The Last Stand (2013)

thelaststand_5Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Eduardo Noriega, Jaimie Alexander, Luis Guzmán, Rodrigo Santoro, Johnny Knoxville, Peter Stormare, Zach Gilford, Génesis Rodríguez, Daniel Henney, Tait Fletcher, John Patrick Amedori, Harry Dean Stanton

Directed by Kim Jee-Woon

Expectations: Extremely high.

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It’s Sheriff Ray Owens’ day off, and he’s hoping for a quiet one. Y’know the kind, you hit the town diner for a quick bite and then just sorta mosey around doing whatever it is that feels right at the time. What he doesn’t know is that Gabriel Cortez, a reckless drug lord, has just broken free from FBI custody and is now speeding down the highway directly towards Ray’s town. But what Cortez doesn’t know is that Arnold is a bad motherfucker.

Check your logical mind at the door and get ready for an old school throwback featuring the king of ’80s action movies himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Last Stand is not a perfect film, but if you dig real cars exploding and doing stunts (not necessarily at the same time) then this will entertain. The film also features a healthy amount of gun violence and even some interesting hand-to-hand. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “a movie with it all” but as an ’80s action throwback/western/comedy it definitely throws a lot at you. Believability never mattered in the ’80s and it also doesn’t matter in The Last Stand. Whatever it takes to get a bazooka and a mini-gun on-screen, I’m completely fine with in this type of movie.

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Escape from New York (1981)

escape-from-new-yorkStarring Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Season Hubley, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers

Directed by John Carpenter

Expectations: High. I love John Carpenter movies.

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In 1988, the crime rate in the United States rises four hundred percent. The once-great city of New York becomes the one maximum-security prison for the entire country. A fifty-foot containment wall is erected along the New Jersey shoreline, across the Harlem river, and down along the Brooklyn shoreline. It completely surrounds Manhattan Island. All bridges and waterways are mined. The United States Police Force, like an army, is encamped around the island. There are no guards inside the prison: only prisoners and the worlds they have made. The rules are simple. Once you go in, you don’t come out.

1997. Now.

John Carpenter’s Escape from New York has what is perhaps one of the greatest premises in movie history. When terrorists hijack Air Force One and crash-land it in the middle of the Manhattan Island Prison, Lee Van Cleef makes a deal with hero-turned-criminal Snake Plissken. For the safe return of the president, Plissken will get a full pardon. But he’s only got 24 hours to get the job done or else two capsules in his neck will explode. See, I told you it was awesome.

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Alien (1979)

Starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto, Bolaji Badejo, Eddie Powell

Directed by Ridley Scott

Expectations: I love this shit.


I’ve never been much of a Ridley Scott fan, but goddamn if Alien isn’t a stunning, amazing piece of work. It’s undeniably one of the greatest genre films of all time, perfectly bridging the gap between science fiction, horror, and psychological thriller. There’s nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said about Alien, and even noting that everything’s already been said has been said ad infinitum. But still, I would like to share just a few of my observations during this most recent re-watch of one of my most favorite films.

When I was a kid, I watched this film several times, and its haunting, realistic, slow build-up to the reveal of the alien ship thoroughly grabbed me and refused to let go. To this day, this first hour or so of Alien is still my favorite, even though the Alien isn’t around yet. I enjoy this section for its ability to create a world, and give the characters a mystery to uncover that we can follow along with. These are just space truckers who got shafted; they are you and me thrust into the deep black of space and asked to investigate an alien ship. Ridley Scott’s camerawork is nothing short of perfect here, blending static, gorgeously composed shots with video footage from the ground team entering the ship. Just the use of video footage alone is ahead of its time and wonderfully effective, proving the point I was trying to make in my review of Chronicle about how the method of acquiring the footage is in certain cases directly proportionate to its ability to draw you in.

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