Ron Effing Swanson inspired Fan Art

Greatest. Thing. Ever.
Wanted to provide a link to Ron Swanson fan art on funny or die, which I found via Huffington Post.
I’m not surprised these exist and I’d bet that many pieces of Swanson inspired craziness are out there. I’m still waiting for his own line of bacon. Or in the very least, some sort of self help or survival manual inspired by the pyramid of greatness, which you can see behind Ron’s head in the picture, aglow in flames.
Like I wrote here, I think Parks and Rec is the best thing on TV right now, hands down. And this season, so far, has not been a disappointment in the least. I was afraid they’d hit a wall, but instead its been brilliant. Last week’s episode about Leslie’s true origins might have been the best episode of the series, and that’s saying a whole hell of a lot.
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Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas

Like I wrote previously, Dean Koontz has a formula that serves his talents and his readers very well. If you’ve read a Koontz book, you’ve read them all, in a sense, but that’s a good thing and has kept me coming back again and again. I really like Koontz and I know what I’m going to get.

Color me surprised, then, when 2003’s “Odd Thomas” shuffled out some pretty big twists that caught me off guard and sort of re-energized how I thought about and perceived Koontz as a novelist and story teller.

Here’s the set-up: Odd Thomas, a 20-ish short order cook in the small, fictional desert town of Pico Mundo uses his “gift” of being able to see and communicate with the dead to help people, and in the course of the story his talent leads him to a pretty fiendish plot designed to kill loads and loads of Pico Mundo-ins.

If someone used that basic description on me I would likely want to read the book, being familiar with Koontz or not. But as a Koontz fan, the description would establish a certain expectation in my mind and I’d be waiting, in a sense, to see how the various blanks are filled in as the story progresses.

Again, don’t get me wrong. I like that about Koontz. Like it a lot. I enjoy that no matter what craziness his characters find themselves in, they’ll come out on the other end okay, strengthened by the ordeal and ready to move on to a highly realized and self-aware period of their lives.

Koontz’s characters also generally come out of the adventure as different or changed people; no matter if they’re fighting wizards, genetically engineered monsters, or time traveling demi-gods from the beyond the stars, the people that populate Koontz’s southern California universe are better when it all wraps up, their convictions reinforced, their beliefs vindicated.

Also, great harm rarely ever comes to those characters or the ones they love. They might get their asses kicked or go through some really heavy shit, but in the end, you know that everything is cool for everyone. Any tragedy has already happened. And those tragedies almost always shape the character’s decisions throughout the story.

Odd is a different creature, one of the surprises that made me pick up the next book in the series, Forever Odd. He is already self-aware, already resigned to his fate, which is to commune with the dead and try his best to help the living. Odd is not different at the end, he is only Odd, stuck in Pico Mundo for fear of being overwhelmed by the dead that roam the earth, and weary of being sought after as a sage, a spiritual leader, or a demon.

And, not to ruin anything, but Odd suffers a pretty terrible loss, also a first for me in a Koontz book, that really cemented the character as being truly tragic. I’m not sure if Koontz has ever written such a tragic character before (the mad scientist/monster in Shadow Fires come to mind, but not really), especially since Odd is such a caring and smart person.

Also, the film version is due next year and like I wrote about here, movie adaptations of Koontz’s work don’t often come together and I’m really hoping they pull this one off. Anton Yelchin is cast as Odd and that’s a good choice, as is Willem Defoe as the Sheriff, a sort of, father figure and protector of Odd, who knows about his gift and aids Odd in helping to protect people and solve crimes. He’s like Jim Gordon to Odd’s Batman.

My only concern about the movie is that it’s being written and directed by Stephen Sommers, a guy that usually known for high concept action/fantasy movies like “The Mummy” series and the recent GI Joe flick from a couple years ago. While it has its action beats, the first Odd Thomas book is more of a mystery, quiet at times and frightening at others. I’m hoping they pull it off.

As for the book, High Recc’d, for Koontz fans and the uninitiated alike.

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What was the most influential movie of the 90’s?

Note: Defining the most influential movie of the 90’s is not a science. It is just opinion. The only criteria I came up with was that the movie could have influenced the decade, or beyond, or both. The influence could be defined in a number of ways and could be as obvious as ripping off ideas, dialogue or setups; or it could something less significant as influencing the “feel” or “look” of other movies. Regardless, I just wanted to highlight the 90’s, which were very important for movies and movie fandom.


I'll tell you whats in the box!

Seven, 1995

The first time I ever stuck around to learn the name of a screenwriter was after watching Se7en and while the credits rolled I kept asking myself: Why? Why, in the name of all that is right and holy in this world, would you write a movie like that Andrew Kevin Walker? The final five minutes of the movie hits the viewer in a way that, to be honest, shouldn’t have come as that big of a surprise considering what came before. But it packed a whallop and provided the kind of twist ending that the Sixth Sense got more credit for four years later. It was simply devastating.

But, more importantly, the movie established a pattern that has been aped numerous times.

It brought the “procedural” into the minds of modern moviegoers and TV watchers in a way that was new. The movie not only provided a blow by blow account of two detectives struggling through the investigation of ghastly crimes, but it did so in a way that was devoid of hope and no one, not even our hero detectives, had the sense that everything was going to be okay in the end. Gwyneth Paltrow was the only one who knew what time it was.

Silence of the Lambs explored similar territory but allowed you into the mind of the killer via Lector. Here, the detectives have no such luck, and like them, the viewer is forced to slog through the depravity and grime as they tumble toward the inevitable conclusion.

Morgan Freeman would go on to play a host of wise, older guys that mentor or lead the brash, young white guys. And the setting, a non-descript, dingy city plagued with constant rain and rampant crime, has become a mainstay in these kinds of flicks ever since. But in the fall of 95, it was new and crazy.

Less this guy. More Maul. Simple fix.

The Phantom Menace, 1999

I know, I know, I know. But if we’re honest with ourselves, then we can admit there would be no Ceasar in the new Apes, no Gollum in the Rings and damn sure no Navi on Pandora without Jar Jar, which, as far as I can remember, was the very first fully integrated main character that was entirely CGI. The movie is flawed, obviously, but I think George’s only real mistake was making Jar-Jar into a buffoon. If the character had been conceived differently, I think the movie isn’t as hated as it is.

The greatest effect in this movie was Goldblum's pure sensuality.

T2 1991/Jurassic Park 1993

Two movies that not only pushed the envelope of visual effects, but literally made you say “Damn! How did they do that?” It also helped they were exciting, fun, well written, acted and begged for repeat business.  

You feel better now, motherfucker?

 Pulp Fiction – 1994

Believe it or not, there was a time, long ago, when gangsters didn’t spout pop culture references and have cool dialogue, or have their deeds play out in a non-linear way that confused and excited the viewer. Then Pulp came along and every other damn crime movie had to do something like it, from hip dialogue to intersecting storylines and it burned out pretty much by the end of the decade. Honestly, I didn’t think Tarantino would write anything better than Pulp, but Inglorious Basterds is not only the best things he’s written, he turned the Pulp formula on its head by incorporating different languages into his dialogue and real world events. Udaman, QT.

Son, you are literally going to be able to bang any lioness from here to the horizon. Its yours.

The Lion King – 1994

Realistically, The Lion King took just the Disney formula established by Beauty and the Beast, released earlier in the decade, and made it soar. The story was pretty straight forward, but the combination of the right celebrity voices, the right song writing team of Elton John and Tim Rice and the right timing for a Disney resurgence just took it over the top and made it the last truly great hand drawn piece from the studio. The studio would try to recapture the same magic again and again through the rest of the decade, but Pocohontas, Hurcules, Tarzan and Hunchback of Notre Dame could never live up to Simba’s quest to get his hakunafuckingmatata on.  

Drink Bud Light Beer with Buzz Lightyear, I went from here to infinity, but I'm right here. - Bobby Digital

Toy Story – 1995

The passing of Steve Jobs reminded me how integral he was in the development of Pixar and without the success of the first Toy Story, we likely wouldn’t be praising these people once a year for the last decade or so. It’s obvious why Toy Story was influential, the story they told was so damn good, showing that CGI animation was more than just something cool to look at. Watch Toy Story, then watch the opening of Up, or WALL-E in succession, and I think you’ll be amazed. The company has come so far as storytellers in such a short period of time, its really astonishing, considering the point at which they started. Up will make you fucking cry if you haven’t seen it.

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Birds of War! Or, my son is making freedom free by dressing like a chicken and wrestling Rowdy Roddy Piper

The one thing that “It’s Always Sunny…” does better than any other show that I’ve come across is shine a mega-watt spotlight on the kind of jingoistic flag waving and patriotism that we’re guilty of in this country. They usually do so with spot on accuracy, but it’s just vaguely hidden within the hyper-hijinks the gang finds themselves involved with.

Last night’s rerun of “The Gang Wrestles for the Troops” might be the best example of that, as the gang decides to host a wrestling match for the troops as a way to inspire and say thank you for their service. Results were, as usual, hilarious and flawed. But the one thing they really hit on the head was this idea that saying something is “for the troops”, somehow makes you not only a better American, but also have a deeper understanding of what it is to be an American.

I live and work in a community where this type of attitude is not only the norm, but expected, in a way. A large retirement community like where I live no doubt attracts retired military personnel and this place, which will remain nameless, has to have some of the highest per capita ratio of retired vets of anywhere in the state of Florida, if not the country. It’s magnified here, to say the least.

There are many car washes for the troops, pig roasts for the troops, concerts for the troops featuring local bar bands, fundraisers for troops, poker runs for the troops, basketball games for the troops and a lots of other events that are supposed to show how much you appreciate and respect the men and women who are fighting for this country.

And don’t get me wrong. Those people who have dedicated part of their lives to serving have stones I will never have or want to have. They are wired differently from me and that’s fine. But I have a sneaking suspicion that most of those folks are serving because they are paid to do so and in a country whose working population is still struggling, a job is a job is a job.

Maybe I’m wrong. I just don’t think the same kind of WW II or Post 9/11 surge of patriotism is still relevant and the sense that we’re united under one cause is, at best, a pipe dream for those who look upon an 18 year old headed to basic training as a “Great American”.

It’s all subjective anyway and there are no two troops who are treated the same. Some are lavished with gifts, houses, cars and handshakes with the president; while others come home to no job, no fanfare and a family to feed, although both soldiers have similar injuries. I’ve seen it firsthand.

But that brings me back to Sunny because at least they have sense enough to laugh at it when people like me get bogged down in the heaviness of it all.

The focal point of the show was the “Birds of War” wrestling troop formed by Mac, Dennis and Charley, who more or less look like giant chickens when suited up in their costumes. They also have painted on abs and an intro song that goes like this:

Stomp, clap. Stomp-stomp, clap.
Stomp, clap. Stomp-stomp, clap.
Stomp, clap. Stomp-stomp, clap.
The eagle’s born out of thunder
He flies through the night
Don’t you mess with his eggs now
Or you’ll see him fight
Yes, we have feathers
But the muscles of men
‘Cause we’re Birds of War, now
But we’re also men!
Birds of War!

Now, I have not seen the beginning of the episode so I have no clue how Rowdy Roddy Piper becomes involved, but he plays some old school wrestler who may or may not have murdered his children, lives in his stationwagon and keeps a giant jar of chestnuts, which for some reason fascinates and disturbs Charley.

He’s eventually hauled away by the police and the gang finds they have to wrestle the Tali-bum, played by none other than Rickety-Cricket, who proceeds to kick all of their asses, including Sweet Dee, until the Trash Man hits the scene and slits Cricket’s throat with a serrated trash can.

Now, I’m not sure who decided to dress Frank like Andre the Giant, but it’s fucking genius, especially since his whole shtick is to throw garbage all over the ring and eat it. Which, in the grand scheme of Frank’s existence, sounds about right, but has nothing to do with Andre the Giant.

Also, Dee tries to romance a soldier who she thinks is crippled, only to have him stolen by Artemis. Dee gets her nose broken by Cricket, after he smashes her face with a folding chair while she attempts to sing “Kiss from a Rose” at the start of the match, which she presumes will win back the soldier’s heart from Artemis.

It all comes together pretty nicely with the Trash Man victorious and the rest of the gang bloody, beaten and blind after having sand thrown in their eyes by the Tali-bum. The crowd goes nuts and the one soldier in attendance presumably goes home with Artemis and not Dee.

There is also an attempt, I think, to mock The Wrestler, with Roddy Piper mimicking Mickey Rourke’s Randy “The Ram” Robinson, which was Rourke’s attempt to mimic the lives and careers of people like Piper. Sunny rarely, if ever, goes Meta, but I think they did on this one, however subtle it may be.

There’s a lot crammed into this episode, with the main focus being the “for the troops” attempt of the gang to show their appreciation.

And who knows, I may be totally off on my interpretation of the episode and the associated feelings on the matter. I’m fine with that, too. But it just seems so easy to be Pro-America by being Pro-Soldier, when I think being a patriot, of any country for that matter, is a lot more than waving a tiny flag and getting high school girls in small shorts to wash imported cars in a 7/11 parking lot “for the troops”.

Great episode. A lot to think about. And funny as hell.

Go Birds of War! Caww! Caww! Caww!!

Actually, fuck that. GO TRASH MAN!!!


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Captain America is gonna go all Greatest Generation on your ass

Cool "vintage" poster.

I saw this two weeks ago and I’ve wanted to write my thoughts but the truth is, I don’t think I could bring any new observations, at least not better than The Incredible Hulk, who is now a film critic. Or Drew McWeeny at Hitfix. Both reviews really, really, hit the nail on the head.

I can say that I was entirely surprised by the movie, by Chris Evans, and how effortlessly Marvel was able to weave together elements of the pre-Avengers movies, yet make this its own experience. Its one thing to have the Red Skull collect the Cosmic Cube early in the movie, but to have him collect it in Norway, from a guardian of Nordic artifacts, was a masterstroke, as was having Tony Stark’s dad, Howard, be an integral part of the narrative. You even get the sense that the weapons and technology that are part of HYDRA’s growing army will one day influence the work of Bruce Banner, but maybe that’s just me looking too deeply into it.

Either way, great job. It was well written, well acted, and very patient. That’s a weird thing to say about a superhero movie, especially one that has this much riding on it for Marvel, and on some level, Disney.

Highly recc’d.

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Watch: Trailer for “The Thing” gets my hopes up

I’ve been meaning to write something about not only this year’s forthcoming prequel, but also my unabashed love for Carpenter’s classic, for quite some time. I’ve been sidetracked, but quite honestly, I’m not sure what I could say that hasn’t already been said before. If you love Carpenter’s original, you likely don’t need me to tell you how to feel about the flick, or the sequel/prequel, but the trailer doesn’t look like a total travesty. It looks like they tried to do it right. It will never be the original, but then again, what could?

Have a gander at the trailer below. Doesn’t look half bad at all. I’m pretty freakin’ excited about it. Sorry bout any commercials, don’t know how to skip those.

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My Koontz, so far (Part 1)

Serious early Koontz.

I have just finished “The Husband” and will start “Cold Fire” today or tomorrow. After that I’m stepping away from Dean Koontz for a while because I’ve read a dozen or so of his books since I first happened upon “Watchers” (which I first wrote about here), and I need a break.
I wanted to write something about Dean Koontz because for once I asked myself why I’ve torn through the work of a best selling author. And I don’t mean why I like sci-fi or horror or mystery or action elements, all of which Koontz uses to great effect. But I asked myself why I was drawn to his characters, and what about them that keeps me coming back. 
To be honest, if you’ve read one Koontz book, you’ve read them all, in a sense. I don’t mean that in a bad way, either. But he’s discovered a formula and it serves him well, serves his message well, and serves the reader. 
I can’t remember a single protagonist ever coming to great harm in his work, nor can I remember a truly bleak ending. Everything seems to wok out for his characters, despite whatever crazy hell they may be experiencing, and that’s okay with me. Koontz doesn’t believe in evil triumphing over good, despite conjuring some truly evil people. 
I’ve started to believe, while reading his work, that Koontz is a man who is compelled to write about the things he has in his life or things he appreciates about life in general. Overall, I believe Koontz to be a positive, forward thinking person who wants what we all want in life: a sense of purpose, of discovery, and a belief in true love, of two people finding each other amid the chaos of daily struggle. That approach can seduce a reader, I think, because while we all want to escape with a good story I think when we put the book down we want something else beyond those written words, however interesting the stories might be.
To be honest, I often feel jealous of his characters and that’s weird. They have all the accomplishments and achievements they’ve set out for. Not just professionally, but in total, with their lives representing a perfect little island where all is right. Bombs are exploding, evil scientists are mutating and killers are traveling to different dimensions, but the heroes have something to fight for and get back to, once the adventure finally wraps up. 
Children, family, love, support, home – these are all things that Koontz has in his life, or really wants. That’s what he writes about. Good things being challenged, being tested. Sometimes his characters discover those elements in the course of the story, but one way or the other they end up on the right side of things, and as a reader I appreciate it.  There’s all the other little story ticks: Golden Retrievers or other dogs, high end weaponry, a strong female character, characters running away from their past and reinventing themselves, southern California or other western locales, and a host of other things. But in the end, it all comes back to that underlying sense of hope and love and family, which the majority of his characters are willing to die for. 
Truth is, most of us don’t have those things in our lives, probably never will. We’re resigned to our own fates, whatever they may be, and they don’t include true love or triumph over adversity or even a feeling of better days ahead. 
Koontz gives me that hope, as a reader. And that’s why I need to stop reading him. That’s a funny thing to say I realize, but life isn’t like that and I have little hope of it ever getting there. That’s just a phase for me and that’s okay. Besides, if I read them all now I’ll have nothing later. And you should never run out of positive things to read. 
Koontz doesn’t only write cool, interesting genre mash-ups, but he also writes about good things. And that’s the best recommendation I could give. Koontz believes in life and the opportunity afforded to us and I’m not sure what else you can ask for as a reader. 
I want to get into some of the books, individually, but for now I just wanted to tip my hat to Koontz and his approach. Some of those books are more entertaining then others but in the end they’re all cut from the same cloth. 

Goofy looking later Koontz with friend.

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Hide yo kids, hide yo wife … cuz Kevin Bacon is rapin’ everybody out here!

He literally wants to F you in your A.

There’s a strong possibility that if you are co-starring in a movie with Kevin Bacon, you will be raped, beaten, robbed, pimped out, made addicted to drugs or emotionally abused in some fashion by the guy. Hell, he may even use a combination of those things just because he’s sick and twisted and he gets his kicks that way.

Bacon has been in a shit load of movies between 1978 and 2011. And don’t get me wrong, many of those flicks are enjoyable, maybe a few are even classics. 

But there’s no denying that a large number of the roles that Bacon plays are dedicated to a darker side, one that involves causing harm, sometimes great harm, to his fellow human beings. 

He’s prolific, no doubt. And I think he’s a pretty great actor. But there’s something else going on with Kevin Bacon, something bubbling just below the surface of the man that’s not only dark, but also depraved and violent. He doesn’t just want to rape you, he wants to beat you first, and then rob you after. Maybe take a dump on you.  

Its amazing that Kyra Sedgewick is still alive, when I stop and think about it. Because it would be hard for a man who plays villain after villain NOT to bring his work home with him on some nights. And I have no doubt that every once in a while Kyra will turn to her husband in the wee morning hours, stare at his sleeping figure and wonder just how many bodies are buried in the foundation of the garage, or the backyard, or digesting in his stomach.

His first movie was a bit part in National Lampoon’s Animal House, but his real depravity didn’t ramp up until nine years later. He sprinkled some normal roles in there, some heroes, some regular Joes who go about their daily lives, pay taxes, raise a family. 

But every other year, every other movie, Bacon unleashes some new twisted piece of his psyche, and if you look at his body of work, you will see what I mean. 

White Water Summer, 1987: Bacon plays a wilderness guide that leads a group of kids on a risky mountain hike. While he does not rape these kids, he spends the entire movie berating and demeaning poor little Sean Astin with what I guess are supposed to be valuable life lessons. 

Criminal Law, 1989: a serial killer that’s acquitted of his heinous crimes, Bacon would apparently go on to inspire real life serial killers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka

Flatliners, 1990: only a former bully in this movie, Bacon has to visit the land of the undead to realize how much of a bastard he was as a kid. 

JFK, 1991: a gay hustler who acts as a whore for several of the key members of the team that assassinated John F. Kennedy, Bacon’s depravity would greatly alter the future history of this nation.

The River Wild, 1994: Bacon plays a sly criminal who tricks Meryl Streep into taking him on a river adventure but intends on killing Streep and her family. Its unknown if he wants to rape Streep, but she does flirt with him and he would likely do it if he has the chance. 

Murder in the First, 1995: this one is tough because Bacon technically plays a criminal, but he’s imprisoned for life on some trumped-up charges. However, during his incarceration he spends three years in confinement, loses his mind and shits and pisses himself constantly. I also think he GETS raped in this movie, which would make sense, because of his need to feel his own wrath.

Sleepers, 1996: Oh man, this is where it really gets going. Bacon plays the guard at a, sort of, state run prison for boys, and he spends YEARS, literally years, raping and beating a group of boys that would grow up to be Brad Pitt, Jason Patric and Billy Crudup. They seek revenge and kill him, but not before he’s ruined their lives and their buttholes. 

Telling Lies In America, 1997: A DJ with a penchant for taking bribes to get songs on the radio, this coming of age story was written by Joe Eszterhas, based on his own life. Eszterhas would grow up to write things like Basic Instinct, Showgirls and Sliver, all of which Kevin Bacon is responsible for. 

Wild Things, 1998: he shows hid dick in this movie. 

Hollow Man, 2000: a scientist who becomes twisted by his own creation that turns him invisible, the first thing he does with his newfound power is to rape his neighbor. Who says science isn’t good for something?

Trapped, 2002: a kidnapper and all around bad guy, Bacon spends large chunks of the movie trying to decide whether or not he should rape Charlize Theron. This might be one Bacon performance I agree with. 

The Woodsman, 2004: a culmination of his raping efforts, Bacon plays a newly released pedophile that tries to distance himself from those molester years after a long prison stint. Of course, his true nature gets he best of him and he goes on a crazy rampage where he just rapes children in broad daylight. He is eventually killed in downtown LA after a violent machine gun battle with Al Pacino.

Where the Truth Lies, 2005: Bacon plays one half of a Lewis and Martin style comedy team that enjoyed fame in the 50’s and 60’s. Sounds pretty normal, right? Nope. He’s actually a bi-sexual dope fiend that murders a girl during a drug fueled threesome with Colin Firth. 

X-men: First Class, 2011: Bacon reportedly took the role of evil Sebastian Shaw because he thought the character’s mutant power was the ability to rape anything, animals included, at will. Despite his disappointment when he discovered this was not the case, he resigned himself to playing both a Nazi and an evil mutant who can absorb other mutant powers at will. Keeping with the revisionist history of the film, Bacon pushed hard for the Nazis to actually win WWII, but producers gave him a submarine with a special rape chamber instead.

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Is it time to re-examine Alien 3?

With the release of Prometheus next year, I felt it was time to re-examine the merits and failures of Alien 3, which has to be one of the most hated and confusing sequels to a big time sci-fi series.

Actually, the various screenplays and ideas that were created when 20th Century Fox was trying to get a third Alien movie off the ground are actually more interesting than what was eventually put on screen, but that’s for another time (if you do want to catch up on that, I recc “The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made”, which is somewhat dated, as many of those movies were eventually made, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.)

The reality of Alien 3 is that it represents different pieces from all those screenplays, and it’s at best an incomplete idea. I saw it in theaters with my pops back in 92, and I had no idea what I was watching. My pops outright hated it, and he’s not alone in that feeling.

People loved Alien/Aliens so much that I think it was probably inevitable that no matter what the third movie ended up being, it was destined to disappoint on some level, but it seemed, and seems, that the filmmakers almost wanted to assault the fans with the third movie, which is dark and brooding and weird and not very fun at all.

If the original was the haunted house version of the story, and the second is the action movie version, than the third is likely the religious version of the story, but that’s not really true either because they really pulled back on making a full blown religious allegory for the creatures. But I’m getting ahead here.

The third flick starts with survivors Ripley, Hicks and Newt being attacked by a face hugger, causing their pod to be ejected from the Sulaco and crash landing on a prison planet, which is populated by men who have turned to a life not unlike that of monks. They are serving their time for violent crimes, but many have chosen to serve it dedicated to a higher power. Then the Alien plants its seed in a dog and it bursts out and the chaos begins.

I really have no issue with this set up because it makes sense. The Alien Queen was on the ship in the conclusion of Aliens, so it would not be too far of a stretch to think she might have laid an egg or two while lying in wait for Ripley and their fight.

But they kill off two very important characters in the first five minutes, and that really scrambled people’s minds and just pissed them off I think. Ripley fought awful hard to save Newt, and Hicks, in Aliens, and to just wipe them out was a very odd choice.

But, that’s okay, too. Because if they really wanted to make a dark, nasty, sonofabitch of a movie, that’s the best way to go about it. Put our hero in a position where she has nothing left to lose and it definitely creates a sense of total abandon. What is Ripley capable of if she doesn’t care if she lives or dies? What could she really do if there was truly nothing to lose?

But instead, Ripley just ends up in shock the whole movie, and she never really cares about kicking ass or being in control. Instead, they cut her off at the knees and render her impotent.

Which, again, is fine. As long as she has some sort of coming out party near the conclusion. Instead, she seems like a passenger in her own movie. That happens to her in the first two, until she decides to take control. But she never does that. Instead, she remains suicidal and morose and detached because she’s impregnated with one of the little things and just fumbles from scene to scene for two hours.

Which, again, is fine. And to keep myself talking in circles any longer, this is really the whole problem of the movie. Not the set up, not the location, not even the conclusion. They simply had no idea what to do with Ripley, which is their greatest failure. The set up should have led to Ripley’s greatest moment, but she whimpers off, kills herself and then it just ends. Well, until she’s cloned and returns for a truly shitty sequel, but that’s for another time.

Alien 3 gets a lot wrong, but they get some stuff right, and it has never gotten any credit for those things. They did mess a lot of it up. But the reality is that Alien 3 has most of what you would come to expect from an Alien movie: tight atmosphere, all out dread, dealing with something most of the characters don’t understand, a unique visual design, a cool alien, Ripley and claustrophobic confines.  It just doesn’t quite work or come together and it just seems like a weird, misguided, attempt to make an Alien movie.

A lot of the blame fell on David Fincher. But things worked out for him pretty good, so no need to worry. The blame should fall on David Giler and Walter Hill, who really ended up trying to cobble together something from all the other screenplays that came before. That’s really the weirdest thing, because they produced two classics, previously.

Also, the real hate should be directed toward the fourth movie, which really bastardizes the whole series. Resurrection is so fucking stupid that I can’t believe it was even made, and I actually paid to see it in 97. Fuck that movie. Even with Ron Perlman in it, the whole thing fucking sucks.

To that end, at least they tried with this one, tried to make a real Alien movie, instead of some cloning plot with Winona Ryder stunt casted as an android.

Alien 3 shouldn’t be condemned, I just think people should be more realistic about it is all. It’s not too bad, or good, it’s just not quite right. It’s a miss, at best.

That’s very non-committal, I realize, but I think the filmmakers are responsible for that. Characters are wholly underwritten, subplots are abandoned or not properly served and you never get a feel of the geography of the prison facility.

But Ripley had to die and it makes sense that Ripley would be faced with some heavy theological questions at this point. She survived some real wild shit, and now, facing her own death and the death of those she’s loved through the years, it’s easy to see that she would explore some of these questions. They just pulled back on it is all. Which is another great sin, I think.

Back to the religious feel of the movie: to fully appreciate this approach it’s necessary to watch the Workprint version of the movie, which restore over 30 minutes and changed around a lot of what was eventually released in theaters.

The religious components are greatly enhanced with the Workprint version, which really deserves its own review. But, the Workprint version gives you a greater sense of what these guys believe – a kind of apocalyptic-Waco-Judeo-Christian type of thing – and the presence of the Alien only solidifies their beliefs: the end of days is upon them and face of that evil is truly frightening. Injecting these things into a closed society would have that kind of effect, I think, where people would likely feel their convictions have been vindicated. The arrival of the devil is some crazy shit, especially when you’re isolated from the entire universe. 

The Workprint version also greatly enhances Charles S. Dutton’s character as their spiritual leader. He was wholly underserved in the theatrical version and he almost seemed like an afterthought. He really matches Sigourney Weaver beat for beat in the Workprint version, and he’s so crucial to what the message or purpose of the prison is that his expanded role almost makes it an entirely different movie by itself.

So much is switched around and different with the Workprint version, that the little changes and beats mean a whole hell of a lot to the story. I felt like I was watching it for the first time, in a way. And it also made it feel like a ‘David Fincher’ movie, if there is such a thing, which was an interesting surprise.

Some changes: Ripley washes ashore instead of being rescued directly from the pod; the alien gestates in an Ox instead of a dog; Ripley’s detached behavior is somewhat explained, as being awakened from hypersleep causes the body to react as if it has the flu; as stated before, there are longer scenes of the prisoners leaning on their faith through prayer and habit; they actually capture the Alien, but its eventually released by one of the prisoners who comes to view the Alien as his new god; lots of establishing shots of the prison, the planet and the interior give the viewer a better sense of where they are and geography of the prison; the alien doesn’t burst out of Ripley when she plummets to her death.

Overall, Ripley’s behavior makes a lot more sense with the Workprint version, but, we’re talking about the Theatrical version here and in that version you catch glimpses of what could have been a really unique, new and interesting entry into the Alien mythology. And make no mistake; Alien 3 completely serves what came before it, both in story and approach. And it’s a really fitting ending to the trilogy. If you consider what movies David Fincher made after this, you get the feeling, even with the theatrical version,  that he was poised to make something worthy of what came before it.

The bottom line is that the movie is an incredible disappointment and a let down on many levels, there’s no denying it. But I think it has aged well, and its important to re-examine it, nearly 20 years later. There’s a lot to appreciate here.

It’s so dark and hopeless, and that’s something that is so important to the series, that lack of hope. They just turned it up to eleven and didn’t deliver on the ending. Sins, I realize. But go back and check it out. Its pretty interesting, even though it’s a mess.

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Watch: Best. Fan. Ever.

This has to be the greatest fan attempt at a home run ball ever. Any time you’re feeling a little down, I highly recc this clip. Everything about it is crazy, from the dive, to what the dude is wearing, to his being all alone, to his hasty escape after he eventually grabs the ball. Its awesome, and it makes me want to go see a Rays/A’s game in Oakland. Looks like a wild place. Enjoy.

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