MOVIE REVIEWS: Defending Your Life, ID4, Andromeda Strain

Movies I’ve seen recently, two on DVD, one recorded on the DVR.

Defending Your Life (1991), lent to me by a co-worker, is an Albert Brooks movie, by which I mean he directs, writes, and stars in a film that’s about what happens after one dies, a vaguely familiar version of one’s earthly existence. But everyone gets to see the highlights and lowlights of their past and have to explain their actions. Brooks’ character meets and falls for another of the recently deceased, played by Meryl Streep. It’s a comedy, but it did not have many big laughs for me. Still, I liked it, as I found it quite thought-provoking.
There is a movie trailer included but DON’T watch it until after you see the film, as it essentially REVEALS THE ENDING.
Independence Day: One of my co-workers lent this to me on VHS. Another co-worker, seeing that I had the tape, brought me the DVD of the film. Apparently lots of people really liked this film, as it was a big hit in the summer of 1996.
I will say that in the July 2 segment, things got blowed up real good. But I never got all that invested in the characters – well, maybe Randy Quaid’s drunken alleged former alien captive. I was watching the movie for a number of minutes when I had to look at the package; Will Smith IS in this, isn’t he? Yup, billed first, no less.
All the electronic alien encounters was done better in Contact, the meeting of the First Lady with another character stretch credulity, and the President would have been tackled by the Secret Service before getting into the plane. I didn’t hate it. More like indifference.

Whereas I hated, hated the A&E remake of The Andromeda Strain. I never saw the 1971 theatrical release. It featured Benjamin Bratt (Law & Order), Christa Miller (Drew Carey, Scrubs), Daniel Dae Kim (Lost), Ricky Schroeder (NYPD Blue, 24 – yes, he’s back to his Silver Spoons name) and Viola Davis (L&O: SVU) as scientists that are trying to find the reason a town all but died, making all who initially didn’t die suicidal or homicidal. TV Guide gave a “jeer” to Eric McCormack’s (Will & Grace) wooden performance as a drug-adled reporter, and rightly so. The mutation of the strain seemed almost random. Still,, I watched the second half of this four-hour mess, hoping for the payoff. Instead, it just went stoopid, especially in the last hour. I’m loath to provide spoilers, but suffice to say that: the family drama involving one of the scientists went nowhere; one romantic liaison had no chemistry, while another was highly implausible; the fate of one scientist went totally unexplained, a rescue mission contradicted the movie’s own internal logic; another rescue was utterly laughable; the death of one character was unexplained; and worse, the big reveal left me saying, WTF?! Awful, just awful. It’s available on DVD, but I implore you: DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS.

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