Strange Days (1995) [review]

I feel this is one of the lesser know films of either James Cameron or Katheryn Bigelow. The two work fantastically together, with a story by James Cameron and the screenplay co written by the man and Jay Cocks, which is excellently directed by Katheryn Bigelow.

In the run up to New Years Eve of 1999, the last couple of days of the year we find Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiences) selling people’s memories and experiences on Mini Disks, which leads him into finding himself in the possession of the last few minutes of a murder victim. Which affects so many people of the city… more than some would like to admit. Of course there are too many people involved in the case and there are too few people who can’t be trusted, some Lenny knows, some he wishes he didn’t. Then there is Lornette Mason (Angela Bassett) who is pulled into the situation mainly due to the fact that she is a friend of Lenny’s. Lornette tries to steer Lenny through not only him his problem of possessing the Mini Disk, but his… what seems to be a obsession with Faith Justin (Juliette Lewis), who was once upon a time his girlfriend.

This nicely mingles the hysteria of a small group of people going through the build-up to the end of the year and what people were thinking would happen when the clock hit midnight, if it could mean the end of the world, while others were gearing up to celebrate. The energy and the uncertainty of who is who and why is done perfectly and we find ourselves involved with people in such a way that we are searching for signs and meaning.

Released in 1995 this was taking a look at what was still to come, what was going through people’s minds in the mid 1990 as they looked towards the end of what some were predicting as the end of existence. Like many of the films James Cameron has been involved in, this gave us strong females characters looking after themselves, even if some of them were not thinking clearly. This brilliantly builds the distrust and questioning certain choices some of the characters made in who they find themselves either in the company of, or who they think they can take certain pieces of information to.

There is so much going on in this film that we are intrigued by what we find ourselves going through with the characters. We find ourselves involved more than we probably think could be possible.


Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1981) [review]


Being somebody who has enjoyed many of James Cameron’s films, I’d like to say more favourable things about this film than I feel I will… maybe the fact that some of the stories of the making of this film are more entertaining than what we see on screen, stories which explains why this film suffers in ways which it shouldn’t.

This may be credited as a James Cameron film, but clearly there are scenes which do not look to be in his style and seem a little sloppy, nor do they seem to be his sense of humour. Ovidio G. Assonitis is an unaccredited co-director of this, which I can only imagine that those scenes which look to be more humorous or feel a little more European, feel to be more like his handiwork.

Not to say they are bad, maybe funny for the wrong reasons in that they feel out of place in this film and could benefited from being edited out into some other film. Which may sound like this is a terrible watch, but there is something entertainment here, mainly for how the film doesn’t really fit that well together in its atmosphere that jumps back and forth in trying to figure out which genre it wants or should be. It is not a film which blends any of the genres well.

James Cameron giving us his trade make strong female lead in Anne Kimbrough (Tricia O’Neil) is great to see that this element was in his work from the start. But the relationship with her son Chris Kimbrough (Rick Paull Goldin) does seem a little off once you realise they are mother and son. Her relationship with husband Police Chief Steven Kimbrough (Lance Hendriksen) does seem a little clichéd these days, but is still enjoyable.

This sequel sadly suffers from some ideas that seem too ridicules, which are trying to heighten the tension or reason to care for those we see on screen. The supposed scares are deflated in moments in which those emotions are supposed to exist, and maybe you’ll find yourself with a smile on your face or laughing due to the fact that the makers of this tried to go a step further than the original. In the hope of not simply remaking the original… but I’d say this is more to do with the ideas of the writers of the script than the directors.

Unfortunately this looks a little silly and falls flat on its face in certain places. This really is a film which you should shut your mind off and not really care whether or not characters survive or if they find themselves injured. If you do care, it is bare minimal, which leads to this film being fun without  having tension.

Dark Star (1974) [review]

This film manages to entertain the audience with its low tech look and ability to not try to take anything seriously. There is a minimal cast of four main characters stuck in a smallish. This is a comedy Sci-Fi which manages to give us a plenty to laugh at, as the characters are no longer giving too much of a damn after so many years in space. As they travel the universe destroying planets which are no longer stable and must be blown up before they cause any danger. But this film focus more on the relationships of the crew members have with one another in such a small place. A place which is falling apart and there is no way of repairing the damage as Earth is many years from where the crew find themselves.

The film begins with a transmission from Earth which lets us see the lack of any true caring from those in power and the bureaucracy, that those in power never seem to have enough money or the willingness to try to find any. Therefore, those in control have that sleazy look that comes of those who enjoy power a little too much.

There is an element of “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) to this film, which is done perfectly and you can’t help but like this film for that fact. While this is a Sci-Fi, it does not try to take the genre too seriously, in the tech of the times in which it is set… sometime during the 21st century. In fact, the alien we come across is so low tech that it is nothing more than a beach ball with a couple of plastic feet stuck onto it. I don’t think so much has been done with so little and still been a joy to watch.

This is a short film which is approximately an hour and twenty minutes, depending on which cut you can get your hands on.

This is one of the many films which John Carpenter created the music for and is one which is done nicely, if not yet what we may know of his career in music, but you can still hear his style in there.

There is a moment in this film which is similar to one we find in “Aliens” (1986), which I can only imagine that James Cameron is showing some respect to Dan O’Bannon’s carer previous to the “Alien” series.

Dark Angel (2000–2002) [review]

It had been a few years since I’d sat down and watched this and I thought that the years between viewing may have tainted this for me. In that what had been something I loved in so many years ago may not be as I remembered that maybe I had grown out of what it once meant to me. But this series is one that very much lived up to what I loved about it when it originally air.

Not only do we get we does it deal with the creation of genetically enhanced human, splicing of one species with another, but it also deals with social issues, from how one class treats another, to race, to gender and more.

Not only does it deal with Max’s (Jessica Alba) problems of having to deal with the predicament of being genetically enhanced and having to hide from Manticore. We’re offered to opportunity to think about how we treat one another and how the world works, which is another reason I enjoyed this series as much as I did.

Another great part of this series is that it has plenty of characters, even if we do focus on Max and Logan (Michael Weatherly) more than the larger group of people who part of Max’s life of friends and colleges… and those of her former life. This is another fine example of James Cameron giving us a strong female lead, something which I have liked about his work.

Due to the short run of this series, we are left with an ending which gives us some kind of tying up loose ends while raising new questions, questions which the makers raised in presuming that their audience was a intelligent one… and could come up with what would happen next, the ramifications of the moment which leaves us to come up with where all the characters would go from the last moment of that episode. This series was not one that ever talked down to the audience, presuming that we could come to our own thought and theories. Also letting us choose which side we fell on any given subject which it dealt with.

The only off-putting part of this series for me; was some of the music which is of the time in which it was made. But, this is a minor dislike of the series.

Sadly we only managed to get two seasons of this show; I would have liked to have seen where it would have gone next. But then again, we may have been lucky enough to not have seen it hang around and witness go downhill like some series which ran for longer than they should. But, as already said, it leaves us to come up with our own ideas where the character would find themselves.