I hadn't seen Soldier for a while so I put that on. It's a 1998 Paul W S Anderson film that has Kurt Russell as a super soldier who's been raised right out of the cradle to be an emotionless killing machine. There's a long montage that starts the movie which shows him being conditioned and trained to obey and fight. Poor performers are weeded out with a bullet to their pre-teen heads. Nice future, huh. Writer David Peoples intended it to be the same universe as Blade Runner which he also wrote. Earth people move out into space and soldiers fight. By the time Kurt's nearly 40 he's seen many campaigns and then suddenly the team is being replaced by the next generation of superior genetically engineered super soldiers. Jason Isaacs, the creep in charge of the new kids on the block, lords it over Gary Busey who's in charge of of the older generation. They make the men compete and the new guys are bigger and can run faster. They make them fight, Kurt and two others against one of the new kids, and the three oldies take a beating that leaves them dead in a heap on the floor. Jason tells them to report the men died in a training accident and has the bodies tossed in the garbage. Unfortunately for creepy Jason, Kurt isn't dead and he wakes up in a space garbage scow just as it's being emptied on Arcadia 234.
Besides being home to big ass mounds of garbage the planet is the place that a bunch of stranded colonists are eking out a living. There ship went down there and the garbage scows ignore there bonfires. It's not a place for people, there are heavy winds that will carry you off and dangerous poisonous snakes that will kill you. Kurt is befriended by a local guy, Sean Pertwee, and he tries to fit into the society there. It doesn't go so well and the villagers are afraid of him. They send him away after a violent incident that luckily ends with no one hurt. Sean comes looking for Kurt a little later and before he can get him to come back to the community a ship lands. Turns out Jason picked the garbage planet for some military exercises with the new super soldiers. Finding some citizens he sends the new soldiers to exterminate them. The civilians fight back but it's pretty hopeless. Kurt picks off Jason's men one or two at a time. The old soldier squad all pitch in with Kurt to toss Jason and his officers off the ship and leave with the citizens who are still alive. They head for the colonists original destination. Back on Arcadia 234 Jason screws up disarming the nuke that he set and the planet blows up. A nice end for that prick.
Soldier did really poorly in the theater and it still scores low with the critics. I'm not sure why Paul W S Anderson seems to have so many haters out there. It's only got a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes but I personally find that site a frustrating waste of my time. A common complaint from the critics is about Kurt having no dialog. Since his character was trained from birth to be silent until spoken to it would be out of character for him to be chatty. That info was in the movie so that's a pretty stupid complaint. I suspect they saw the movie much differently than I did. Here's a quote from Bruce Westbrook of the Houston Chronicle: "The action is handled fairly well, but it's routine, and there's no satisfaction in seeing Todd (Kurt) waste men who are no more bloodthirsty than he is." You can't read the rest of his review because his paper has moved it or deleted it so I can't figure out what he means by that. I can only guess that Bruce might have preferred that Kurt was slaughtering fierce space pirates instead of the soldiers that were bred to take his job. An important part of the movie is the soldiers were trained to be emotionless killing machines who have no morality. They aren't blood thirsty. Killing is just part of what you do, it's as natural as eating. In the montage training segment Kurt is a young trainee blasting away at some dummies that are pulled back and forth across the shooting range. The soldiers blast the bad guys and don't fire on the civilians. You've seen that in a dozen cop movies. When a civilian gets in front of a bad guy Kurt blasts them both down. He gets good points for that and later we see the same scenerio play out in a battle. Satisfaction should be gained from seeing that humanity doesn't unlease emotionless killing machines on anyone. Jay Carr of the Boston Globe says "it's little more than dumb genre stuff." Here's a terrible review from John McEwen of Film Quips Online. He's all acid tongued and so incorrect on plot points and the like that you'd think he didn't see the movie at all. If only he had read the Wikipedia entry before he puked out his bile filled post. It gets a 5.7 on the IMDb so you know it has a few fans. I know I'm one, I've seen it several times. It's a great looking movie with really cool sets. The story is pretty entertaining and you see a deep change in Kurt from his experience living with civilians. Kurt does a great job of portraying the character, especially since he doesn't have many lines or facial expressions to work with. It's one of those movies that people seem to like or hate. You might like it, or you might not. Unless you mention it I won't ever know.
I put The Thing From Another World on the tv after Soldier and watched that again. I usually see it every year or so, sometimes twice a year. It's another movie about a soldier thrown into a hostile environment. He's just trying to survive while the enemy is trying to kill him. Lucky for us the enemy is humanity fighting back when hostile plant critters come to take over the earth. I realy love this movie. It's nearly perfect with it's combination of good story, good acting, and good production values. The script is tight and moves the story along quickly. There's enough comedy to balance the horror and the characters are easily understandable and human. Even the carrot guy has understandable ideas. He's building an army to take over the world. He's clever and hard to kill. The worse kind of enemy. You've got a good bunch of men who stand up to the creature when the time comes. Well worth seeing and a definate dvd to have on the science fiction movie shelf.