Saturday, June 5, 2010

Aliens vs. Avatar and Zombies

We watched two movies for Movie Dude weekend.

Aliens (1986)

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn, Lance Henriksen, Paul Reiser
Director: James Cameron

We actually watched Alien a couple weeks ago and wanted to continue the series. While we all enjoyed Aliens, the second film in the series (OK, I hide my face and didn't watch some parts, but I'm a known whimp), what really became quite apparent to all of us after recently also watching Avatar was the similarities between Aliens and Avatar. James Cameron directed them both but you'd expect some new ideas, right? (Or is that just us?) Anyway, we sat down and all started listing the very obvious tie ins between the two movies.

Obviously, in Avatar, Cameron is beating us over the head with his message. He's more subtle in Aliens. He doesn't explore the idea that the aliens could be sentient beings in Aliens, but makes it quite clear that the Na'vi are sentient (and preferable) in Avatar. The two movies appear almost, but not quite, polar opposites in their message. The aliens destroying the human settlement is bad in Aliens, good in Avatar. Destroying the alien hive is good in Aliens, bad in Avatar. Very simply humans have opposite roles; they are, very basically, good in Aliens and bad in Avatar.

The design of all human structures and technology is analogous. The ship design and interior seemed interchangeable in both movies. The military scenes were parallel, practically indistinguishable in spots, as were the weapons and military shuttles. The mecha suit/robotic walker was a startling, almost identical connection between the two movies. The final battle was practically the same. No wonder we all felt we had watched Avatar before, thinking it was just the noble savage storyline at the time when the actual root of this feeling goes much deeper and far reaching.

Both movies involve a corporation (bad, greedy) planning to use a planet for it's resources. The company is always bad and is acting only in its best interests. The military is depicted as short sighted in both movies. Another obvious connection is the casting of Sigourney Weaver in a tough woman role in both movies. We noticed other casting choices for recent roles in Avatar that seemed to correspond with choices Cameron previously made in casting Aliens.

Clearly the roots of Avatar are found in Aliens. Then, when looking around to see if anyone else noticed the obvious connections between the two movies, I read that visually Avatar and the Halo games are quite similar and that Halo borrows from Cameron’s Aliens. When asked about this, Cameron claims since he originated it, he's allowed to reference it, or recycle it, depending on your point of view. Apparently Cameron has a little problem coming up with new, original ideas and other people have also noticed that Avatar uses many recycled concepts from his Aliens film. Interesting...

I Am Omega (2007)

The Asylum movie
Starring: Mark Dacascos, Geoff Meed Jennifer Lee Wiggins
Directed by Griff Furst

This is another last man on earth, Omega Man movie based on Richard Matheson's book I am Legend. Originally a SciFi channel movie, the most obvious weakness of I Am Omega is a lack of character development, but we weren't watching it for the plot or character development. There are some great zombies in this movie. Mark Dacascos is a martial arts master (and the Chairman on Iron Chef America) so he fights zombies with weapons, as well as roundhouse kicks and nunchuks. Dacascos is actually a decent actor, so he elevates this B movie. We liked it, but you know us...

Movie Dude: If you pee on a zombie does it die?

Lori: I'd like to think that, at least for a little bit, we could all fight our way through a zombie hoard.

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