Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I Am America (And So Can You!

Stephen Colbert is funny. I feel this is a generally acknowledged fact. He's smart and funny, which makes him great, and this book is a fine example of that. I say "fine" because it's not a great or phenomenal example, but it's fine. Stephen Colbert really plays up his close-minded, arrogant conservative character quite well, but mostly goes for easy laughs based on the pure irony of everything he says. That's not to say it's not funny--Colbert is very clever (I especially enjoy his editorial comments throughout) but as much as I enjoyed it, I couldn't help but think that it was all too....easy. Everything he said was obviously meant to be ironic, and as a result, succeeded in getting a silly smile out of me. Still, I would have liked to have seen him take his Conservative character even more over the top. I feel like any Conservative, close-minded American-pride-driven meathead that reads this will get that it's a joke, and enjoy it and laugh at it just as much as I did. However, I would have enjoyed it if it were written so that those meatheads actually sympathized with Colbert's character. Then arrogant Liberals like me could laugh at them and assert our self-important superiority over their simpleton minds that just "don't get it."

Aliens vs Predator Requiem

I saw this movie. I paid $10.25 to see this movie with a friend from home strictly for the novelty and nostalgic value. This friend was my default geek out/super hero/action movie friend since childhood, and considering our mutual childhood fascinations with the first two "Aliens" films and the first Predator one (Predator calling Ahnold a "Mother fucker," his only line in English, before blowing himself up, was BADASS), we knew we had to go. Surprisingly, we were not the only people in the theater-there were 4 others. That means that on this particular Wednesday, 6 people paid $10.25 to see this movie. And I thought I was ridiculous.
The point of this is not to justify my actions, of course, but rather to review the film, so here it goes: it was perfect. And by that, I mean, the film was absolutely everything that I expected it to be. A hackneyed plot full of delightfully uninteresting horror movie archetypes and tons of death and gruesome action. I found myself wondering what writers got hired to write a film like this, because it really can't be that difficult (at least, from a writer's perspective). I also found myself debating whether or not I would write a film like this, given the opportunity. I'm sure it pays rather handsomely, and requires minimal effort beyond regurgitating Hollywood stereotypes, but I'm not so sure I'd want my name attached to a film like this. Everything that you expected, pretty much happened as the formula would have it. Even the "hero" of the invaded town was beautiful cliche--an ex-con named Dallas, wearing a leather jacket, who eventually acquires one of the Predator's weapons and saves the day. There was even a shady government figure and military cover up. I couldn't have asked for anything more.
Except better lighting.
I understand the importance of low lighting in horror films to build suspense--its a lot scarier to imagine something than it is to see it, and no matter how good the visual effects may be, they will never be as graphic as your imagination might have it. In order to heighten the suspense, however, the audience still needs to see something. Case in point: The big selling point for this film was the appearance of the "Predalien," the Alien-Predator hybrid. We've all seen Aliens and we've all seen Predators, but this thing was new. Unfortunately, I have no idea what it looked like beyond the Predator jaws and the goofy-looking dredlocks that bounced behind his head. I wasn't sure what color it was, or if the thing had claws, or the double-mouth, or what. It was too dark, so much so that I stopped caring whenever the Predalien appeared. Along the same lines of atmospheric decisions and cliches, a ravenous downpour fell upon the town at nightfall, following an otherwise beautiful Colorado day, to heighten the horror movie suspense. Where did all those rain clouds come from?