B-movie heroes: Alex Proyas

Commander's Log, Stardate 18092012.2:

Things may have been getting back to normal on the Mothership, but I still refused to be denied my vengeance. Grabbing some make-up from Helen Cox of New Empress magazines's unattended handbag, I proceeded to white up my face and draw lines vertically over my eyes in black lipstick. I began by training a small raven to say "Gigli" over and over while following Helen around, sending her into irrational bursts of tears at random moments.

Next, I slipped into Gort's quarters while he was on a repair cycle and painted spirals over the walls, before taking a screwdriver to his vocal processor, changing his voice patterns from his default to one named "VIKI". 

The next morning, as I sat over breakfast, Gort entered the room and loomed over me. A feminine voice emanated from his speakers and asked: 'Just what is it with you and Alex Proyas movies anyway?"


Alex Proyas doesn't have a glitzy history. He wasn't discovered at a young age filming his friends in amateur movies and he didn't make the jump from acting. This Greek director, living in Australia, simply attended film school and worked his rear off to refine his craft. It may not make for an exciting story, but the results show in his stylish direction, normally with gothic leanings and a proclivity for clocks.

B-movie Highlights

The Crow

The parallels between Brandon Lee's incredible, painted-face performance as Eric Draven and Heath Ledger's Joker are so numerous that, like The Dark Knight, the quality of Proyas' The Crow is often lost among the real-life pathos. Likewise, the film has become inseparable from James O'Barr's legendary comic, which spawned it. As such, you may have forgotten just how moving, entertaining and beautiful it is. Some great performances combine with Proyas' stunning direction and an epic soundtrack to create something more akin to a dream than just a film. Like both Draven and Lee, The Crow lives on, in your memory, well after the credits roll.

Dark City

Take The Matrix. Now, make the plot a lot more interesting and driven by character, rather than half-remembered cod philosophy. Give it a dose of arthouse weirdness and burnish it with the same stylish gothic direction Proyas delivered for The Crow. Finally, give it a better cast, including Rufus Sewell, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, Kiefer Sutherland and Richard O'Brien... yes, that Richard O'Brien. Congratulations, you have Dark City. Don't get us wrong, we love The Matrix, but this is simply better.

I, Robot

The first time we watched I, Robot, we were let down. We thought Proyas had sold out to give us a dumb, over-egged Hollywood action movie with an almost legendary level of product placement. It's hard to argue that the shift from Dark City to this isn't jarring, but subsequent viewings changed our mind somewhat. If you give the movie a chance, you can see where Proyas was trying to go. The plight of Sonny, the robot Messiah, played brilliantly by Serenity's Alan Tudyk, is moving and nuanced. Meanwhile, we have to admit that Smith isn't as annoying as we'd like to think he is; in fact he's very good. Likewise, the effects are great and and there are some fantastic scenes, like the big robot attack setpiece in the tunnel. Of course, the less said about the young Shia LaBeouf as a creepy rapist-in-the-making, the better. Not Proyas' best, but an under-rated film, nonetheless.