aliens

In space, simply scary beats too much talking

The crew of the Covenant, in better times.

Alien: Covenant, the eighth of the Alien series of films, feels like an old friend from whom you’ve long since grown apart, but with whom you’ll still grab a beer and listen to the same stories and jokes. The film checks all the series boxes, and delivers all the same jolts, but ultimately cannot break out of its own constraints.  

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Film Review: Arrival

by Chad Liffmann on November 11, 2016

Arrival arrives at just the right time to make us pause and think.

Amy Adams thinks about things, as we do, in ARRIVAL.

Amy Adams thinks about things, as we do, in ARRIVAL.

It feels like it’s been quite some time since a thought-provoking science-fiction film has come along — one that makes you really think. Now, before you come to the conclusion that “more thinking” equals “less entertaining”, think again! Arrival is a spectacular blend of drama, suspense, intelligence, and engaging visuals. Arrival also employs sound and music in an interesting way, aiding in the gradual fusion of the viewer experience with that of the characters. Once you emerge from the 118 minute cinematic trance you’ve been pulled into, you’ll realize that you’ve sat through one of the better films of the last year. And that realization, somehow, will be the same whether you loved the film or hated it.

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More like… ‘Edge of your seat’.

Saving Private Ryan meets Aliens

Groundhog D-Day

With films like The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith under his belt (as well as Swingers and Go), director Doug Liman is no stranger to directing top notch action sequences that simultaneously contribute to clever storytelling.  Edge of Tomorrow has some of the most gripping battle scenes in quite some time, but also clever humor, solid action, and a surprisingly engaging yet quasi-familiar plot.  All the pieces work together.  Tom Cruise, one of the last remaining movie stars (in the traditional sense of the term), is terrific as usual, but he doesn’t carry the film.  Neither does a strong co-lead in Emily Blunt. Nor do the insanely gripping action sequences and phenomenal effects.  No, Edge of Tomorrow is carried proudly on the shoulders of everyone involved.  It’s a fast-paced A-grade blockbuster through and through, one that provides the intense action, clever plot twists, and smart sense of fun that most blockbusters fail to deliver.

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Finally, the summer blockbuster we’ve been waiting for! Pacific Rim is smart, compelling, and unleashes an exhilarating fury of battling giants.

A jaeger strolls through Hong Kong streets in Pacific Rim

A Jaeger strolls through the neon lit streets of Hong Kong in Pacific Rim

From here on out, every time I gaze up into the fog-filled night sky that enshrouds the top portions of downtown San Francisco’s office buildings, I’ll imagine a colossal Kaiju smashing through the buildings like tissue paper, the debris raining down upon the dimly lit streets…and a Jaeger behemoth emerging through the haze, crushing the Kaiju’s skull in with a downward punch and throwing the giant beast’s body down the length of Market street.  This is the lasting effect of Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim.  The film makes a solid effort to tell an emotional human tale in the midst of a near-future world at war with giant alien creatures.  The effort is not lost, but takes a backseat behind the extraordinarily impressive battle sequences.  As a science-fiction action movie, Pacific Rim delivers and then some.

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