to get so much screen time, plus the immense amounts of action scenes and choreography is also well worth watching. Aliens is a solid movie with a lot to like about it, though it does have a few hiccups.

Banshee: Season 3 (2015)

banshee season 3 poster

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

What I liked:

  • The fight between Burton and Nola. Like holy crapsticks. I mean really now, I can’t even begin to explain to you how intense that was. It was one of the best fights I have watched in a long time, and the entertainment value was through the roof.
  • The Redbone gang aspect of all of this. It has become the defining and entertaining thing about this season, which is crazy considering it was a random little episode to bring the characters to the fore, and then they take up such a large chunk of the story arc. It works, though.
  • Kurt Bunker. Initially when I saw him sitting on the steps at the Cadi, I was sure he was coming to give Hood some lip about investigating the murder of that Neo-Nazi prick that was involved in Emmett’s slaying. Instead he got up, opened his mouth, and impressed the hell out of Hood and me. He seems to be a pretty damn cool character, and I hope he doesn’t turn out to be a right wanker at some stage. He is badass, and I liked the layered aspect they brought in with a tortured ex-Neo-Nazi. Well played, show, well played.
  • This would not be a Banshee review if I didn’t gush about Matthew Rauch’s Clay Burton. Obviously it has to be done, and obviously this is the place. While not used the most consistently in this season, he was definitely used far more than ever before, and there was so much bang to all his scenes. I was so happy to see more about him, his past, his way of thinking… yes. SOLD. Every episode needs to feature his suits, glasses, bowties, creepy deadpan looks… yes. I have a favourite. Shoot me.
  • So much more more origin story – for Job meeting Hood, for Proctor and Burton, about Sugar… I love it. It is awesome to learn so much more stuff.
  • The whole Bunker-is-a-Nazi-police-officer bit. I loved it. I thought it was excellent, and they worked it so damn well, and it didn’t get old. Plus the friendship developing between him and Brock is great.
  • Speaking of Brock, Matt Servitto grew one impressive as hell beard and got all badass and crazy, his rigid lines blurring a bit more and how he is starting to handle Hood.
  • Hood, Sugar, Job, and Carrie hitting down the wrong dude (Stowe) altogether for money. That situation got pretty hairy – just the way we like it, of course.
  • The return of Kai Proctor. I was starting to wonder if they had really softened our badass ex-Amish mobster up. While that arc was interesting, I am glad it didn’t go on too long. Plus his return was just the thing we so desperately wanted to see.
  • Gordon going all hardcore to look after Deva, and the meltdowns he was having about where, exactly, he fit in. I really love this guy, definitely awesome.

banshee crazy stuff

What I didn’t like:

  • Rebecca’s character is so inconsistent. Sometimes she is the evil bitch, otherwise the crying girl, and the show doesn’t seem to take her character anywhere anymore.
  • The plot section with Brock’s ex-wife Emily coming into the picture, and the relationship that came out of absolutely nowhere with Kai. Granted, I know his mother was dying and Emily showed kindness, but this was just random and ridiculous.
  • The cross-cutting again. Not nearly as bad as last season, and they seem to have mastered which scenes to splice together. But still. Uncalled for. Except the last episode, it was done exceptionally well there.
  • I would love to point out that I have complained about Hood getting into monstrous fights and showing no signs of it in the next episode, set a few days later, but when some little protector peanut broke his wrist in a fight in the middle of season two, he is still waltzing around with that bandage on his wrist. Granted, most likely a real problem, but still! It’s inconsistent.
  • Deva. She is really starting to get on my last nerve… like mother, like daughter I suppose.
  • How things ended with Gordon. Goddammit, really?! Was that necessary?! WHY?! On the other hand, it was done phenomenally and I really liked it, crushing as it was.

banshee season 3 truck hanger

Rating:
GRADE 8.5
Yes. Yes. Yes. This… this is what I have been hoping for since season one. Carrie was not the main peanut in Hood’s life, and that worked well. His perfect little setup and world is starting to come apart at the seams. There are some major repercussions coming in from last season, and Kai and Hood are both taking off their gloves. Dangerous times. Not only that, Burton got to really shine this season, and you all know how that was bound to thrill me. There was just so much going on in season three, so much great stuff, so much nerve-wracking stuff, so much intensity. Let me tell you, this season went a mile a minute and it was so worth it. I was itching for a new episode every week (my OCD almost died when I figured out we had started the season and it wasn’t finished airing yet – I just can’t do the wait thing, it freaking hurts) and it was worth the wait. This was awesome. Banshee really is one of those shows, the creators/producers must listen to the people, because gripes are being addressed, things are being tightened up (plot, characters, etc) and it is just flowing more. I didn’t find season one overly engaging but I enjoyed it, and season two was better, but this one was the one. The one that had me howling, the one that had me hooked. It was over. This season just did that. We still don’t know who Hood really is, but there is this super cool story arc that they have introduced, with unknown people and entities and agencies, something that could potentially really change everything we have seen as well as answer some insane questions that have been bugging me and floating around. There was so much energy to this season, and the implementation was gripping and tight. I really love the potential that Dalton’s character might unleash here, what with the even more questionable past of Lucas Hood, the blank slate conundrum, the finding a place in life… oh the places this show could possibly take us are endless, and I cannot wait! Season three held back absolutely no punches in terms of shocks, deaths, pains, twists, and they all came together so well. For only ten episodes, it feels like so much more has happened, it was so action-packed. The effects have vastly improved, and the choreography and action scenes are more gripping than before. Then let’s talk about the inclusion of Tom Pelphrey as Kurt Bunker. I mean wow. We got a mesmerizing character from the outset, and he comes with some serious baggage. Majorly, and it opens up to another section of characters that could get exceptionally interesting. Not only is Bunker an ex-Nazi, he was incredibly respected, and his flesh-and-blood brother is pretty much running the Brotherhood in Banshee. I am sure we can all see how this could become a major issue. I am at the edge of my seat and I am so upset about having to wait for season four :/ I don’t know if I can wait that long, I am having some major Banshee withdrawals…

banshee season 3 siobhan murder

Rapid Review: Whiplash (2014)

whiplash poster

“There are no two words in the English language more harmful than “good job”.”
– Terence Fletcher

SYNOPSIS: A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential. – via IMDB

whiplash madness

GRADE 8.5Whoa, what an intense watch! I mean I know that the film garnered a lot of love and admiration since the release, and people have waxed lyrical about JK Simmons and the film and all that, but after finally having caught Whiplash, I get it. Whiplash is such a heavy watch, starting off innocently enough and then rocketing on to big and crazy things. Miles Teller was very good in here, and I enjoyed him, but JK Simmons is undeniably the star here. It was so interesting to watch the way that Andrew changes after he comes into contact with Fletcher, and it isn’t a small one, either, though it is gradual. I do enjoy the way this movie looks at pushing an individual to achieve more. Not everyone responds to positive reinforcement, but where are the boundaries when pushing someone? When is it too far? Whiplash explores this, and the bizarre relationship between Andrew and Fletcher will get you thinking. On one hand, you understand certain things that Fletcher does, and how he manages to get people to push themselves to achieve the very best they can, and on the other hand, Fletcher is a total toolbag that needs to be brought into line. Teller worked well, and I admire the dedication he put into the role, to up his drumming capabilities, etc. He played his part, and his splintering personality and change of attitude is mesmerizing to watch. As for Simmons? He owned the screen all the time, and when he was up there he did not fail to fascinate you and repulse you in equal measure. The film was visually stunning, and I loved the sound and the way the film was shot. It looked great. Also, the supporting characters are not really important in this movie, Whiplash is all about Andrew and Fletcher, and that is perfectly alright, seeing as it makes for a dramatic study on right, wrong, motivation, dedication, and change. Whiplash really could have gone a whole different, bland way, but the performances from Teller and Simmons, as well as the execution of the film, make it something commanding, domineering, riveting and thought-provoking. Damien Chazelle knew exactly what to do with the film to make it riveting and powerful, something that lingers for quite a while after viewing. I really loved the visuals in this, especially watching the drumming, the blood flying, the sticks, the concentration… that is without even hearing anything. It comes together very well, and I definitely enjoyed it!