Tag Archives: 1992 movies

Alien 3: Assembly Cut (1992) Review

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Alien 3

Time: 145 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence and offensive language
Cast:
Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley
Charles S. Dutton as Leonard Dillon
Charles Dance as Jonathan Clemens
Director: David Fincher

After her last encounter, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) crash-lands on Fiorina Fury 161, a maximum security prison. When a series of strange and deadly events occur shortly after her arrival, Ripley realizes that she brought along an unwelcome visitor.

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Despite the success and acclaim of the previous movies in the series, Alien 3 was a very divisive film upon its release in the early 90s. When I first saw the movie many years ago (around the same time I watched the other Alien movies for the first time), I actually liked it. However it did have its issues, mainly with studio interference, director David Fincher (who has gone on to do make better things) has since disowned this movie. There was an assembly cut put together, which included extended footage, deleted scenes, new digital effects and different key elements. I legitimately think that this version of Alien 3 is great, or at least close to being great.

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Again, the version of Alien 3 I’ll be reviewing is the Assembly Cut, which is widely known as the superior version of the film. It was years since I saw the movie for the first time (which I assume was the theatrical version), so I can’t comment too much on the differences between the two versions. However watching this movie now, I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like without 30 minutes of extra footage. One difference I know for certain was that for the creation of the main xenomorph, the theatrical version has it birthed from a dog, in this version its from an ox. One of the biggest criticisms was early in the movie was the fact that all the characters who survived the previous movie aside from Ripley die at the beginning (not really a spoiler it’s very early on). While I didn’t like that decision for the longest time, now I’ve sort of warmed to that idea now. Killing these characters at the beginning was a bold choice. After the action film that was James Cameron’s Aliens, Alien 3 firmly establishes itself as being a very different movie, a much bleaker and nihilistic movie, and this alienated some fans. Despite this, I think that the tonal departure from its predecessor works to Fincher’s benefit. This film is also closer in tone to the original Alien, being much more of a horror film than an action film. The movie is also set in a more confined location, reasonably large but still closed in and claustrophobic, and while the characters aren’t in space, there aren’t any weapons to fight back with (though the reason behind this does feel a little bit forced). It’s very much its own movie. With all that being said, Alien 3 is one of the most infamous cases of studio interference. The assembly cut puts together the movie as best as possible, and while watching it now I liked what I saw, there was a feeling at points that it was a little rushed. The ending was satisfying, and would’ve been a good place to end the series (and then they made Alien Resurrection for some reason).

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Sigourney Weaver is great as usual as Ellen Ripley, still having that strong on screen presence, I actually think that this is her best performance as the character. Alien 3 really shows the PTSD that Ripley has from the experience of the previous two movies and how those events took a toll on her. The rest of the cast are good, with two standouts being Charles Dance and Charles S. Dutton. Both of them have some quite solidly written characters, elevated by the great performances. Unfortunately the rest of the supporting characters don’t have much to them, though not a whole lot worse than the supporting characters of the previous two movies.

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The direction of the movie by David Fincher was great, and his direction took the film to another level. One of the film’s biggest strengths is the setting, taking place on a prison. Fincher does well at making this location feel remote and dystopian. Despite it being a somewhat large environment, it still feels claustrophobic. The production design was particularly great, with a lot of attention to detail. The cinematography is great and makes the film look so visually appealing, with dark shadows, strong aesthetics, and really adds to that claustrophobic. In the third act, the POV shots from the Xenomorph’s perspective also really worked. One of the more noticeable problems with the movie was that the CGI on the Xenomorph is very much a mixed bag. The actual design on the new alien is great and is something that hadn’t been shown in the previous two movies. Also, whenever the xenomorph is on screen with practical effects, it looks fantastic. However, in some points it will just cut to a very fake looking Xenomorph doing stuff, and the effects even in the Assembly Cut haven’t aged well. The chase scenes are pretty repetitive, though I guess that a whole lot of those moments were inevitable with the movie being a more open environment than the original Alien, and lacking the weapons in Aliens. The score by Elliot Goldenthal is also great, and fits the movie very well.

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Alien 3 is definitely a flawed film but it’s by no means a bad film, in fact I think it’s really good. The new take for an Alien film is interesting, it’s greatly directed, I like the places that the story is taken, and the performances are great, especially from Weaver, Dance and Dutton. I’d recommend checking out this version of the film. It isn’t as strong as the first two movies, Alien still remains the best film in the series but Alien 3 is at least close to being at the level of Aliens.

Braindead (1992) Review

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Braindead

Time: 104 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Timothy Balme as Lionel Cosgrove
Diana Peñalver as Paquita María Sánchez
Elizabeth Moody as Vera Cosgrove (Lionel’s mum)
Ian Watkin as Uncle Les (Lionel’s uncle)
Director: Peter Jackson

Overprotective mother Vera Cosgrove (Elizabeth Moody), spying on her grown son Lionel (Timothy Balme), as he visits the zoo with the lovely Paquita (Diana Penalver), is accidently bitten by the fearsome Sumatran rat-monkey. When the bite turns his beloved mother into a zombie, Lionel tries to keep her locked safely in the basement, but her repeated escapes turn most of the neighbours into the walking dead, who then crash a high-society party thrown by Lionel’s boorish Uncle Les (Ian Watkin).

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I have been meaning to watch Braindead (also named Dead Alive) for some time. The fact that Peter Jackson directed it was really the main reason, but it’s also quite a standout when it comes to horror movies, especially when it comes those with levels of gore. I ended up having quite a blast with Braindead, a strange, quirky and highly entertaining movie.

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Looking at the plot at first, it isn’t anything too special, but the script actually works really well for what it is. From the writing it is absolutely a kiwi movie (you can really tell if you’ve seen a lot of other movies from New Zealand), and is very quotable, with a rather funny script. It is a completely ridiculous movie and you cannot take any of it seriously, like at all. It’s got a dark comic feeling throughout, it’s satirical at point, and it is completely over the top and insane. The third act is where it all shines however, and somehow becomes even more insane than you are used to it being, even by most bloody and gory horror movie standards.

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The leads in Timothy Balme and Elizabeth Moody weren’t anything special and especially seem boring when you compare them to pretty much every other character in the film, but they were serviceable on their parts. The supporting cast on the other hand features some wonderfully wacky and silly performances, especially from Elizabeth Moody, Ian Watkins, and Stuart Denvine, and they make the most of their screentime.

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Peter Jackson directed Braindead, and with this being his third film, he’s still in his early experimental phase in this point of his career (in the line of his previous movies in Bad Taste and Meet the Feebles). He’s very creative in the way he decided to film many sequences (especially with the camera movements), and the use of practical effects are nothing short of amazing. This has often been called the goriest movie ever made, and at this point I don’t doubt it. The first two acts are pretty over the top and violent as they are (not to mention rather gross and disgusting at points). However, it is the third act where it really pays off, and is truly a blood soaked masterwork. Even having watched so many over the top violent movies, and having glimpsed a couple of brief moments from the climax, I wasn’t expecting the level of gore that this movie delivered. Decapitations, gushing blood, limbs flying everywhere, faces being ripped off, it has it all, and ramps all of it past the expected level.

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Clearly, this movie isn’t for the squeamish or those easily grossed out, but for big fans of horror, it is definitely worth watching Braindead, especially if you are a fan of the zombie genre. Peter Jackson’s gorefest of a horror movie is hilariously dark and over the top, with a quirky and quotable script, and is directed creatively. Top that all off with a bloodbath of a climax, and it’s a must watch movie within the horror genre.

Candyman (1992) Review

Candyman - 1992

Candyman

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] contains violence
Cast:
Virginia Madsen as Henry Lyle
Tony Todd as Daniel Robitaille/Candyman
Xander Berkeley as Trevoy Lyle
Kasi Lemmons as Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Walsh
Director: Bernard Rose

Intrigued by local legends, Helen (Virginia Madsen) investigates the myths and superstitions surrounding the one-armed Candyman (Tony Todd). However, she confronts her worst nightmare when a series of murders start taking place.

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With a follow up to the original Candyman meant to be coming, I had decided that I should check it out. I had heard about the horror movie for some but only knew a small number of things about it, such as that the Candyman had a hook, he’s summoned if you say his name 5 times in front of a mirror, and that somehow bees were involved. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, I went in blind and it turned out to be actually pretty great. It’s an effectively creepy horror movie but also had some layers to it that I wasn’t really expecting.

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Based off a short story “The Forbidden” by Clive Barker, Candyman is certainly one of the more unique movies of the slasher genre. The first half of the movie is Virginia Madsen’s character doing some investigating of the Candyman and his history, and I was on board with it. Movies about urban myths don’t always work, but it actually works to great effect here. It also leads to an insane second act, which I won’t talk about too much as it is better watching the movie without knowing too much. While it is a slasher movie, it’s not as focused on the violence and death compared to other slasher movies (especially around the time of its release), even though it can be quite brutal and gory. At the same time, it does a very good job at getting under your skin and creeping you out. Not only is it a good horror movie, but it’s layered in social, economic and racial themes, that give this movie so much more. It thematically rich and there’s a lot to explore in this movie, and it is genuinely creepy at the same time. At an hour and 40 minutes in length I was invested in the story from beginning to end.

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Virginia Madsen is good in the lead role, you are on board with her as she tries to unravel the mystery of the Candyman. While you don’t see him often, Tony Todd is great and nothing short of iconic as Candyman. He has such an incredible on-screen presence, and you even feel him always there when he’s not on screen, his voice is a huge part of that. The character himself is also fantastic, I won’t go into it too much for those who don’t know it, but he has a well put together backstory. The rest of the cast are pretty good too.

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Candyman was directed very well by Bernard Rose. It’s a great looking movie, the cinematography from Anthony B. Richmond really sucks you in. There are some gruesome and unforgettable imagery, and not only when it comes to the death scenes. The makeup effects are fantastic. One of the highlights of the film was actually the score by Phillip Glass, which is nothing short of euphoric. The score was truly something special and added a lot to the movie, giving an incredibly eerie atmospheric feel throughout.

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Candyman was far better than what I was expecting it to be. It’s a well made horror movie, with an unsettling yet subversive and thematic script and story, it’s directed exceptionally well, and the cast are great, especially Tony Todd. It’s been on my mind ever since I watched it, and has held up very well considering it came out in 1992. It is definitely worth watching, especially if you are a horror fan. I’m very interested to see how the new Candyman movie will turn out.

Batman Returns (1992) Review

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Batman Returns

Time: 137 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne / Batman
Danny DeVito as Oswald Cobblepot / Penguin
Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle / Catwoman
Christopher Walken as Max Shreck
Michael Murphy as Mayor of Gotham City

After successfully defeating the Joker, the Dark Knight, known as Batman (Michael Keaton) helps to keep Gotham City a safe place. Beneath the city in the sewers, another villain emerges. Known as the Penguin (Danny DeVito), he joins up with Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) and targets the position of new mayor. Whilst Batman tries to uncover the truth behind the Penguin, the Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) also emerges with her own agenda in mind, but not without mixed feelings.

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In 1989 Tim Burton created one of the most iconic superhero movies, Batman. It changed the ways comic book movies could be made. After the success of Batman, Burton makes his return with his own personal style added to this film. Some people are split about this movie, I’m personally one of the people who likes this movie. It does have some problems but nothing to overshadow the overall experience.

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After Batman, Warner Bros gave Tim Burton the freedom to do whatever he wanted with the franchise and it definitely shows here. With the previous Batman, you are able to watch it without picking up that Tim Burton directed it but Batman Returns has Burton stamped all over it. The city does not feel like Gotham, it’s like a whole different city, a much darker city (if that’s possible) with even more gothic feelings. With this really being his movie, this film is of course much darker. The Penguin is an interesting addition to the film, the way he is isn’t quite like how it was in the previous stories and I thought that really worked. The film also shows how Selina gradually becomes Catwoman and I did like how it is shown. The only problem I had is that I don’t know how she becomes Catwoman. It’s not really a spoiler in me saying this, she falls quite a distance out the window and cats somehow bring her back to life. Despite this minor hole (and others) I thought that the film handled Catwoman and Penguin quite well.

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Michael Keaton once again is good as Bruce Wayne and Batman. Like the previous film, it doesn’t really focus as much on Bruce Wayne but more on the villains. Danny DeVito is great as the Penguin. Now this Penguin really isn’t quite the character from the comics but more like how Burton would interpret him. I would’ve preferred The Penguin was portrayed in a different way but his interpretation was done well. Danny Devito really sold the slimy and unpleasant nature of the Penguin. Michelle Pfieffer is excellent as Catwoman. As I previously stated this film shows her descent into madness and it is somehow plausible, and a lot of that has to do with her performance. Christopher Walken is also pretty good in a supporting role. The acting by some people can be over the top, in a Tim Burton sort of way, though it wasn’t really too much of a problem.

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The action scenes are as good as ever. The costumes are well designed, from Batman, to the Penguin and Catwoman. Even though this city feels more Burtontopia than Gotham, it was well designed for what he was going for. Danny Elfman’s score is once again good, even though like a lot of this movie, it feels more like a Tim Burton soundtrack than a Batman soundtrack.

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Batman Returns is definitely a divisive movie but I thought that it was overall a decent movie and I almost like it as much as its previous movie. It is definitely more of a Tim Burton movie than the previous film but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think that if you haven’t seen it already, Batman Returns is definitely worth checking out.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

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Reservoir Dogs

Time: 99 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence and offensive language
Cast:
Harvey Keitel as Mr White
Tim Roth as Mr Orange
Michael Madsen as Mr Blonde
Chris Penn as Nice Guy Eddie
Steve Buscemi as Mr Pink
Lawrence Tierney as Joe Cabot
Edward Bunker as Mr Blue
Quentin Tarantino as Mr Brown
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Six criminals, who are strangers to each other, are hired by a crime boss, Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney), to carry out a diamond robbery. The six strangers are Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), a professional criminal; Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), a young newcomer; Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), a trigger-happy killer; Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), a paranoid neurotic; Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino); and Mr. Blue (Edward Bunker). Right at the outset, they are given false and are completely sure that the robbery is going to be a success. But, when the police show up right at the time and the site of the robbery, panic spreads amongst the group members, and one of them is killed in the subsequent shootout, along with a few policemen and civilians. When the remaining people assemble at the rendezvous point, they begin to suspect that one of them is an undercover cop.

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With Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino established himself as a director to keep an eye out for. His excellent dialogue with the well rounded cast and even the bloody violence makes this an absolute classic.

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Quentin Tarantino movies are often driven by dialogue. Sometimes, some of the dialogue doesn’t have much to do with the plot but it doesn’t feel forced; it actually makes the dialogue even better. In the first scene we don’t really hear anything about the heist; instead we hear the main characters talk about what Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” is about and a debate about tipping. The only other writer I can think on the top of my head who has managed to do this is Martin McDonagh. It is also one of the best heist movies despite not even showing the heist. The film shows the events before and after the heist and are presented and written so well, the audience doesn’t need to see the heist in order to get a picture of what happened; the majority of what happened is conveyed through dialogue. It’s also not always placed in chronological order; some of the scenes are mixed around in time.

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The film has a huge cast which consists of Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Laurence Tierney and a cameo by Quentin Tarantino. All the actors are great but the two stand outs are Steve Buscemi and Michael Madsen; both of them were absolute show stealers. Michael Madsen in particular has a scene involving the song ‘Stuck in the middle with you’ by Stealers Wheel, which is probably the most famous (or infamous) scene in the movie; it was reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange’s use of “Singin’ in the Rain”. The actors really played off each other well and delivered the dialogue greatly.

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The film is well shot; the cinematography is often overlooked due to the excellent writing and dialogue. While not mind-blowing, the cinematography is good, same goes for the editing. This movie also showed another thing that Tarantino would be using for a lot of his movies; a lot of blood and gore. Some people have argued that the violence is unnecessary but I think it was well done and used. The music is absolutely great and is picked right for the moment; a great example is again “Stuck in the Middle with you”.

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Reservoir Dogs is one of Quentin Tarantino’s best movies. It isn’t for everyone; I can see that, mostly because of the level of violence. But if you think you might like it or if you are a Tarantino fan, who hasn’t seen this movie yet, go see it as soon as you can, you won’t be disappointed.