Is This Thing On…?

Fascinating article by Dan Falk for Slate magazine concerning the debate over whether Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) should be more proactive in its search for alien life (ie, send out signals for alien races to receive, informing them we’re here and want to make contact) or should we be more cautious and hang back and listen for signals coming to us from potential alien races.

Check it out: Is This Thing On?

I have to admit that before reading this article I hadn’t given much thought to the real life implications of our race seeking to make “first contact” with an alien culture (this despite my fictional writings!).  Having read the article and given both sides consideration, my feeling it is better to be cautious rather than attempt more active means of contact.

Or, as the article points out, via science fiction author David Brin:

…David Brin is an outspoken critic of Active SETI. He points to the history of our own planet, in which encounters between cultures of greatly differing technological sophistication rarely go well.

Or, to put it another way: Think about what happened to, among others, the Native Americans when the Europeans first came over.  One race was more sophisticated and had better armor and weapons.  Subsequently, the native Americans were at the receiving end of some very nasty experiences while this more sophisticated race took their resources for themselves.

In light of this, should we really be actively sending out signals in the hope that others races out there receive them so we can make first contact?  While the pluses to this are obvious in the sense that we can perhaps become an interstellar community, the downside is considerable.

Who’s to say that any alien race we come into contact with will be enlightened and/or benevolent?  In the example I mentioned above, the Europeans didn’t come over to America to share their technologies with the Native Americans.  No, they used their advanced knowledge to wipe the smash the Native peoples while taking as much of their resources as they could.

What makes us think an alien race out there might not want to do exactly the same?

And what if we send out signals and the very worst case scenario turns out to happen: That the alien race nearest to us that picks up this transmission winds up being a warrior race that waits around just for such signals to appear so they can pounce on planets like ours without having to spend the time and energy looking for them?

A chilling thought!

Biggest Sellout…

Interesting article on and by Ben Mathis-Lilley concerning a childhood favorite of mine, The Guinness Book of World Records, and the fact that their ties to -ie payment to attend- Corporate Sponsored Events (in this case “The Largest Champagne Toast”!) may make you question the validity of these supposed “world records”:

Guiness World Records, Business Calls Into Question

Like the author (and as mentioned above), as a child I was fascinated with the Guinness World Records books.  Seeing photographs of the world’s tallest/shortest man/woman, of feats of endurance, of unique landmarks, of sporting events, etc. etc. genuinely held my interest and opened up my world to what lay outside its pre-internet small confines.

But time marches on and, like many other things, the internet has had an effect on the Guinness World Record Business.  The books aren’t selling anywhere near as well as they used to, which isn’t that big a surprise as you can find most of the interesting facts/records online if you were to look around.  In spite of all this, there is still publicity to be had surrounding a “Guinness World Record” your business is involved in and this is what lies at the article’s heart:

If businesses sponsor events and pay the Guinness people to come around to oversee them and report on their “World Record”, then is it not possible the businesses may influence -to a degree unknown- what the Guinness judges observe?  Are the judges more likely to officially sanction a record even if, again in the case of the particular “Largest Champagne Toast”, they do not personally witness everyone involved in the event?

I believe part of the problem lies in the fact that some of these records are, frankly, silly.  And yes, I am referring to the “World’s Largest Champagne Toast” in particular.  If you have the “World’s Tallest Person”, this is an easily measurable thing.  So too are things like the “World’s Longest Nails”, or the “World’s Most Expensive Car”, or the “World’s Tallest Building,” or “World’s Fastest Wo/Man”, etc. etc.

Even as I was still reading the Guinness Books, I noticed some of the records presented veered into the weird, not unlike this “World’s Largest Champagne Toast”.  They were clearly silly creations made specifically for entry into that book.  I suspect all those weirder records sponsored by Corporations are being done to get the word out on their product, whatever it may be.

Ah well, I guess the bottom line is that Guinness did such a good job creating a point of interest for people to focus on that its little wonder others have used it as an advertising platform.

4 Ways the Suburban Dream is About to Die…

I usually go to for the humor, but at times the articles presented give you something to think about (along with the humor!).  Here then is a list of 4 Ways the Suburban Dream is About to Die:

I think the very first thing mentioned, “Prime Businesses Going Away”, is the key here.  If you don’t have a viable local economy -a place to spend and make money- then people will drift away to places where they can make and spend their money.

Sounds stupidly simple and obvious, but there you have it.

I’ve mentioned before being intrigued with the way the economic landscape has changed due to the arrival of the internet.  If you’re as old as I am, you recall a time when Record/Music stores were practically on every corner.  They (gasp!) sold music at these now extinct places.  First vinyl records, then CDs, then videos/DVDs.  However, the day a song could be fashioned into an MP3 file and sold/pirated over the internet was the day the music store died.

After all, if you go onto or iTunes you can find just about every album available out there.  In the comfort of your own home you can buy said album and be listening to it within a matter of minutes.  Why would you get yourself ready, drive/walk to a Record/Music store, look through the inventory (and hope the album you’re looking for is there!) and pick up said product there when you can far easily/faster get it online?

Bookstores are facing the exact same thing.  Who would have thought that in my lifetime I, a complete maniac for the written word, would reach a point where he didn’t care to go to a bookstore?  I used to do that at least twice and three times a week.  Today, I can download and read books at  Hell, my books are available there as well!

What about Movie stores?  Remember Blockbuster Video?  There was a time that store was literally everywhere.  People flocked to the place to pick up the latest movies.  Now?  You can order a film through Amazon and get it on the date it is officially released without having to (once again) get out of your house.  Or you can watch it on pay-per-view.  Or Netflix.  Or Amazon Prime.  Or iTunes.

What about video games?  While there still exist game stores, I suspect they’re dying out as well.  Today, if you play off your computer or any of the new generations of video game systems, you can simply download them.  If you want a physical copy of the same, you could order them through (yet again) Amazon or directly from the companies that produce them.  Again, you don’t need to get out of your comfortable chair and go to a store and hope they have the product.

Four once big industries, industries that not only provided commerce for an area but also employment for people, have been torpedoed thanks in large part to the arrival of the internet and the availability of these items online.

I suspect that in the near future the stores/businesses that will remain in existence will be ones that the internet cannot take over (at least not easily): Grocery stores (you want to see the product -especially perishables like meats, vegetables, and fruits- you’re buying), Restaurants (there are attempts at creating “to go” apps for all servers, but sometime you want to get out and eat), Hotels (when vacationing, you have to have a place to go, though the internet has figured out a way to make/pay your reservations in advance).

What other businesses are there out there?

Movie theaters?  I think things are rather grim for their future given the pay per view choices though they remain a good place to “get away”.  That might keep them going for a while.

Clothing stores?  I suspect there will come a time when companies create very good programs that offer truly lifelike scans/images of your body in real time and allow you to “try on” clothing online. If you like what you see, you’ll order it and it’ll arrive at your house, perhaps by the end of the day.  When that happens, the clothing store as we know it might also go away, though thrift/secondhand stores will likely go on.

The point is this: The Economy in the past decade has changed radically and we’re still in the process of changing.  Where will we end up in another decade’s time?

I don’t know, but one thing is for sure: You can’t go back now.

What the hell is going on…?

French Prosecuter states the Germanwings Co-Pilot Deliberately crashed the Airbus Jet, killing all aboard:

Not to sound glib, but seriously, what is going on with airline pilots?  The infamous disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and now this.  Though what happened to Flight 370 is open to speculation (at least until the remains of the flight are found) there are indications that the pilot(s) -or whomever was at the cockpit at the time!- might have had a hand in the plane’s disappearance.

Now, with the Airbus Jet’s crash, it appears the co-pilot was locked out of the cockpit and tried to make his way back inside as the plane descended and ultimately crashed.

So damn weird…and scary.

The One I Love (2014) a (mildly) belated review

Some films defy easy classification.

The One I Love is one of those films.  When all is said and done, how exactly does one describe this work?

A romance?  At its heart, this is the best general description of the work.  But it’s so much more than that.  It’s also a work of science fiction.  It’s also got elements of horror and suspense (though the film is far from shocking or super tense).

Intrigued?  Then read on!

The One I Love starts out with strained married couple Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) attending a marital counselling session overseen by a therapist (Ted Danson in a small cameo role).  It is clear from the session that things are going very badly for the couple and that their marriage has devolved into bitterness and barely contained contempt for each other.

The therapist tries some things with them but it is clear nothing he does works.  The therapist then pulls a brochure out and hands it to the couple.  The brochure describes a nature retreat.  The therapist tells them it has worked for other couples and maybe it’ll work for them.

The couple heads to the retreat and then…strange things start to happen.

I won’t go into more details than that here (I will offer more SPOILERY thoughts regarding the film’s conclusion after the theatrical trailer below), but suffice to say the couple experiences some very odd things while in the retreat.  Do these events help or hurt their marriage?  You’ll have to see the movie to find out!

The One I Love is yet another wonderful low budget independent film that, as noted before, defies easy classification.  The characters, though only a few, are well rounded and as a viewer I cared for them and their struggles.  I was also fascinated by the plot and, especially, the resolution.

This one is an easy recommendation.

Here’s the trailer, which doesn’t spoil a thing…

Ok, now I’m going to get into…



You have been warned!!!


Ok, the movie’s bizarre twist is this: At the retreat, Ethan and Sophie discover that in the retreat’s separate guest house are dopplegangers of each of them.  When Ethan or Sophie goes into the guest house alone, it locks up and does not let the other couple enter.  Once alone and inside that home, Ethan finds a doppleganger of Sophie while when Sophie is inside she finds a doppleganger of Ethan.  Bizarre as this is, it gets even weirder: The dopplegangers appear to be “nicer” versions of each other, and over the course of the movie Sophie in particular is drawn to the guest cabin’s version of Ethan…to the point where she may be losing her love for her actual husband.

The reason I wanted to get into spoilers here is because of the movie’s ending.  After the revelations ultimately come (though all questions are never quite answered), Ethan and Sophie are back home, apparently happy and together.  However, a casual remark makes the audience question whether Ethan has come home with his actual Sophie or the Sophie doppleganger.

I mention this because in the IMDB entries, there are people arguing that point back and forth, that of course Ethan left (accidentally, by the way) with the “other” Sophie while many argue that no, Ethan and his Sophie are together now and the duplicates remain in the retreat.

I believe people are overthinking all this and am on the side of those who believe Ethan took the doppleganger Sophie with him and, as the movie closes, has realized and accepted that fact.  My argument toward this conclusion is simple (and for those who haven’t seen the film will make no sense): Why the mention of the bacon at the end?  What other purpose could it have?

This remark tells you everything you need to know.  It is something personal and trivial that only the “real” Ethan and “real” Sophie know about yet the duplicates do not.

And if that’s the case, the film has an unexpectedly sad conclusion, for the “duplicate” Ethan being stuck with the “real” Sophie is a very depressing thought.  Sophie wanted a man like “that” Ethan, yet toward the end of the film it is obvious the doppleganger Ethan’s entire demeanor was an act designed to free him of the place.  Which means the “real” Sophie is still trapped in a loveless relationship.

A sad, sad thing for her character.

Delphi Driverless Car on Cross-country Trip…

Haven’t heard much about this other than the initial news that it was happening:

The upshot is this: Delphi Automotive PLC’s are giving a driverless car its ultimate test: Driving from San Francisco and across the United States and to New York.

If you’re familiar with early automotive history, then you know of Horatio Nelson Jackson’s famous 1903 (!!) first ever drive across the United States.  Mr. Jackson’s route back then was essentially the same, departing from San Francisco and driving to New York.

I’ll be curious to see how this driverless car fares.  Of course, the vehicle has a human driver who is capable of taking over immediately should any problems arise, but wouldn’t it be astonishing if the entire length of this trip is performed entirely for the on board computer?

I’ll be curious to see the follow-up stories.

Phantasm II (1988) a (very) belated review

So I’m working through some of my latest Shout! Factory releases (they seem to be what I’m mostly pursuing as of late) and I popped 1988’s Phantasm II into the player.

Waaay back in 1979/80 I was mesmerized with the original Phantasm.  That film was so damn bizarre and horrifying to my then much younger eyes.  What was most fascinating was how one wasn’t sure if we were seeing something real or fragments of a the protagonist’s nightmare.  Two elements in the film really stuck out, one being Angus Scrimm’s The Tall Man, a most fearsome villain, and those very damn scary flying orbs that stabbed you in the head and then drilled out your brains.

Anyway, Phantasm was one of those films I saw once way back then and it wouldn’t be until many, many years later that through home video release I would again get the chance to see it again.  Over that time I became aware that sequels were made to that original film.  However, I missed pretty much all of them, only realizing there were sequels when the (I believe) third film was shown on TV one night.  I found the sanitized version I saw Ok enough, but I was confused by the various characters and situations.  It felt like I needed to brush up on the original and its sequel to understand what was happening now.

When that original Phantasm film was released to DVD I did indeed buy and watch it.  My now much older self realized it was a very low budget affair and its pace was much slower than I recalled.  Still, I was intrigued, especially with the otherworldly element found in the ending, something I had completely forgotten about.

More time passed and I realized Phantasm III and IV were released to home video but Phantasm II was not.  The reason?  Of all the Phantasm films, this was the only one a major studio, Universal, had an involvement in and, therefore, it appeared there were some legal/monetary issues holding back its home video release.

It was the fact that the second film was unavailable that kept the completist in me from picking up those other Phantasm films.  As they say, out of sight and out of mind…I basically forgot all about Phantasm.

That is, until more recently when I was looking through the Shout! Factory listings and found they had secured a BluRay release of Phantasm II.  Its price was reasonable enough so I decided what better time than now to check out this obviously popular (there is a fifth Phantasm film, perhaps the conclusion to the saga, set to be released soon) series?

So, after all this time, what did I think of the sequel?

Before I go there, let me say this: I believe the Phantasm films, by this point, are critic proof.  If you like the concept you’ll like the films, regardless of how much better one is over the other.

Which is my polite way of saying I found Phantasm II to be…good but not great.  Granted, I’m seeing this film many years after its initial release and horror films, like some comedies, sometimes do not age all that well.  After all, seeing the original Phantasm back when it was originally released was a very different -and far more horrifying!- experience to me than when I saw it many years later on home video.

Watching Phantasm II, I was struck and delighted with several images and scenes.  For example, I really like the scene early on when our two heroes, Mike (James Le Gros appearing/taking over this role for one film) and Reggie (Reggie Bannister), investigate a small cemetery where all the graves have been dug up.  This whole sequence was genuinely creepy and interesting and for a moment hit a cord that reminded me of what I enjoyed so much of the original film, this sense that we may not be in our “reality” but instead in some kind of dream/nightmare.

I believe director/writer Don Coscarelli did this very much on purpose and at times it really works but other times I felt confused by the end result.

The plot of Phantasm II goes like this: After the events of the first film, we find young Mike is now more grown and is about to be released from an insane asylum.  At the same time, a young woman named Liz (Paula Irvine) is having visions of The Tall Man and his despicable actions.  She also “sees” Mike and is drawn to him.  As It turns out, Mike also has visions of Liz and feels they have to connect to…what exactly?  I’m still not sure.  I suppose its possible they were destined to get together to stop The Tall Man.  Or perhaps The Tall Man was using her to lure Mike to him.  I don’t know and this is one of the things the movie never explains.

Once freed of the asylum, Mike meets up with Reggie and it is hinted through Reggie’s own words that the events of Phantasm occurred entirely in Mike’s mind.  Despite this Reggie knows something is up and when the two return to his home only to arrive just as it is incinerated along with his family, Reggie realizes he has to join Mike on a trip through the backroads of America in search of The Tall Man and Liz.

In time they pick up a hitchiker named Alchemy (Samantha Phillips) and are slowly drawn closer and closer to Liz and The Tall Man.  As noted, we’re never quite sure who is hunting who.

Reading my description above, it all sounds so very good.  However, when all was said and done (SPOILERS!) I still couldn’t quite understand Liz’s importance in the story…other than being someone Mike was going to and as well as a damsel in distress.

The other female character in the film, a hitchhiker Reggie picks up named Alchemy, is quite interesting and mysterious but then turns rather silly in an over the top comedic (?) sex scene that felt like it belonged to another film.  Then again, perhaps this was Mr. Coscarelli’s attempt to show a dream like sex scene?  Again, I just don’t know.

Despite my criticism, it would be dishonest of me to dismiss this film.  Despite the negatives I’ve listed, Phantasm II and many of the images/scenes within it have really stuck with me over the past couple of days.  Curiously, I’ve also found myself thinking about it now and again, certainly more than I would for any film I might consider a misfire.

Given all this, I suspect I’ll pursue the other Phantasm films.

In the end, even if there were elements of Phantasm II that didn’t work for me, I suspect I’ll be giving that film another look quite soon.  Its certainly a walk down a strange, twisted path, and you have to respect the attempt even if you may not like all the elements.

Game of Thrones…books vs. HBO show

So the big news a couple of days ago for Game of Thrones (novel and/or HBO show) fans was the admission by the show’s front runners that the HBO series will more than likely end well before the final two George R. R. Martin books are released.  Therefore, naturally, the TV show will become a giant SPOILER for what’s to come in those still unpublished and unfinished novels.

I have yet to see a full episode of Game of Thrones.  For that matter, I haven’t watched but two or so episodes of The Walking Dead.  These two shows are arguably the most popular TV series out there today but I’m not following either of them.

It’s not snobbishness on my part.  I followed The Walking Dead comic books quite religiously and enjoyed the hell out of the series…that is, until the resolution of the prison storyline.  It was at that point I felt author Robert Kirkman was going for shock more than powerful storytelling and was so turned off by that resolution that I left the book.  When the TV show subsequently came around, I didn’t want to relive the storylines I’d already read and get to that awful (IMHO) point again.  I know the show has deviated from the comic book series, but I just couldn’t follow it because of that bad taste left behind from the prison resolution.

As for Game of Thrones, I was interested in seeing the series but because I didn’t have HBO couldn’t see it on its first run.  I was planning to catch it once that first season was released on BluRay but, unfortunately, so many spoilers started flying on the internet that it was tough to avoid accidentally (much less on purpose!) hearing about things going on in that show.  So much was spoiled that I gave up on seeing the show even before I had the chance to “catch up” on it.

Having said all this, I feel sorry for author George R. R. Martin.  Not for his success and certainly not for his fame and the money I’m sure he’s making for this incredibly successful TV/book series.

What I feel bad about is that the series has proven so successful and his writing of the last two novels of the series has slowed so much that he’s put in this untenable position of releasing his last novels with (perhaps) many of the final surprises/resolutions already well known to the public at large.

As an author, though one with a far smaller bank account that Mr. Martin’s, I have faced the prospect of writing books that have taken me a frustratingly long time to finish.  My fifth Corrosive Knights novel, Ghost of the Argus, took two full years for me to finish off.  Going into that book, I knew it would take more effort to write it than the previous four books in the series.  It was the novel that tied all the others together, and I wanted it to do so in a logical, comfortable way…a tough thing to do considering the books have a history that stretches out thousands of years.

The amount of work experienced producing this novel was easily far more than any of the previous ones.  It got to the point where I woke up thinking about Ghost of the Argus, had breakfast with the novel on my mind, did a few hours of work on the novel, headed off to my other job with the novel on my mind (and the gears in my head whirling on what I had just written), got back home with the book on my mind (and if I had the energy, spent some more time working on it then), and finally went to sleep thinking about what I’d do the next day with it.

Author Lester Dent, best known for his many, many Doc Savage pulp novels, famously had a nervous breakdown during the time he was working so hard on that series.  The Doc Savage pulp magazine was published monthly from 1933 to 1949 and of the 181 stories written, Mr. Dent was personally responsible for approximately 161 of them.  During Mr. Dent’s breakdown, he supposedly was found “talking” to his fictional Doc Savage characters.

While I could not keep up the pace Mr. Dent had to endure, I can sympathize with that feeling of being so overwhelmed by your creations that they threaten to take up your entire life.

The Game of Thrones universe that Mr. Martin has created is an incredibly complex and rich one and I know it must be very difficult to spend each day writing this work while keeping all your characters and situations in their proper context.  I’m certain that if Mr. Martin could wave a magic wand and have the final books be ready for release, he’d take that opportunity is a heartbeat.  It is incredibly difficult to write books and be hard enough on yourself as an author to hold back their release until you feel that particular work is “ready” to be released.

If I had been less demanding of myself and my works, I would have released Ghost of the Argus after a year’s time, like my other works.  But whatever I would have released wouldn’t have been anywhere near as good as I wanted it to be.  Like Mr. Martin, I have an endgame for the series and have already written a (very) rough draft for the final novel in the series, though I’m not certain if it will be book 8 or if I’ll want to release another couple of books before finally wrapping the series up (I’m currently on book 6 and have book 7 roughly plotted).

In Mr. Martin’s case, while I’m sure he has a relatively detailed endgame, I suspect he’s not all that different from me in the sense that there may be things he wants to explore, things that even the people behind the TV series are unaware of.  For writing, in my experience, is often an organic thing.  You plant your seeds and sometimes they grow this way and that, surprising and delighting you with their twists and turns.

Mr. Martin, I’m sure, is under tremendous pressure to try to release his books before the TV show is done.  He probably will not hit that mark and its too bad his success has put him in such a high pressure situation.

A Walk Through The Tombstones (2014) a (mildly) belated review

Some films really make you scratch your head in wonder, but not for good reasons.

Last year’s Liam Neeson non-Taken action/suspense film A Walk Through The Tombstones is one of those type of films.

It is well acted, well filmed, reasonably well edited, and was based on a popular novel by well respected crime novelist Lawrence Block.  The film also starts reasonably well and, as a viewer, I was engaged.  Unfortunately, the film then loses steam until by the time we’re halfway through it becomes inert and unengaging.

As mentioned, I couldn’t help but wonder why, given all the positives mentioned above, this movie proved to be so mediocre to me.

Before I get to that, a quick plot rundown: The film starts in New York City in 1991.  We meet NYPD detective Matt Scudder (Liam Neeson)  He’s a hard drinking, hard charging detective and, in those opening scenes, he stops by a local bar to take down some shots of whiskey when a trio of violent criminals show up.  A gunfight erupts and Scudder gets his men in your typical Dirty Harry bad-ass manner.  We then abruptly fast forward to 1999.

Scudder is a noticeably changed man, and the audience, at least those paying attention, should suspect we weren’t told the entire story of what happened in 1991 (we will be, in time.  The trailer below almost gives it all away).  Scudder has quit the police force and is now in AA.  He is also a private eye.  A fellow AA member asks him to see his brother about a job.  Turns out the brother’s wife was abducted and, after he paid the ransom for her, she was gruesomely killed and dismembered.  While on this initial visit with the brother, Scudder figures out the man is a drug dealer (he views himself as a “trafficker”) and, because on this, refuses to take the job.

He has a change of heart a little later on when the clearly desperate man shows up unannounced at his apartment doorstep and, through a taped recording the killers left of his wife’s final moments, shows just how twisted these men are.  Scudder, while clearly uncomfortable with the idea of working for a drug dealer, nonetheless realizes the kidnappers who killed this man’s wife are evil and need to be stopped.

Given the gruesome nature of the killers’ crimes, this film could easily have followed along the lines of a Se7en.  But, in perhaps the first and biggest error in judgment in the making of this film, the people behind the cameras decided to tone down the graphic nature of the story as much as possible and offer hints of violence rather than bludgeoning us with the viscera.

Mind you, I’m not a “blood and guts” guy.  Subtlety works fine -more than fine!- for me and has worked in many a movie,  However, in this case I believe the subtlety worked against the film’s overall impact.  Worse, too much screen time is devoted to ancillary characters that aren’t anywhere near as interesting as Scudder and the mystery he’s facing, including a street urchin our protagonist takes in (to be fair, he does figure into the film’s climax).

In the end we’re never really into the bad guy’s heads as much as we should be.  We know they’re bad, bad, bad, but we know little else about them.  The movie’s climax, at a cemetery (natch) and the villain’s home, winds up being nowhere near as exciting/suspenseful as it should have been.

As I’ve already said, the end results left me scratching my head.  A Walk Among the Tombstones, at least from the outside looking in, had all the ingredients to make it a terrific crime/suspense/horror film.  The end result, unfortunately, is something of a misfire.  A Walk Among the Tombstones is a perfectly average crime film that, while not a total disaster, is hardly a wild success.

Too bad.

Below is the trailer for A Walk Among the Tombstones.  Not only is the trailer rather spoilery, it is also far more effective than the movie itself.  Another case where the trailer is better than the movie it is trying to sell!

Dark Angel (1990) a (wickedly) belated review

There are certain films you see way back when they’re released that you want to see again.  There are others you don’t see but regret having missed and long to catch up with them at some point or another to see if they were any good.

So is the case with Dark Angel, or as I knew it, I Come In Peace.  I’m not quite sure why the film has the two names but when I first saw the trailers, it was advertised as the later rather than Dark Angel.  See for yourself:

Regardless of the title, for whatever reason I was unable to catch the film way back then but always was curious to see it.  Though his range as an actor may be limited, I like Dolph Lundgren.  He most certainly has a strong screen presence, though he’s usually at his best playing cold-blooded villains.

Seeing Mr. Lundgren in a starring role and in a sci-fi/action mix had me intrigued.  I liked the way the original Predator mixed army action with sci fi and this film decided to mix the buddy cop action genre so popular at the time with sci-fi.  Would the combo work?

For the most part, it did.

Now bear in mind, Dark Angel (I’ll refer to it by its video release name) is a very low budget affair and, at times, this is quite obvious.  Having said that, I have to give credit to the film’s makers for pushing that budget as far as they did.  There are an awful large number of pretty impressive explosions in the film along with some great stuntwork which makes this low budget feature look far more impressive than it would have.  The soundtrack, by the way, was created by Jan Hammer of the TV series Miami Vice fame and I couldn’t help but think because of this and the film’s visual style that it played out like a particularly wild Miami Vice episode!

Anyway, the plot goes like this: Detective Jack Caine (Lundgren) loses his partner while the man was in the process of infiltrating a drug deal.  After his partner is killed, a mysterious white haired giant of a man appears and kills off most of the bad guys with the use of a strange razor sharp disc that slashes the drug dealers’ throats.  Afterwards, this blonde haired stranger takes all the heroin and disappears.  As Caine checks the wreckage of this botched drug deal, the Feds move in to claim jurisdiction of the case.

Caine is then forced to partner up with Special Agent Smith (Brian Benben), a too-young and too-cocky Fed whose allegiances are suspect.  While his cocky attitude is a turn off, we, like Caine, are left to wonder if this new partner has a hidden agenda in this case.

As the movie goes along, it becomes clear the menace they face is extraterrestrial in origin.

What does the white haired alien want?  And who is the black haired, equally giant other alien pursuing him?  Can our bickering heroes triumph against something much stronger, faster, and far more heavily armed than they are?

I enjoyed watching Dark Angel but, once again, I can’t help but think that modern audiences might find the film’s pace a little too slow for their tastes.  Still, I enjoyed the meaty script and found that this forgotten little film held up pretty well considering its age and budget.  As it played out, I couldn’t help but feel this is one of those films that might benefit from a modern remake.

Hell, they could get Dolph Lundgren to play the bad guy alien this time around!

So if your taste is like mine and you are curious to see a buddy cop action film married to an alien threat type film, you’ve got it!

An aside: I’ve come to the conclusion that the folks at Shout! Factory either read my mind or are my dopplegangers when it comes to many of the films they’ve recently released.  Dark Angel, among several other films like Without WarningFirepower, Supernova, The Fog, Prince of Darkness, Phantasm II, Lifeforce (I’ll get to these last two soon enough) and the upcoming Escape From New York are all features I’ve recently purchased from them.

You guys keep this up and I’ll be broke in no time!