Aliens

Boiling Point

The full length trailer for Ridley Scott‘s Prometheus recently hit the … broadband? I don’t know how the internet works, but regardless if you would so choose, you could join the legions that have hit play on the new trailer or you could be like me and decide not to watch it. What is the purpose of a trailer, really? I think it’s a fairly straightforward deal – to entice people to see a movie. Once you’re already enticed, do you really need to see more? There are some movies that I would never have even known about if it weren’t for a trailer. Equilibrium comes to mind. Never had any clue about this movie until I saw a trailer online and it looked awesome. I was lucky enough to then catch the movie in theaters. Sometimes it takes several trailers to wear you down. At first glance, you might not care about Wrath of the Titans because the first one was so mediocre. After watching a few other television spots, they won me over. Now, here’s the thing about Prometheus….

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If you have any taste in movies at all then you know that James Cameron’s Aliens is a kick-ass action/sci-fi movie that never gets old. You should also know that Michael Biehn, who played Cpl. Hicks in Aliens, has a resume filled with fun and memorable flicks. The Terminator, Timebomb, The Abyss, The Seventh Sign, K2, The Rock, Tombstone, and Planet Terror are just a few of his awesomely entertaining movies. Sure he also starred in Take Me Home Tonight, but a man’s gotta put food on the table. Well if you love the guy as much as you should then you’ll be excited to know he’s hosting a double feature at the Alamo Drafthouse on Saturday the 14th. That’s tomorrow! It’s also in Austin Texas, so if you’re not geographically located nearby you should probably stop reading now. (In fact, go ahead and read this instead.) And we’ve got a free pair of tickets to both screenings to give away! Check below to see how you can win, but do it fast as the contest ends at midnight tonight (PST).

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Epic Movie Countdowns: Back to the Future

Yes that’s right – New Years just happened like, a week ago… counting down, people count down on New Years… that’s the point, and it’s as close as I can get to writing about something that relates to the holidays, and it’s way late. And while I first thought to do this because of the end of 2011, it actually turned out to be a fun list to think about. How do you judge the intensity of a ticking clock? It’s not always how close the characters came to zero – sometimes it’s about the process itself, getting to inevitability, fighting time. It’s rather like life, and the knowledge that being on this world is a sort of countdown. Every year is another tick of the clock, leading every one of us to the same inescapable conclusion. So uh… Happy New Year! …Here’s a list counting down countdowns.

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As we all sit here at Reject HQ, gathered around an absurdly long, but incredibly imposing, table discussing what to do with the nuclear missiles we just “creatively appropriated” from a breakaway Russian republic, it occurs to us that 2011 was a great year to be bad. For every boring, dopey, goody-good hero that popped up on the silver screen, there was a brilliant, super cool, woefully misunderstood villain doing everything he/she/it could to thwart the zero hero at every turn. So when Supreme Commander #1, better known to the world (and those pesky Avengers so they’ll stop blasting our lair) as Neil Miller, issued an official order (delivered by a specially-trained, fire-breathing, gun-toting alligator who lives in the moat) to construct a supersonic death ray…that assignment went to Kate “Femme Fatale” Erbland. But then I got asked to do this list of the 20 Best Villains of 2011, a decided promotion from my usual position as sinister cocktail-fetcher and cleaner of the diabolical gutters.

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Hollywood is good at recycling things. After all, you build a giant house or an elaborate prop and you wouldn’t just use it once and toss it, right? This is why they have backlots at studios; they can hoard all their favorite stuff for later use (like the iconic building in the image above) or, failing that, at least use it for the studio tours. Same kind of goes for on-location sets – some places are just too dynamic to use only once, especially when the owner is more than willing to pimp out their place for cash. This circle of life is great when you are working with a generic looking high school or cookie-cutter set but there are the occasional moments when they use a location just a little too iconic for its own good – and like a type-cast actor, you can’t help but to see the location as anything besides what made it famous in the first place.

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Awesome Camera Rigs

It’s hard to get excited about something as technical as that thing that makes cameras not fall down on film sets, especially these days, when you can make a successful film without even going through the effort of picking up a camera at all. Even if you are shooting a live action film, thanks to the realism of CGI, computers are now able to put a lens wherever you need it to be – this is why I think we need to take a second to celebrate some of the hard working pieces of lightweight metal that were behind a few of the more bitchin’ shots out there. These rigs got the shot done, computers be damned!

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Boiling Point

In the cinematic world, protagonists face a lot of challenges. It can be Sasquatch or Yeti, German thieves or vaguely ethnic terrorists, zombies, aliens, werewolves, or vampires, and that’s just the exotic list. Our heroes might face down against a redneck hillbilly, a couple of gangbangers, or some cracked out carjacker. Simply put – it’s hard out there for a pimp. To combat these varied dangers, a hero must go armed. The proper choice of weapon depends on the threat faced, availability, and the environment. I’m not sure anyone has ever fought a hillbilly without the aide of a bow or crossbow, stopped a robbery without a pistol, or put down a zombie apocalypse without the use of a shotgun. In the face of such great dangers, you’d think that the protagonist would make sure that he and his companions were always well equipped to face adversity. But you’d be wrong.

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Since it’s number 13, and we’ve all been infected with the Horror virus around these parts, this week’s column will be bloody and terribly scary. Well, not scary exactly (though I’m sure it could give Wes Craven’s decidedly non-trouser-messing recent stuff a good run for its money), but, like, dedicated to Halloween. Next week, with it being the last column before All Hallow’s Eve, I’ll be looking at some costumes you can pick up from the world of horror movies, so this week it’s all about murderous merch. Scary swag. Ghoulish goodies. And loads of other not-funny, but pleasant alliterative phrases in the same mold…

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Boiling Point

No matter what I say below, know this: I will see Shark Night 3D. There are no press screenings, no DVDs mailed to my home. I will head out to a theater to watch it because I love sharks and I love watching people get eaten by them. So to be extra clear: I haven’t seen the film yet. No one has. But still, I’m going to bitch about it, because that’s how I roll. Why? Well, because it’s easy to get mad at this film. It’s rated PG-13. I mean, if there ever was a title for a hard R-rating, it’s Shark Night 3D. After all, Piranha 3D, which was probably instrumental in green lighting this late entry to Shark Week, was well received because of its gore. Its nudity. Its generally over the top nature. Without Jerry O’Connell getting his dick bit off and two hot, naked women swimming for six minutes, that film is a pile of crap. The blood makes it – and the PG-13 rating for Shark Night might break it.

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Doug Beswick’s career, like many creature makers, began with a love and practice of Stop Motion Animation. My understanding is that he met Rick Baker when they both worked at Cascade Studios (most famous for doing the claymation for the series Gumby & Pokey) and later had joined Rick’s crew as a mechanical, animatronics designer. I don’t know the details of how and why Doug decided to open his own shop, but his facility was in a small, industrial park, north east of the San Fernando Valley in Sunland. Prior to my arrival, Doug had gained some notoriety with a couple of projects. The first was Terminator in which, Beswick had built and animated the endoskeleton miniature for the few full body shots of the robot walking. The second was a Disney live action film entitled My Science Project. For that film, Rick and Doug had teamed up to build an impressive, miniature, mechanical Tyrannosaurus Rex puppet. It is interesting to see how logical progressions occur (albeit rarely) in Hollywood. Doug had built a sophisticated, miniature, mechanical puppet that looked phenomenal on film, AND he had prior experience working for James Cameron. The result: Doug was hired to build the miniature mechanical puppets for Aliens. See how that worked?

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Falling Skies…. Before the season started I said the Steven Spielberg-produced, alien invasion program was “a special kind of show,” and I still stand by that statement ten episodes later. This entire season has been spent with the Second Massachusetts trying to achieve one goal: survival. With every passing episode, we watched as Tom and his rag tag group of soldiers tried to keep everyone breathing, all in hopes that it was building up to something. And the best part? It did.

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Let’s face it. If you need to threaten an enemy from a middle range distance, clear a ton of jungle in a hurry or carmelize the top of a crème brûlée, there’s nothing better for the job than a flamethrower. It’s a gun that throws fire. As your head wraps around that awesome concept (just as it does on a daily basis when you daydream about owning one), consider this beautiful instrument of destruction’s place in film. Sure, Bellflower comes out this week (and should energize you to convert daydreaming into action), but there’s a storied history here to uncover, and a future that’s assured to be bright enough to demand protective gear. Here are just a handful of movies that put the flamethrower on the burnt pedestal it deserves to sit upon.

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I was fortunate to meet and work with artists who, unlike me, had already began their nomadic careers moving from shop to shop like a herd of dinosaurs in search of water. I would either call or get a call from a fellow make-up artist and the gossip and rumors would begin. There was no Internet and no cell phones so the only way to hear about upcoming work was through word of mouth. In 1985, make-up effects was still on the rise, so there appeared to be a lot of projects happening around town. Of all of the opportunities, however, the best one was presented to me by Bill Sturgeon. For those unfamiliar with Bill, not only did he do incredible mechanisms on House and Strange Invaders for James Cummins, but he was also one of Rick Baker’s original six staff artists who had created the effects for An American Werewolf in London. Bill called me from Stan Winston Studios. In the wake of the success of The Teminator, Stan was re-teamed with director James Cameron on Aliens. However, a few months prior to this announcement, Stan had committed the studio to work on Tobe Hooper’s remake of Invaders From Mars, so now his team was taxed with two films that both required a large amount of work.

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Boiling Point

Science Fiction has seen somewhat of a resurgence these past few years, bringing dozens of different aliens to Earth’s surface via cinema screens. Tom Cruise battled aliens in War of the Worlds, aliens broke down in South Africa over District 9, and more recently Transformers waged war on our planet, Los Angeles was invaded, and a subterranean alien was interrogated in a small town, only to escape. No matter what year it happened, one thing is clear: when aliens come in peace, all is well. When they don’t, well, they’re the ones in for an ass whooping. Not that it makes much sense, considering alien species that manage to make it to Earth are often technologically advanced, super strong, intelligent, and sporting a massive boner for our resources, not to mention laser guns. Despite all of this, when have aliens ever managed a successful takeover? Not only that – when have aliens ever managed to not look like completely retarded asshats, who pretty much design their own downfall as if they were Death Star engineers?

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This past weekend, the first of many pieces of sci-fi media with one entity at their center was released. That one entity has a name. It’s Steven Spielberg. Yet while Super 8 was fun, the first television-based Spielberg project of the next six months can be summed up in one word: amazing. That project is the TNT drama Falling Skies. Encompassing everything that makes up the things we expect from the Spielberg brand, like a focus on characters as opposed to events, grand scale world building, and a pinch of awesome action, Falling Skies delivers on the hopes that its advertising has created. The show, which premieres this Sunday on TNT, is a refreshing spectacle to see arrive on the small screen.

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Editor’s Note: This article contains words that often arrange themselves into SPOILERS and should not be read by anyone. Cole Abiaus was a bit too kind in his full review of Super 8 and glossed over the disaster that is the film’s third act, but it’s still worth a read for everything he got right, so check it out here. As a response to the review and to start a discussion on some of the film’s secrets, Robert Fure and Rob Hunter have compiled the list below of the things they liked and the things they didn’t. Give it a read and then let us know what you thought of the movie below.

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Ruairi Robinson has hit the production world hard with his short films. Just about everyone (including us) featured his short Blinky a few months ago and praised it for its simplicity, beauty and terrifying cuteness. And that’s just his latest. The director is attached to feature-length astronaut project The Animators, but now Variety is reporting that he’ll be coming down to earth alongside an alien craft with Fallen. The story will focus on the busted ship as its killed off all electronics within a 400-mile radius (about twice the distance from New York City to Washington, DC), and a crack international team has been sent to investigate. Fortunately, all of this happens in Russia so it has an odds on chance of landing in a 400-mile zone where there aren’t any electronics anyway. Crisis averted. The project sounds fascinating because Robinson is a director to watch, and the sci-fi world seems to suit his sensibilities just fine. Plus, the idea of watching a special ops team hobbled by going into a zone where they can’t use electronics has an interesting tip to it. It’s a simple turn, but it could be very cool. I personally can’t wait to see Lionsgate UK get Fallen off the ground, and I can’t wait for the sequel, Revenge of the Fallen.

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You know what’s great about Green Lantern? They aren’t shying away from the fact that the movie is a full-blown space opera featuring a lot of weird-looking aliens. That doesn’t happen everyday. Especially not with a tentpole flick. It’s admirable that the marketing isn’t just coverage of Ryan Reynolds‘s abs, but also the whole gang of strange and wondrous creatures protecting the universe with their magic jewelry. MTV has an exclusive banner that features at least 13 Lanterns (and maybe a 14th if Bzzd is hanging around somewhere). That’s the small version above, of course, but you’ll have to click over to MTV to check out the giant version in all its glory.

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The most entertaining film from this year’s SXSW film fest has finally found a US distributor. I say “finally” because someone should have picked it up the moment the closing credits started rolling on opening night. But hey, better late than never… Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block is about an alien invasion of sorts in London’s tough, inner-city neighborhoods. Pitch black creatures are eating their way through town, but there are no military units or police heroes to fight back the horde here so instead that task falls to a group of teen thugs. These are right pricks here, make no mistake, but by the film’s end they may just steal your heart. (But I’d check to make sure you still have your wallet and watch just in case.) Brian Salisbury’s excellent review of the movie is here, Sony’s press release is below, and thanks to BadassDigest for the heads up about this fantastic news.

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Drinking Games

Were Los Angeles attacked by aliens, would you rather be saved by the Marines or a pack of television actors playing a rapper’s posse? If you said the Marines, then take your sorry butt down to your local cineplex and spend the money to see Battle: Los Angeles on the big screen. If you went for the TV actors, then get your sorry butt to your local video store of your choice and pick up a copy of Skyline. Either case, you might want to pick up a bottle of your drink of choice along the way.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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