Day 148: The Terminator

the-terminator-1984The Terminator
Director:
James Cameron
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn
Rated: R
Length: 107 min.
Release: October 26, 1984
Trailer

Synopsis: A cyborg is sent from the future on a deadly mission. He has to kill Sarah Connor, a young woman whose life will have a great significance in years to come. Sarah has only one protector – Kyle Reese – also sent from the future. The Terminator uses his exceptional intelligence and strength to find Sarah, but is there any way to stop the seemingly indestructible cyborg?

My Thoughts:
What is there to say about this classic 80s action/si-fi movie? It was groundbreaking for its time. No question about it. Phenomenal job by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The whole idea came from James Cameron’s head…and what an idea it was. This film launched one of the most iconic sci-fi action characters of film history. The special effects world would not be the same today without this film.

With all that said, the real question is how does it hold up over time? The first thing you will notice is this movie has the 80s all over it. It’s a real product of its time period and proud of it. The hair, the clothes, the cheesy synthesized soundtrack…everything about it screams the 1980s. If you aren’t a fan of that decade…this film is probably not going to hold up in your mind. The music in particular can become very distracting. I must admit, I even have a hard time with it at some points.

Still, there is something very special about this movie. Arnold’s portrayal of The Terminator is iconic and will remain one of (if not THE best) of his career. He really steals the show in this movie and hits all the right notes to convey a machine that is so cold, calculated, menacing and relentless in its pursuit of its target.

There is also something rather creepy about looking back at a film from the 1980s where they talk about the dangers of computers being interconnected to everything and running everything in our lives…and then turning on us. It would almost be prophetic if it weren’t for the whole artificial intelligence thing. Let’s pray that never happens. 🙂

For better or for worse The Terminator is truly a product of the 80s. Though elements of that decade can become distracting (especially the music) the film still stands as an iconic movie with one of the best characters in action sci-fi history. The Terminator gets 4 stars out of 5.

Day 51: Timeline

Timeline
Directed by:
Richard Donner
S
tarring: Paul Walker, Frances O’Connor, Gerard Butler & Billy Connolly
R
ated: PG-13
Length: 116 min.
Released: November 26, 2003
Trailer

IMDB.com Synopsis:
In the heart of the beautiful and historically rich Dordogne Valley of France, a team of archeology students and their professor diligently work to uncover the ruins of a 14th-century castle. For Professor Edward Johnston, the project is the culmination of a lifelong dream. Aided by assistant professor Andre Marek, his son Chris and students Kate, Stern and François, Johnston has made major strides in unearthing not only La Roque Castle but also a monastery and structures from the surrounding village of Castlegard. But things are about to go haywire… Suspicious of the dig’s benefactor, International Technology Corporation (ITC) and the man who runs it, Robert Doniger, Professor Johnston heads to ITC headquarters in New Mexico to get some answers, and while he’s away, his students discover a chamber that has been sealed for more than 600 years. Marek and Kate descend into the unstable room, and just before a near disastrous cave-in, they make two startling discoveries — a bifocal lens, which couldn’t have been invented before the chamber was sealed, and even more intriguing, a handwritten plea for help dated April 2, 1357…from Professor Johnston! Determined to solve the mystery, the students head for ITC headquarters, where they are stunned to learn of Doniger’s new invention — a machine that can actually transmit three-dimensional objects through space. Although he meant for the device to revolutionize shipping, Doniger inadvertently opened a wormhole that leads directly to the 14th century, and Professor Johnston, who had insisted on experiencing the discovery himself, is now trapped in a vicious French vs. English feudal war! Can Johnston’s loyal students survive one of the most violent battles in world history… and make it back to the 21st century alive?

My Thoughts:
So, unlike the comment on the DVD cover… “Braveheart” this is definitely not. This is a softer, more teenage friendly version perhaps…but still it doesn’t come close. The concept is interesting and it’s based on a book by one of my favorite authors Michael Crichton. Still…it’s no Braveheart. The worst part is the cheese romances thrown in the story. They’re either way to cheesy or incredibly hard to believe.

I did, however, enjoyed some of the “action” and some of the nerdy time travel stuff, but overall this was not a fantastic film. The most interesting part about the movie is probably watching Gerard Butler before he became the huge star he is today. That and any time Billy Connolly is on screen he’s always fantastic to watch. So, basically the Scottish actors steal the show.

I’m giving this one 2.5 stars out of 5. It was okay, but it could have been so much better.

Day 40: Back to the Future Part III

Back to the Future Part III
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd & Lea Thompson
Rated: PG
Length:  118 min.
Released:  May, 25 1990
Trailer

IMDB.com Synopsis:
Stranded in 1955, Marty McFly receives written word from his friend, Doctor Emmett Brown, as to where can be found the DeLorean time machine. However, an unfortunate discovery prompts Marty to go to his friend’s aid. Using the time machine, Marty travels to the old west where his friend has run afoul of a gang of thugs and has fallen in love with a local schoolteacher. Using the technology from the time, Marty and Emmett devise one last chance to send the two of them back to the future.

My Thoughts:
Undoubtably the oddest of the three, Back to the Future Part III is a mixed bag of fun and cheese.

At first I wasn’t a fan of this one, but that was because when I first saw it I was at a point where I hated anything even close to a western. So, going back into the “old west” wasn’t a move I particularly enjoyed. However, since I have grown I’ve come to love westerns (in fact some of my favorites are westerns) and the combination of sci-fi comedy and old west gun slinging seems to work for me now.

Though it doesn’t deal as heavy with the time-travel ideas of the second film it does mention the concept of thinking in the “”fourth dimension.” It also has a bit of a role reversal between Marty and Doc Brown which is fun to watch.

The most enjoyable part of the movie is watching Thomas F. Wilson as Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen.  He’s the perfect blend of evil villan and classic dumb Tannan comedy relief we’ve seen in the other films. For some reason his performance as a bad boy gun slinger in the west just seems to shine. Of all of his performances in the three films this one is heads and shoulders above the rest. I loved his performance as Buford.

The only thing that I had a hard time with was the “romance” between Doc Brown and Ms. Clara Clayton. If it wasn’t so corny and hard to buy into it would have worked. But as it is in the movie, her character just comes across as slightly annoying. That made the “relationship” they share hard to believe.

I’ve said all of that to say, overall I still loved watching this movie! Though it’s not as good as the other two because of the bad “love” intrest and less time travel, it’s still a great picture and a very fun and unique way to end the series. I’m giving it 3.5 stars out of 5.

Day 39: Back to the Future Part II

Back to the Future Part II
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd & Lea Thompson
Rated: PG
Length:  108 min.
Released:  November 22, 1989
Trailer

IMDB.com Synopsis:
With Marty McFly’s parents back together and back in his own time of 1985. He thought that his ordeal of time traveling was over. What he does not know is that it was just the beginning. As Dr. Emmett L Brown says that he has to come to the future with him. Marty and his girlfriend Jennifer come with Doc to the year 2015 where his future family is about to enter turmoil when Marty’s son Marty Jr. is about to be in a robbery, Marty and Doc formulate a plan to prevent the robbery from taking place, as they succeed in their mission Marty buys a book called “Grey’s Sports Almanac” which is a futuristic sports statistics book. When Doc throws it away, former school bully named Biff Tannen picks it up and discovers about Doc’s time machine. Biff then steals the time machine. When he brings it back and Doc and Marty with his girlfriend Jennifer go back to 1985, things were not right. Then both Marty and Doc realize that Biff altered time, Biff is rich, and married to Marty’s mother Lorainne. The only way to prevent this from happening, Marty and Doc have to go to 1955, to steal the Almanac from Biff.

My Thoughts:
Probably my favorite of the 3, Back to the Future Part II is stands out for a variety of reasons. The biggest is the concept of going back into the first movie. I love that!!! No other series could accomplish that in the way the did it in Back to the Future Part II.

The “future” is all one joke after another, and reliving the past (1955) just makes it hilarious to watch and re-live all over again. Yeah, sure it’s a lot of the same major plot points rehashed…but history has a way of repeating itself!

Also, the special effects are still good to this day! They do a great job of making one actor share the screen with themselves multiple times, making cars fly, making kids ride around on “hover boards” and so much more. And it’s still all pretty easy to buy. That’s really good for the 1980’s.

Also, this film REALLY get’s into the time travel paradox theory too. I love that a lot…cause I’m a nerd like that. The paradox theory is why most experts don’t think time travel is possible, but if it was…this movie shows pretty clear why it’s a bad idea to bother with it in the first place.

All in all this one is just a fun filled ride all the way through. Because of the uncanny idea of going back into the first film, the solid special effects (even for today) and for dealing rather heavy with the science behind time travel theory and the problems that would ensue from it’s creation…I’m giving this one 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Day 38: Back to the Future

Back to the Future
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson & Crispin Glover
Rated: PG
Length:  116 min.
Released:  July 3, 1985
Trailer

IMDB.com Synopsis:
It is the year 1985. Marty McFly, a mild-mannered high school student, stopped by Dr. Emmett L. Brown’s laboratory to play around with an amplifier. Then he receives a message from Doc that he needs help from him for Doc’s latest invention, a time machine made out of a DeLorean sports car that can travel through time instantaneously when it reaches a speed velocity of 88 MPH. Then, Doc was gunned down by Libyan Nationalists, Marty makes an effort to escape from the Lybians by using the time machine. Then Marty accidentally warps himself into 1955. Where he meets both of his parents when they were teenagers, then Marty unintentionally interrupts his parent’s first meeting together, he then finds a younger version of Doc and together they try to find a way to get Marty’s parents-to-be back together, and to get Marty back to 1985.

My Thoughts:
So the time has finally come!!! Know pun intended with that “time” crack. Seriously, was wondering when I would end up pulling out the Back to the Future Trilogy. I love these movies. I recently had a chance to make it out the the viewing of the film w/ some of the cast present. I wasn’t able to make it and boy was that disappointing! Though a friend did and he came back with some sweet pictures.

Anyway on with my little “shpeal” here. These movies are great for a variety of reasons, but the first one is by far the most classic. They didn’t even intend for the other two to be made! The ending was originally suppose to be some kind of joke, but the public demanded it and they stepped up to the plate. I’ll get more into those in the next couple of days. As for the first film, the idea of dropping back to the days of my parents just blows my mind. I couldn’t imagine. This film idea of showing that parents were once kids themselves has been an ongoing theme for quite some time, but Back to the Future is by far the most sophisticated of them all.

The reason I say it’s the most sophisticated is because they are surrounded by one of the most consistent scientific theories of time travel ever seen in a movie. The process of time travel isn’t based on science much at all…but the theory of what it would be like and what problems could arise  if we had this ability is heavy in rather sound scientific theory. I love that about these movies. The whole “what if” question brought out just blows my mind and I could think on that and talk with others for hours about it if I wanted to.

The comedy and generational gap humor is priceless. Some of the jokes may be missed on todays youth (I.E. “Yeah, give me a Pepsi Free.” would go right over their heads) but most won’t, and the adults will be laughing at many of the 1950s culture shock jokes too.

Fox is perfect as Marty McFly…but as great as he is, Christopher Lloyd as Dr. Emit Brown just steals the show for me. Even more so in the films to come. I’m giving this one 4 out of 5 stars!

P.S. For all you real nerds out there, the Dr. Brown from “the future” can be seen in this movie riding a bike in the background on main street when Marty and the 1950s Doc Brown are about to send Marty back to 1985. It was never intended to be him originally, but I doubt it’s a coincidence that they had Doc Brown dressed in the same outfit (pants, jacket & hat) and ridding the same bike in the second film when he accidental runs into his “other self.” Once the other films came out…in my mind the guy riding the bike became Doc Brown. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Day 31: Planet of the Apes

The Planet of the Apes

Directed by: Tim Burton
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Paul Giamatti & Estella Warren
Rated: PG-13
Length: 119 min
Released: July 27, 2001
Trailer

IMDB.com Synopsis:
It is the year 2029: Astronaut Leo Davidson boards a pod cruiser on a Space Station for a “routine” reconnaissance mission. But an abrupt detour through a space time wormhole lands him on a strange planet where talking apes rule over the human race. With the help of a sympathetic chimpanzee activist named Ari and a small band of human rebels, Leo leads the effort to evade the advancing Gorilla Army led by General Thade and his most trusted warrior Attar. Now the race is on to reach a sacred temple within the planet’s Forbidden Zone to discover the shocking secrets of mankind’s past – and the key to its future.

My Thoughts:
To start this one off I must bring full disclosure. I have not seen any of the original Planet of the Apes movies. I know…I know. How horrible of me…right? I’ve seen portions of the others and the only thing I remember is people who kind of looked like monkeys in terrible makeup and special effects. The new one was way better on the believability scale.

The special effects of this were just amazing. Most of the main actors that were in the monkey makeup…I wouldn’t have thought it was actually them. Especially Tim Roth (seen just a few days ago in The Incredible Hulk on day 29) Some of them I still don’t! I mean look at them!…

Tim Roth

Helena Bonham Carter

Paul Giamatti

Now grant it the old a actors were pretty unrecognizable too, but they didn’t look as realistic. Also the action sequences are nice (and even better on a bigger screen…as always). The ending didn’t quite work for me though. It’s such a confusing way to close the movie, and some of the acting on the part of the humans was less than stellar, but the special effects are well worth the watch. Tim Burton did a marvelous job updating the level of realism and believability to this long lost franchise. Unfortunately it didn’t do so hot at the box office because the story was a bit weak. I’m giving this one 3 out of 5 stars because of the superb job on the makeup and other special effects.

Day 7: The Ghost and The Darkness

The Ghost and The Darkness
Directed by: Stephen Hopkins
Starring: Michael Douglas & Val Kilmer
Rated: R
Length: 109 min.
Released: October 11, 1996
Trailer

IMDB.com Synopsis
In 1896 Lt. Col. John Paterson was sent to East Africa to build a railway bridge. He had a deadline to meet but was confident he and his large workforce of Africans and Indians can get the job done in time. John’s was a man of his word and got things done – which he demonstrated on his first day by killing a lion that had been pestering the workforce. This earned John respect, but it didn’t last very long because a few weeks later 2 new lions began visiting and they’re man-eaters. The film is based on a true story and during the construction of the bridge, the lions would enter the workers camp to kill. Believing them not to be real lions, the locals name them ‘The Ghost’ and ‘The Darkness’. After losing dozens of workers to the lions, the railroad company brought in Remington, an American ‘great white hunter’, to kill them, but even his reputation for being the best could not prevent yet more carnage. It is believed that over 130 people were killed by the two lions in just a few months.

My Thoughts
This movie blows my mind every time I see it. Grant it it’s a movie so some things are changed and played up for dramatic effect, but the fact that the craziest parts about this story are true just blows me away. The real lions (stuffed of course) are on display at the Chicago Field Museum. You can read about the true story here.

This is a great story about man vs. beast and an insight into the expansion of the western world into Africa during the late 1800s. I really love movies that put the viewer into another place and time in history. In many ways it’s one of the only places these worlds can come alive.

Val Kilmer does a fantastic job in his role as Col. John Henry Patterson. Michael Douglas plays a perfect contrast to Kilmer in the character Charles Remington. When they share the screen it’s so much fun to watch. There is also a small but fun part played by Tom Wilkinson as the snobbish owner of a Railroad Co. and Kilmer’s employer.

There are a few moments of grizzly terror/violence which is primarily why the film is rated R. Though I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as it could have been. That stuff doesn’t really bother me much though. However, if you do get bothered easily by that sort of thing it may be wise to pass on this one. I’m giving this one 4 stars out of 5. I really think they did an excellent job breathing new life into this true story…and it was a fun adventure to watch.