After the downbeat ending of “The Avengers: Infinity War,” there stood some beacon of hope in the post credits scene where Nick Fury pressed a pager, signaling someone from outside Earth. That someone was Captain Marvel, Marvel Comics’ most dynamic and entertaining super heroine who is finally brought to the big screen. Not only does “Captain Marvel” stand on its own as a great, fun movie about empowerment and learning how to conjure up your inner strength, it sets the platform for Captain Marvel charging in to “Endgame,” and it also sets up the foundation for phase four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I’ve never seen a movie so apparently short on a script that it purposely pads the run time to compensate. I’ve seen movies waste time on screen, but director Virgil W. Vogel’s science fiction adventure obviously had a script comprised of maybe forty pages of actual narrative and writing. The rest of the seventy seven minutes is obvious empty filler, and padding that tries to run out the clock for the sake of the feature length credibility. Set in the general vicinity of Asia, we meet (two of the most grating heroes ever put to film) archaeologists Dr. Roger Bentley and Dr. Jud Bellamin, both of whom are dedicated to finding a mythical race of Sumerian Albinos living deep in the Earth.
You have to give it to John Carpenter. Even when he stumbles, he’s still one of the finest directors around who manages to set himself apart from his contemporaries stylistically. While “Star Man” is an obvious attempt to cash in on the good Spielberg “ET” dough, “Star Man” manages to be a pretty okay movie, either way. Carpenter sets aside his usual nihilism in favor of a more measured alien love story where it retains much of its appeal thanks to the wonderful turns by Karen Allen and Jeff Bridges. This is especially a movie where Allen shines, as she delivers a performance filled with layers and emotion to the very end.
After almost twenty years basically out of print, us “Critters” fans spent the better part of the digital age celebrating our favorite movie series on DVD. And not just any DVD, but a basically cheap transfer DVD that stuffed all four movies on to a few DVDs. Granted you could have done worse, but the movie series deserved so much better. The “Critters” series remains one of the more underrated creature features in horror, and it finally gets the royal treatment on Blu-Ray. With a hard shell casing, all four movies come packed, along with a humongous plethora of bells and whistles. This is the collection I as a hardcore fan, have been waiting for. It’s also a good thing that the “Critters” movies are a lot of good, gory, monstrous fun.
In 1953, “War of the Worlds” brought American audiences an alien foe that crash landed on Earth, and destroyed every inch of the world before it, before finally being defeated by irony. Don Siegel’s 1956 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” has managed to garner as much influence, and some argue even more influence, mainly for creating an alien invader that’s so much more personal, private, and perverse. Not to mention so much cleverer than any human can outwit in the long run.
Ruben Fleischer’s cinematic treatment of the Marvel super villain “Venom” feels a lot like it someone was making this movie in 1997, and it remained in the vault for twenty years. Then Fleischer and Sony dusted it off and finished it. “Venom” feels so out of date and ridiculously nineties you can almost expect the home video release to come with a hologram. That might be due to the character of Venom who looks less like an amorphous sentient Alien organism that creates kind of symbiosis with its host, and more like alien Jello that covers its host and causes trouble. The titular Venom is so random and bafflingly stupid, especially in its basic behavior that varies between mischievous, to downright evil. How do we root for a being who tells the film’s hero “Do what I say or I’ll eat your head”?
“Purple People Eater” is a movie I vividly remember watching when I was a kid. I’d seen it on a fuzzy VHS tape from a local video store, and suffice to say I hated this movie when I was five, and I kind of hate it now. “Purple People Eater” is from the decade where studios either cribbed from “Gremlins” or “ET” in order to create their own kids oriented cash cow, and “Purple People Eater” is one of the laziest of a sub-genre consisting of “Mac and Me” and “Meatballs, Part II.”
Sean S. Cunningham’s horror science fiction action hybrid is a great classic cable TV movie that you could find late at night back in the days. It’s not what I’d automatically call a classic but it’s definitely a great piece of schlock that has a good time with its premise. It’s “Assault on Precinct 13” meets “John Carpenter’s The Thing” and it has a damn good time taking advantage of both concepts to derive some pretty fun B grade genre fare. Bruce Campbell is as good as always, leading the charge as a sort of John McClane every man character who begins the movie as a villain and eventually transforms in to a hero who is the only one stopping a potential alien invasion.