Day 152: Terminator Salvation

2009-terminator_salvation-6Terminator Salvation
Starring: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin
Rated: PG-13
Length: 115 min.
Release: May 21, 2009

In 2018, Skynet has destroyed most of humanity and survivors have been hiding underground from an army of machines, known as “Terminators”. After a failed attack on a Skynet base, John Connor, the man fated to lead the Resistance is the sole survivor. On the other hand, Marcus Wright, who only remembers being on death row, meets Kyle Reese and it is believed by Connor that he was sent from the future to kill him. Now Marcus and John must unlikely join forces in order to save Kyle Reese and the humans captured by the machines.

My Thoughts:
Keeping this one short.

This is a prime example of what happens when a “fanboy” of a franchise is put in charge…they ruin it.

Is Terminator Salvation terrible?…not entirely. Is it fun?…for the most part, yes. Is it a good movie?…not really. If you are really into action and don’t care much about a plot then this one is right up your alley. The writing is noticeably bad, the acting is mediocre at best (even from Christian Bale), and the story has the thinest of plot lines that breathes little excitement into the gravity of the situation and what is at stake.

With that said, the movie isn’t all bad. There are some incredible action sequences and the special effects are some amazing eye candy. In particular, the recreation of the original terminator from the 1980s was VERY impressive…if only short lived.

In the end, it’s not the greatest sci-fi movie. It’s not even a particularly good Terminator movie, but I did have fun. It gets 3 stars out of 5


Day 150: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

terminator 3Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Jonathan Mostow
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Kristanna Loken
Rated: R
Length: 109 min.
Release: July 2, 2003

Synopsis: More than 10 years after ‘Terminator 2’, John Connor now exists only as a drifter – living ‘off the grid’, so no more Terminators from the future can hunt him down. Unfortunately, SkyNet does send another one back – and this one is called the T-X, even more powerful & advanced than the dreaded T-1000. However, another CSM-101 Terminator is also sent back to protect John against the T-X. Now, Skynet is patiently assuming control of civilian computer systems, under the guise of a computer virus. John has also met his future wife, Kate Brewster, whose father – a U.S. Air Force General – is in charge of the military computer systems & is leery of up linking SkyNet. However, when the SkyNet virus infects the U.S military computers & leaves the country open to attack, the machines begin their horrific takeover. Soon a nuclear war will result – and the war against the machines will begin. Can the outdated CSM-101 Terminator eliminate the highly advanced T-X – or will a darker future await man following the nuclear attack?

My Thoughts:
Well, he’s back…again. It was a long time coming, and all the hype just made it impossible to live up to. But, for what it’s worth, I did enjoy this movie. Sure, it’s not nearly as good as the other two films. And yeah, it kind of throws the theme of “no fate , but what we make” right out the window…but it’s an entertaining action movie. A top notch action and special effects movie, and lets be honest…that’s what we expect from a terminator movie.

As great as the special effects and action are there are a few things problematic with this film. First off, this was the last movie Arnold did before he took office as California’s governor, so it’s a little strange seeing Arnold play the same type of terminator while he looks older. In addition, the story seems to fly in the face of a major theme of the first two films. “No fate but what we make” was a critical part of the motivation in the first two films. Without giving away to much, that idea is pretty much thrown out the window making us all ask the question…why would that message be sent back from the future in the first place? But perhaps I’m over thinking it too much. Movies and TV shows that deal with time travel can get ruined real fast by over thinking them. Back to the future is one such example. The terminator series is a great example of that as well.

Another problem I have with the film is how the character of John Connor is portrayed. You would think that, having been raised and trained by such a tuff militarized person like Sarah Connor he would have turned out to be more of a badass. Instead, he seems to be on the run rejecting his “calling” and living more like a whiny little punk. Not exactly the approach I would have gone with, but I guess if he was all big, tuff and ready to take on a terminator he wouldn’t have needed another one sent back in time to protect him.

Though not as intimidating and frightening as the T1000 the TX terminator is a solid antagonist in this movie. It’s unique to have a “female” terminator as well. I wasn’t sure how well it would work having Kristanna Loken go head to head with Arnold, but it worked. She played the cold and calculated assassin rather well. I believed she could stand toe to toe with Arnold’s terminator.

Overall, this was still a fun flick. It did the Terminator franchise justice and it was interesting how it gave us a tast of what John Connor was like as a man before he stepped up and became the great military leader he was destined to become. I’m giving this one 3.5 stars.

Day 147: Predators

Director: Nimród Antal
Starring: Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne and Topher Grace
Rated: R
Length: 107 min.
Release: July 9, 2010

The mercenary Royce; the military Isabelle; the Russian soldier Nikolai; the San Quentin criminal Stans; the Serra Leoa militia Mombasa; the drug lord Cuchillo; the Yakuza Hanzo; and the Doctor Edwin awake in free fall but they succeed to open their parachutes landing in a jungle. Soon they discover that they are on another planet and they are prey of aliens in a deadly hunting game, and they need to join forces to destroy their predators and survive.

My Thoughts:
Created in the spirit of the the first film, Predators is head and shoulders above Predator 2 but still falls short of living up to the original 1987 action classic. I was rather excited that this movie was going to be made. I was soooo disappointed with the last film and felt this franchise had so much more to offer. I really wanted to love this movie, and to be perfectly honest…I loved loved loved…the first half of it. But then we meet Laurence Fishburne’s character Noland…and it all goes down hill from there.

The first half was in the jungle. It reminded me of the first one, but with a fresh twist…this is not a jungle on the planet earth. The characters seemed interesting, some more than others. Adrien Brody isn’t exactly Arnold Schwarzenegger and at first it is hard to see him in this rough and tumble mercenary/military guy, but it grows on you.

Then we meet Laurence Fishburne’s character Noland. What a disappointment that was. Here we are expecting some totally awesome guy who is gonna really be an asset to this rag tag team of tough guys. Instead, it turns out he is just some overweight crazy guy that adds hardly anything to the movie. He explains some interesting back story and plot points…but it would have been better had we cared about his character more.

Then, the ending itself is rather anti climactic.

(Spoiler alert)

Having the predators be divided into two different races is an interesting idea and one with possibilities, but having the main characters depend on and decide to form an alliance with one of them?…just dumb. The first Aliens vs Predator had a similar alliance, but it made more sense as they were both fighting to keep an alien population from getting out of control. Here?…it makes less sense. Cut loose a predator and then say, “I want off this planet,” is apparently all it takes to earn enough respect and make them do our bidding. I just find the whole idea of a man and a predator joining forces to be a bit of a contrast to the spirit of the first movie. It just doesn’t fit in a predator movie.

(End spoiler alert)

That criticism aside, however, the action, the special effects and especially the predators themselves are still absolutely stellar and the ending and a few plot points aren’t so bad that they ruins the entire movie. For continuing to keep the spirit of the original alive but falling short at the finish line to provide a truly memorable climax that is worth watching Predators gets a middle of the road 3.5 stars. Its a fun watch that starts strong but falls very short near the end.

Day 139: Mouse Hunt

Mouse Hunt
Director: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Nathan Lane, Lee Evans and Vicki Lewis
Rated: PG
Length: 98 min.
Release Date: December 19, 1997

When their father dies, Ernie & Lars inherit an old house and the family string factory. Lars, the loyal son, refuses to sell out the factory, which angers his wife so she kicks him out. Ernie, who runs a five-star restaurant, is suddenly fired when a man dies while eating there. With no other place to go, the brothers shack up at the old house, suddenly realizing the place is worth a fortune! The boys decide to fix up the place and sell it in an auction, but first, they have to get rid of a mouse living in the walls. Sounds easy enough, right? Think again…

My Thoughts:
Okay, so I have a confession to make. This movie is a guilty pleasure of mine. Many people are not a fan of this film and I can understand why. It’s a very over the top, exaggerated slapstick comedy that gives no explanation as to why this mouse is so smart or why these two guys are so stupid. Ultimately you either suspend a level of believably and except the movie’s premise…or you don’t. The predominant humor falls in the same category as Home Alone, Baby’s Day Out and even the live action 101 Dalmatians re-make. If that type of over the top slapstick humor isn’t your thing then I would not recommend this movie for you. Fortunately for me and the makers of this film I am not one of those people and as a result Mouse Hunt is a lot of fun for me.

Lee Evans and Nathan Lane do a great job portraying the dysfunction of this sibling relationship tied together by a love for hitting it rich and an equal level of hatred for that darn mouse. Though not always fully believable that two grown men could really be that dumb and childish, the comedic humor in their dysfunctional relationship is still well worth the watch.

Perhaps my favorite moment of the whole movie, however, has got to be a short cameo by none other than Mr. Christopher Walken as the exterminator Caesar. To this day I think it’s the best cameo he has ever had (and he’s had a lot). I honestly couldn’t see anyone doing that character with his hilarious humor and such a straight face. If nothing else, if you are a Christopher Walken fan the movie is worth watching for his brief moment on screen.

Last but not least, the part of this movie that seals the deal for me has got to be the music (click here for a sample). In a movie like this where the lead protagonist doesn’t have a single line the music becomes critical in conveying the attitudes and emotions of that character. Composer Alan Silvestri hits this one out of the park. Simply put…the music is perfect. It conveys the growing feeling of menace and well thought out mischief that helps define the film’s small silent antagonist. There is no doubt the mouse is the real one in charge and the music conveys that beautifully.

Over all, Mouse Hunt is just a fun, crazy silly ride and a joy to watch…if you can forgive/overlook some of it’s overtly stupid premise. I’m giving it 3.5 stars out of 5.

Day 127: Never Say Never Again

Never Say Never Again
Director: Irvin Kershner
Starring: Sean Connery, Max von Sydow & Kim Basinger
Rated: PG
Length: 134 min.
Released: October 7, 1983
Trailer Synopsis:
Using an astounding array of weapons, Agent 007 has singlehandedly wiped out an army of Her Majesty’s enemies. But when a lovely captive slips a knife into 007’s ribs, the superspy’s boss decides it’s time his top agent sharpen his lethal edge. So James Bond is off to a health spa. However his “vacation” is cut short by Largo, a power-mad mastermind set on carrying out his plan for worldwide nuclear blackmail. On Largo’s side, the murderous femme fatale Fatima Blush and vile SPECTRE chief Blofeld. But Bond does have an ally though, Largo’s girlfriend, the willowy Domino, who falls for Bond.

My Thoughts:
This film is a major anomaly in the Bond films. It’s a remake of Thunderball that stemed from all the controversy surounding that film and it’s not considered an “official” Bond film. One watch and you can tell why. The title is based on a conversation between Sean Connery and his second wife, Micheline Roquebrune. After initially retiring from the role following Diamonds Are Forever (1971) he told the press he would ‘never’ play James Bond again; her response for him was to never say “never” again. She is credited at the end of the film for her contribution. As a result, it was the first Bond movie to use a non-Ian Fleming originated title.

I would have to say this is the strangest  Bond film of them all. Why is it so strange? For starters it’s Sean Connery’s last film as Bond…and he looks soooo old. It was not released by EON Productions, so it doesn’t have the music, the typical opening credits, the gun barrel looking at bond and then him shooting and the red dropping down on the screen…no Q…nothing! It tries to replace all that stuff, but it just falls short. The gadgets are okay, but the music is horrendous. The opening sequence would have been so much better if it didn’t have that awful song starting out the movie.

It does have some fun moments though. For example, there is a memorable sequence regarding a rather insane idea for a video game and a pretty cool motercycle Bond uses to avaid hs enemy. It’s also intresting to see Connery and Basinger share the screen.

There’s also a small debate over if this film fits into the chronology of the rest of the Bond films. As explained on Wikipedia:

“As a standalone film, it takes place in an alternative timeline compared to previously released films. Specifically, while the portrayal of Connery as Bond is true to the fact Connery played Bond for 6 of the 7 first films, most involving SPECTRE, this film ignores the events of those films, as Blofeld is active and apparently previously unknown to Bond and MI6.

Several fans however, those of whom decide to place the film’s story within the EON Bond series, have speculated that the events depicted show a failed attempt from Blofeld and Largo to bring back SPECTRE from the dead, without obviously counting at Bond’s resurgence from retirement. Even in this scenario, the whereabouts of Blofeld remain unknown.”

This is the main film that made me dicide to watch the Bond films in release date order rather than the story’s chronological order. It’s hard to place this one.

At any rate, it was a valient attempt by Connery…but he should have stopped with Dimonds Are Forever. I’m giving this one 3 stars out of 5.

Day 126: Octopussy

Director: John Glen
Starring: Roger Moore & Maud Adams
Rated: PG
Length: 131 min.
Released: June 10, 1983
Trailer Synopsis:
Bond must investigate the murder of a fellow agent who was clutching a priceless Faberge egg at the time of his death. The trail leads to the mysterious Octopussy, whose traveling circus features a company of luscious, athletic women. Bond and Octopussy share a passionate affection, but soon 007 discovers that the elegant Kamal Khan is working with a mad Russian officer to hurl mankind into World War III! As Bond tries to stop the nightmarish scheme, his exploits will include a riveting chase through the streets of India, a deadly brawl on top of a speeding train, and a breathtaking midair knife fight on an airplane wing.

My Thoughts:
This one is probably my least favorite Bond Film by Roger Moore. It came out the same year as Never Say Never Again (the last “Bond” film by Connery) which also wasn’t very good. 1983 just wasn’t a good year or Bond (though the films to come would get worse…much worse).

If you can get past the awkwardness of the title it’s an okay film. But there isn’t a whole lot about it that sticks out about it besides the name. There are some entertaining chase sequences, most memorable is the fights/chases on top of a speeding train. Other than that it doesn’t offer much. Typical Russian villain that wants to destroy the world…women seriously objectified, and over the top action one sequence after another.

After following such a good film in For Your Eyes Only…this one just doesn’t measure up at all. It’s getting 3 stars out of 5.

Day 124: Moonraker

Lewis Gilbert
Roger Moore, Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale & Richard Kiel
Rated: PG
Length: 126 min
Released: June 29, 1979
Trailer Synopsis:
A space shuttle called the Moonraker, built by Drax Industries, is on its way to the U.K when it is hijacked in mid-air and the crew of the 747 carrying it is killed. Bond immediately is called into action, and starts the investigation with Hugo Drax himself. While at the Drax laboratories, Bond meets the brilliant & stunning Dr. Holly Goodhead, a NASA astronaut & CIA agent who is investigating Drax for the U.S. Government. One of Drax’s thugs, the sinister Chan, attempts to kill 007 at the lab but when that fails, he follows Bond to Venice and tries again there. Bond & Goodhead follow Drax’s trail to Brazil, where they once again run into the 7′ Goliath Jaws, a towering giant with metal teeth. Escaping from him, they discover the existence of a huge space station undetected by U.S. or Soviet radar, and a horrible plot by Drax to employ nerve gas in a genocidal project! Bond & Holly must quickly find a way to stop Hugo Drax before his horrific plans can be put into effect.

My Thoughts:
Okay, I never thought I’d say this…but I’m getting soooo tired of James Bond. This is just crazy. My goodness…marathon in deed.

I also want to apologize (again) for the tardiness of some of these posts. I look like I’m a bit behind, and when it comes to the posting I am. I still don’t have the net at home (I know…I’m working on it) so it’s getting hard to do a post every day…but I’m still watching them.

With that said…thank you to all who have been following me on this journey. I’m sure you are getting tired of all these Bond films, like I am. It will soon be over…and then on to something less misogynistic perhaps? We’ll see.

So, Moonraker. The villain with a plot that winks at Hitler’s idea of the “superior” race and the dark days of eugenics in the world of science/medicine. It’s one of the more memorable Bond films with Roger Moore…and probably my least favorite. All the master race, space battles…and so on. It just doesn’t work for me. Space battles don’t belong to James Bond. I know it’s based on a book…but come on. It seemed like they were really stretching for some new exotic place to have a battle. They’ve done just about everywhere on the planet, so they just took it outside.

It kind of has a throw back feel to it, though. Some parts seem like a little wink back at the older Connery bond films that have elaborate futuristic sets and every villain seemed to have the same interior designer that was way to obsessed with “space age” technology.

On an up note…laser guns are sweet and Jaws gets a girlfriend!!! So hey…it’s not all bad. I’m giving this one 3 stars out of 5.