Friday, July 13, 2018

QUARTERFINALS: Aliens vs. War of the Worlds

We are now moving on to the quarterfinals. All of the higher sees have moved on except for Last Starfighter (8) defeated by War of the Worlds and Return of the Jedi (7) defeated by Pacific Rim. No real upsets so far. The quarterfinal matchups are:

Aliens (1) vs. War of the Worlds (9)

Edge of Tomorrow (4) vs. Rogue One (5)

Star Wars (2) vs. Pacific Rim (10)

War for the Planet of the Apes (3) vs. Avatar (6)


ACTING - "Aliens" has Sigourney Weaver who cemented her claim to the throne of greatest sci-fi war heroine with her performance as Ripley. She was nominated for Best Actress, a rare feat for a sci-fi movie. The movie is well-cast, but is not all-starish. Several actors were nominated for Saturn Awards. Weaver, Bill Paxton (Hudson) for Supporting Actor, Jenette Goldstein (Vasquez) for Best Supporting Actress, and Carrie Henn (Newt) for Best Performance by a Younger Actress. Goldstein's Vasquez started a trend of bad-ass alpha females that would continue with Michelle Rodriguez's Chacon in "Avatar" and Dina Meyers' Dizzy in "Starship Troopers". Kudos to the casting director for tabbing Paul Reiser for the slimy company man. GRADE = A

"War of the Worlds" is a Tom Cruise movie and he sucks all the air out of the film. He is fine in a role that does not exactly force him to stretch. He plays the immature divorced dad who has to mature quickly to protect his kids. Dakota Fanning was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor. Tim Robbins is the only other actor that makes an impression. He chews the scenery a bit as the addled survivor who shifts from savior to villain in a heartbeat. Nobody remembers the movie for the acting, it is a special effects movie. GRADE = C
ENTERTAINMENT - "Aliens" could be the best movie of its type in history. It is a perfect blend of horror, sci-fi, and action. It has incredible monsters and indelible human characters (and a great android). The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards and was a big box office success. Many consider it the greatest sequel of all time. It has the highest Rotten Tomatoes rating of all the movies in the tournament. GRADE = A+
As mass entertainment, WOW pushes all the right buttons. It was a big hit with audiences and got positive reviews (74% on Rotten Tomatoes). However, as a war movie, it has so many ludicrous moments that it does not stand scrutiny. For a war movie, there is very little fighting. We only get brief glimpses of the aliens and not a whole lot on the craft. The main plot line of the trio making their way back to their mother is fraught with implausible aspects. It all comes down to the final scene, which a mass audience found entertainingly happy and discerning war movie lovers should find cloying and totally unrealistic. GRADE = C

COMBAT - The combat scenes in "Aliens" are gut-punching. There is a adrenalin-fueled ambush that introduces the Marines to the aliens. Then we are treated to an Alamo scene. The finale is a duel between Ripley and the alien queen. Each is different, but all are edge of the seat. GRADE = A
There is very little combat in WOW. Since Cruise does not play a soldier, we don't see much fighting. (Compare the lack of combat here to that of "Edge of Tomorrow" where he plays a soldier.) In the one battle scene, the aliens are not even scene. The movie just goes with implying the Martians are kicking ass wherever they go. Unfortunately, we don't get to see the titanic battle between microbes and Martians. GRADE = D
ENEMY - One would be hard-pressed to find a more iconic monster than the aliens from the Alien series. "Aliens" adds the alien queen who is one nasty piece of work. Their face hugger stage rapes the host and then it is born by bursting out of the stomach. The Xenomophs are very powerful and have projectable teeth-filled jaws to get up close and personal. Not to mention the acidic blood. The creature was voted the 14th Best Villain by AFI. The designers of the creature were awarded the Oscar for Best Visual Effects. GRADE = A+

The Martians in the original WOW (1953) were voted #27 on AFIs Best Villains list. That version left things up to our imaginations, Spielberg decided we needed to see them up close. They come off as more creepy than malignant. The Martians themselves have no power, it's all in their space craft. Spielberg does demonize them by having them consume humans. Overall, they are pretty lame compared to some of the other aliens in the tournament. GRADE = C
ANALYSIS: This blowout is no surprise. "Aliens" is superior to WOW in virtually every way, not just these four categories. it aims at a more mature audience and is more respectful of war movie elements. WOW was lucky to make the tournament considering it really does not have any appreciable combat.

​​​​​​​WAR OF THE WORLDS = 27

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