Tag Archives: Extra-Terrestrial

Review of Star Trek Unaired Pilot (1965)

17 Dec

Star Trek S01E00 – “The Cage “ (1965) is the rejected pilot episode of the sci-fi/drama/adventure series Star Trek.

Directed by Robert Butler (Turbulence (1997), White Mile (1994)), who is best known for various TV movies and pilots.

Written by Gene Roddenberry (Mr. District Attorney (1954 TV), Highway Patrol (1955 TV)), who is considered the creator of Star Trek.

Starring: Jeffrey Hunter, Susan Oliver, Leonard Nimoy, Majel Barret and others.

I have never been a Star Trek fan, I’ve had Star Wars to fill my need for some space odyssey. Prior to this I’ve actually only seen the 2009 J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek film. And it was good. So ever since that my interest in the franchise has been growing. I find these large franchises intriguing, since it isn’t like watching a season and then there’s nothing left other than waiting for another season to come out or something like that.

And since I always try to experience things chronologically, like they are meant to, I decided to just start at the very beginning. And what is more “beginning” than a pilot that wasn’t picked up?

I thought it’s going to start off incredibly cheesy like from the first minute, but it is obviously taking itself very seriously.

Jeffrey Hunter is very charismatic as Captain Christopher Pike, I would have loved if he had stayed as the lead of the show. Also he looks a bit like Ray Liotta. It’s interesting that Leonard Nimoy is the only actor that was kept in the other pilot, even though executives didn’t like Spock. In this Spock isn’t quite the same character as in the real series. He touches some noisy Talosian (a planet where they end up for some unclear reason) flower and smiles in amazement. Susan Oliver is astoundingly hot and has one of the bluest pairs of eyes I’ve ever seen.

The special effects are like 50/50 bad to good ones. The aliens “Talosians” have these well-made, but extremely cheesy and cliché pulsating vein-covered heads, which from behind look just like butts. The set on the planet consists of obviously fake rocks and a painted background, which actually adds a weirdly claustrophobic feeling. There’s some people in weird alien animal costumes that I thought were going to be totally random, but they actually did use them for a reason. The inside of the USS Enterprise is all covered in the classic boards of computers that seem to be there just to blink random lights. But they did use these very cellphone-like devices, which I found cool. Also there’s a well-done aging/disfiguration transformation make-up effect on Susan Oliver.

How exactly do the Talosians know about Adam and Eve? How do they know this ancient Hebrew story? And why when they are able to communicate through telepathy, they decide at one point to talk with their mouths.

It feels like a real 60’s sci-fi B-movie, it even has a more or less appropriate length to be considered one. But I don’t mean that in a bad sense, it actually is more intelligent than most 60’s TV series and sci-fi movies and that is one of the main reasons it wasn’t picked up by the studio. And I guess for a show that was watched mostly by older children, this might be a bit mature.

Overall, I think this is a great pilot and I would have enjoyed if they kept going in this direction, although, as I haven’t watched the following episodes, I can’t tell which version I’d prefer.

"You know Spock, as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangste...uh, I mean a starship captain.".

Review of Predator 2 (1990)

29 Nov

Predator 2 (1990) is a sci-fi/action/thriller film, which is the sequel to the highly succesful Predator (1987), that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Directed by the Jamaican-born director Stephen Hopkins (A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child (1989), The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004)).

Written by the creative team consisting of Jim Thomas (Mission to Mars (2000), Executive Decision (1996)) and John Thomas (Wild Wild West (1999), The Rescue (1988)). They also wrote the first Predator movie.

Starring: Danny Glover, Kevin Peter Hall, Gary Busey, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton and others.

The movie starts out with this dystopian vision of the year 1997 in LA. And it has that 80’s understanding of near future that has gone to shit. It’s really dirty, the streets are ruled by gangs, at night it has this steam/fog all around, like a modern version of Victorian London. The movie opens with an action scene, so you know you’re in for some fun-time.

I’m a big fan of the original, which I thought was an incredibly entertaining film and had a great ensemble of though guys, when the original showed us the flexed biceps of Arnold and Carl Weathers as they meet, we knew that we should be expecting testosterone splashing in our faces. And when Predator 2 opens with this turf war in this urban setting, we know we’re going to get a dark, gritty and Robocop-esque take on the story. If that’s what you actually wanted to see is another matter.

The casting of Danny Glover is an original, yet somewhat odd choice, but he does do an excellent job. Although it did feel like any moment he could say “I’m too old for this shit!”. I must admit that it was a good choice to have someone in the lead role that doesn’t look like he can punch a hole into the predator if he wants to. On the other hand Kevin Peter Hall’s stature made us believe that there might be something that looks more powerful than Arnold. And Hall brings his convincing physicality to this role as well. Also I had so much fun watching Bill Paxton acting delightfully douchey. Gary Busey, of course, could be entertaining if he just stood there, doing nothing.

I think this is a great sequel. Not as good as the original, but at least it doesn’t try to duplicate the first one and gives us a completely different setting with completely different characters. It delivers on the action, gore (apparently a bit too much, since it received NC-17 rating at first), special effects, predator designs and expands the mythos in a very compelling way. Also it has a nice nod to the Alien vs. Predator comics, by putting in a skull of an Alien warrior.

On the other hand the movie’s setting is a bit too ugly compared to the beautiful jungle locations they used in the original and sometimes it comes across a bit too angrily cynical, which takes away from the fun, so overall it isn’t as enjoyable as the original.

It is a good movie, gotten a bad reputation for undeserved reasons and I would say it is still pretty cool, although the clothing (I’m mostly looking at you, Danny Glover’s disgusting suit) and it’s late 80’s/early 90’s trend of putting different “hip” things in movies makes it a bit dated. Recommended, if you’re a sci-fi action/Predator fan.

When the predator says "Shit happens.", know that this is what he's reffering to.

Review of The Thing (2011)

31 Oct

The Thing (2011) is a sci-fi/horror film, which is also prequel to The Thing (1982), which was a remake of The Thing From Another World (1951), which was based on the novella Who Goes There? (1938) by John W. Campbell, Jr. So there’s quite  a history there.

Directed by the Dutch filmmaker Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. (Zien (2004), Red Rain (1996)) and this is his first theatrical feature-length film.

Written by Eric Heisserer (Final Destination 5 (2011), A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)), so you know what you’re getting is generic.

Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Eric Christian Olsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and others.

I loved John Carpenter’s The Thing so much and it is widely regarded as one of the best horror as well as sci-fi movies ever, so how could they ever think they could be able to make something even remotely as good as that, I don’t know.

The title shows just how uncertain the movie is about what it wants to be. Sure it is a prequel in a sense that it takes place in the Norwegian station before the events of the original, but in quite a few instances it hits basically the same beats as the original did, which makes it seem a lot like a remake.

There’s a joke in the opening scene and it iss a really good one. But they negated the good impression of the humor in the movie, by throwing in a stupid comedic jumpscare, which I know was comedic, because the guy sitting next to me was laughing (and snapping his fingers) like crazy.

Why did the Norwegians talk in english so much? Even in stress situations, they kept speaking in english for no other apparent reason except so that the americans would understand them. And I really doubt that in the 80’s so many Norwegians knew english that well.

It also throws in some minor references, like the axe in the wall, just to explain the stuff they see in the original, but then they choose to ignore some other.

And it is in a way ironic that the best thing about the original is the worst in this. I’m speaking, of course, about the special effects. I just can’t believe that they fucked up so much. The Thing (1982) showcased practical effect use at its best and seeing them is an experience. However, in The Thing (2011) you get to fully experience how bad CGI still looks and even though CGI always pales in comparison to traditional effects, this was really bad even by exclusively CGI standards. The effects just look laughable and unimaginative. Also if the trailer led you to think there’s a fair amount of practical effects, you are misguided, because all there is an autopsy scene and maybe some brief shots of something that might not be a cartoon.

Also if you’d take off the little subtitle at the beginning saying “Antarctica, Winter, 1982.”, there’s barely anything indicating it doesn’t take place in modern-day.

The sequence that connects the two movies is shown only intersected by end credits, seemingly thrown in there at the last-minute, just to make sense of how the two films fit together.

To be fair, the actors did a decent job and I wouldn’t call it a totally bad film, but there were parts that just pissed me off. I can’t let this to be the only horror movie I’ve watched on Halloween, so I’ll probably have to dig up something classic and enjoy myself.

I’d say this is a very mediocre film with a bunch of shitty CG …things and maybe if you haven’t seen the original, you might like it, but actually you should just watch the original instead. Not recommended, but might be ok for some 14-year-olds, who wants to see their favourite creepy monsters from a standard horror video game (maybe The Thing (2002)) cut out and pasted into a movie.

"Hey guys, I've been waiting to star in my own movie."