Day 149: Terminator 2: Judgment Day

t2dec09Terminator 2: Judgment Day
James Cameron
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong
Rated: R
Length: 154 min.
Release: July 3, 1991

Nearly 10 years have passed since Sarah Connor was targeted for termination by a cyborg from the future. Now her son, John, the future leader of the resistance, is the target for a newer, more deadly terminator. Once again, the resistance has managed to send a protector back to attempt to save John and his mother Sarah.

My Thoughts:
Well well well…T2. Still considered one of the best action movies ever created and full of special effects that paved the way for CGI work. It heralds the return of Arnold as “a cybernetic organism” (insert “I’ll be back” joke here) and gives more life to this beloved character.

There is very little in T2 that doesn’t work well in telling this story. The dramatic change in Sarah’s personality from the first film makes total sense and works very well. Though, the biggest character change that made this whole film work so well is the terminator. Cameron’s choice to make the iconic villain into the next films hero was a stroke of genius. This gave opportunity to explore many interesting ideas regarding the nature of humanity as well as allow Arnold to add a more personal touch on this robotic assassin/body guard. This brings great opportunity for not only action, but drama and comedy as well.

The music is more in line with a traditional motion picture score (no more cheese dated 80s synthesizers detracting from the scene). It takes the musical themes created in the first film and makes it work more long term. It adds to the intensity of the action and ages a lot better.

The icing on this action packed cake is the vilain. The T1000 is, hands down, one of my all time favorite villains. The liquid metal concept combined with the ferocious and tenacious attitude of a terminator…brilliant combination. He is more slick, smooth and stealthy when he needs to be with all that power behind him…and that makes him really frightening. In fact, in a lot of ways, he is the opposite of what Arnold’s terminator is. Simply put…he is the perfect villain for this movie.

Add all that up and you get one amazing action movie. Terminator 2: Judgment Day gets 5 stars out of 5.


Day 145: Predator

Director: John McTiernan
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers and Kevin Peter Hall
Rated: R
Length: 107 min.
Release: June 12, 1987

A team of special force ops, led by a tough but fair soldier, Major “Dutch” Schaefer, are ordered in to assist CIA man, George Dillon, on a rescue mission for potential survivors of a Helicopter downed over remote South American jungle. Not long after they land, Dutch and his team discover that they have been sent in under false pretenses. This deception turns out to be the least of their worries though, when they find themselves being methodically hunted by something not of this world.

My Thoughts:
Arguably one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best films! The thing that makes Predator work so well is that it starts out as a typical brainless 80’s military action hero shoot-em-up pow pow kind of movie. Find a thin excuse of a plot to motivate big military guys to go shoot guns and blow stuff up. But then the second act hits…and this typical pointless shoot em up action flick takes a decidedly different turn into the world of the Sci-Fi, and it’s for the better.

The most brilliant move of this movie is the casting of Arnold as the lead. As an audience we are so used to seeing him as a fearless action star taking on the bad guys without much fear or regard for his own safety. Seeing him play his typical tough guy military character but actually afraid and running for his life as HE is hunted (while trying to learn about, and how to defeat, this very different and intelligent enemy) is a nice twist. It makes for a much more intense and eerie feeling through much of the film as we see the Predator plotting his next move.

While the special effects are a little dated, they still pull it off rather well. This is a fantastic example of some of Stan Winston’s best work as Hollywood’s special effects gooroo! Seriously, any top notch special effects movie from the 80s and 90s is almost guaranteed to have his influence.

Overall, this is one of the best action movies of the 1980s and in my top three best Arnold Schwarzenegger films of all time. If you are an action movie fan and have not seen this film…well then you probably aren’t as much of an action movie fan as you would like to believe, because I can’t  think of a single action movie or Arnold Schwarzenegger fan that hasn’t seen this film. If you want to call yourself an action movie/Schwarzenegger fan then you MUST see this movie. For being one of the best blends of action and sci-fi Predator gets 5 stars out of 5.

Day 144: Jaws

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss
Rated: PG
Release: June 20, 1975

When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it.

My Thoughts:
Considered one of the best movies ever made, Jaws is by far in my top ten favorite movies of all time. Seeing as it’s “Shark Week” I felt it was only appropriate for me to review this Spielberg classic.

Does this mean I plan to review the three atrocious sequels? Absolutely not. I don’t own them (see the rules in my “About The Goulson Movie Marathon” page) and I couldn’t understand why anyone would ever want to have them as part of their movie collection.

So, why does this movie work so well? Could it be because of the perfect cast?…yes. Is possible that the stellar job by director Steven Spielberg might have had something to do with it?… absolutely. Could it have been the good old fashioned true Hollywood special effects all blockbusters to follow were birthed from?…without a doubt.

All of these things contributed to the success of the first ever Hollywood “blockbuster,” but the key element that truly makes this movie work so well is the music. John, William’s theme that has haunted every person who has gone swimming in the ocean since 1975 takes this move from good suspenseful creature movie to totally spellbinding creature horror movie. The music creeps in and you know Jaws is in the neighborhood. It’s so eerie…I love it.

The best part of this movie is that you don’t even need to see the shark through much of the movie to still get the idea. Much of the back story as to why the physical shark isn’t in the movie more is because it quite simply wasn’t working. A true blessing in disguise as the techniques they were forced to use ended up working beautifully and making the film an instant classic. Jaws gets 5 stars out of 5! Happy shark week!!!

Day 135: Casino Royale

Casino Royale
Director: Martin Campbell

Starring:  Daniel Craig, Eva Green and Judi Dench
Rated: PG-13
Length: 144 min.
Released: Nov. 17th 2006

Actor Daniel Craig assumes the role formerly occupied by such screen greats as Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan to set out on the character’s very first 007 mission. James Bond has earned his “00” status by masterfully executing a pair of death-defying professional assassinations. Now assigned the task of traveling to Madagascar to spy on notorious terrorist Mollaka (Sebastien Foucan) for his maiden voyage as a 007 agent, Bond boldly goes against MI6 policy to launch an independent investigation that finds him traversing the Bahamas in search of Mollaka’s notoriously elusive terror cell. Subsequently led into the company of the mysterious Dimitrios (Simon Abkarian) and his exotic girlfriend, Solange (Caterina Murino), Bond soon realizes that he is closer than ever to locating well-guarded terrorist financier Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), the man who has personally bankrolled some of the most prevalent terrorist organizations on the planet. When Bond learns that Le Chiffre is planning to partake in an upcoming high-stakes poker game to be played at Montenegro’s Le Casino Royale and use the winnings to establish his financial grip on the globe, M (Judi Dench) assigns beguiling agent Vesper (Eva Green) the task of watching over the fledgling agent as he plays against Le Chiffre in a covert attempt to destroy the nefarious gambler’s well-established monetary stronghold in the underworld once and for all. Bond will need more than his legendary gambling skills in order to win this dangerous game, though, and after allying himself with local MI6 field agent Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) and CIA operative Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), the endlessly suave super-spy puts on his poker face for a high-stakes game of cards in which the stakes are not measured in dollars, but human lives.

My Thoughts:
So we finally come to Casino Royale and the new James Bond…Danial Craig. At first thought I wasn’t sure how to take this movie since it is such a departure from the rest of the Bond films. Though Martin Campbell returns to the directors chair and since I am a huge fan of Goldeneye I had my hopes up. In Casino Royale the franchise finally tackles Bond’s first mission as a 00 and Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel. In all honestly this was the perfect time to reboot the series.

And that is the real heart of this film. Casino Royale  is not a “prequel” or “sequel” it’s a total re-envisioning of the Bond Franchise. United Artist took the liberty to start the series over from scratch and they hit the ball out of the park. If you ever get the chance to watch the special features there is a really cool documentary following the odd journey this Bond book/film has taken to get to this point. Ironically, the last official Ian Fleming novel to be made into a movie…was the first Bond book he wrote. Talk about taking the long way around, but it was well worth the wait.

Casino Royale is not the typical over the top carnival action the franchise had been known for. There’s no Q branch, there aren’t explosions every five minutes, no odd villains with absurd characteristics like a guy that can’t feel pain or a giant with metal teeth. Honestly it’s closer to the Jason Bourne movies than the previous films of the series.

I thought I would really miss the lack of gadgets…but to my surprise, I didn’t miss them at all. It’s so raw and honest in it’s portrayal of Bond. It’s a much more serious portrayal of the character making him easier to connect with. There is more emotion in this film, and it makes the twists and turns feel that much more personal. That’s what makes this film so much different. As a result it makes me totally forget that there are no “gadgets” in this movie. In fact if it did have gadgets they could easily become distracting and detract from the more serious and emotional tone that makes the film one of the best in the series. Casino Royale  gets 5 stars out of 5.

So, agree…disagree? What was your reaction to Casino Royale and the new direction of the Bond franchise?

Day 131: Goldeneye

Director: Martin Campbell
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco
, Famke Janssen & Judi Dench
Rated: PG-13
Length: 130 min.
Released: November 17, 1995
Trailer & a cool Teaser Trailer Synopsis:
9 years after infiltrating a chemical weapons facility in Russia, where friend and fellow M:I-6 agent Alec Trevelyan 006 was killed by corrupt Russian military officer General Ourumov. Seductive British secret agent James Bond 007 is assigned by his new boss, a female ‘M’ to recover “GoldenEye” the access key to a top secret space weapon orbiting the Earth which fires a electromagnetic pulse which shuts down all electronic equipment. The “GoldenEye” has been stolen from the Severnya space research station by General Ourumov and the lethal and deadly Xenia Onatopp and slaughtered everyone at Servernya. Helped by Russian computer programmer Natalya Siminova, who was the sole survivor of the Servernya massacre and witnessed Ourumov and Xenia steal the “GoldenEye”, Bond learns Ourumov and Xenia are working for Alec Trevelyan, now a renegade M:I-6, and 006 plans on using GoldenEye to wipe out London. 007 and Natalya set out to Cuba where Bond faces Trevelyan in a thrilling showdown as 007 sets out to save London from destruction.

My Thoughts:
Arguably the BEST Brosnan Bond film of them all. This film got an incredible amount of attention because of the success of the N64 video game by the same title (which is being updated and re-released in November). To this day I still consider it (the movie and the game) one of the best Bond products ever released. Certainly Brosnan’s best Bond film…hands down.

This film revived the Bond series in a huge way. It breathed new life into a dying series and gave it a much needed makeover/update. It really took the series out of the rut it was in.

The acting is spot on sassy sarcastic over confident Bond…with a 90’s attitude. The addition of Judi Dench as M was a particularly nice touch. She’s perfect and a perfect parallel to Brosnan’s Bond.

Also, I think this has one of the best Bond villains of all time…which just makes the film that much better. What better villian is there than a former friend who knows Bond’s every move?

This one gets 5 stars out of 5.

Day 125: For Your Eyes Only

For Your Eyes Only
Director: John Glen
Starring: Roger Moore & Carole Bouquet
Rated: PG
127 min
Released: June 26th, 1981
Trailer Synopsis:
After disposing of a familiar looking face, Bond is sent to recover a communication device, known as an ATAC, which went down with a British Spy ship as it sunk. Bond must hurry though, as the Russians are also out for this device. On his travels, he also meets Melina Havelock, whose parents were brutally murdered. Bond also encounters both Aristotle Kristatos and Milos Colombo. Each of them are accusing the other of having links with with the Russian’s. Bond must team up with Melina, solve who the true ally is and find the ATAC before it’s too late.

My Thoughts:
This is my absolute favorite Roger Moore Bond film. It’s brutal, action packed, slightly more grounded and a bit darker than all his other films. It starts with one of my favorite sequences in all the Bond films as we finally see Blowfelt get what’s coming to him.

There was a bit of a debate about weather the film should go as dark and grity as it did. I mean sure…Bond has a license to kill, but is he the type of guy that would choose NOT to save a bad guy about to plunge to his death, but rather, kicks the guy over the cliff! That’s dark stuff…that’s intense, and I loved it!

The gadgets are cool as usual, the cars are sweet, the villain is brutal…and the locations are exotic. It’s everything you want in a bond film. I’m giving this one 5 stars out of 5.

Day 110: Men In Black

Men In Black
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones & Will Smith
Rated: PG-13
Length: 98 min.
Released: July 2, 1997
Trailer Synopsis:
Men in Black follows the exploits of agents Kay and Jay, members of a top-secret organization established to monitor and police alien activity on Earth. The two Men in Black find themselves in the middle of the deadly plot by an intergalactic terrorist who has arrived on Earth to assassinate two ambassadors from opposing galaxies. In order to prevent worlds from colliding, the MiB must track down the terrorist and prevent the destruction of Earth. It’s just another typical day for the Men in Black.

My Thoughts:
When I saw this movie in the theaters I had no idea what it was about. Come to think of it…this was the first movie I ever went to see in the theaters without knowing a thing about it. I don’t do that very often. I was glad I did with this one. It turned out to be my favorite movie all year. I saw it three times in the theater that year, and had it on VHS and watched it over and over. To this day I can still quote most of the movie.

This movie just works on so many levels. It’s highly entertaining, great special effects, action, story/plot and the actors were cast perfectly. Jones and Smith have perfect comedic chemistry. Their mentor/protege  relationship is so much fun to watch. But all of that wouldn’t work nearly as well without a great villain…which they have. The villain in this film is the perfect blend of creepy, discussing, intimidating and hilarious. The whole film has a great balance of action, menace and  comedy, but the best example of that is seen when watching “The Bug.”

This film has also aged well too. Now over a decade old, it’s still a highly entertaining action comedy. You can probably guess I’m giving this one 5 stars out of 5. More accurately I’d like to call it a 5 star popcorn flick. It’s just such a fun movie to watch. Tomorrow is Men In Black II…

P.S. On a side note, who could forget the hit song and music video of Will Smith’s Men In Black song!!! LOL It’s such a classic 90s hit!!!