Sam Neill

Event Horizon

Year: 1997
Directed By: Paul Anderson
Written By: Philip Eisner

RYAN’S REVIEW

I watched this movie when it first came to home video in 1998 and it scared me so bad it’s taken me 15 years to come back for seconds. I was 13 or 14 when I first saw it and at that age I would never admit how bad it scared me but I can admit it now.  This movie literally scared the ever loving shit out of me and watching it last night did bring some of that fear back to me.  Of course I’m not scared now the way I was when I was young but there was a nostalgic feeling of fear that came over me while we watched it. There are so many creepy things in this movie and I can really see why and how it got to me so bad as a kid. There are a few things wrong with this film but that doesn’t change the effect it will have on you.  This movie is scary as hell, literally, and that makes it an excellent movie for the season.

In this movie we see the fears of the characters come to life right before their eyes.  For reasons they don’t understand they are suddenly having hallucinations of their greatest fears.  With a variety of different fears the movie is able to hit on several levels to get to everyone in the audience one way or another. If the burning man that appears before Laurence Fishburne or the kid that Kathleen Quinlan sees don’t get to you then Sam Niell’s eye gauging definitely will.  For me, one of the scariest parts was when Neill is down in that tiny tunnel and starts hearing things.  He looks around in this small space that he could easily get lost in and he isn’t sure if he is actually hearing things or if he is just panicking.  That kind of fear, the type when you are all alone in a scary place and unsure what’s going on really gets to me.  The not knowing if something is really there or if it’s all in your head is terrifying under those circumstances.  After all these years it still makes me cringe.

I heard once that there was something like 30 minutes cut from this film specifically to get it down to an R rating.  I don’t know where that time would have fit in but if I had to guess I would think it came from the video of the lost crew.  When they finally clean up the image enough to see what happened what they see if horrifying.  There is a man who has pulled his own eyes out and is holding them in his hand while chanting creepy Latin phrases. There appears to be some raping going on, everyone is screaming, and flames blaze in the background.  These people had accidentally traveled into Hell and the consequences were frightening.  I imagine there was plenty in that scene that might have been deemed too much for the theater audience by the MPAA.

I think where this film goes wrong is in the ending, but I’m inclined to chalk it up to being a product of its time.  In the end the tone changes to something like Laurence Fishburne vs. Sam Neill when that shouldn’t be the case.  Yes Sam Neill was simply the image taken by the ship but there should be no one against the other.  There should only be Neill i.e. the ship dispatching Laurence Fishburne in horrifying fashion. How could anybody hope to fight back against a ship that has transformed into an evil object by travelling to Hell and back? It shouldn’t be possible and there should be no room for the type of heroics we see from Fishburne in the end.  I like that in the end the ship is still alive and the nightmare continues for the survivors, but what precedes it almost makes it loose its flavor.  There is a theme in far too many horror films that the good guy has to win.  Freddy is eventually beaten by the teenagers he torments, Jason is eventually beaten by the teenagers he torments, Mike Myers is eventually beaten by the teenagers he torments……..Laurence Fishburne needed to have a fist fight with a demonic Sam Neill in the climax of this film.  That’s just how it was done in the 90s.  I tend to find the no win scenario much scarier and we see more of that these days.

I think Laurence Fishburne was great in this movie, until the end when he has his hero moment that is.  I have always been a fan of Fishburne because I come from the generation of The Matrix, and Morpheus can do no wrong.  Of course that isn’t true though; Fishburne has become irrelevant over the years as Morpheus got further and further away in the rear view. He got an important part in Man of Steel though, and whether he was the right choice or not is irrelevant.  It’s an opportunity, and I hope it gets him back into the limelight in the future. Sam Neill just has a look to him that really shows the potential for being evil.  I thought he was awesome in In the Mouth of Madness and I think he specifically looks wicked in this movie both with and without eyes. With the lacerated face he looks beyond wicked and something more like demonic. Neill really hasn’t had many memorable roles in his career but when he gets a good one he plays it to the fullest.  This film is a good example of that.

Aside from those two there are several other cast members who many will recognize.  Of course Kathleen Quinlan tops that list.  She was past her prime when this movie came out but she is a great actress with a long and distinguished career.  Lucius Malfoy is also seen in the background long before he was made relatively popular by the Harry Potter films.  I am talking about Jason Isaacs, who recently starred in a network TV show I didn’t watch, I think it was called Awake. Joely Richardson has one of the more significant roles in this film being one of the two final “survivors.” I was a big fan of Richardson from her work on Nip/Tuck. That show went on for far too long and her character was not always written in the brightest light. That’s putting it nicely really, they writers loved to make this woman about as slutty as she could get.  I think if they could have gotten away with it she probably would have engaged in a relationship with her own son.  Still, for a long time I was a big fan of the show and I liked her role on in despite what they had her do.

This is a scary movie.  In fact it is probably far and away the scariest of all the movies we have watched for this month so far.  It has a bit of a science fiction feel to it that but that doesn’t take away from the horror effect.  Science fiction and horror are often intertwined together with great success.  This movie doesn’t qualify as a success because it was a box office bomb but it succeeds where it matters.  Check this one out if you are looking for something to scare you as Halloween approaches and you won’t be disappointed.   

AMBER’S REVIEW

Apparently this was a horror movie. I am almost certain this should be qualified as a sci-fi movie. Of course, I fell asleep before it all went horrible, infinitely, wrong. (See what I did there?) I didn’t get to see all the gruesome horror, but apparently it must be a gory movie because under the Halloween titles in Netflix, they have this one listed as bloody and gory.

event-horizon-poster-2 Here is the poster for this movie. They made the characters blue and faded them out. I think you guys know how I feel about floating people. However these floating people are technically in space so that provides a little bit of self controversy. I don’t know what to think about that. I hate, however, HATE that they colored the whole poster blue to create that mood. You can do that without colorizing the whole thing people. Stop taking the easy way out. The font isn’t anything special, just another techy font. You can find them for free all over the place. I just realized there was a planet behind their heads. I HATE THIS POSTER. What a terrible way to try and get people in to see this film.

Jurassic Park III

Year: 2001
Directed By: Joe Johnston
Written By: Michael Crichton (characters) Peter Buchman, Alexander Payne, and Jim Taylor

RYAN’S REVIEW

This isn’t a bad movie.  Of course it isn’t up to the same caliber as its predecessor, just as its predecessor wasn’t the same caliber as the original.  Though it may not be a great film, it isn’t for any lack of trying.  They seemed to really pull out all the stops with this one but still failed to live up to expectations both critically and financially.  I think this movie is decent enough but I think it would have been much better had Steven Spielberg stay behind camera instead of simply serving as an Executive Producer. While I do think the movie could have been much better I think it was good enough and I’ve enjoyed revisiting it.

I like a few things about this movie despite everything else.  I really like Sam Neill’s return to the franchise.  I have always thought it was a bad idea to continue the franchise with Ian Malcolm’s character and not with Alan Grant. Neill has never had much of a career as a leading man but I think he was great in the first film and I thought he was good enough in this one.  He doesn’t pull off his Indiana Jones persona as much this time but he gives it his best shot.  I can’t really explain why because he is a great actor but for whatever reason I just can’t stand William H. Macy.  He is just so whiny and weird looking that he gets on my nerves.  However I will admit he is a terrific actor, and actually well cast for this role as a lying man who knows nothing about what he has gotten himself into.  I loathe Tea Leoni and don’t know that I have ever seen her in a role I enjoyed.  She is best suited to play a mega bitch as we saw her in Spanglish but I suppose it’s fitting that she was cast as the screaming and panicky mother in this one.  I think the better roles went to the men who simply played the parts of fodder to be eaten by dinosaurs.  I have always liked Michael Jeter and miss what else he may have done in his career had he not died at the age of 50.  I grew up watching him on Evening Shade and like many of his movie roles.  He lived for over 20 years as HIV positive before dying in 2003 of an epileptic seizure.  I also like John Diehl who died really quickly in this movie but played a significant role in my favorite TV show of all time, The Shield

This movie had plenty of stupid parts to it and really if you step back and look at it the whole concept of the film is a bit ridiculous.  However it does sport a ton of dinosaur action and that has to count for something right? I think it was really awesome that Pteranodons finally made it into one of these movies.  The flying “dinosaurs” were part of the first book and actually intended to be included in the second movie but got cut.  I put dinosaurs in parenthesis because based on very limited research it seems these creatures weren’t actually dinosaurs despite what we all think.  I think the addition of the Spinosaurus was cool but it was used a bit too much in the film.  Though the battle between it and the T-Rex was really cool. I think this might have been the first time all the dinosaurs were digitally done instead of using animatronics and I think you can really tell a big difference.  I might be wrong about that but for whatever reason they just didn’t look as real or as good as they did in the first film.  

The stupid parts of this movie would include the child surviving on the island for eight weeks. Literally every “professional” through three films gets killed in these places yet this little boy just sets up shop and lives there for two months? That isn’t as farfetched and ridiculous as them being saved by Laura Dern’s character from the first movie.  I thought it was weird they had her in this movie at all and I felt her coming in as the hero in the end was simply poor writing.  Not only would she probably not be able to get anything done, she doesn’t even really know what’s going on and seems to simply figure it out from her child making dinosaur noises.  I also think they went too far with the velociraptors.  Yeah these are the most popular and deadliest of the dinosaurs we see in these movies but they were going too far by making them so intelligent and organized.

This isn’t a great movie but it is a second sequel and more often than not those are only going to be so good. I always maintain hope for the potential of third films but can’t think of many that amounted to anything. Obviously this one isn’t a movie I would say qualified as one that amounted to anything but if you are a fan of the franchise then it’s still worth your time. If you haven’t seen the first two then this is not worth your time and it would be a waste to watch it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

JP3

This is the poster for the third movie. The same thing, just updated to a more modern look and the 3 is slashed into three thrashes. I still like it. I think it is smart to use the iconic logo. It’s very marketable and helps the fans and viewers get really psyched about the new installment.

NEXT MOVIE: Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

In The Mouth of Madness

Year: 1994
Directed By: John Carpenter
Written By: Michael De Luca

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a movie I have wanted for a really long time and after mentioning it in our review of Jurassic Park I just had to have it.  It isn’t the easiest movie to find because for several years now it has been out of print and unavailable in store.  Luckily I was able to find a used copy on Amazon that was still in pretty good condition.  I have no idea why this movie is out of print because I honestly think it is one of the best horror movies I have ever seen.

I will say that this movie has one of the worst intros I have ever seen but I am simply going to attribute that to the time period it was made.  Once the credits have finished through this lengthy book printing scene the movie quickly takes off.  This movie can suck you in quickly and take you on a ride that only gets crazier and crazier.  I asked someone at work this morning if they had ever seen the movie and when they hadn’t they asked me to tell them what it was about.  I couldn’t seem to find the words to accurately describe what the plot was. In truth the plot is simple but the insanity that it invokes is difficult to put into words.  It has so many images in it that are overbearingly creepy and it really isn’t quite like any other horror movie I have ever seen.  In fact, a movie like this makes me wonder why we don’t see better horror films coming out today.  This is a crazy and wild story unlike nearly all the horror films made lately.  So many of them are simply exorcism movies, remakes, or something shot from the first person point of view.  We have a serious lack of quality horror movies coming out these days and they could all take a lesson from a movie like this.

Sam Neill plays the lead in this movie and there are times I feel like he is overacting but at others I think he is just spectacular.  His final scene in which he is watching the film of himself is great.  The insane laughter coming from him is just chilling and a great way to end the film.  I think Jurgen Prochnow was a great choice for the role of Sutter Cane.  He looks creepy to begin with and I think his voice, wardrobe, and hairstyle only enhance his role as a horror character in this movie. Giving this movie credibility is the role played by Charlton Heston.  The role he played isn’t important, merely the fact that he was in the movie is important.  Heston is one of the most legendary actors of all time and as his career winded down in the 90s he played many small roles and his presence seemed to lift every movie he was in up a little bit.  This is one of those movies, simply having him as part of the cast makes it more significant and gives the film credibility.

I do not know many people who have seen this movie and I don’t understand why.  I consider this one of the scariest movies I have ever seen and I want to encourage anybody who hasn’t seen it to seek it out.  I am a fan of horror films but as I said earlier so many that come out now are simply disappointing.  We need new masters of horror like John Carpenter and Wes Craven.  What we really need is a real life Sutter Cane to hit the scene and scare the shit out of us again.  If you have seen this movie before I would love a comment to know what you thought about it.  If you haven’t seen it then look for it where ever you can and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  Like any good horror film it isn’t that long with a running time of only 95 minutes.  At that length this movie is more than worth your time and all horror fans should see it.

Jurassic Park

Year: 1993
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Michael Crichton and David Koepp

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was nine years old when this movie came out in 1993.  At the time my father was the manager at the Uptown Theater in downtown Washington D.C. and I was there when this movie premiered there. The theater only had one huge screen with a large auditorium and a balcony. I sat on the first row of the balcony to watch the movie and for two hours and seven minutes my mind was blown.  It is still to this day the largest screen I ever watched a movie on and I don’t know that anything I had ever seen as a nine year old was more exciting than this movie about dinosaurs. I’ll never forget how I felt after seeing it for the first time, it was probably pivotal at my age in my development as a movie fan.  I was so exhilarated; I remember immediately thinking about how awesome the inevitable sequel would be.  I had suddenly discovered the coolest thing that had ever existed, the velociraptor, and here I had spent nine whole years thinking it was the T-Rex.

As I grew up I only came to love this movie more as I was able to understand more with my growing maturity.  Eventually I read the book and was at first disappointed by how different it was but by the end came to love it as well.  Michael Crichton is a good writer but he tends to wear me out as a reader sometimes.  His books are fascinating and always have exciting stories but they are just so nonstop with danger around every corner.  Things never cool down and the danger around every corner can sometimes be exhausting.  Crichton of course was already a very successful writer long before he conceived the idea for this story. So successful that when he approached movie studios with nothing more than the idea for the book he was immediately offered tons of money for film rights.  Four studios fought over the right to make the film, each with a director in mind to attach to the project. So Crichton had his pick of who would make his book into a film even before he wrote it.  He ultimately chose Universal Studios who had Steven Spielberg penciled in to direct and I think we can all agree he made the right choice.

Nobody captures excitement and adventure quite like Steven Spielberg and his people.  He brought along David Koepp to work on the script, John Williams to work up the musical score, and Kathleen Kennedy to produce.  This group of people can almost be likened to a mathematical equation that equals success because they have created it time and time again.  They know how to make great and long lasting movies and did that again when they got together for this one.  Spielberg even tapped one of his other resources for this film by bringing on George Lucas to finish direction when it came time for Spielberg to work on his next film, Schindler’s List. I mentioned in a previous post that Spielberg had a great knack for growing as a filmmaker and adapting to the times and new techniques.  He did that with this movie as the technology used to bring all the dinosaurs to life was very new at the time.

I have always liked the cast of this movie although none of the actors used were really big names.  Sam Neill has never been much of a leading man but I thought he was great in the part.  Most of the other films I have seen Neill in have been horror films and he is awesome in those. The number one that comes to mind is In the Mouth of Madness which I remember being particularly scary. Laura Dern was the female lead and she is another I would not call a leading actress.  Although she has starred in the lead of her own television show on HBO, EnlightenedAlthough the show has been cancelled after two seasons.  I haven’t seen much of it but Amber seemed really interested at one time.  Jeff Goldblum has a large enough role to almost be considered a lead and he probably had the most recognizable name among the cast. I have never been a fan of Goldblum but I think he fit the role of Ian Malcolm really well.  The only problem with him in the role was it required him to be the lead actor in the sequel. I think they could have been more prudent in choosing, but they didn’t know that at the time because the sequel hadn’t been written yet.  Of his two rounds playing the part I think we saw him do better in this film.

I think the strength of this cast lies in all the supporting roles because they had many good people filling in the smaller roles.  Samuel L. Jackson was relatively unknown when he was in this movie.  It wouldn’t be till the following year when he was in Pulp Fiction that his star really began to rise.  I thought he was great as the chain smoking park technician in this movie.  I also particularly like Wayne Knight’s role in the film.  This was probably the highest point in Knight’s career as he was starting to get plenty of face time on Seinfeld as Newman.  Long after Seinfeld Knight saw a dip in his career and as far as I know it is all but over now.  I read an article a few years back that he had lost A LOT of weight. So much so that he was barely recognizable as all his time in the public eye was as such a heavy man.  I read that he was having a hard time getting roles because of his weight loss but he was happier to be in shape and living a healthier life.  I think that is great for him and I hope Wayne Knight is still keeping it up and doing well, but I miss him in parts like this.  Richard Attenborough also brought a lot to the film in his role as the park’s creator.  Although his portrayal in the film is much different than it was in the book.  In the book John Hammond was a real ass and I think all readers were really pleased when he is eaten by some of the smaller dinosaurs in the park.  Of course in the film he lives and not only that but he has that great grandfatherly quality that Attenborough has himself so he is very likable. Joseph Mazzello also played a great part but he has had a hard time transitioning his success as a child into anything else.  He is still out there popping up here and there but hasn’t done much of any significance.

This movie will always be important to me for more reasons than how awesome it might have been.  I will never forget the premier of the film when I was there at the Uptown in 1993.  I don’t remember seeing them all specifically but Jeff Goldblum was there, both of the two child actors, Laura Dern maybe, and I did see Muhammad Ali who attended.  Although I didn’t see him I know that Vice President Al Gore was there as well because I met a Secret Service agent that was there to guard him.  While waiting for the movie to start the VP had taken over my father’s office and when I went there looking for my dad I found my father wasn’t in there but there was a man in a suit standing guard outside.  He was a really cool guy who humored my fascination in what he did with plenty of conversation.  I will never forget it for as long as I live because at nine years he was quite possibly the coolest guy I had ever met in my entire life.  He showed me his gun and even took the clip out to show me the bullets he used.  I doubt this was something he was supposed to or even allowed to do but he left such an impression on me.  I was quite lucky to meet one who was nice to me instead of being a hardass, as I imagine most Secret Service members are and should be.

I don’t have to tell you anything more about this movie because you most likely already have plenty of your own ideas about it.  This is one of those films that simply everybody saw at the time because it was that popular.  Both the film and the book are worth your time and I would suggest investing some in both of them.  Universal Studios is still trying to harness the bank-ability of this film franchise and there is always talk of a fourth film in the works.  Over the year I have heard all kind of ideas thrown out there, even one as wild as velociraptors equipped with laser technology that allows them to fight humans in battle.  I doubt a film like that will ever be made but I am sure we will eventually see a fourth film in the franchise.  Will it match up to this one? Of course not but that doesn’t mean that somebody else won’t pick up the torch and do something significant with it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This classic movie is a movie that everyone should have seen by now. Who doesn’t love a good story about dinosaurs? I really like this movie. I still don’t mind watching it when it comes on television. It’s a fun ride and a classic flick.

jurassicpark

I really think this is a successful poster. Who needs to show a poster filled with dinosaurs? I love that they decided to simply use the park logo as the focus for this poster. It tells you everything that you need to know. This logo is still iconic today, just as I said about the Ghostbusters logo. People automatically know what this is when they see it. Overall, I think this poster deserves a big kudos. It took a risk being so simplistic, but this works on so many levels. Love it.

NEXT MOVIE: The Lost World (1997)