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They Live

(They Live)

September 30, 2001

This is a surprisingly funny and intruiging little film from John Carpenter. It mixes social commentary with sf thrills.The best parts of the film, for my money, are off the top. We have nicely edited shots establishing rich & poor in society, focussing on a lot where homeless people have camped out. Gradually, it is revealed that something is going on, under the surface. Eventually the hero realizes, with the help of some zippy sunglasses, that aliens have taken over the Earth. Not in a military invasion, but more like making Earth a colony. In this sense, Carpenter follows through with political commentary that is thinly veiled about America and other countries colonizing peoples to exploit them. Only by wearing the sunglasses can someone see that some of the people walking around us are not human, but are aliens. The film does not take itself seriously, which is great, especially given the themes which could have been leaden in the wrong hands. Instead Carpenter concentrates on making an action movie with thoughtful underpinings. The film loses some steam towards the end, when the plot has been fully revealed and it becomes a matter of time before the obvious resolution happens. I ain't revealing nothing here you won't guess. But the film is funny & enjoyable, and certainly different.

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