Movie Review: TERMINATOR 3: Rise Of The Machines

Leave a comment

t3Warner Bros. Pictures

“I feel the weight of the world bearing down on me. A future I don’t want. So I keep running as fast as I can…anywhere. Nowhere.”

And now, here we are, over a decade since the last Terminator movie, and we’re treated to the second sequel in the Terminator franchise. Was Rise Of The Machines really necessary? I really don’t think so…but again, I’m getting ahead of myself, here.

So, then, the big machine apocalypse that was scheduled originally for 1997 wa a no-show thanks to the events of T2: Judgment Day. John Connor has become a vagrant, staying under the grid and generally running from an unseen future he doesn’t want to be a part of. Also, sometime between 1997 and now, he got some plastic surgery done, as he looks nothing like he did in T2. Anyway, due to a plot device deployed into the space/time continuum (the “Timey-Whimey” Effect), it seems that Skynet and Judgment Day weren’t wiped out of existence at all, but merely postponed to 2004. How is that scientifically possible, you ask? Silly human, trying to employ logic to the plot. You’ll just sprain something doing that, it’s best not to think too hard about it. So this time around, Skynet sends back a shiny new T-X model Terminator, one that takes the liquid morphine awesomeness of the T-1000, and joins it up with working mechanics so that it can form working weapons beyond just stabby-stabby things. Also, it can inject nanobots and reprogram other machines, like the Borg…only not the Borg. So, the T-X is sent back and, unable to locate the whereabouts of John Connor, begins to kill the future members of the Human Resistance. Meanwhile, John Connor is caught stealing drugs from a veterinary clinic by someone from his past, and then both are visited by a very familiar looking cyborg sent from the future to protect both Connor and the vet who, it turns out, is the future Mrs. Connor…and it was she who sent back the T-850 model with Ah-nuld’s face. Also, in a mind-blowing coincidence, it happens to be the father of the future Mrs. Connor that has built the current iteration of Skynet and is planning on activating the system. So then it’s a race to get to the facility to stop Skynet from going online and kicking off Judgment Day 2.0. Do they make it in time to stop the machine apocalypse from happening? Does the movie’s subtitle tell you anything?

Despite my initial thoughts on why this movie really was unnecessary, I still saw it the weekend it came out. Certainly, it wasn’t of the same caliber of the first two movies, but it had its moments, really. You could tell that James Cameron was not involved with this one, with the way it was executed. The levity that made T2 a great ride was attempted, but somehow came short; although I get the feeling there was some tongue-in-cheek referencing of the scenes from T2, like say how the T-850 got his clothes after showing up from the future. I have to say that I did laugh at the star-shaped sunglasses. The best moments, as always, were the knock-down, drag-out brawls between the two Terminators. That’s par for the course, now. Overall, thought, the story is underwhelming, a bit of a retread from the past story, and is really more of an amusing distraction rather than a mind-blowing sci-fi action flick.

Overall, Terminator 3 isn’t bad, it’s just kind of lackluster. Worth a rental, really.


Movie Review: TERMINATOR 2

Leave a comment


“I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle.”

You may recall from my recent review of The Terminator that I didn’t get around to watching that movie until after having watched the sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day. No reason, other than when the original Terminator came out I was 11 and couldn’t see it due to age and proximity to the closest movie theater (among other reasons), whereas when T2 came out, I was on the cusp of my senior year in high school, had my own means of transportation and disposable income. And due to the T2 teaser at the beginning of another movie I watched previous that summer, I was intrigued to watch a sequel to a movie I’ve never heard of up to that time. I really have no problem watching franchises out of sequence like this. My mind can usually fill in the blanks fairly well. I really had no idea what I was in for, but I was going to enjoy this, I somehow knew.

And, I wasn’t wrong.

It’s 1995, and John Connor — the future leader of the human resistance against the robot apocalypse — is living with a foster family in Los Angeles. His mother, Sarah Connor, is currently a guest at a mental institution after a failed attempt at bombing a computer factor to prevent the rise of Skynet and the extinction of humankind that’s scheduled for 1997. 1995 John Connor is kind of a punk, which is to be expected when your formative years was spent learning survival skills and military training. One afternoon, while spending som ill-gotten gains at the local video arcade, he finds himself pursued by a cop…who turns out to be a shiny new model of Terminator from the FUTURE! (TM), the T-1000. Before he could be terminated, though, John is saved by familiar-looking T-800 model that was reprogrammed by future John and sent back to protect him in the past. Wacky. So, after evading the annoyingly persistent T-1000, they break Sarah Connor out of the mental institution, and head out to evade the new terminator and try to infiltrate Cyberdyne and nip Skynet in the bud to prevent Judgment Day from happening. Big freakin’ explosions, time travel paradox headaches and robot-boy emotional bonding ensue.

I remember sitting there, inside the Cinema 3 theater, unable to look away from the sci-fi action flick that was unfolding in front of me. Terminator 2 was such a fantastic movie going experience like I hadn’t experienced before, I went on to drag my sister to a showing later that week. Just the liquid metal Terminator effects were worth the price, but then this movie had everything my then-17 year old self didn’t know it craved: killbots, big ‘splosions, a lean and mean Linda Hamilton kicking butt, Guns N’ Roses in the soundtrack…yeah, I’m kind of bummed to not be able to just pop this in right now and watch it. Bit busy at the moment, here.

Anyway, Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a sci-fi action classic. Right up there with the first couple Alien movies, as well as the original Predator movie. Very much recommended watching, this.

Movie Review: The TERMINATOR

Leave a comment


“The machines rose from the ashes of the nuclear fire. Their war to exterminate mankind had raged for decades, but the final battle would not be fought in the future. It would be fought here, in our present. Tonight…”

And thus begins the first in what would become an icon in science fiction movie franchises. What started off as a literal fever dream and made by a studio that thought it would flop right out of the box office turned out to be another bone-fide blockbuster in a year that also featured the release of Ghostbusters, the first Nightmare On Elm Street, and Gremlins. Among others.

And I never watched The Terminator until after watching the sequel. Even then it was on a VHS mix tape featuring three movies my Aunt taped off for me and my sister from HBO.

So, in The Terminator, a killbot from the FUTURE! (TM) is sent back in time to 1984 Los Angeles with one mission programmed into his literal chrome dome: Find and kill Sarah Connor. And, because apparently all directory information databases were lost after the robot apocalypse (and also .JPEG files), the Terminator goes about his mission by looking up all the Sarah Connors in the LA phone book. Meanwhile, the future mother of the leader of the human resistance is blissfully unaware of any danger, and goes about her life and stuff. To help protect Miss Connor from death at the hands of the T-800 is one Kyle Reese, also from the FUTURE! (TM). After a near-miss at a night club, they’re on the run while the Terminator is in close pursuit. Will Sarah Connor survive? Will the Terminator succeed in its mission? Does the fact that there are four sequels and a short-lived television series tell you anything?

So, yeah. The Terminator is a classic sci-fi action flick for good reason. The story is pretty straight-forward (save for the standard logic paradoxes the time travel aspect brings up), the action is great, and the effects still hold up pretty good after all these years. Yeah, there’s a scene in the motel room where it’s quite obvious that it’s a model of Arnold Schwartzenegger’s head, but let’s remember he’s playing a cyborg. That doesn’t take me out of the movie very much, that. Also, the actors were rather good in their roles, the big breakout of course, being Ah-nuld as the T-800 sent back to terminate Sarah Connor. Having watched T2 before watching this one, I have to admit that I was a bit unprepared for the polar opposite that Sarah Connor was in this movie, compared to the badass she would develop into in the sequel. But, narratively, that made sense.

So, do I recommend watching the original Terminator? Yep yep yep. As a matter of fact, this one and the first sequel are all you really need. But, getting ahead of myself again. Check this one out immediately if you haven’t already.


Leave a comment

justice leagueWarner Bros.

“I miss the days when one’s biggest concern is exploding wind-up penguins.”

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists newfound ally Diana Prince to face an even greater threat. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to recruit a team to stand against this newly awakened enemy. Despite the formation of an unprecedented league of heroes — Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash — it may be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

Lead-up to the big DCEU team-up movie has not been an easy one. While I seemed to be in the minority in thinking that Man Of Steel was decent if not severely flawed, Batman V Superman was a hot mess, and Suicide Squad was also a hot mess, but at least it was a bit more entertaining. Wonder Woman was awesome, but something I consider more an exception to the rule, rather than being a positive step in the right direction for the DCEU franchise. So, it was up to Justice League to fully turn my doubts around about the viability of the series. Will Justice League prove to be the contender with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or will this prove to be its undoing, ending up like Universal’s Dark Universe?

Also, I realize this is going to be posted at the beginning of the new year, a couple of months since it premiered in theaters, but regardless, possible spoilers ahead. I won’t know until I’ve written this thing, and all.

Pretty much picking up in the aftermath of Batman V Superman, it seems the death of Superman has caught the attention of an ancient intergalactic warlord named Steppenwolf, who has tried to conquer the Earth before, but was stopped by the ancient heroes…heroes which included the Amazons, the Atlantians, and the Green Lantern Corps, among others. Now that the so-called “old gods” have disappeared, Steppenwolf has come back to retrieve three hidden alien devices that, when combined, will turn the planet into the hellish world he desires it to be. As such, Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince begin recruiting other superpowered heroes to help stop the invasion and beat it back from whence it came. Among the ranks are half-Atlantian, half-Human Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman, Speed Force-adept Barry Allen, aka the Flash, and Victor Stone, aka Cyborg. Cyborg is unique in that his powers stem from bonding with the very alien items that Steppenwolf is searching for. Even with that lineup, though, the team still seems to get their collective butts handed to them. They need to get another team member with a bit more power to go toe-to-toe with this New God. Someone…super. Some kind of super man, if you will.

Okay, fine: they resurrect Superman. I told you there would be spoilers.

So, Steppenwolf gets all three devices, goes to Russia and begins terraforming, and the superheroes plus a newly revived Superman (complete with shiny new duds) shows up, lay the smackdown, and everything ends on a happy note, with Bruce and Diana continuing with the notion of formation a league of some sort, for justice. Then the post-credits scene happens, and now I’m sad again. You’ll see what I mean when it happens.

I’ll be forthright: I went into watching Justice League with some very, very lowered expectations. Like, nearly non-existent. I was pretty much convinced that Wonder Woman was a fluke, and Justice League would continue in the same level of suckage the other two “team-up” movies in the DCEU were. But, I was proven slightly wrong.

First, the good: all the superheroes were done right. I’ve said that Ben Afleck was probably my favorite Bruce Wayne / Batman so far, and I’m sticking by it. Wonder Woman is still awe-inspiring as well as a furious butt-kicker (all apologies to Lynda Carter, you’ll always be my first Wonder Woman). As far as the newbies go: I had my doubts about Aquaman, and especially Jason “shirts make me itchy” Momoa’s kind of dude-bro vibe I got from the previews, but that actually works for the character. I was impressed. I am now interested in a possible Aquaman stand-alone if he continues playing the character, no mean feat. This iteration of the Flash, while effective as the comic relief of the group (because the world is not yet ready for Plastic Man, pity as that is), I wasn’t fully convinced he was Barry Allen. He seemed more Wally West than Allen. But, that’s the direction they took, and he played it well. The biggest surprise for me here was Cyborg, as I was convinced he was going to be regulated to background character that only comes up to give out technobabble and such. No, his arc was fairly substantial, given the time frame. And since I’ve already let the cat out of the bag, I have to say it: Superman is finally Superman. No longer is he brooding, he actually laughs at times. Even his costume is brighter than on Man Of Steel. Also, the running time is significantly less than the other movies, so it goes by in a relatively brisk pace. Which, really, brings up:

The bad: While I was glad for a nice, refreshingly shorter movie run time, I get the feeling that maybe that extra half-hour would have actually been beneficial to flesh out things a bit better. Like, with the main baddy of the film, Steppenwolf. He’s not only the most two-dimensional villain I’ve come across since the heyday of the 1990s superhero films, but his motion-capture CG rendering is the worst I’ve seen. It took a lot out of my enjoyment, as I kept thinking how hard it could have been to just use a live actor and use the CG sparingly to beef things up? Could have used some more baking time, guys.

Overall, while the action and fight scenes were breathtaking, and finally getting to see Supes back in form, Justice League seemed to fall just short of the epicness that a team up movie like this should have been. Regardless, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and while not a complete turn-around, Justice League is a step in the right direction for the DCEU. Definitely try and catch this on a big screen some time.

Movie Review: HANNA

Leave a comment

hannaFocus Pictures

“Kissing requires a total of thirty-four facial muscles, and one hundred twelves postural muscles. The most important muscle involved is the orbicularis oris muscle, because it is used to pucker the lips.”

Raised by her father, an ex-CIA agent, in the wilds of Finland, Hanna’s upbringing and training have been one and the same, all geared to making her the perfect assassin. The turning point in her adolescence is a sharp one. Sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys stealthily across Europe, eluding agents dispatched after her by a ruthless intelligence operative with secrets of her own. As she nears her ultimate target, Hanna faces starting revelations about her existence…

It was movie night with my circle of friends, and I chose Hanna to be the one we watched. This was back when the movie was first released on DVD, and while looking into the movie, the premise intrigued me. It seemed to be a bit more than your standard Bourne Identity-style psychological thriller. For one, it involves a young girl as a trained-since-birth deadly assassin, who was raised by the CIA agent that was part of the project to develop these super soldier kids. Not exactly a unique premise, admittedly; but what interested me was that it was said that Hanna wasn’t shot like the other action thrillers that were being churned out.

There’s a lot of European folktale influence on the visuals and ambiance of the movie. I don’t know what other way to explain it, other than this is definitely a different beast. There’s more of a subdued, sombre quality to the execution, almost a Kubrick-esque style. Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett are great in their roles, and the cinematography is breathtaking. The story itself moves along at a decent clip, with several locations utilized.

Overall, Hanna was a good change of pace from the bunch of action flicks that normally clog the theaters. It’s a good psychological thriller that will stay with you a bit longer than usual. Recommended.

Movie Review: JOHN WICK

Leave a comment

john wickLionsgate Home Entertainment

“I heard you struck my son.”
“Yes, sir, I did.”
“And may I ask why?”
“Yeah, well, because he stole John Wick’s car, sir, and, uh, killed his dog.”

A former hitman is driven back to his killer instincts when a thug steals his 1969 Ford Mustang, killing his dog in the process. The action heats up when he tracks the thug to New York City, only to become the target of the thug’s father, a major crime boss.

When it comes to modern action movies (“modern” in the sense of the past decade or so), I’m rather ambivalent. Action movies don’t necessarily rank high in my genre preferences, but I don’t necessarily dislike the genre.

So, there’s this guy named John Wick. Naturally. His wife just died of cancer, and the day of her funeral, he receives a cute widdle puppy that she arranged to have sent to him to help with the sting of her loss. Unfortunately, the very next night, his house is broken into by a gang of Russian mafia youths, and they kill his puppy and steals his vintage 1969 Mustang. This doesn’t set well with, not only John Wick, but also with the Russian mob boss who coincidentally is the father of the young man who committed doggie homicide and took Wick’s car. Because, as it turns out, John Wick used to be a hit man for that Russian mob, the kind that, when his name is even mentioned, even the mob boss pauses to reconsider his life choices. So, after an attempt to talk Wick out of finding and killing his son, the mob boss throws everything at him to stop him from doing so. It…doesn’t go very well.

So, John Wick is your standard revenge-themed ultra-violent testosterone-fueled shoot-em-up action flicks that’s very shiny looking and is heavy on the kinetic effects. While doing the live commentary thing that I do sometimes while watching movies on my Facebook page, I quipped that John Wick seems less a movie and more a bunch of Playstation video game cut scenes spliced together. And yeah, that still seems pretty darned accurate. But, there’s a bit of twist, you see. That being the inclusion of a special kind of hotel that caters to hitman society, and has rules to play by. That certainly made things interesting, and kept John Wick from being your run-of-the-mill action movie with a body count and a use of dubstep that’s almost a violation of the Geneva Convention.

Overall, I did find John Wick to be greatly entertaining in a mindless fun sort of way. Like how many like the bafflingly popular Fast & Furious movies, I would surmise. Keanue Reeves makes for a surprisingly good action star, it seems. Very much worth a rental, yes.

Movie Review: The MUMMY (2017)

Leave a comment

mummy, the 2017Universal Pictures

“Whatever’s in there has been safely hidden for two thousand years. This isn’t a tomb, it’s a prison.”

Nick Morton is a soldier of fortune who plunders ancient sites for timeless artifacts and sells them to the highest bidder. When Nick and his partner come under attack in the Middle East, the ensuing battle accidentally unearths Ahmanet, a betrayed Egyptian princess who was entombed under the desert for thousands of years. With her powers constantly evolving, Morton must now stop the resurrected monster as she embarks on a furious rampage through the streets of London.

It seems Universal doesn’t know quite what to do with their stable of Classic Monsters. There’s been some rather disappointing attempts at bringing the gang back together since the 21st Century moved, with lackluster results. Mind you, some of them are serviceable action movies, but none of them have been particularly memorable. And now, Universal wants to do that grands-scope shared universe thing with its own characters, and call it the Dark Universe. And this remake of The Mummy is their way of kicking things off.

The Mummy is an icon, no doubt about it. One of the Big Three, with Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster. Sorry, but Wolfman comes up a very close fourth. I knew about the Mummy for decades before watching my first Mummy movie. And that particular movie was the 1999 Brenden Frazier romp that still gets a viewing from me at least once a year. Then I watched the 1932 Boris Karloff classic. And now that I’ve seen the 2017 redux of The Mummy, I can now say I was good only having watched the previous incarnations.

The 2017 The Mummy stars Tom Cruise as an opportunistic Sergeant who, after some wackiness, stumbles upon the ancient tomb of an Egyptian mummy. Which is odd, because this was hundreds of miles from Egypt, where these kind of things are normally found. So, with the help of a persnickety scientist, the casket is exhumed and is being flown back to London, when one of the people flying along with becomes a zombie, and the plane crashes, killing Sergeant Cruise in the process. The End. Wait, no…Tom Cruise lives! Praise Xenu! Okay, okay, low-hanging fruit. Sorry. Also, no one seems all that perturbed that a corpse is back living again. Huh. Anyway, he’s taken to one Dr. Jekyll, who is the head of a high-tech and clandestine Monster Squad, and is informed that he’s now undead and is gonna be used to finish what the mummy started all those thousands of years ago. Hint: it involves a dagger with a shiny ruby and whole lot of discomfort. Now it’s a race against time to try and stop this ancient undead she-mummy and find a way to get Cruise back to not so much living impaired so he can not be killed by Dr. Jekyll’s alter ego because otherwise he’s gonna become The Mummy and unleash all sorts of evil upon the world. In the meantime, we’re all struggling to find a reason to care about this movie.

I really don’t want to sound like I’m just jumping onto the Hate Train with this review. I really wanted this to succeed. I wanted this to be good, and somehow work even though the inclusion of Tom Cruise stretched my suspension of disbelief quite a bit. I’ll get to that reason in a moment. In short, although it seemed a bit derivative and bandwagon-jumping on Universal’s part, I was actually excited about the prospect of the Dark Universe they were trying to create. You know, despite the fact that Dracula Untold was technically supposed to be that launching pad for that.

I also should point out that, as it’s been pointed out by many already, Universal more or less invented the whole “shared universe” thing that they’re now trying to crib from Marvel. They were always pairing up their Classic Monsters back in the day, and everyone ate it up. So it’s a bit puzzling how Universal keeps misstepping now. But, I digress.

As a movie itself, The Mummy is…meh. There’s no other way to describe it, really. It’s not a bad movie, it’s very action-heavy and keeps my attention throughout, yes. But, it’s clear they were trying to shoehorn everything in with trying to launch the universe, and forgot to focus on the story and characters themselves. I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say it until my dying breath, Tom Cruise just isn’t convincing as an action star. Also, I don’t know if it’s his ego, or the scriptwriters think they can get away with writing Cruise’s character as far younger than what the actor’s age really is (admittedly, he can get away with it better than, say, Russel Crowe, who at one point calls Cruise’s character a “young man” when Cruise is actually two years older than Crowe), but the fact that he’s a 50-something man playing 20-something characters is starting to wear a bit thin. The story itself seems to be all over the place, and the pacing is fairly kinetic. The major point of contention I have, though, is the characterizations, and the fact that some scenes seem all-too ripped off from other movies. Like, say, American Werewolf In London. That one is pretty blatant, as I picked that one out immediately.

You get the sense that maybe the makers of this film decided to re-purpose 1999’s The Mummy in rebooting the franchise. There are some interesting takes on the titular Mummy, such as making it a princess instead of the priest Imhotep, but overall I can’t shake the feeling that they tried to grab the pulp adventure fun of Brendan Fraser’s version and instead kind of ended up with the Batman V. Superman of the Classic Monsters movies. Okay, so maybe more Suicide Squad than Batman V. Superman, as there were parts I kind of liked in the movie, whereas Batman V. Superman is just awful straight through. It’s not unwatchable, but you’ll come out of it feeling a bit disappointed, and remembering the snacks you were consuming while watching this more than remembering the actual movie when it’s over.

Older Entries