Damnaliens DVD Review by Steve Sawicki
Snowbound in New England may sound romantic, but stuck in a house with aliens in the basement and no where to go, it's easy to get stir-crazy. Unfortunately, this month's DVD offerings clearly lack what it takes to keep the aliens glued to the screen, which is a bad thing since they like to do science experiments in the basement when they're bored. - Ern

(Note: order the films from Amazon by following the hyperlinks to buy  junk food for the aliens and keep them away from the dog.)

Recent Releases    /    Classics    /    SFTV    /     Anime

This March came in like a lion is going out like a lamb -- which pretty much describes the weather and movie scene in one cheap shot.  March is a minor month for releases since it's really October, at least as far as when the films originally aired, and aside from a few Halloween releases that make no sense at this time of year, October is a pretty lame month.  One more reason to look forward to April.

Didn't we just leave this party?...Recent Releases

Arnold kept his promise and came back with a new movie rehashing an old theme.  Thatís okay because Arnold uses pieces of many of his previous characters to rumble his way through this.  For those of you who expected the The 6th Day  to be a thoughtful romp through the philosophical ways and means of cloning humans, get a life.  Arnold is a throwback whoís been cloned and boy did they pick the wrong guy to do that to.  Does anyone really know why all this is being done?  Do you want to know why the evil corporation is manipulating people?  Do you want to know more about the mysterious pursuers?  Too bad, this is an Arnold flick and the only important event in the film is Arnold.  Might make you remember why you started seeing movies.  This would only apply if you started seeing movies before your hind brain actually kicked in.  Lotís of destruction and throw away one liners.  Lotís of shots of Arnold looking perplexed which is not nearly as much fun as watching his muscles being flexed..

Speaking of thoughtful, moral and theological delvings we have the most recent Brendan Fraser vehicle, Bedazzled. In this film, Fraser plays a dweeb (if it had been a dweeb with muscles, Arnold would have played the role) who has the hots for a co-worker at the office. One day he mentions that heíd give up his soul to have her and poof, Elizabeth Hurley appears.  Now, a word of caution, Iíve tried this at home and it doesnít work.  The best I could do was a minor demon, angry at being pulled from the latest Verhoeven epic.  Hurley, as the devil, offers Fraser, as the dweeb, seven wishes.  Well, you know how this will all turn out.  While there is some interesting interplay between Hurley and Fraser and while Hurley is fun to look at most of the time, neither of these things give the film the kind of substantial weight that youíd expect.  Rent the 1967/68 version with Dudley Moore instead.  Or better yet, if youíre looking for a devil movie, rent End of Days with Arnold.

What ever happened to good old space opera?  The cheesy special effects, the terrible aliens, the ridiculous plots?  CGI has sent cheesy special effects to the home for the lactose intolerant, aliens have become either humans with nose jobs or computer generated puppets and the plots?  Well, you obviously havenít seen Red Planet. Sure this film has Carrie Ann Moss and Val Kilmer, but theyíre used, or I should say abused, in bad ways.  Kilmer, as Lloyd Benson said during one of the debates during the Republican Tennis Associationís Annual Playoffs, is no Arnold Schwartzenagger.  Somehow this crew manages to get a huge spaceship to mars in less than six months and then sends everyone but the only one who could really solve the problem to the surface.  Whereís that giant meteor strike when you need it?  This one has everything but the kitchen sink, which would be handy to either bang your head against or throw up into.  Like Moss, this one is pretty to look at but difficult to understand.

They're not dead yet...Classics

Okay, so these arenít truly classics in the sense that theyíre not much older than a decade or so, if that aged.  Still, theyíre worth noting, if only because thereís so much drek coming out in the new release arena.

Ground Hog Day is a film that I would consider the true coming of age for actor Bill Murray.  Heís not so over the top that he makes everything simply silly and he manages to actually make us believe that heís capable of the changes his character goes through.  If youíve not seen this film of a man stuck in a 24 hour time loop then go out and get it immediately.

What the film about the rodent does for Murray and what the Terminator did for Arnold, Starman does for Jeff Bridges.  This is a poignant tale about an alien who comes to Earth.  Crisp writing, great acting and a beautiful story make this a must see.  Might appear to be a bit dated but the interaction between the characters makes up for it. (Ern - my favorite line is when Bridges is explaining that he's figured out the rules of traffic lights by observation: Red means stop, green means go...yellow means go real fast.)

Mel Brooks is either hit or miss for me.  What he did for Young Frankenstein, special edition though, is pure genius.  This plug is geared to the younger of you reading this because everyone over 30 has already seen it at least once.  A great and funny take on the Frankenstein legend with great performances.  Has a real interesting ending as well. Terri Garr hasn't looked this good since she was Roberta Lincoln.

It came from the television...SFTV

There are occasions when television surpasses itís bigger brother, the movie theater.  Such is the case with Frank Herbertís Dune which was show on the Sci Fi channel this past fall and which has just been released.  If you failed to catch it in all of itís three parts then this is the chance to see it in whole.  If you missed it altogether then you definitely need to pick this up.  Forget David Lynchís voice over thoughts, forget the almost intentional dumbing down of the Fremen religion, forget the odd transitions and scene shifts, this version makes it all better.  Sure there are failings but that only proves that you still canít transfer a novel to the screen without cutting many things out.  Lynch used almost four hours and this version tops in at just under six.  It would probably take ten to get it all right.  Have a Dune festival weekend and watch both versions.

Whatís the best science fiction show on television?  Star Trek?  X-Files?  The 6-OíClock News?  Nope, itís Farscape.  For those of you without cable or whoíve somehow decided that there are better things to do on Friday nights redemption has found you, and it didnít take a big dude with a German accent, either.  Farscape 2 puts forth two more episodes of this quirky and elegantly done Sci Fi Channel original program.  All your favorite aliens in relatively believable situations done in an intelligent manner.

Saturday morning all week long...Anime

Sometimes I wonder if the whole Anime frenzy is nothing more than an obsession with pretty pictures.  Gundam Wing, Operation 6 makes me wonder even further than that.  The animation is stiff and clunky, reminding me of Scooby Doo, the story lines are incomprehensible with characters muttering and mumbling their way through plots which seem opaque at best.  Skip this and watch a rerun of the Jetsons instead.