Monday, April 5, 2010

Review - They Live (1988)

“I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass; and I'm all out of bubblegum.”

Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster
Screenplay: John Carpenter

Plot: A drifter named Nada accidentally stumbles upon a world wide conspiracy that involves aliens, subliminal messages and a pair of sunglasses that lets him see the real world. In no time he’s in the thick of things and is not sure where to turn. Who can he trust when he’s in a society that shuns him?

As a kid there were two movies that made me a fan of John Carpenters. One was Big Trouble in Little China, the other is this one. What fascinates me is that this is actually a very slow burn type of movie, and doesn’t get into crazy land until about the thirty minute mark. As a kid what drew me to this movie? Well finally revisiting the movie I’m still not sure why a kid would like this but damn did I enjoy it.

Watching Roddy Piper in the lead role I’m a little sad this didn’t amount to a bigger career. While he’s not a great actor he had what it took to be a fantastic action star. A quiet demeanour for the serious parts and charisma out the butt for the action scene, when the penny drops in the plot seeing him rocking around shotgun in tow is awesome. Keith David is also great as Frank, unlike Nada he likes the blinkers he has on to the world, and to me represents what a normal person would do when thrust into this situation. Meg Foster just has evil evil evil evil evil evil eyes.

I like the atmosphere that John Carpenter creates in the movie, he lets the audience drench in what it is to be homeless, the trials and the hope for a better life. I think the first third of the movie creates this real strong foundation with its social commentary, so when the action starts you care about Nada. Of course when the action kicks in you’ve got one liners, gunplay and some funny social observations.

This certainly is a product of its time and it might of dated a little bit but it’s still very solid. Greed versus the social good, some nice action including an awesome fight between Nada and Frank, it’s all worth the time. If you’re a fan of Carpenters then you’ll like this. It also has another Carpenter Soundtrack. Dig those funky tunes.

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