Never has an Alien movie felt so rote — so … familiar.
Looking back, each film in the series had something new or original to offer, even if the overall package was hit or miss.
The first two films are considered classics — rightly so and each for varying reasons. The first film, Alien, was a gripping horror movie that gave science fiction movies a new angle. Its sequel, James Cameron’s Aliens, went the more-is-better route, giving audiences a war movie pitting human forces against an overwhelming and superior company of predators.
Subsequent movies weren’t as well-received — Alien 3 went through numerous rewrites, and the final result felt like a letdown in contrast to what could have been. Alien: Resurrection went far into the future with a cloned Ripley and an interesting cast of characters, but it lacked the spirit of previous films.
And the prequel Prometheus tried to expand the lore while exploring religious and moral plot points. Many felt it was too convoluted and messy, while others critiqued it for silly characters who just couldn’t keep themselves from dying.
Oliver Stone’s Snowden biopic opens with a title card declaring the events and characters you’re about to witness have been dramatized.
But anyone with an Internet connection and the ability to Google the words Snowden and PRISM will find the truth that inspired the movie is actually quite terrifying.
In 2013, government contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified government information to the press, sending the intelligence community in Washington into a panic. His actions branded him a traitor to some while others considered him a patriot in the truest form. Believing he wouldn’t get a fair trial due to the Espionage Act, Snowden decided to flee his Hong Kong hotel and seek asylum while the rest of the world pored over the information left in his wake which provided details about illegal activities conducted by the United States government.
The stuff that came out in the news was the stuff of conspiracy theorist nightmares. The leaks put a spotlight on government initiatives and programs like PRISM, an extensive surveillance program that collected and stored information obtained through telecommunications and the Internet. It was also discovered that the NSA had covertly installed backdoor programs into foreign systems around the world that could potentially take down entire networks with the press of a button. Alarming was the fact that these programs weren’t necessarily designed to combat exterior threats — PRISM was used on American citizens as well, and the backdoor programs were installed on computers in ally nations.
Seven-plus years after the found-footage film Cloverfield brought back gigantic movie monsters in a really big and dizzying way, 10 Cloverfield Lane picks up the pieces and goes for a counter, but somehow intuitive, minimal approach.
Eschewing the first movie’s first-person cameraman style that induced a level of dizzy spells and motion sickness unseen since The Blair Witch Project, the blood-related sequel is the cinematic equivalent of a bottle episode with scenes of intense drama unfolding inside the confines of an underground doomsday shelter.
Aspiring fashion designer Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) leaves New Orleans after her relationship with boyfriend Ben becomes untenable. Driving through a rural area, she takes her eyes off the road when Ben calls and is suddenly driven off the road after a collision.
She wakes up in a DIY doomsday shelter owned by the unsettling Howard Stambler (John Goodman), an obsessive-compulsive with a calm exterior who suddenly flies into fits of rage when his guests don’t obey his every command. Stambler’s spent a lifetime of resources to plan for the end of the world, and it’s finally come.
“Go see it for yourself,“ they said.
Fans of the movie came to its defense in various comments section, and their words were strong.
“Those who hated it were biased.”
“Yeah, it wasn’t that bad. It was actually pretty good.”
“I hate when people say don’t watch a movie. You should see it and make up your own mind.”
And so, it was decided. On a Wednesday after I visited the comic shop, I stopped by home and picked up my Cinemark popcorn tub and cup because it was time to make up my own mind on the Fantastic Four.