Saturday, September 25, 2010

S03E03 - Pod People


Near a remote house up in the mountains, an alien crashes into the ground and brings with her a nest of eggs. All but one egg is destroyed by a poacher, prompting the mother alien to go on a rampage. A young boy from the nearby house investigates the crash site and finds the egg, which he brings home. The egg hatches into an alien that the boy tries to raise out of sight from his mother and uncle. But the mother alien is still looking for revenge, whether it's against poachers, band members camping in the mountains for the weekend, or the secluded home's inhabitants.

Movie Review

Originally a Spanish film called Los Nuevos Extraterrestres, this quirky little film was meant to be an evil alien flick when it was first conceived. But thanks to the recent success of the movie E.T., several major changes were made to mimic the latter film's friendly alien meeting a young boy. The result is an uneven and convoluted mess that has no idea what it's trying to be and fails to tell a coherent story.

As in Gamera before it (Kenny!), the biggest problem with this film is with the scenes of the young boy who befriends the recently hatched alien. The scenes with the boy are obviously shoehorned in to get that E.T. vibe, and they come across as uninteresting and saccharine as a result (the boy's terrible dub voice doesn't help matters either). If the whole point of the film were the boy looking after the child alien, then it wouldn't be so bad, but that's certainly not the case here. Instead, they come across as gimmicky and unnecessary, meant only to show a young boy interact with a "cute" alien that can do bizarre things. The scenes go for enchanting but end up being annoying.

The rest of the movie doesn't fare better. While the boy-alien scenes are meant to be some kind of sweet friendship story, the rest of the film plays out like a bad movie monster flick in which the mother of the child alien hunts down other humans who destroyed her eggs. The tone of these scenes clashes painfully with the boy/child alien segments, giving the impression that at least two different movies are running simultaneously.

The characters in this mishmash don't help matters. Outside the annoying kid, the other human characters are composed of the kid's family, a few poachers, and members of a band on a camping trip. The band members' part of the movie appears to be the primary set of scenes (or at least before the E.T.-esque scenes were forced in), and yet they are some of the most underdeveloped characters in the film, mostly because there are so many of them. One by one they die throughout the movie, and their lasting impression goes no farther than Band Member #. The only two band members who survive by film's end is one of the thoroughly unmemorable female members and the main singer who, by all accounts, is an asshole with no character development (meaning he remains an asshole at the end. Our hero!).

Story failure and underdeveloped characters aside, another fault of the movie is its score. Unlike the generic and haphazard orchestral scores of other terrible movies, Pod People goes for a "spiritual" vibe by using generic New Age music. And I'm not talking about Yanni-type New Age (despite what Joel says); I'm talking about 2002-type New Age, the kind where random keys and long-held notes are the norm. It's so bad that it's enough to put people to sleep, if the boring film plot didn't do that already.

If there's one thing that this movie didn't botch, it was the least in the sense that they don't look like obvious rubber suits. Sure, the aliens do look silly in that they appear as bipedal anteaters, but they're convincing enough.

The movie obviously fails in its bid to become the next E.T. or even the dreadful Mac and Me, thanks to a schizophrenic script, uninteresting characters, and snore-inducing music. Some enjoyment might be derived from some of the film's cheese, if one can stay awake long enough to see if.

MST3K Review

Continuing the streak of fantastic episodes, Joel and the bots hit another home run with Pod People. Some some scenes are tighter than others, the overall episode is well written with some excellent riffs, managing to overcome the sleep-inducing pacing of the film. The highlight of the riffing is undoubtedly Crow's impression of the eponymous character from The Elephant Man for the child alien, using it to brilliant comic effect. And thanks to the lack of Kenny, this movie immediately jumps to the best episode of the third season so far.

Stinger Review

Was there any other choice but this one? In a scene near the beginning of the movie, after a song had been recorded in the studio, a studio man asks the singer what he thought of the session. The singer smiles and holds up the okay sign, before frowning and uttering, "It's stinks." It's so delightfully goofy because it seems like it's trying to be a defining moment in the film. Well, it certainly became a catchphrase, but not in the way the film makers originally intended.

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