Tag Archives: Lance Henriksen

The Terminator (1984) Review

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence, offensive language and sex scenes.
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-800 “Model 101”
Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese
Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor
Paul Winfield as Ed Traxler
Lance Henriksen as Hal Vukovich
Director: James Cameron

Disguised as a human, a cyborg assassin known as a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) travels from 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). Sent to protect Sarah is Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), who divulges the coming of Skynet, an artificial intelligence system that will spark a nuclear holocaust. Sarah is targeted because Skynet knows that her unborn son will lead the fight against them. With the virtually unstoppable Terminator in hot pursuit, she and Kyle attempt to escape.

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With Terminator 6 coming later in 2019, I thought that I should rewatch and review the other Terminator movies leading up to its release (aside from Genysis, which I reviewed already), even though the first two movies are the only ones relevant to the upcoming movie. James Cameron’s The Terminator and its sequel Judgement Day had a massive effect on cinema, especially for the sci-fi genre. While the sequel is generally praised more than the original, the first Terminator still deserves a lot of praise, with both standing the test of time as being fantastic pieces of science fiction cinema.

When it comes to The Terminator, plotwise, it’s perfectly crafted. It feels like everything that needed to be in the movie is here, there’s never a scene that feels unnecessary, and it doesn’t feel like there needs to be anything more added to it, its all fits well. It’s a pretty straightforward story, cyborg goes back in time to kill one of the protagonist and the protagonists need to survive from said cyborg. Even all the time travel elements and all the information about what happened (or in this case, what will happen) are explained sufficiently enough and aren’t too complicated. All the pacing is done very well, it’s under an hour and 50 minutes long and it never feels like its moving slowly. It feels heavily in the 80s and I guess there’s some aspects that you might call a little dated (some of which is to do with the way some scenes are written or directed) but it doesn’t get too distracting.

Sarah Connor in the first Terminator is… well, she’s not the Sarah Connor of Terminator 2. Her character here is not the greatest but Linda Hamilton nonetheless does a really good job playing her. Although her character gets much better in the sequel, it wouldn’t have been as effective if it wasn’t for what they did with her here. She is given a good character arc here, she develops over the course of the movie and it has a very satisfying ending. Michael Biehn is also really great as Kyle Reese, the soldier from the human sent to protect Sarah Connor from the Terminator. Hamilton and Biehn also have good chemistry together. It wouldn’t be a Terminator review if we didn’t talk about Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is great in the titular role. Before he played more heroic versions of the Terminator in the sequels, Schwarzenegger here is really convincing as an intimidating, emotionless and literal killing machine. It’s not just that he can talk like a robot or anything, the way he moves, the way he looks at everything, he just doesn’t seem human. The film does a great job at making the Terminator a seemingly unstoppable force, and Schwarzenegger also contributed to that.

James Cameron’s direction is nothing short of excellent. The second movie is more of a big action blockbuster, but with the original movie, Cameron does a fantastic job creating a quieter and more suspenseful movie, with the atmosphere playing a key part in this. The atmosphere is a big part about why The Terminator works so well, it’s not quite a horror movie or anything, but the way certain scenes are filmed are reminiscent of a slasher movie. The third act in particular is all suspense, with the sequence taking place in a factory being a standout. The practical effects are outstanding, especially on the Terminator itself. The only time where it doesn’t quite work is some of scenes with The Terminator when Arnold is clearly replaced by a literal robot made to look exactly like him. Granted for the 80s it is impressive, but you can clearly tell the difference when it goes from one shot of real Arnold, to one shot of fake Arnold and then back again, even if it is a pretty good recreation of Arnold’s face. It is absolutely perfect for the third act as the Terminator at that point received a massive amount of body and facial damage, but before that point it’s a little distracting. Aside from that, the practical effects are flawless. The action scenes aren’t as iconic as those in Terminator 2, but they are still done really well, relying mostly on practical effects and with most of what you’re seeing on screen being really what’s happening. Some of the visual effects aren’t the best like the lightning effects when both The Terminator and Kyle Reese appear but its not too much of a problem, its from the 80s anyway so there’s only so much that visual effects at this point could do. Something that I found effective is that the actually Terminator in robot form, we only see the true appearance towards the end, which seemed to be achieved through a mix of visual effects and practical effects, and its movements are so unnatural that it actually makes it more scary than the robotic forms of the Terminator in later movies. We do get a couple of scenes taking place in Judgement Day are all fantastically done, making it feel really gloomy and nightmarish. The score by Brad Fiedel is quite effective, which was composed and performed on the synthesizer. It gives the movie an eerie and menacing feel to it, yet being somewhat melodic. I guess the only bummer is that the iconic main theme that The Terminator is known for is still pretty early stages here, but the sequel fixed that.

The Terminator is a classic for a reason. With James Cameron’s fantastic direction, good work from its cast and a perfectly crafted plot, it really gets everything right. The two Terminator movies are different enough from each other that there’s no clear film which is better. Whether you prefer this movie or the sequel, there’s not denying the impact that they have made, both well worth the watch if you haven’t seen them already.

Mom and Dad (2018) Review

Time: 83 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Nicolas Cage as Brent Ryan
Selma Blair as Kendall Ryan
Anne Winters as Carly Ryan
Zackary Arthur as Josh Ryan
Robert T. Cunningham as Damon
Olivia Crocicchia as Riley
Brionne Davis as Tanner
Samantha Lemole as Jenna
Lance Henriksen as Mel Ryan
Director: Brian Taylor

Definitely something terrible is happening on in the peaceful suburban community as, one day to another, former loving and caring parents mysteriously turn into ravenous carriers of an unfathomable pandemic that targets their offspring. Suddenly, every son and daughter (not only in the neighborhood but also in the entire nation) must to run for their lives, as the rage-filled murderous intent is simply as unstoppable as it is inexplicable. Of course, Brent (Nicolas Cage) and Kendall’s (Selma Blair) teenage children are no exception, and before long, the simmering but usual familial tensions will take a completely different meaning. Kids, stop hiding. Mum and Dad love you so much.

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I was interested in Mom and Dad, mainly because its Nicolas Cage going absolutely crazy in a movie where he tries to kill his children, directed by one of the directors of Crank. It sounded absolutely nuts and I was on board with it. I wasn’t really sure what the actual movie would be like, I just knew Cage would be nuts and I heard that the movie is actually pretty good for the movie that it is, and that’s pretty much the case. Mom and Dad is an weird, insane darkly comic horror movie, which is quite entertaining and surprisingly works. Its two lead performances however are what makes it really work.

The first 20 minutes of the movie are setting up things before the whole “everyone tries to kill their children” epidemic happens. While the writing and dialogue can feel a little iffy, most of this is to establish the similarities between this situation and the troubled relationships between parents and kids. After that 20 minute mark though, that’s when the children murdering epidemic starts, and it doesn’t let up after that. There isn’t any clear explanation for why parents are killing their children, theories are thrown around and that’s it. That really worked for me personally, doesn’t overcomplicate the plot. The movie keeps things reasonably straightforward, the plot isn’t convoluted and the characters are really simple. The writing itself is basic enough but it works. The Crank movies at times can have some bad writing but for the most part you don’t see that in Mom and Dad (with the exception of one supporting character which was pretty much written to be a stereotype). Now it is worth noting that this is a dark comedy, because so much of what happens is so violent and over the top that it does much more than just border on hilarity, the humour is a big part of the movie. It’s not a straight up scary horror movie. It doesn’t take things too seriously but there is some subtext with the parents’ frustrations even before the epidemic starts, especially with flashbacks with Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair. While most movies (especially bigger movies) would have the parents be loving and all that before their rampage, they already establish them as being very unstable and not having the best of relationships with the children, which I think works well and makes it more effective. Mom and Dad is less than an hour and 30 minutes long and that really worked, there’s enough time to set up the characters and everything up before the epidemic starts, and after that point it’s entertaining right till the end. I will say though that a disappointing aspect was the ending. While I understand why they wanted to end on the note that they do, its rather abrupt and I wanted something a little more.

Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair are a big part of why this movie works. Sure the story concept sounds entertaining enough but it requires really convincingly unhinged performances to make it work, and they really brought it. They play both very convincing frustrated parents before the epidemic, as well as completely psychopathic parents who want to kill their children during the epidemic. Of course Nicolas Cage particularly stand out (as he would being Nicolas Cage), from the very beginning he’s crazy and has the movie goes on he just gets more and more crazy, and sometimes it can lead to some hilarious moments. I’m not going to reveal most of his big moments, but one of his stand out moments is when he screams the hokey pokey song while destroying a pool table with a sledgehammer. 2018 seems to be a comeback for Cage, with both this and Mandy. With that said, Selma Blair’s performance shouldn’t be overlooked either because she’s great as well. While Cage has a mix of being scary and funny, Blair comes across as being convincingly scary and unhinged. The kids of Cage and Blair played by Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur are okay, they serve their purposes well enough.

This movie is directed by Brian Taylor, who was involved with directing the Crank movies as well as Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance alongside Mark Neveldine, and if you have seen these movies, you’ll definitely pick that up watching Mom and Dad. Now there aren’t crazy stunts being done or anything, but he does bring the style from his previous movies here, with the editing, cinematography and all that. Some of the crazy and wild camera movements might be a little too much for some people (here it’s a little incomprehensible at times), but for those who have seen the Crank movies, it’s much more tame in comparison. This movie does not hold back at all, especially with the violence. It is brutal, and really ballsy considering much of the movie’s violence shown is against children. With that said it’s not nearly as bloody as you’d think it would be, I can’t tell whether it should’ve been more bloody or if the less is more approach was better. The music used can get a little repetitive and annoying, especially during the intense and violent scenes.

Mom and Dad is a completely nuts, darkly comedic horror movie, that’s simple but effective. The unhinged performances by Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair really make the movie work as well as it does. If you’re a big fan of Nicolas Cage, this is a must see movie. If you’re up for a darkly comic and over the top made by one of the directors of Crank, this might be right up your alley. Just know that if you are going to watch Mom and Dad, don’t take it too seriously.

Aliens (1986)

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Aliens

Time: 137 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley
Carrie Hann as Rebecca ‘Newt’ Jordan
Michael Biehn as Corporal Dwayne Hicks
Lance Henriksen as Bishop
Jenette Goldstein as Private Vasquez
Paul Reiser as Carter Burke
Bill Paxton as Private Hudson
Director: James Cameron

The only survivor of the Nostromo, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) awakens half a century later (after the events of Alien) after her escape vessel is recovered and taken back to Earth she soon learns that the human colony of LV-426 which is on the planet the alien she found, lost contact with Earth. Ripley is called back to the planet as an adviser with space marines to investigate.

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The idea of having a sequel to a film which was a horror movie, which is now an action movie, seemed like a recipe for disaster. However, this movie is greatly directed by James Cameron and even manages to still contain some of the fear elements from Alien. It is always hugely entertaining and has led to many other sci-fi movies. Aliens is a thrill ride that never lets up at gaining your attention, scaring you or entertaining you.

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One thing noticeable is the pacing which isn’t as slow as its predecessor; it is slightly faster which is good for the type of movie it was going for. The ways the Xenomorphs (the aliens) work are shown so we get an idea about how powerful they are. However, Cameron doesn’t show all of it or explain it; he gives enough information necessary for the audience to understand. The film also manages to balance the action scenes with the suspense scenes. The film’s action scenes build up over time and are always satisfying. The final act is particularly enjoyable and entertaining and is Ellen Ripley being a pure badass.

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Ellen Ripley is more developed here than in Alien and therefore Sigourney Weaver’s performance here makes her character so great; her performance even being rewarded with an Oscar nomination, despite this mostly being a sci-fi movie. She is stronger in this movie and you can clearly see her develop as the plot goes on – like Sarah Conner in Terminator 2. The side characters have more personality than in the characters in Alien; however as there are more of them, this means that a lot of them die, which results in some being more developed than others. There are some stand out characters that are focussed on more such as Carrie Henn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henrikson, Jeanette Goldstein, Michael Biehn and Bill Paxton – and all of these actors were really good in their roles and carry the movie along with Sigourney Weaver.

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Aliens takes advantage of its higher budget and makes use of really good effects, especially for the aliens, though they aren’t CGI, which is great. As with Alien, this movie has really good cinematography and lighting, which were some of the things that made Alien so effective as a horror movie. As this now takes place on a colony, where as Alien took place on a ship, Aliens has a larger place to work with and therefore have a lot of impressive sets that were used. The sound design and editing are also good, like in Alien. The soundtrack composed by James Horner is also good, adding to the atmosphere the tension and the feeling of the unknown.

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Aliens proves that there are times where a horror movie can become an action movie – you just need the right people who can make it so. This is one of the rarest cases where a horror movie to action movie translation actually works, and in this case brilliant. You won’t get as many scares as you may have from the previous movie but this is still a great experience. This is my favourite movie in the Alien franchise. Aliens is a great action sci-fi movie that gives the audience exactly what they want, when they want it.
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