“Stargate” (the movie)

Lately, I’ve been binge watching “Stargate SG-1,” the television series. Since I have liked the show so far (I’m in the middle of the sixth season), I thought it was time to go back to the beginning and watch the movie properly.

I know at some point that I tried to watch this movie; I remembered the beginning, but after that, and after watching the movie altogether, I can see why it was not particularly memorable.

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Alien Trespass

I’ll admit it; despite its flaws, I enjoyed “Alien Trespass,” the straight-to-DVD film from director R.W. Goodwin.

The fake backstory of the film was enough to get me to want to watch it; at the height of his popularity, M. Eric McCormack (“grandfather” of actor Eric McCormack) made “Alien Trespass,” but after a falling out with the studio, all copies of the film were destroyed and lost forever. Until now – a copy has resurfaced and the “grandchildren” of the makers have healed some old wounds and for our enjoyment, comes a forgotten treasure of ’50s sci-fi.

In a small California town, during a meteor shower, an erratic UFO crashes into a bluff. When scientist Ted Lewis (McCormack) goes to investigate, an alien snatches his body and begins walking around, being weird and attracting all sorts of attention from his fellow townfolk. Of course, while he’s off exploring and searching, the baddie alien is running amok and killing people. Not-Ted (otherwise known as Urp) keeps looking for the alien, but even with the help of plucky waitress Tammy (Jenni Baird), can he succeed and save humanity from imminent destruction???

To add to the gimmickry, the real filmmakers made the film only with materials and procedures available at that time. No CGI for these folks; that spaceship looks likes a model spaceship. That fake alien looks like a cheesy fake alien (although it moves pretty well).

I can admit, there’s not much there that’s original or surprising, but it is fun. It’s not a satire of those old monster movies; it’s a loving homage and it perfectly captures the goofy thrills and styles of that era. If you go in for those kind of pictures, by all means, see “Alien Trespass.” If you don’t, best look elsewhere.

“Alien Trespass” (2009)

Directed by R.W. Goodwin

Written by Steven P. Fisher

Starring: Eric McCormack (Ted Lewis/Urp)

Jenni Baird (Tammy)

Starman

What a delightful little find.

“Starman” is another early ’80s sci-fi flick, like “The Last Starfighter,” that isn’t a great movie, but it is a pretty good one.

The film opens in space; we of planet Earth have sent out a satellite loaded with language primers and an invitation for intelligent life to come visit us. Well, one traveling spaceman (Jeff Bridges) decides to take us up on the offer, but when he’s coming in for a landing, his ship is diverted; instead of landing in Arizona (poor guy), he finds himself in the backwoods of Wisconsin.

He stumbles upon one Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen), a woman who is still struggling to deal with the accidental death of her husband Scott (also Bridges). The Starman sifts through her house before stumbling upon some of Scott’s DNA and takes his form to better adapt to Earth-living.

But, he’s still got an appointment to keep, so he forces Jenny to give him a lift to Arizona, and from there, a basic sci-fi setup turns into an unlikely road trip movie, complete with some government baddies on their tail.

What happens next isn’t surprising, but what director John Carpenter manages to do is. Jenny is no dummy; she continually tries to escape, using direct and subtle means. Of course, she comes to realize that this alien, for all his other-ness and power, is just a baby who needs her to help him. Yes, it’s a love story, every story is a love story, but while it’s a rushed, it feels real.

Bridges received an Oscar nomination for his role, and he, like Allen, completely sells his character. When he first regenerates, he walks like a man using his muscles for the first time; he stumbles through language like a child does; he even uses his powers like a kid, over the top but effective. Just like Jenny, we grow to love this creature that wants nothing more than to see the best of our species.

Not bad for B-movie. It’s definitely worth checking out.

“Starman” (1984)

Directed by John Carpenter

Written by Bruce A. Evans, Raynold and Dean Riesner

Starring: Jeff Bridges (Starman)

Jenny (Karen Allen)

Videodrome

That was pretty weird.

I’m something of an off-and-on David Cronenberg fan; I don’t own any of his movies, but good or bad, his films stick with you. “Dead Ringers” is one that haunted me for months after seeing it. I don’t think “Videodrome” is going to haunt me that much, but I’m sad to say it’s one of his lesser films.

Here we have Max (James Woods), head of a seedy television channel that specializes in porn, from soft- to hard-core smut. Always on the lookout for something new and shocking, his assistant Harlan (Peter Dvorsky) shows him a feed for a show called Videodrome. In it, men and women are tortured and murdered, all so we can watch.

Of course, this feed comes with a little something extra; not long after Max sees the film, and shares it with his S&M-loving girlfriend Nicki (Deborah Harry, of Blondie fame), he begins hallucinating that his TV, and all video cassettes (Jim, they were Betamax!), are alive and communicating with him, rather than just at him.  

In his quest for knowledge and a “cure,” he stumbles upon the unlikely origins of Videodrome and its acolytes and opposition. I won’t give away more than that, but it’s a strange ride.

It’s also a bit on a long side, especially considering the runtime is only 88 minutes. I can live with the weird, and a rather unsatisfying end, but the film lost me about an hour in. To vague this up as much as possible, a female character commits to being the stupidest possible creature on Earth by simply losing the ability to add.

Yes, one could speculate that, hey, Max is a nutjob and that might not have happened, but we saw it anyway. In our eyes, it did happen, for no reason. It completely took me and my movie buddy out of the film and pretty much soured anything that came after.

That’s one big strike that can’t be washed away. I’ve heard rumours that a remake is in the works; if that character’s actions are omitted, I would be willing to approach it with an open mind. Fix that error, and I’m all yours.

Want another take on “Videodrome?” See what Jim has to say.

“Videodrome” (1983)

Written and directed by David Cronenberg

Starring: James Woods (Max)

Deborah Harry (Nicki)

Peter Dvorsky (Harlan)

Akira

 “Akira” begins with a shot of a nuclear blast in Tokyo, but it’s not the end of the world. Thirty or so years later, Neo Tokyo is alive and well, though with normal city problems. One of those is Kaneda (Mitsuo Iwata), a member of biker gang. During a typical show-off fest with their rival gang, Kaneda’s friend and second Tetsuo (Nozomu Sasaki) is injured, and Tetsuo’s captured by some shady government types who were trying to recapture a little boy on the lam.

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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

I can freely admit that I have little-to-no interest in seeing “Terminator: Salvation,” the fourth Terminator film set to hit theaters this summer, but I did have a perverse desire to watch “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” the ugly stepchild of the pack (so far).

The film totally, completely deserves that reputation. But, even though T3 is not on par with its predecessors, it’s not awful. Shocker.

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Through the years, I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with “Star Trek.” I’ve been through periods where I obsessively watch episodes EVERY SINGLE DAY for months, and then not watch anything related to it for years. And so on; I’m a geek, and one with hyper-focus, and by now that’s probably no secret to anyone reading this.

I also go through periods of watching the movies, and while I’ve seen most of them, I’ve made a point of skipping 1 and 5, universally recognized as the worst in the bunch. But I’m taking the plunge. I’ve seen the good, now it’s time to embrace the bad.

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Thoughts on “Blade Runner”

Once again, let’s subvert the formula here; I’m not going to do a straight up review of Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner.” It’s more of an interpretation of the possibilities.

But first, the story (with spoilers):

Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a retired Blade Runner, a cop/bounty hunter whose purpose is to track down Replicants, robots designed to look human. They’re illegal on Earth, and humans are given free rein to ‘retire’ them.

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A “Dark Knight” endorsement

I’m probably the last person in the country to see “The Dark Knight,” so I figure I don’t need to tell you all to go see it; if you haven’t, you’re missing out, but at this point, I don’t think a review would change anyone’s mind, one way or the other.

So, I’m going to write a different kind of review, one that comes with spoilers. You’ve been warned.

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