DVD Tales: Alien3 to American Splendor

Following from Alien Planet...

Alien3 (David Fincher, 1992)
The first and only Alien film I saw in a theater, it admitedly had problems when compared to the other two (which I remember watching again in the week before opening weekend), but it's still leagues ahead of the Aliens: Resurrection (not to be found in my collection). The middle of the film is a mess and the whole thing is very depressing, but Fincher's style is already showing, and it's a tonal return to the first film. The special edition includes a different beginning where the alien doesn't come out of a dog, and restores scenes in the middle that make sense of the story despite being a rendudant detour. My enjoyment isn't affected by which version I watch though.

Aliens (James Cameron, 1986)
Speaking of the second film which was "undone" by the third, Aliens entered my consciousness via a friend who had a deep aversion to kids in genre movies and tv. He hated Adric, he hated Wesley, he hated Drew Barrymore, and he hated Newt. When I finally saw the film, I admit my enjoyment was tainted by Newt's appearance, but it's such a cool action sf movie that it's easy to forget about the annoying kid element. But it IS an action movie. It stands on its own merits, but it isn't a proper sequel to Alien. The special edition re-integrates some deleted scenes and just makes the movie longer, not better.

Allosaurus! (BBC, 2001)
Because I'm a huge fan of Walking with the Dinosaurs, I sprung for the Allosaurus special, or as it is called in the UK, The Ballad of Big Al. In addition to the CGI nature "footage" of the Walking With series, the special includes testmony my experts explaining how they could deduce the details of "Big Al"'s life from his fossil. Injuries sustained, stomach contents, location of the body, etc., everything helps tell the story. It's a plus that I know a guy called Big Al. In fact, don't we all know a guy called Big Al who will one day wind up dying in the drybed of a river?

American Beauty (Sam Mendes, 1979)
A beautiful film, artfully directed and brilliantly acted. Here's a Siskoid moment to illustrate my point. What's a Siskoid moment? It's that little scene in a movie that I notice and won't shut up about that no one else noticed at all. Check out Kevin Spacey's Lester Burnham at the office, his face reflected in his computer screen, feeling trapped by his ordinary life. And check out how his reflection puts him behind bars. Anyway, brilliant, brilliant movie.

American Splendor (Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, 2003)
I "met" Harvey Pekar on the Letterman Show back when they were fighting, but though I was interested, I wasn't able to find any of his comics in my small town. By the time I'd moved, his Crumb days were well behind him and I only jumped on while Dark Horse was publishing his stuff (up to "Our Cancer Year" at least). The movie proved to be an interesting confluence of the comic's style and Pekar's life (which are very close anyway), but with some very funny comedy scene. My friend Carolynn and I did the "Revenge of the Niiiierds" routine for weeks after seeing it, for example.

But what did YOU think? Next: Animatrix to Artificial Intelligence: A.I.


Michael May said...

My son's a HUGE dinosaur fan and loves Prehistoric Planet, which is basically Walking with Dinosaurs for kids. The Allosaurus special showed up in our TiVo cue recently and it's one of his favorites.

I suppose I could find out easily enough on Amazon, but I'm here so I'll ask you. Is the whole Walking with Dinosaurs series available on DVD or just this special?

Michael May said...

Oh, and poor Big Al, by the way. That toe looked PAINFUL!

Siskoid said...

Yeah, I hate to see even digital animals hurting.

On DVD, you can get:
-Walking with... Dinosaurs
-...Prehistoric Beasts (it's the original Kenneth Brannagh voice-over. I'm just saying because the US version had Stockard Channing and I found a woman's voice better suited to the motherly story of us mammals)
-...with Monsters (BEFORE the dinosaurs)
-The Future Is Wild (animals from the future based on possible evolution)
-I also recommend Voyage to the Planets since it's a CGI BBC documentary (actually called Space Odyssey in the UK) showing how humans might explore a large part of the solar system and what those environments might look like.

You do well to ask since it'll take me a while to get to them in DVD Tales (at 5 items a pop, it's currently set to run in 80 parts, eep!).

Michael May said...

Cool! Thanks!

I saw Walking with Cavemen on TV. Really fascinating stuff.

Dan said...

Didn't one of the "Walking with..." shows have VO by Avery Brooks? I seem to recall thinking what a great voice he had for that sort of thing.

Siskoid said...

Yes, I think he did Walking with Dinosaurs for the US market... for some reason (metric system?) all these shows were redubbed, and to create transitions to commercial, vignettes with experts were sometimes added as well (I know that's true for Prehistoric Beasts).

FoldedSoup said...

The "Walking with.." series .. and all affiliated have done a fantastic job. Not only with the visual excitement of actually seeing "live" dinosaurs, but with the current science in general. They're the Pixar of Dino-Docu's. Love them, own them, re-watch them often.

And - Just because I love to spread the Dino-Geek stuff - check out a behind the scenes bit, which includes the best Holloween costume *Ever!*


FoldedSoup said...

... or is that *Evar!*

I get confused. Old, you know...

Siskoid said...

I use "Ever" ;)

That costume just beat the payloader exoskeleton from Aliens as best Halloween costume of all time.


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