They Live Movie Review
By: Justin Hopkins
It is a shame that it has taken me this long to get around to this classic. Granted my ability to stick to a schedule is dodgy at best but still, They Live probably should have been higher up on the to do list. I grew up with this movie, even before I was a fan of the movies. Due to me being a wrestling nerd and was sold when I heard it stared Roddy Rowdy Piper, and it has remained a movie I continue to go back to, but lets dive in shall we. Discuss the good, the bad and the in between.
The movie kicks off with a man with no name (Nada) arriving to the city in search of a job. Having lost his previous one in Denver. His first day he ended up striking out at Job Placement, but on the second day he lands a job at a construction sight. Where he is spotted by a man named Frank who tells him about a Homeless camp and invites him to come along. after introducing him to Gill and showing him around, they get to talking over a meal and we learn a little bit about Frank. Has a family back home in Detroit and had to come due to the Steel Mills closing down, which left him angry over it. How badly the workers were treated and the overall harshness of life. While Nada still believes in the dream. Works hard and plays by the rules and wait for his chance. Later that night, we see a TV Program a group of people are watching is interrupted by what the one calls a hacker. Warning the people of signals coming through the transmissions and that they are out there and only safe as long as they are hidden. As that is going on, Nada spots the Preacher from the day before mouthing along to it. When the feed cuts out, Gill runs up to the Preacher and drags him to the church across the street. Getting into a visible argument with him. Next time another hack, which was much shorter and Gill again runs off to the Church, with Nada following along. Finding a make shift Lab, a lot of cardboard boxes and Choir noises are actually just a radio. Can hear bits and pieces of a conversation but is caught by the Preacher who tries to warn him, but he is quick to leaves. Seeing a suspicious helicopter flying overhead, which draws them out of the church as well, but leaves as quickly as it arrived. Collecting a pair of binoculars from one of the people at the camp and starts watching them. Much to the chagrin of Frank, who wants nothing to do with this. Not wanting to risk his job and warns Nada to do the same. That night, and still watching, the helicopter returned, with a full police unit, SWAT Team and bulldozer. Overwhelming the Church and Homeless Camp. Brutalizing anyone they could catch, including the Preacher. Nada barely makes it out. Taking shelter in a nearby house with a few others. The next morning he goes back and gets a box from the church, and to his confusion, finds it filled with black sunglasses. Throwing all but one in the trash, putting it on when he hit the street/. To find everything turning black and white. Billboards and signs saying things such as, obey, marry and reproduce and consume, but worse was when he saw and alien disguised as a human and that is where I will leave it for now.
I loved the story of they told so much. Entwining the dangers of Capitalism with aliens. Showing how distracted people are to real issues with consumer goods and the hardships of when they lose everything and are on there on. No one helping and feeling lost and forgotten, despite them trying their hardest and the temptation of betraying everything to avoid that faith vs testing who you really are, and all told so well through the eyes of Nada. A character told so well, that it can go over your head on first viewing that they never give his name, which to me, is amazing feat. Again, speaks on the world around him. Frank gives a diatribe about his problems and Holly tries to trick him later, but no one ever asks for his name.
The action and fight scenes were great. There wasn’t much in the way of gore and the fire fights were fast paced. Showing the importance of them moving quicks and of course, helping differentiate it from the fight between Nada and Frank. Over him trying to get Frank to wear the glasses and Frank wanting none of this, which kickstarts a six minute street fight which was awesome. There was nothing flashy about it. Just two guys trading punches and throwing each other around in an alley. Can see how much time Roddy and Keith David put into making the most brutal looking fight they could and it works perfectly.
Roddy “Rowdy” Piper was brilliant as Nada. Bringing a lot of his natural charisma and charm to the character. Quick witted to throw out a one liner, not all of them stuck, but majority are fantastic. Brought a gritty realism with him. Makes you feel bad for him. A guy willing to take any job and do his best and clinging on to the belief that if he stays the track, it’ll get better. Playing so well off of Keith David. A character who lives in reality. Wanting to keep his head down and not be noticed, despite the anger he has over his situation. George ” Buck” Flowers, incredible as support. Same with Peter Jason and massive praise to Jason Imada, who from what I have read about, played most of the Aliens.
I don’t really have a lot of bad things to say. Some of the jokes didn’t quite stick and Meg Foster came across as a bit to much dead pan for my liking, but none of which broke my immersion all that much so call it in between. I am stretching a lot here, this movie is fantastic is tremendous. Memorable characters, a story that could drop today and still be just a relevant and quotable as they come. If you haven’t seen it make it a must watch as it has [earned it’s title as moniker as a classic. Final Grade S
As always, I hope you enjoyed and….
Thank You For Reading.