With the outstanding success of James Gunn’s blockbuster films “Guardians of the Galaxy,” it’s the right time to re-visit the roots upon which Gunn established his film career. Gunn is of course a student of Lloyd Kaufman who began his filmmaking career working at Troma, and eventually worked his way up to his first feature film debut in 2006, directing the schlocky and fun “Slither.” Gunn’s 2006 science fiction horror thriller is very much what you would expect from a Troma alumni, as Gunn conjures up cult stars, and builds a premise that’s ridiculous but oddly entertaining. Scream Factory takes it upon themselves to not only deliver a deluxe edition on Blu-Ray (after originally being ported to the now obsolete HD-DVD), but to celebrate everything weird and wild about James Gunn.
With “Prometheus” Ridley Scott met the other side of his “Alien” mythology by visiting the very early dawn of his universe that saw the very evolution of his xenomorphs. After it hit with a thud resembling a wet diaper smashing in to a garbage can, Scott hits the other extreme by delivering a movie in the vein of “Prometheus” that’s just as flat and just as stupid. Director Ridley Scott has lost the grasp of his own film and has really failed to learn how to deliver a well measured and compelling horror tale teeming with themes about sexuality and human biology. Instead now he gets to literally have his cake and eat it too, by offering up a ham fisted goofy prequel that feels like a glorified fan film. All the while also continuing his descent in to pseudo-intellectualist allegories and on the nose metaphors about God, the Devil, Heaven, Paradise, evolution and birth.
Mill Creek Entertainment unleashes another economy movie pack for movie fans, with a five movie DVD Collection. It’s another re-purposing of films already in their library, but for its price it might be worth it for folks interested in experimenting. Featured in the set is “Hands of Steel” featuring a cyborg assassin that is programmed and sent by a corporate industrialist to kill an environmental scientist who plans stop his unsafe work. When the cyborg gains a bond with the scientist, he has to fight the man that created him.
Much like a classic mix tape, “Vol. 2” of “Guardians of the Galaxy” is a movie that’s similar in theme to its predecessor but feels fresh and original. Director James Gunn delivered a truly remarkable adaptation in 2014, and now he offers up a sequel that’s just as good, with a hefty narrative that thankfully has so much going on, but never loses sight of its central themes of family, love, and how music is the soundtrack of our lives. With “Guardians” the group of Starlord, Gamorra, Groot, Rocket, and Drax are back committing to a difficult job for a race of aliens called the Sovereign. They’re tasked with killing a vicious monster called the Abilisk and protecting priceless batteries. In exchange, they give Gamorra her sister Nebula back, who has been held prisoner.
This time around “V” embraces its science fiction roots more, allowing for a lot more looks in to the rebellion, and the inclusion of new corners of the visitors’ world and the rebels. Most of all, there’s the introduction of a Visitor/Human hybrid that becomes one of the larger symbols of the war, and is pushed back and forth between the resistance and people that think the visitors can stop the invasion and work with Earth. Months after the humans sent out the beacon for other alien species to help them take down the Visitors, nothing has happened and the humans are still trying to stop the Visitors and their plans. Now the Visitors are building new tactics, which includes armor that can deflect bullets, and a form of torture leader Diana has concocted that allows her to convert humans to the side of Visitors for programming.
It’s been said time and time again that if we don’t learn from history that we’re doomed to repeat it, and “V” is a remarkable miniseries that examines what happens when history repeats itself. Set in a not too distant future, Earth is visited by a massive race of anthropomorphic alien beings that looks very human in nature. Though imposing, the alien race presents itself in a charming and docile manner, and interrupts civilization to settle alongside us. Known as the Visitors, they’re a very uniform mass of beings, all of whom proclaim themselves our friends after arriving in a fleet of large ships one day. By garnering help from various governments and influential people to acquire various chemicals and minerals for their ailing world, they agree to give Earth access to their advanced technology which they promise will cure diseases of all kinds. Soon enough, though they begin to insinuating themselves in to the general populace and before long create an environment of unease and tension among some individuals.
I loved “Ben 10” when it premiered back in the early aughts. I watched it for a long time, and even followed a few of the unnecessary reboots. While the more modern iterations have stunk, I still love the mythos, and how the producers took a failed attempt at “Dial H for Hero” and transformed it in to a unique science fiction series. Cartoon Network and Alex Winter go to great pains to keep this an accurate film for the audience. Ben looks just like Ben, Gwen looks as if she lifted off the one dimensional series, and Max is pretty close. Not quite, but I accepted Lee Majors in the role, since his gravitas compensates for the inherent lack of faithfulness to the character mold.
It’s such a shame we never got to see more of “Star Kid” down the road, as it had potential to break out in to its own kids franchise. Sure concepts like these are a dime a dozen these days, but “Star Kid” had a lot of interesting ideas behind it. It’s “The Guyver” meets “ET” with a hint of “Green Lantern” and I wouldn’t have minded seeing this idea explored with other alien species attempting to invade Earth, all the while exploring the larger abilities of this suit. “Star Kid” is one of those science fiction action films that came and went with barely a notice in 1997. I think it deserves a lot more credit for its ideas and great monsters.