Terminator Genisys

July 3, 2015 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney
Directed by: Alan Taylor (“Thor: The Dark World”)
Written by: Laeta Kalogridis (“Shutter Island”) and Patrick Lussier (“Drive Angry”)

Nearly a quarter century after James Cameron gave us “Terminator 2: Judgement Day,” Hollywood is still throwing Terminator franchise-extending ideas at the wall hoping that they stick. Sequels, TV series, and whatever the hell “Terminator Salvation” was supposed to be have come and gone, seemingly wringing the movie going public’s goodwill dry in the process. After all, how can we be expected to stay invested in this series when it features an ever-rotating cast and keeps using time travel to re-write its own continuity with every new project? Regardless, along comes “Terminator Genisys” with one ace up its sleeve the franchise hasn’t had for 12 years: the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s good to see Arnold in his iconic role once again, especially since he’s the only positive thing “Genisys” has going for it.

For what seems like the millionth time, this “Terminator” movie opens in the post-apocalyptic future, after world-destroying computer program Skynet has decided to wipe humans off the face of the earth. The human resistance, led by thinly-veiled messianic character John Connor (Jason Clarke), has identified the last stronghold of Skynet and its army of Terminators—one that houses an ultimate weapon. Along with his right hand man Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), Connor and the resistance infiltrate the base to find a freshly-used time machine. Figuring out Skynet send a Terminator back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), Reese volunteers to go back to the past and save her. As he’s being transported away, he catches a glimpse of a Terminator attacking John Connor…or something. Unable to help, Reese arrives in 1984 to relive the events of “The Terminator” (complete with CGI young Schwarzenegger!) only to be interrupted by an aged T-800 Arnold (nicknamed Pops) and a Sarah Connor already well-versed in kicking Terminator ass. Someone changed the timeline even further back, and now it’s time for Sarah, Reese, and Pops to sort all the bullshit out.

While the first two films in the series focused on fate—or the lack thereof—the time travel elements always made little sense within the logic of the movies’ universe. That plot device ridiculousness is ramped up to ridiculous heights in “Genisys,” where time travel is regarded as an ultimate weapon (okay), a 20-something woman and her aged robot from the future can build a time machine in the LA sewers (what?) and one of the main characters from a future that no longer exists can travel to a tangential past and then back to a different future to stop something from existing that didn’t create the future that he’s from, but creates yet a different apocalyptic future than the seemingly endless versions this series has spat at us over the years (ugh, fuck it). The movie also seems to have some half-assed nonsense to say about stuff like smartphones and tablets and whatnot ruling our lives, but it’s all so poorly plotted out that literally none of the plot is engaging. The same can’t be said of Arnold, though, who becomes the only thing onscreen to elicit even the slightest bit of interest. With some liberal CGI, Arnold appears as three different versions of the iconic T-800, and its admittedly pretty fun when the old man version dukes it out with the 1984 version.  But the computer-enhanced exploits of a 67-year-old former governor aren’t enough to balance out the sheer “who the fuck cares?” of everything else haphazardly thrown on the screen.

The Expendables 3

August 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford
Directed by: Patrick Hughes (“Red Hill”)
Written by: Sylvester Stallone (“Rocky”) and Creighton Rothenberger (“Olympus Has Fallen”) and Katrin Benedikt (“Olympus Has Fallen”)

The movies in “The Expendables” series should be tons more fun than they actually are. They should be winking so much at the audience that you think they’re in some sort of distress. After all, why gather up all these action movie old timers and various MMA stars in the first place if all you’re going to do is throw them into a plot that seems leftover from some direct-to-Netflix action flick they’d be starring in anyway even without the combined ‘80s star power of your Stallones and Schwarzeneggers? Not that a spoof mentality or comedic take on the genre of ‘80s action cheese is what this assemblage of actors should aspire to, but man, would it kill the filmmakers to turn out something a touch less dour and routine?

The third film in the franchise opens with Barney Ross (Stallone) leading his team of grizzled warriors on a mission to rescue their long-lost compatriot Doc (Wesley Snipes) from a prison train. After busting him out, the Expendables are sent by Drummer (Harrison Ford, snoozing) to take down a villainous warlord revealed to be Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson, digging into the role with glee) who also happens to be a cofounder of The Expendables. When his team fails, Barney fires them and decides it’s time for some new blood, soliciting Kelsey Grammar to recruit a quartet of bland youngsters who are promptly captured. So once again it is time for the old dogs–plus Antonio Banderas as a scene-stealing newcomer—to save the day and take out the bad guy.

The premise, even if it is worn out by the third film in the series, of having “action” stars of generations past (though I’m not sure Kelsey Grammar and Antonio Banderas really count at all) team up for a fresh take on a tired genre is ripe for a good time, but alas, the only people that seem to be having any fun with this material at all are Gibson and Banderas, with Gibson making his case to be a big Hollywood star again, provided he go hat in hand and apologize for his past insanity. But that’s neither here nor there, and even crackling turns from Gibson and Banderas can paint over the fact that supposed ringer Harrison Ford is so incredibly disinterested in the whole affair that he plays one confrontation scene with Stallone while standing perfectly still. Ford’s attitude was likely “Who gives a shit?” It feels like that sentiment is the defining characteristic of the whole movie.

The Last Stand

January 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville
Directed by: Kim Ji-Woon (“I Saw The Devil”)
Written by: Andrew Knauer (debut)

After spending eight years as the Governor of California, action-star Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to the big screen in “The Last Stand.” When a dangerous druglord escapes the custody of the FBI during transportation, he devises a plot to escape to the US/Mexico border through the quiet, small town of Summerton Junction. When former LAPD cop and current Sherriff Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger) finds out, he decides to round up a small team and do everything he can to stop the dangerous criminal.

Schwarzenegger returns to the screen with the type of charisma that made him a bonafide action star in the 80s and 90s. Of course, with that comes unintelligible lines and some very poorly acted scenes, but that is ultimately part of the package and really the charm of his performances. The cast is rounded out with a few comedic actors to wedge between the violence. Luis Guzman and Johnny Knoxville both get a few decent one-liners out but don’t really add much to the film overall.

In his previous Korean films, most notably in “The Good, the Bad, the Weird,” director Kim Ji-Woon has shown a great knack for constructing unique and exceedingly entertaining action sequences. In his American debut, Ji-Woon sticks mostly to car chases, flying bullets and blood spray. While a few scenes of excessive violence are amusing, the amount of action and pure fun never quite reaches the levels seen in previous films. In fact, the mayhem is pretty standard fare when compared to his other projects.

The introduction of the “escaped fugitive” plot is where the film begins to lose steam. What is supposed to be a captivating creative action sequence is actually quite boring. From here, the film begins to become stale. Bad plots, (complete with massive holes), bad dialogue, and even a few scenes of shoehorned and inauthentic emotion plague most of the movie. The final showdown of the film, while the best part of the movie, is also ultimately a let down.

With his rising age and lack of acting chops, it will be interesting to see where Schwarzenegger’s career will go from here. “The Last Stand” wears out it’s jokes at the expense of Arnold’s age, so any forthcoming reference in other films will be immediately passé. While “The Last Stand” delivers on its promise of gunfire and explosions, it does so in unimpressive and unmemorable fashion. While Schwarzenegger’s presence is entertaining, the story just isn’t interesting enough.