Tuesday, June 15, 2021

THEY LIVE (1988)

"They are dismantling the sleeping middle class. More and more people are becoming poor. We are their cattle. We are being bred for slavery."

Los Angeles, California.  A homeless guy (who somehow still manages to consume enough protein and steroids to look like pro wrestler Roddy Piper) finds a pair of sunglasses that reveal that the entire world is actually full of subliminal messages instructing the mindless masses to Consume, Obey, Conform and stuff like that.  They also reveal that some people (mostly those in power) are actually funky-looking aliens with faces that look like they "fell in the cheese dip back in 1957."  Now a level-headed person, if placed in the same situation, would probably keep this to themselves and investigate the situation for awhile, but no...not this guy.  Careful contemplation is not his style.  Within a few minutes of his discovery, he's yelling "...formaldehyde-face!" at a woman in a store and then straight up murdering aliens in a bank with a shotgun.  Naturally, this puts him on the aliens most wanted list.

For an older sci-fi film, THEY LIVE is still entertaining.  It's definitely watchable...medium pace, okay special effects, mediocre acting, a few memorable quotes ("I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass.  And I'm all out of bubble gum." being the most famous), a ridiculously long fight scene between the two leads (that had me rolling with laughter as a kid), brief topless scene, cool Los Angeles locations...but revisiting the film nowadays, THEY LIVE hasn't aged well.  And not all of it is the fault of the film itself.  The story, which is just a thinly veiled attack on Reaganomics, now comes off as simplistic and honestly depressing.  A few other things are...(1) there's simply not enough to the story itself, it could have easily been trimmed down to fit into an anthology collection or television show.  Or even better, beefed up to fill the entire 94-minute runtime.  (2) the ending is too abrupt and not satisfying.  (3) Roddy Piper.  He does an alright job, but his role would have been better filled by Kurt Russell.  Then again, this is all just my worthless opinion.

That said, THEY LIVE might be a little too cheesy for its own good, but it's still a fun 1980's John Carpenter outing and totally worth checking out. At this point, I'd enjoy seeing a serious remake. Maybe even one where the glasses aren't real and the main character is just insane.

Question (that's not part of the review): The nods to GHOSTBUSTERS and THE MONOLITH MONSTERS are obvious, but is the Uneeda Biscuit box in the hotel room a nod to Uneeda Medical Supply in THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD?

Question 2: Is that old dude in the hotel lobby the same guy from Meallica's "Enter Sandman" video?  That video was filmed only three years later in Los Angeles.

Monday, June 7, 2021

THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (1987)

Ehh.  THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS might have a new, younger Bond, but this film seemed like a step backwards to me.  The opening action scene (set in beautiful Gibraltar) probably sounded exciting on paper, but it came off looking cheap and goofy on screen. From there we go to Czechoslovakia where a KGB general is defecting, then we got somebody trying to murder British secret agents, plus Joe Don Baker as an arms dealer, a fake political assassination, a massive opium deal in Afghanistan and Bond getting the hots for a female sniper.  There's just so much going on and none of it was exciting.  Also, the tone of the film was uneven.  One moment you got Bond lifelessly delivering dead on arrival one-liners and skiing down a mountain on a cello case and then later beating some dude in front of his mistress and ripping her clothes off.  Also, Joe Don Baker has to have the least amount of screentime (versus film runtime) of any villain in the entire Bond series!  I'd love to read a detailed breakdown of that.  I swear to god, he only had like four scenes and they were all in his house!

I don't know.  I'm sure there are people who love this movie, but I didn't care for it.  The film was well-intentioned, naturally...but still disappointing.  Forgettable villains, good locations that weren't photographed to capture their natural beauty, abrupt ending, meh theme song, boring Bond girl, "explosive teddy bears", Bond and the villain using the same cordless phone, a new Miss Moneypenny who was instantly forgettable.

I was actually excited to check out this new James Bond, I think Timothy Dalton is a fine actor, but he just didn't grab my attention here.  Honestly, I think the problem was more with the script than the actors.

Two thunderballs out of five.

Part 1 - Dr. No (1962)
Part 2 - From Russia With Love (1963)
Part 3 - Goldfinger (1964)
Part 4 - Thunderball (1965)
Part 5 - You Only Live Twice (1967)
Part 6 - On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
Part 7 - Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Part 8 - Live and Let Die (1973)
Part 9 - The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
Part 10 - The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Part 11 - Moonraker (1979)
Part 12 - For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Part 13 - Octopussy (1983)
Part 14 - A View to a Kill (1985)
Part 16 - License to Kill (1989)
Part 17 - GoldenEye (1995)
Part 18 - Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Part 19 - The World Is Not Enough (1999)
Part 20 - Die Another Day (2002)
Part 21 - Casino Royale (2006)
Part 22 - Quantum of Solace (2008)
Part 23 - Skyfall (2012)
Part 24 - Spectre (2015)
Part 25 - No Time to Die (2021)

Non-Eon James Bond films:
Casino Royale (1967)
Never Say Never (1983)