Alien Resurrection (1997)

Sigourney Weaver effortlessly carries the movie with the ease of someone completely in command of their character (Easier after three movies).  With Joss Whedon in charge of the script, it features plenty of kitschy drama and dark humor, often served together.  It’s also visually impressive if you can stand grotesque images, especially near the end.  It does lag a bit in the middle, though, and the characters are more amusing cartoons than persons of interest. 

And so it ends…

Grade: B-

Alien 3 (1992)

The bleak, depressing, dull, demoralizing, and downright BAD sequel to ‘Aliens’ was directed by David Fincher, and shows why he got to direct stylish, nihilistic nonsense like ‘Fight Club’ but leaves me shocked that he was handed the reins for an actual great movie (‘Seven’).

Apparently the formula here is to eliminate the likeable characters from the previous film and then introduce no new ones, instead surrounding Ripley with thoroughly bland and one-dimensional you’ve-met-one-you’ve-met-em-all types, and you don’t really need to meet one.

It’s the feel-bad movie of the year!

Grade: F

5/30/12: The benefit of adding professionalism to an otherwise worthless movie.  Grade: D-

4/25/16: Alien Cubed proves that sometimes more isn’t better. Grade: D-

6/3/16: Re: above comment, thank you RK.

Aliens (1986)

Exceptionally well-made sequel, more in the vein of drama/action than the first film’s sci-fi/horror, and much better.

Paul Reiser is remarkably sleazy, Sigourney Weaver is remarkably resilient, Michael Biehn is remarkably likeable/competent, and Bill Paxton is the most remarkably whiny Marine ever.

Inspirational Quote: “Game Over, Man!”

Grade: A-

6/23/13: This is certainly as good as fellow 80’s drama/action alums ‘Lethal Weapon’ and ‘RoboCop’, and it’s more imaginative and better written.  Grade: A

Alien (1979)

Clever and creepy for the first half, a bit dated and predictable for the second half.

Sci-Fi/Horror film most notable for three things:
1) Producing a great sequel
2) Being unduly worshipped
3) Inspiring the funniest scene from Mel Brooks’ parody ‘Spaceballs’

Grade: B-

David Bowie

Changesonebowie (1976)

Really odd near the beginning, much more rocking near the middle, more poppy near the end.
Best when it’s odd AND rocking.
(“Space Oddity”, “Suffragette City”, “Rebel Rebel”)

Grade: A-

Curve

The Frozen EP (1991)

Trance-rock with lyrics, more decipherable and rocking than MBV, less irresistibly hooky.  Set it to play three times and you’ve got yourself their masterwork.
(“The Colour Hurts”, “Zoo”)

Grade: A-

John Mellencamp

The Best That I Could Do 1978-1988 (1997)

Very good selections from six albums.  And by “very good” I’m suggesting that he picked the best that he could of the best that he did.  Not that they were always all that good.  Catchy throughout, more intelligent as they go along.
(“Lonely Ol’ Night”, “Paper In Fire”)

Grade: A-

Duran Duran

Decade – Greatest Hits (1989)

Absolutely and completely meaningless and inconsequential pop drivel…YAY!
(“Girls On Film”, “Hungry Like The Wolf”, “Save A Prayer”, “Notorious”)

Grade: A

Michael Jackson

Thriller (1982)

Just because an album is a landmark doesn’t mean you have to like it.  The craft here is undeniable, but I just don’t particularly enjoy listening to some of the hits.  Unlike a lot of today’s pop superstars he did write some of these songs himself, though, and four out of my five favs were Jackson-penned.
(“Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin”, “Beat It”)

Grade: B

Bad (1987)

See Above…change five to four.
(“Smooth Criminal”, “Leave Me Alone”)

Grade: B-