Movie Reviews 22

Abyss (1989)
Sometime between blockbusters The Terminator and Terminator 2 movies, director James Cameron made a flop. Well not exactly a flop, but a movie that cost more to make than it took in. The Abyss was supposed to be a tour de force, and although impressive in many ways, it wasn’t exactly a mega hit either. Featuring what was then the top of the line special effects, Cameron took this movie to one of his favorite spots on the planet, the depts of the ocean, to deliver yet another alien encounter movie. A deep sea oil platform and its operation crew are enlisted to investigate the mysterious circumstances in which a US military submarine succumbed to the ocean floor. Was it a Russian attack? And why are some Navy seals sent down along to help with the investigation? But the mystery and intrigue are set aside when eerie alien apparitions and a bunch of mishaps hamper the mission. While the movie is solid in every respect there seems to be some little something that is missing that somehow takes away from the overall experience. The aliens look cool and interesting, but then again they are just gelatinous forms and there is absolutely no background or even any indication of what their future entails. At the end of the movie we really know nothing about them other than their benign intentions. There is a subplot in which the crew leader, Ed Harris, is forced to undergo the mission along with his ex-wife, who designed the platform, and of course their relationship is rekindled. But the heart strings pulls are obvious from the get go and no surprise. The best elements are some of the action scenes of course and the conflict between the navy seals and the oil men. It’s a fine movie to watch, but not a fantastic movie.

Alien VS Predator – AVP (2004)
You got your Aliens. You got your Predators. Put them together and what do you get? A irresistible cash generating machine for Fox. The thing here is that when you already know that a movie is being made solely to cash in on a franchise opportunity (or even better as is the case here, pitting two franchises, head to head) your viewing expectations are low. You want to see Alien monsters fight with Predator hunters. Anything else the movie delivers, like a story that makes sense, is considered icing on the cake. So I have to give credit to the producers for actually bothering to come up with a decent scenario. As we all know, Predators have been using Earth as a hunting ground and have hunted humans for sport and thrills. But even in the earlier Predator movies, it was only sporting when they had experienced prey that could at least offer some degree of challenge. So logically, it would only seem natural that Predators would enjoy the challenge in defeating the Ultimate living fighting machine, Alien creatures. Turns out, the Predators are well aware of the challenges offered up by Aliens. So much so, that they’ve kinda made Earth a battleground for explicit AVP fights. When humans find the fight center ring they realize that if they don’t put a stop to it, then the entire planet will become one giant arena. All things considered, it’s not that terrible a movie. But it is called Aliens VS Predator. So as long as you don’t forget that, you should be OK if you’ve decided to watch a movie with that title at all.

The Green Mile (1999)
Not your typical Stephen King Horror, this story delves more in the realm of fantasy than horror. A prisoner on death row has the power to heal not only ailments but also to bring back the dead. Set in a 1930’s prison, we find that the custodian guards in charge of the death row wing are compassionate but are strained when a politicians depraved relative is reluctantly given a job as a prison guard. The new guard raises friction as he doles out unnecessary cruelties to the prisoners, one stint culminating in an excruciatingly cruel electric chair frying scene. Tom Hanks plays the guard captain of the unit and it is he that discovers the new prisoner’s (played by Michael Clarke Duncan) special abilities. Hanks is faced with not only executing the prisoner with a remarkable ability, but also one who is innocent of the crime he has been convicted of. Yet another great Stephen King story directed by Frank Darabont, who has extensive experience in this area as he also directed The Shawshank Redemption and The Mist.

Shutter Island (2010)
The latest from director Martin Scorcese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Shutter Island is a nice mix of mystery and psychological thriller. A murder investigation brings two FBI agents to a remote island insane asylum. Amid the insanity of the patients, the agents start running into contradictions and mysterious events as the ‘warden’ (Ben Kingsley) limits their investigation. The depression era 1930’s setting is perfect for the atmosphere of the story, but ultimately too many clues are put forth and the real story becomes apparent way to early in the film to be totally satisfying. There is enough interest to continue watching once you’ve figured out the main mystery, but it could have been a better movie had the mystery lingered longer. It’s still a better than an average movie, so I would recommend it.

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