Close Encounters is about no less than human curiosity, our capacity to believe that aliens must represent the best in ourselves, and have the answers we’ve been looking for. Though it was sold on its intricate sets and handcrafted spaceships, it’s most reputable for Richard Dreyfuss, and Spielberg’s fathering of him.
Alien: Resurrection is not unified by its cynicism as Robocop was. It’s not a satire of us, but just a satire of Alien movies. It’s never boring and that’s actually something, in the realm of fourth entries. The reason this film is in the category of “Everyone Else is Wrong” is not because I think it’s good, but because I don’t know what people were expecting.
In this film, the divisions that we value so much, out of which we create our sense of individuality, will victimize us to a terrifying monster of collectivity. The Thing absorbs and unifies life where suspicious and divided people destroy it. This is Invasion of the Body Snatchers accelerated to universality.
I have not in recent memory seen a film whose concept is more divergent from its filmmaking than The Cloverfield Paradox. It is a movie so dumbfoundingly predictable and yet so incomprehensible that it becomes meaningless even as an average film, a paradox only in the sense that its grand pretensions cannot occupy the same space as the need to connect a franchise that was never intended to be cohesive.
I’m aware that Alien 3 had a troubled development and a schizophrenic screenwriting cycle, all documented to any reasonable human’s satisfaction on Wikipedia. But if the result had been miraculous, Fincher would have reaped the credit as a directorial miracle worker. Blame is now the price of that possibility.
The film blasts an affectionate symphony of action spy movie set pieces, which Bird composes with such a self-believing style that he reminds me less of a director than of a virtuoso performer. And even they become a back-drop to what is essentially a mid-life crisis film, about a man who misses himself so much that he doesn’t even notice he has a family. Bird offers a genre fattened on mythic pretension a trimming alternative of joyous energy and dazzling characters.
Moonraker skips the part where all is as it seems, a noble approach for a film in a formula series (they might have made it stick as self-aware humor, but even that would have been too “wink-wink” with Moore at the Helm). “You appear,” says Drax after Bond’s fourth miraculous escape, “with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season.” Here is an oddity: a franchise that doesn’t know it knows itself.
I’m not overextending an analysis of Hulk (2003) by connecting it to mythic lore and Shakespeare – its idea of drama is unquestionably what is in those fables, even if it is the worst in them. Its psyches are all torturous, exaggerated, archetypical. But what is worst in myth, what is flagrant and flawed, is also what is human and endurable.
Gojira is all performance. Yes, the monster film’s propensity for overacting is here to some extent, but its images still reflect the power that must be innate in the language we cannot hear, which cannot be ignored any more than Serizawa can ignore the child’s prayer over the radio, calling him to fight destruction with destruction.