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Summer’s End

Wow. I just did a count of all the movies I’ve seen this summer. We’ve hit a new record low, folks. I’ve only seen 3 films. But you know what? I’m totally cool with that.

In the days of yore before I had, you know, bills and a car payment, rent, etc., I would see almost every film released during the summer season. I used to collect the ticket stubs and marvel at their number.

Mind you, this was also when matinée showings were around $3 and evening films were $5-ish. Today’s matinée showing of The World’s End (I’ll get to that in a bit) was $8 freaking dollars!!! WTF!

My overdue point here is that I can no longer afford to go to every release as that really adds up. Instead of marveling at my stub stack, I’d be marveling as how quickly my bank balance plummeted. Ha!

Anyways, things being what they are, I’ve become a little particular when it comes to what I see over the summer months. I check out the releases and make a list of (a) what I’d like to see and then out of that (b) what I must, by all means, see. The rest go straight to the Netflix queue. Needless to say, my queue is a bit crowded right now.

So..what trifecta of films made the grade?

  1. Star Trek Into Darkness
  2. Pacific Rim
  3. The World’s End.

Just looking at that list made me realize that my genre of choice must be science fiction. Again, totally cool with that. Most of my favorite movies fall into that bucket, and really, why else do we go to the movies but to escape? There’s no further escape than sci-fi.

I’ve raved about Pacific Rim already, so you don’t need my thoughts on that. Star Trek? All I need to tell you is this: Cumberbatch. Nuff said. But The World’s End? Ahh…I’ve decided it’s the perfect film to watch for this summer’s end.

The World’s End is the final film of the “Three Flavors of Cornetto” trilogy starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and directed by Edgar Wright. The other two films are Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.  TWE follows a group of friends as they attempt to recreate a pub crawl from their youth. During the crawl they discover their hometown has been taken over by aliens. The premise is a little zany but it totally works.

I’m a HUGE Simon Pegg fan so it’s hard for me to find anything wrong with the film other than that it had a bit of a slow start. Aside from that, it was awesome. There were several cameos from folks who were in the other two films as well as a couple from the Pegg/Frost/Wright TV show, Spaced  (if you haven’t seen this, shame on you).

Oh, also this movie was damn funny. I laughed and laughed. People in the theater laughed too. It wasn’t just me!! Anyways, that’s about it. I just wanted to note the few films I saw and say that I’m glad I saw them.

Did you see any stand-out films over the summer? Are you having to be choosy too? Let me know.

Chupacabra vs what????

How on earth did I manage to hear about this AFTER it has aired???!!!  Syfy’s schedule shows the next air date as May 4. I’m tuning in. Oh yeah…

Seriously, with a title being Chupacabra vs The Alamo and Eric Estrada being the star….I can’t even form a full sentence. Needless to say, I will watch this movie. Has anyone seen it?

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Fun factoids about the Chupacabra and the Alamo

1. The Chupacabra is listed in the animal grouping of “cryptid” which translates as a creature whose existence is suggested but has yet to be proven. Other cryptids include the Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster.

2. There is no basement in the Alamo. I learned this from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure when he trekked to San Antonio in search of his stolen bicycle. The fortune teller told him it was in the basement.  Guess not.

A Disturbance in The Force

***We postpone the long-awaited movie review to bring you this late-breaking opinion.***

So a little while back, when Uncle George announced he was selling Lucasfilm and all the wonderful Star Wars-ness that goes with it, I had a toddler-sized meltdown. I was conflicted in my anger, sadness and my feelings of relief that Uncle George wasn’t going to hurt my beloved franchise anymore. Because, as sad and selfish as it is to admit, it’s the truth. The fans have so embraced the SW universe, that it’s no longer Lucas’s. In our hearts, it’s ours. Search your feelings. You know it to be true.

So once I got over my conflictedness (Is it a word? It is now), I joined the throng of folks eagerly awaiting what would come next. After all, we had been promised a new installment by 2015. Entertainment media jumped in with crazy speculation. Who would direct? Steven Spielberg was the obvious choice since he and Lucas had worked together before (and for any dozen other reasons you can come up with). But no. Spielberg passed. Brad Bird’s name was next. Nay, not Brad. David Yates, Christopher Nolan, Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Vaughn… All of them were a no. Even J.J. Abrams said no. But not so fast! Now it’s a yes.

J.J. Abrams will take on the mantle that is Star Wars. And once again, I’m soooo conflicted. There has been a disturbance in the Force, and I just don’t know. I have a bad feeling about this.

Pros:

  • He’s a total geek fanboy, and that’s a good thing.
  • He’s brought us some of the coolest television shows ever (Alias, Lost, Fringe).
  • He loves Star Wars.
  • He is a more than capable film director. And he is not any of the following: Michael Bay, Joel Schumacher (who ruined the Batman franchise), or Roland Emmerich.

Cons:

  • He already has hold of the Star Trek film franchise.  Is this too much to have on his plate?
  • While his TV shows easily hit the mark for good entertainment, his movies have been inconsistent. Mission Impossible III was, in my opinion, Jerry Maguire with guns. I almost walked out of the theater on that one. Cloverfield felt pointless, and what’s with the creature in that movie looking almost exactly like the one in Super 8? Yes, I know Cloverfield came out first, but someone should have drawn a new creature. Also, Abrams was a producer for Morning Glory. Have you seen it? Don’t.
  • And he’s a big Star Wars fan. I know I mentioned it as a pro, but it’s also a con. His love of the movies might cause the same type of tunnel vision Uncle George sometimes suffered from.

Questions:

  1. In a lot of Abrams’ work (well, on TV at least) the idea of a parallel universe or alternate timeline or mythological device sometimes comes into play. Will he use his trick of the trade in the new movie? Will there be a smoke monster on Hoth? Cause that would be cool.
  2. Will Greg Grunberg have a role? Yes, duh. But what role will it be?
  3. Will the Cloverfield / Super 8 creature show up? Maybe we’ll learn its origins. Now, that would be an interesting tie-in.
  4. Unrelated to Abrams, but will any of our original cast members be in the new movie? Pretty please?
  5. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Can we trust Abrams with our Star Wars  universe? I mean, we have no choice about it, but can we?  What are your thoughts on this?

I know I’m doing the worry-wart thing on this. In a couple weeks, I’ll  be so over it all and totally on board with my 2015 installment. But for now, I just don’t know.To quote Adam Sandler’s character, Louie, in the wonderful Mixed Nuts, “oh so many things for me to wonder. I love grape jelly!” Ain’t that the truth.

Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi!

On October 30, I took a five-minute break at work to browse the headlines. What I read came as a horrible shock. George Lucas had sold Lucasfilm Ltd. to Disney for 4 billion dollars. The sale included Star Wars and all the licenses, movies, TV options, games, etc and so on and so forth. I almost cried. Seriously. I was almost in tears. My co-workers, should they ever be interviewed for my reaction, would tell you that I sat there mumbling to myself for a good 5-10 minutes saying “No, nononononono noooooooooo” over and over again. I felt a dull sort of crack form in my cold little heart. Something stable and solid and foundation-like in my life had suddenly changed.

I didn’t know which part of the news headline upset me the most. The fact that Uncle George sold Lucasfilm was bad enough. He had Kathleen Kennedy on board as his heir to the kingdom. I thought things would just pass along to her. Then the Disney aspect upset me. Disney is, in many ways, the evil Empire. Yes, they bring good, but all I could see was High School Musical and the crazy Disneyfication of beloved characters. Would they now appear in a Kingdom Hearts video game alongside Mickey Mouse? I don’t think I could survive Han Solo sitting around with Donald Duck or Goofy. The next part that upset me was the 4 billion part. In my mind, Star Wars alone is worth much, much more. But I’m not a film executive. Maybe that was a hefty fee. Who knows? Also, I was and still am concerned about the other Lucas companies. From what I understand Lucasfilm Ltd. is the parent company for Industrial Light & Magic, LucasArts, and Skywalker Sound.  Does that mean that Disney now owns those as well? [Note: If someone can let me know, that would be super.]

So yeah, I was upset. For several days I pretty much felt like I had been betrayed. I don’t know a world without Star Wars. The original trilogy is this holy set of movies for me. To think that someone who isn’t George Lucas now has control over them is really scary to me.

So let’s fast-forward a few days. The news had sunk in a bit. A couple of friends of mine (who were also initially upset) pointed out that the prequels were pretty bad. I hate to say it, but it’s so true. Phantom Menace aside from the groovy Darth Maul and a cool light saber fight at the end, was a kids’ movie. And I HATE little kid Anakin Skywalker. I hate him and his “yay, I’m a slave!” mentality and his little bowl haircut. This kid does not deserve to grow up to be Darth Vader. Nope. Attack of the Clones wasn’t much better. We were stuck having to watch the lack of chemistry between Natalie Portman and Hayden Christiansen. When we weren’t doing that, we were stuck watching Christiansen’s teenage Anakin start to delve into his darker side. Not dark enough though. I saw no motivation. Revenge of the Sith wasn’t that bad. I enjoy parts of it—specifically any scene with Ewan McGregor. I’ve found that if you skillfully fast-forward the right scenes, you can enjoy what I like to call Star Wars Episode 3: The Adventures of Obi-Wan. 

Right, so the prequels were definitely not all they could have been. Most of the blame for that can be aimed at Lucas who wrote and directed all three films. Maybe if other directors had been brought in, the movies could have been so much more. But they weren’t. Oh, and Jar Jar Binks is just wrong!

I was conflicted. I was angry at Lucas for selling the company, but I was also upset about the way the prequels turned out. I was also sort of relieved that Lucas wouldn’t be able to hurt and tweak the movies any more. I prefer the original, hokey Ewok song. Special Edition versions of the movies still don’t feel necessary to me. But at the same time, Lucas is the man who created the Star Wars universe. Without him, we wouldn’t have Obi-Wan, or Luke, or Lando. There would be no Millennium Falcon or Death Star. I didn’t have a solid opinion. Confusion!!!

And then there was a beacon of hope in the form of my hero, Luke Skywalker. Mark Hamill was interviewed about his opinion of the sale, and he was onboard with it. Well, if Luke Skywalker says it’s okay, then I’m okay. So I decided that since (obviously) there was nothing I could do, I might as well just get over myself and see what happens.

But wait! There’s more! Announcements were made about three more Star Wars films. Episodes VII, VIII and IX? How could it be done? Our three leads are still active in their professions, but it’s been 30 years! How far in the future would these sequels be set? And what will the story be about? For about a week now, I’ve been brainstorming plot ideas with a buddy of mine. We have a few good ideas but only time will tell. I just have to have faith that since Disney now owns Marvel Studios and they didn’t screw up any films out of that universe, they’ll treat the Star Wars universe with the same respect.

In some ways, I feel like a hypocrite. On October 30 I was ready to join the mob of angry villagers with my pitchfork and torch. Two and a half weeks later, I’m looking forward to 2015 (the year of Episode VII). Maybe the whole thing is one big Jedi mind trick. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  These new films could go in one of two ways. They could be super-awesome, most excellent sequels and live on as wonderful Star Wars films. They would be known as worthy successors to the franchise. OR…they could go the way of the prequels as highly anticipated yet ultimately disappointing to the masses who grew up with only Original Trilogy. [I do understand that there are whole populations of children and teenagers who know the prequels as the main films of the series.  *shudder*]  Now would be a really good time for Yoda to do a little bit of future-checking.

Worst. Vacation. Ever.

This year’s Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to two scientists who were (and still are) paving new paths in the world of optical physics. Man, oh man, I wish they had been involved in this week’s movie. I’m not an expert in the world of physics, but the equation just isn’t balancing. Something ain’t right. And for that reason, I’m going to recap this sucker. You know what that means!

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Our movie this week is Termination Point which stars 80’s/90’s heart-throbs, Jason Priestley (of 90210 fame) and Lou Diamond Phillips (of Young Guns fame). Both are way older now so they look less like heart-throbs and more like grown up folks who make questionable airline choices. I digress…

The film opens with a scene in which a jet engine crashes through a barn roof. It’s very ill-timed because it totally interrupts the teenagers rounding 2nd base in the hayloft.  Outside, the farmland is littered with debris from what looks like a passenger jet. There’s an emergency door, some charred bodies, and before you can say “Donnie Darko” a singed scrap of paper that turns out to be a boarding pass DATED FOR TOMORROW!!!

The sky turns dark and the clouds open up in a sort of vortex. There are also lightning strikes that act more like Dalek attacks and they cause whatever they touch to vanish. It’s like the sky is screaming “EXTERMINATE!!!”

Cue the opening credits!!! Let me say right here and now that this movie is obviously supposed to be in the science fiction genre, and the filmmakers want emphasis on the science–but not too much! The opening credit segment is in pink. VERY pink…like, um…pink. They are also science-like with images of graphs and charts. There’s also lasers.

Around the time your retinas are burned out, the movie starts back up again. We learn that something called the Alpha String Project (ASP) has gone missing. This immediately throws a variety of covert government/military folks into a tizzy.

Meanwhile at the airport, Jason Priestley boards a plane bound for Mexico City. Priestley plays Caleb Smith: a man on vacation with his family.  Lou Diamond Phillips boards too. He is a scientist named Daniel Winter. He’s over the Alpha String Project and works for STC. We learn Caleb is in security. We never really learn what STC is. I’m not even certain if that’s Caleb’s employer or Winter’s. It’s never very clear, and is just one of many details the movie never fleshes out for us.

If you recall, the  ASP has gone missing. Guess who gets the call? Caleb! He tells his wife and daughter to enjoy their flight, and that he’ll meet up with them via a later flight.  Caleb checks in with his assistant, Allison (who might be at the STC office–I don’t know!!!), and learns that it’s Winter who totally stole the ASP.

Caleb and his security team bust into Winter’s house.  The house is clear, but there are crazy person murals all over the place along with a list of aliases for Winter and pictures of Caleb’s wife and daughter–odd. They also find a crazy person video where Winter explains that he’s doing what he’s doing because he has no choice and so on and so forth. He claims the government wants to militarize the ASP and that would “bring about a catastrophe.”  Allison runs the aliases and one pops up on that flight with Caleb’s family.

Thank you for flying Sky Wing Airlines. We hope you have a pleasant flight. We return to the plane where the seatbelt light has just turned off. Caleb’s daughter (Sarah) stands in the world’s longest airplane bathroom queue. What did these people eat/drink before takeoff? Some skeezy guy flirts with Sarah and he’s just creepy.  Then the air marshal steps in the shuts that down. Ha!

Meanwhile, the pilots are finally alerted to a possible security threat on their plan. They are to standby for a fighter intercept and escort. Great day to go into work!  The Captain announces that they are having a mechanical issue and need to turn the plane around. Winter isn’t buying it. He pulls out some strange gizmo and we get a shot of some crate in the hold.

Back on the ground, Caleb is arguing with his boss, Quinn. Quinn had earlier received word from the President that the flight was expendable. Orders have been given to shoot the plane down. We also learn that the ASP is a teleporter.

Quinn issues the orders to fire on the plane. Meanwhile, Winter uses his Blackberry (cause they can dress it up, but that’s what it is) to activate the teleporter. The fighters shoot the plane.  At this point, Priestley works up some real tears–maybe. Hard to tell. But he appears very upset.

Let me introduce you to Joshua at the STC (???) office.  He has the best job in the whole movie. He gets to tell us what the plan is. He’ll pop up from time to time. I just thought you ought to meet.  Joshua announces that while we all saw the explosion in the sky, the hit was not confirmed. Then we learn that the plane’s transponder is in a debris field (the farm) and Caleb is on his way. Fun fact: the debris field farm is over 100 miles away from where the plane was shot down. You do the math.

Caleb checks out the wreckage on the farm. He finds his daughter’s purse and asks where the bodies are. An agent working the site says the bodies were moved hours ago since the debris was found the day before. But per Caleb the plane just exploded within the last hour or so.  Odd.

Quinn arrives and gets a talking to from Caleb. Quinn says there’s an odd chance that his family is still alive. They go into the situation tent. To review, the ASP is a teleporter and we see footage of a test on a lab rat. It works. Rat is teleported 3 feet. Wow. I’m sold.

We are also lectured on wormholes and null-space. A character I’m naming Young Assistant tells Caleb that they confirmed Winter took the machine and put it on the plane. Quinn’s theory is that Caleb’s family is existing in another dimension.  Everyone totally goes with this theory. There are no questions; there are no naysayers in the field. The plane’s passengers–not all, but some–are still existing but they are outside of space and time for right now. And everyone’s cool with it.

Meanwhile, we cut back to the Schrödinger’s plane. Claire (Caleb’s wife) and Sarah are having a small freak out. The plan is half-empty. They look out the window and it’s all dark and lightning-like. They wonder what happened to the others. A popular theory is that they are all dead and this is what Hell must be like. Also, the pilots are missing, so the plane is sort of flying on its own.

Back on the farm, science equipment detects an atmospheric anomaly.  This is so lame. Helicopters witness the swirling clouds of the vortex. Joshua asks one pilot if he needs to abort. When there’s no reply, Joshua does what everyone in movies on phones do when they don’t get the response they want. He stands up, and then leans forward with his hands on his desk and asks again in a more stern fashion. Like that makes a difference. Vortex lightning takes out the helicopter.

By the way, Joshua and everyone else refer to the vortex as the wormhole, so I will too. New theory. The wormhole that teleported the plane is too large to close, and is getting larger. Cue the disaster music!

We learn that there were two controllers for the machine. One was that Blackberry. The other is missing. It is thought that it’s with Winter’s girlfriend, Jasmine.  Caleb and some guy show up at Jasmine’s place. There are cops inside only they aren’t really. They are hit-men. Caleb shoots one of them dead, but the other gets away.  The nameless partner, however, is killed in the crossfire. Caleb locates Jasmine who is in dire need of medical attention. She is barely alive. but we manage to learn the other controller is in the bank.

Suspicious that there were hit-men at Jasmine’s place, Caleb worries that might be a mole in the organization. He relays this to Allison. Also, there is a new plan. The science folks want to use an EMP on the wormhole in hopes that it will shut it down or something. I’m really confused. I love science, but these folks keep jumping from plan to plan. I think they have no actual plan.

Back on the plane, air security guy and skeezy guy (who might actually also be air security) ask to speak with Dr. Winter. They accuse Winter of stealing sensitive equipment and activating it. Huh? How did they know what was on board? Something doesn’t smell right.

“This plane has been teleported into an alternate dimension.” If you want to read that sentence again you can. Cause that’s totally what Winter explains to the folks left on the plane. Folks who were seated nearest to the teleporter get to hear this explanation, because those who were not as near are now dead. Oh, and also, the wormhole is once again referred to as “vortex.” I wish people would make up their minds! AND, if the plane gets pulled into the vortex, they will be crushed to death. Awesome.

By now you might be saying, “well, let’s just teleport out of there and go home! Maybe Everybody Loves Raymond is on somewheres.” Ah, but you see, the power cells are damaged in the device, so now it’s fixing time. Sarah is the smallest so she gets to be the one to climb down into the hold and open the crate. Winter drops the handy info that the power cells are very unstable and could she refrain from jostling them too much. Otherwise, ka-boom.  I

We also learn that air security guy and skeezy guy are evil henchmen hired to steal the ASP from Winter who literally just stole it from his workplace. I just want to make sure you are following.

On the ground, a pulse bomb has been sent into the wormhole but it does NOTHING except make the magnetic field stronger. Oops. Also, some character has now deduced that the vortex could destroy the plane. How they know that the plane is on a collision course with the vortex is anyone’s guess.

Caleb requests clearance to get into the bank vault of the now destroyed town of Eastboro. Just one scene earlier, the crazy vortex lightning took out everything in it’s path except for the bank. Very convenient.  Caleb and the bank manager work to find the correct safe deposit box, but when they open it, it’s empty. Also, the fake cop hit-man from earlier shows back up to shoot up the place. Now Caleb is sure there’s a mole, but who??

We learn that the vortex is still growing. At this rate, it will keep growing until infinity, and then the entire universe will cease to exist. Bummer.

Stupid, well-meaning Allison tells Young Assistant guy that there might be a leak in the office’s security. Young guy tells her that Quinn is the leak which is pointless, because as soon as he and Allison walk out in to the hall, he kills her. So I guess he’s Evil Young Assistant guy now.

Back on the plane, fake air marshal and skeezy boy manage to shoot the flight attendant. The resulting scuffle causes Winter to drop his Blackberry and break it. So even though the teleport has been repaired and refueled, there’s no way to operate it. Oh, and that vortex is getting closer.

At this point, fake air marshal and skeezy boy are holding everyone captive.  Since they are getting closer to the vortex, I guess time is out of joint or something. Ghostly images of two hours ago start appearing. So for example, that recently deceased flight attendant has shown back up as a ghost in First Class.

Regular Movie rule: The vehicle in which our hero drives can outrun any natural disaster. As Caleb drives all willy-nilly around the destroyed area, he has a brainstorm. He has a flashback to his daughter saving up for their vacation and realizes that the bank dying Jasmine spoke of, was a piggy bank in her room.  While collecting the controller from Jasmine’s house Caleb gets to go through another shootout–this time with Evil Young Assistant guy. This time the vortex joins in and kills the evil assistant dude.

Joshua the all-knowing believes that they can erase a timeline. This is like the third new plan he’s come up with. They’ll open a wormhole (that’s right! They are calling it “wormhole” again) on the plane with the 2nd controller, and somehow that makes things better.

Back on the plane. A small wormhole appears in the bathroom. It’s Caleb to the rescue. He unties his wife and has her untie the other passengers. Skeezy goes to check out the noise.  Caleb attacks and knocks him out. Fake air marshal shoots Caleb’s wife.  At this point, the vortex lightning now gets into the plane and takes out a side of it. Skeezy gets zapped. Good riddance. Then Caleb utters “have a safe flight” to fake air marshal and kicks him off the plane.

Okay, here’s what happens next that really burns my biscuits. Caleb sends himself a text message explaining how Evil Young Assistant is evil, and that Winter will be stealing the device. Um…it’s a teleporter, not a time machine. This makes no nevermind since they manage to teleport back to their original timeline just as the plane enters the vortex/wormhole.

So, let me get this straight. Caleb sends a text from a timeline that will cease to exist once the teleporter activates and sends them back to where they started which means that he was never able to do all he did in world saving and good-deed doing and shooting because he never needed to since it never happened! [deep breath].

This obviously doesn’t matter, because as we witness Caleb and family board their flight, Caleb gets that text of all that is to come. He’s able to stop Winter, and we see Evil Young Assistant guy get arrested by Quinn.  Also, Allison is still alive. Since Caleb has somehow averted imminent doom, he and his family get to go to Mexico City on the company jet. Hooray!!!

Yeah, so that’s Termination Point. It was an exciting movie to watch. The twists and turns with events were paced well so the movie never slowed down too much. But there was obviously a lot of crazy. I found myself going “huh?” many, many times while watching the movie.  Is the movie worth checking out? I suppose if you have nothing else to do, then go for it. But consider yourself warned. There is no ASP device to teleport back to before you made that movie-watching decision, and as far as I can tell, there’s no way to text yourself from the future. Good luck!

 

And Then There Were Aliens

In Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, a group of people are lured to an island by a mysterious host. The guests are then picked off one by one, and no one knows who the murderer is. Next to Murder on the Orient Express, it’s one of Christie’s most famous works.

This week’s cinematic endeavor is really similar to And Then There Were None—sort of. You have to squint and be really flexible with the term “similar.” If you make it that far, you too will see that Terminal Invasion has “classic” potential written all over it—not. I kid!!! It’s not a classic at all, but it did make me think of the Christie work.

Terminal Invasion is a movie that I really hesitated in reviewing. It should have been a no-brainer. After all, it hits almost all of my “meh movie” criteria. The problem is that Bruce Campbell is the star of the movie, and I am a card-carrying Bruce Campbell fangirl. How can I objectively review any movie with him in it? That was my main worry. Would my admiration of Bruce block my reasoning brain cells from seeing the turkey that the movie could potentially be? As it turns out, I’m able to separate Church of Bruce from the State of the Movie. All is well.

TI takes place at the world’s most inconvenient and tiny airport. I think it might be patterned after Tom Nevers Field Airport from TV’s Wings. I half expected Tony Shalhoub to wander into a scene. There is a nasty blizzard, and a small group of passengers and airport personnel are trapped in the itty-bitty lounge.

You get all kinds here. First of all, there’s Cathy the spunky feminist pilot. She’s a by-the-book type which means that no, she won’t fly the plane in a blizzard, and it doesn’t matter how much money you offer her. Cathy is instantly likable since her first scenes show her handling snobby passengers such as the wealthy David Higgins (who I’ve been calling “Armani” in my notes), and the bickering Phillips couple—Sarah and Andrew. There’s also Gloria the old lady airport um…lady. Del the TSA Agent and Darian the wise-cracking passenger round out the airport folks. Also, there are two very bratty and creepy children running about. Where are their parents??!!!!

Lastly, I mention Bruce. Bruce plays a convict named Jack. Jack was being transported when the police vehicle slid across the road and landed in a ditch. The two cops and Jack all got to wander to the nearest building which happened to be Tiny Airport. The cops want to keep Jack at the airport until a relief vehicle can arrive to continue his transport to the next prison cell.

Using the old “I’ve got to take a leak” trick, Jack dupes the cops into taking off his cuffs so he can take care of his business. While Jack tries to pee, a priest exits one of the stalls and washes his hands. But I’m telling you here and now that there was no soap usage. Ew. Then, preacher man totally picks up one of the cops and tosses him about the room. I did not see that coming. Or maybe I did. After all, he didn’t use soap. We can’t trust anything about this man. Preacher man kills the two cops, and starts heading towards Jack. Preacher Man is an alien!!!!! We get to see his shifty alien eyes. They are very creepy. They kind of blink from regular eyes to a sideways slide of black. Not normal.

Jack is able to kill the alien. However, alien guy’s body melts into goo, so it looks as if Jack has killed the cops himself. This isn’t going to go over well with the folks out in the lounge area. Jack must be some kind of hardened criminal, because he takes it all in stride, and Bruce Campbell is just so cool when he’s playing a meanie. He holds the passenger group at gunpoint and explains that he needs a flight to Canada.

Oh, I forgot to mention that there’s this blond lady in the group. She’s sobbing over the dead cops and does a lot of overacting in general. She calls Jack an animal (Yeah, he is!) and then starts hyperventilating. She’s really very annoying, so it’s a wonderful thing when, during a struggle between Jack and Del the TSA guy that the gun goes off and Blondie eats a bullet. But does this kill her right away? Nope. She is an alien!!!

Blondie the alien really just looks like she’s slept in her car. Her hair is suddenly wild, and she starts snarling at Bruce before he shoots her dead—for reals this time. Part of me kept waiting for him to utter some lines from Army of Darkness but alas…

So here’s the dilemma: There are aliens in the airport. The aliens look like regular people, but are clearly intent on doing harm. Also, the group is stranded and can’t leave. What to do? What I love is how quickly everyone rolls with the alien concept. There isn’t a single naysayer in the bunch trying to find a more “rational” explanation. Nope. Someone says alien, and everyone else agrees. It’s kind of refreshing.

Pilot Cathy immediately starts calling the shots, or as she so politely puts it, “I am the Alpha Female, people. What I say goes.” Ha! Cathy suggests that whatever the group does, they have to do it together and also keep an eye out since any one of them could be an alien. I love the immediate trust/distrust.

One thing the group agrees on immediately is that despite the bad weather, they have to get out of the airport. Del suggests that in order to figure out who is alien and who isn’t they each take a ride through the carry-on x-ray machine. This works fine for a brief period. We learn that the Phillips’ are not aliens. Also, Del checks out fine. Alas, tiny, old Gloria turns into a giant alien creature and we see her transform on the view-screen. What’s funny is that somehow she sets off the alarm system on the x-ray machine. Is there a setting for that? Del peers into the machine like a fool, and is snatched inside. There’s a cool view-screen play-by-play of their struggle. Neither survives.

Anyways, after the x-ray disaster, our survivors decide to ignore their earlier plan and split into groups. Super… Armani, Darian, Sarah and Andrew hang out in the lounge. Armani and Darian bond over snack foods. Meanwhile Sarah chooses this to be the time to discuss with Andrew the current state of their marriage? Really?

Cathy remembers the bratty little kids and goes off to find them. Why she thinks they’ll be in the scary basement-looking hangar is beyond me, but there they are. Meanwhile, Jack learns from Sarah that those kids don’t belong to anyone that they know of. I bet you can put two and two together on this one. Jack runs to save Cathy.

Creepy little boy and girl have alien eyes!!! Run for your lives!!! I knew it! The little boy is the scariest. He’s got red hair and very pale skin. He grins like Damian, and when he starts to morph into alien form, he’s even creepier. Eek!!! Jack and Cathy manage to escape the evil children, but that’s okay. The kids can just kill off the group hanging out in the lounge—and that’s just what they set out to do.

The rest of the movie is mostly Jack and Cathy being the smart ones by outrunning and outwitting the aliens. The others seem better suited at being hunted by the evil alien children. I won’t say who else lives or dies. I don’t want to give away the whole thing. Sheesh!

Oddly enough, the movie started to slow down for me around the time everyone was running away from aliens. The psychological drama of who could be an alien was actually, pretty interesting. Once folks are crawling through ventilation ducts and blocking entryways, the movie lost a little something.

I know! I’ll talk about the aliens. For most of the movie the aliens are in people form. But after a while, they change into full-on alien form. They are flesh-colored with longish limbs. They are also really slimy and very toothy. They kept reminding me of the alien assassin that shows up in The Last Starfighter. You remember—he’s the one who showed up to kill Alex but was thwarted by Robert Preston. Man, I love that movie. I’m putting it in as soon as I finish writing this. Back to subject. Yes. So picture the Xandoxan from The Last Starfighter and then make his head more cone-shaped and make his mouth bigger. Also move his eyes from the sides, more up to like regular peoples. They are practically twins. Scary.

Bruce Campbell: It was interesting seeing him play an anti-hero. I mean, in the Evil Dead movies, Ash would rather be someplace else obviously, but I’ve never thought of him as anti. He’s just the hero. For most of this movie, Bruce seems to be PMSing a little bit. He comes across as bored and cranky. He’s also kind of cold-hearted at times.  He has a plan to get out of the country and will do whatever is necessary to achieve that. However, because this is Bruce as the lead, he’s also the hero. He has no problem fighting the aliens. It’s not much of an action role, but he’s so the alpha male in the group. Armani is like a very distant second. Way distant. Bruce also has the best line in the entire movie. The arch-villain (whom I won’t reveal) seems to think he/she knows that Bruce will leave the other survivors to their doom so he can escape to Canada. And that’s when we get this line: “You don’t know Jack.” ha ha…Cheesy yet effective because his character’s name is Jack. *snort*

So looky there, kids! I was able to do it. Terminal Invasion is not the greatest of films. It has the strange honor of slowing down when the action speeds up. It’s also fairly easy to figure out who is and who isn’t an alien. For that reason, the plot gets very predictable, and I kind of wanted the aliens to hurry up their hunting of the humans so we could get to the end. Chase Masterson who played Cathy the pilot was okay in her role. She wasn’t super memorable, but she held her own in scenes with Mr. Campbell.

And Bruce…he’s the man.

Red Faction: Lacking Action

Gather close young cadets, for tonight I tell you the tale of Red Faction: Origins starring the elusive Robert Patrick. Considering the popular video game series, this movie attempts to do what few movies based on a video game have done before–not entirely suck. Does it succeed? I honestly don’t know. I think it tried.

***And just a quick word to the wise. I’ve written this review in a recap type of format. While I don’t give away the whole movie, I do share a lot. I really don’t think any harm is done, but if you don’t want to know chunks of plot, then by all means, go back to whatever flash game you were playing and get off my lawn!!!***

I knew right off the bat that I was in for a challenge. Let’s begin with the menu screen music. While choosing my Play/Scene Selection options, I was entertained by a musical overture that sounded like a cross between a jaunty adventure tune and some fictional country’s anthem. Possibly one of those fictional eastern European countries housing villains from La Femme Nikita or Alias. Just saying…

Onwards to our feature presentation!  The movie opens with a voice-over from some news/propaganda airing on about 20 TVs in some kind of post-apocalyptic bar where the guy gives a delightful backstory into the Red Faction resistance movement for independence on Mars. The movement was led by Alec Mason (played by Robert Patrick). Under his leadership, the RF’s teamed up with Marauders who, after obtaining victory, allegedly double-crossed the RF’s and killed Mason’s wife and daughter. Bummer. And wouldn’t you know it? Not even 1 minute into the film and our jaunty anthem tune starts right up! It’s going to be in my head for days…

So this whole time Mason has been sitting at a bar doing the whole stoic depressed fallen hero thing. The guy next to him recognizes him and buys him a beer. It’s not a whole beer, mind you. Maybe beer is a valuable commodity on Mars, because it’s like a third of a beer. Mason takes a look at it, and then pours it out. I’d pour out a third of a beer too. What if the bartender was cheap and lazy and handed me someone else’s unfinished drink?  No sir!

And like the awesome Terminator Robert Patrick is, he starts kicking ass and taking names. Only he’s not really a Terminator, so this doesn’t work out so well in his favor. And in steps young Lt. Jake Mason (Brian J. Smith) who has to stop the fight–then arrest his own father for disturbing the peace. Awkward…

Anyhoo, there’s some chatter in some scenes after that. Character intros and stuff that are kind of bland so the scenes are really pointless. I guess we should take this time to introduce the token chick: Tess. She’s a bit jumpy and seems to be insecure with the fact that she’s Earth-born. Must involve the backstory. I’ll go with it. BTW, I’m thinking Tess is supposed to be our comic relief. I’m very concerned.

So, our young Jake’s team of soldiers are off to investigate some long-lost technology, and they take Tess along because she’s some sort of expert in…technology.  My favorite thing about the shuttle they are in is that the pilot obviously graduated from the Movie Mercenary Pilot Flight School. He’s totally got a scruffy, Russian Ushanka on his head and has half a cigarette hanging from his mouth. Nothing phases this guy. The ship loses power and plummets towards the ground. He doesn’t bat an eyelash. He just does his thing and maintains his cigarette. He’s my favorite character so far.

So on this technology expedition, our group of soldiers encounter the remains of a massacre. Many Marauders lie slain all about the set, and these folks in white suits (White Faction??) seem to be responsible. Jake finds himself facing off with one of these rogue agents. When the mask comes off, he realizes it’s his long lost sister Lyra–whom everyone thought dead.  How convenient! And the new problem is that everyone still thinks that–except Jake who had witnessed his mother being killed by soldiers in white and had seen his sister taken.

Okay..skipping around a bit. I don’t want to recap 100% of the movie or give away the whole plot. Ha ha. Jake goes on his own kind of vision quest and is accosted by some rough but jolly Mauraders. We know the head JM guy (I’m gonna call him Jolly Marauder) is a totally good guy because he has a Scottish accent, wears a cape, and carries a cool bo staff. We know where we stand with this one.

So off we go to some town so Jake can meet some guy who knows things. And I swear some homeless dude was adjusting his fake leg and another dude just ran by and snatched it! Obviously this town is a hive of scum and villainy and folk music. Oh good, Tess showed up.

Skipping ahead to Jake finding his sister. He’s infiltrated the White Faction’s secret hideout, and OMG!!! Gareth David-Lloyd is in this movie! He played the beloved Ianto Jones on Torchwood. I love this guy!  Moving on..The head honcho of the WF is easy to spot. He wears an eyepatch and speaks with the low, gruff whisper of Duane Benzie from Spaced. If you’ve never seen that show, then shame on you! Seriously, put it on your queue! Hulu is streaming it for free! There’s no excuse.

So Jake and Tess are caught. Jake confronts his sister who’s totally brainwashed by Duane Benzie and his crew. Also, out of nowhere, the Jolly Marauders show up to help our friends escape. Tess is shot and there was much rejoicing (yay…). Question: All these WF folks walk around in nice, clean white uniform jackets. Like dinner jackets for the military or something. How do they keep them so clean and white on a red, dusty planet like Mars? They must go through the bleach!

I honestly have no idea where the plot is leading us. I’m not sure if anyone knows. Tess is still alive but they keep teasing us that she might die. Robert Patrick has finally remembered he’s still in the movie, and has shown up on the set. Apparently everyone was on the call sheet that day. The chick who leads the Marauders is there, Jake’s dad, leaders of the RF, etc. Anyone not wearing a dinner jacket has been invited to a super secret meeting. Apparently we are at war with the White Faction. But I’m not sure why.

I don’t want to spoil the rest of the movie for you or the ending. So let’s just go over some pros/cons, shall we?

Effects: Pretty darn good for a TV movie. This movie had a budget, and the effects crew knew how to use it. Kudos!

Acting: Ehhhh……I don’t know if it’s the material or the actors. The two main did just fine as far as I’m concerned. The chick who played Tess got on my nerves. I felt she was too plucky. Maybe it’s not the actress’s fault. After all, she was responsible for having to deliver such eye-rolling lines as “Don’t get yourself killed.”  There’s really not much one can do with that kind of dialogue. Which brings me to the next point….

Writing/Story:  My brother had Red Faction and Red Faction 2. What I do remember from those is that games involve a lot of shooting and fighting and action. In this movie, there are a few scuffles and a couple rounds of fisticuffs. That’s it. There are a couple explosions, but nothing truly exciting. It was more of a talky drama. I’m so lost on the backstory of this whole thing, and people keep referencing it. And honestly, since I didn’t get what we were all fighting for, I just didn’t care  Also, there were just some really bad lines: “I will not run from my destiny!” “I will kill someone you hate with this.”  And the one I’m declaring winner:

“We are all Martians.”  Aren’t we all? Maybe…