Movies and TV, with aliens and without

TYG was watching IT PART 2 (2019) recently, which meant I half-watched the story of adults going back to their hometown to confront the monstrous, jeering clown and his nightmare-inducing, reality-warping powers … all of which made me feel like whoever made it was trying to knock off Nightmare on Elm Street. Freddie Krueger did it better though.

Ron Howard’s COCOON (1985) has aliens led by Brian Dennehy arrive on Earth to retrieve the life-support cocoons of their fellows, who’ve been waiting for rescue since the fall of Atlantis. The treatment to revive the cocoons has the side effect of rejuvenating some residents of a retirement community — including Don Ameche, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy and Wilford Brimley — but can they keep the source of their new vigor safely secret?

This is a great showcase for all those old-timers, and genuinely sweet; on the other hand, there’s some truth that the aliens are almost absurdly nice. While the film is certainly sympathetic to the plight of the old, it lacks the underlying anger that made Twilight Zone‘s Kick the Can episode memorable. And like a number of 1980s movies, the climax is a fairly pointless chase — one of the kids of the oldsters is desperate to stop them doing whatever insanity they’re doing so we wind up with cops trying to chase them down, purely to provide suspense (I had the same problems with Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah being chased by the military at the climax of Splash). “The way nature’s been treating us, I don’t mind cheating her a little.”

The first season of TBS’ PEOPLE OF EARTH was a surprisingly engaging spoof of alien abductions. Protagonist Ozzie (Wyatt Cenac) is a successful reporter who’s been having hallucinations ever since he hit a deer. Therapist Gina (Ana Gasteyer) convinces him that what happened was an alien abduction so he reluctantly joins her abductee support group (“We prefer the term ‘experiencers.'”). The series follows the interactions between the oddball abduction victims and also between the abductors — a Grey (Ken Hall), a White (Bjorn Gustaffson) and a Reptilian (Michael Cassidy) who in human disguise is Ozzie’s boss. By the nd of the season, interactions between the ETs and the humans have gone in unexpected directions, and the alien invasion, it appears, is about to start … Looking forward to the second and final season. “She wasn’t a circus performer Mom, she was a yoga instructor with a nose ring.”

BIRDS OF PREY AND THE FABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN (2020) has Margot Robie’s Harley openly break up with Mr. J, with the result everyone in Gotham on both sides of the law realize they can take her down without getting a shot of Joker venom — and Ewan MacGregor’s Black Mask and henchman Szasz (easily the least impressive incarnation of that psycho) very eager to seize the moment. Complications include teen pickpocket Cassandra Cain stealing a McGuffin, Rosie Perez’ pissed-off Montoya (“She got a major bust ten years ago — her partner stole the credit so she’s still working the detective beat.”), vengeful Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead — I seem to be seeing her a lot lately) and Jussie Smollet’s Black Canary. Much more fun than I expected. “Stop, stop — you’re going to do that thing where you open up a box of outlandish torture devices while detailing your master plan and explaining how I don’t fit into it.”

#SFWApro. Cover art by Phil Noto, all rights remain with current holder.

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