They Live, 1988 – ★★★★

They Live is surprisingly multi-faceted, for what is – on the surface – a somewhat-dated action thriller.

Some of the special effects are amateurish but the cinematography is striking, thoughtful, and artful where it counts. It’s about 50/50 Naked Gun/Original Twilight Zone.

Roddy Piper’s origins in wrestling seep through into his physical manner of acting, however, he doesn’t disappoint in the context of an 80’s action hero. His line readings sometimes feel wooden when heard alongside Keith David’s delivery but they cram in enough cheesy one-liners that it feels about-right to have him be a somewhat-cheesy unreal persona.

The gradual build of paranoia and discovery makes for a great conspiratorial movie and the traction of the movie doesn’t give up until the (somewhat boring) finale.

The soundtrack is Carpenter crafted and therefore somewhere between competent driving modern themes and minimalist lift muzak.

Lots of fun with a relevant-yet-paranoid message.

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