Posts Tagged ‘Terminator’

In Mexico City a young woman named Dani Ramos becomes the latest target of a cyborg assassin, Rev 9, from the future sent by ‘Legion’.

Director Tim Miller (Deadpool) offers a standup Terminator outing correcting Genisys working as a sequel to Terminator 2. However, opening with Endoskeleton Terminators which are wiped out because of the events in T2, a young John and (excellently CGI rendered young) Sarah Connor – it then takes a sudden story turn to present day. Miller flashes forward at times to a possible or inevitable future (never clarified in Dark Fate if it can be prevented as in T2). These snippets introduce a Salvation like future with bizzare fast moving tentacle Terminators and the creation of an technologically augmented super soldier.

It has better casting than Terminator 3 (namely poorly cast Danes and Stahl). But don’t get too excited though as it barely has the grit or grounded practical feel of The Terminator nor the substance and style of the second. Frankly there’s too much CGI which takes centre stage ripping you out of the action. That said, as a CGI driven modern action film younger viewers may find it more appealing, but this is where the likes of Halloween (2018) and also Mexican themed Rambo: Last Blood have a slight edge over Miller’s loud big outing as the aforementioned focus is on the characters not just the effects.

Emotionally the film belongs to it’s cybernetically enhanced soldier Grace brilliantly played by Mackenzie Davis and Linda Hamilton, who returns as Sarah Connor. Both actors have great chemistry. Hamilton is great here, Miller keeps it refreshingly female orientated.

Gabriel Luna’s advanced Terminator model whose skin and skeleton can function as two separate bodies is interesting but his incognito infiltration element, to blend into any surrounding is wasted as he blatantly goes on wacky outlandish killing sprees in plain sight.

Schwarzenegger lights up the screen as Terminator but it leaves very little impact, it’s a pitty he didn’t show up in the flesh in Salvation. His 101 model has some good lines and generous amount of screen time. Many elements are rehashed from T2, others echoing the underrated Salvation, Dani Ramos (played by Natalia Reyes) is the new the Sarah Connor but with a welcomed little twist on the story.

Miller and writers thankfully keep it coherent compared to the last outing, but they never really explore the time travel whys and what. Also Kyle or Ginger never get a mention from Sarah’s lips, given her subtler scenes with both leads it felt like a missed opportunity.

Overall, with less CGI it could have been great, never the less it’s an enjoyable Terminator film, maybe coming from an analog age it’s just not my Terminator film.

The Vindicator (1986)

A scientist working on a top secret experiment is killed in an explosion but the corporation that funds his experiments transforms him into a robot.

A resurrection science fiction film that despite being a B-low budget affair has a grander 80’s film quality feel thanks to some gritty, raw and rough round the edges special effects.

Richard Cox and cult favourite Pam Grier are watchable and some performances are above average. However, they are counter balanced by some very shoddy supporting actors. Edith Rey and David Preston’s dialogue is flawed, yet their story fairs better exploring some moral dilemmas.

Although it predates Robocop (1987) I remember the main draw to watch it was because of The Terminator (1984). That said, the Vindicator shares more with Frankenstein and The Wraith (1986).

Jean-Claude Lord’s Vindicator was more appealing watch in the 1980’s. It has some nice visual moments but little more. The certain charm it held in my mind since 1986 was really just warm nostalgia – as on revisiting The Vindicator it’s not as entertaining or fast paced as I remembered it.

While fun at the time, in retrospect – for comparable curiosity only.

The Terminator science fiction franchise follows the battle between Skynet and the human race…
It’s probably not a surprise to most, but they have their place in movie history as they carved out a career for Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Cameron and pushed the boundaries of visual and practical effects.

Here’s my comments on the films that made the pulsing DA-DA-DUM-DA-DUM famous.

The Terminator (1984)
The Terminator remains one of the most enjoyable Science fiction films of all time. Bradfield’s pulse pumping score, nostalgic music from an array of obscure bands all adds to the lure of this timeless classic.

James Cameron’s direction is excellent giving the visuals scope and depth, and his above average story and screenplay stop it falling into B movie territory.

The time travel is logical; in as much as if Sarah had never met Kyle, John would have been the off spring of one of her dates. Either way it’s highly satisfying science fiction and not science fact.

The films cast include Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen who play it natural and straight, Bill Paxton and Brian Thompson briefly turn up. The leads Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor give flawless performances and keep you routing for their survival from the now infamous Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the Terminator. The film has a gritty and edgy look, with some gore moments, even though some of the effects have dated, the practical effects from Oscar winner Stan Winston hold up to this day.

A defining moment for sci-fi action, Schwarzenegger and Cameron. The Terminator is compulsive viewing.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

A cyborg must protect Sarah Connor son from a prototype Terminator… Less grounded than the first gritty Terminator, James Cameron gives us a sleeker sharper sequel packed with fantastic effects, stunts and action sequences. I was blown away on its first release, however, over the years I have found it to be less personal due to its grander scale.

The score is outstanding, Robert Patrick is well cast at state of the art T1000, Linda Hamilton returns as Sarah Connor but she is far removed from her innocent character in the first. Arnold Schwarzenegger is back as The Terminator but is now the protector, whistle he is perfect as the ‘character’ in retrospect the edginess has gone that was set up in the first film.

The film is without a doubt a spectacular defining moment in movie history, notably the CGI effects and make up. I would urge anyone who hasn’t see it to see it. Nevertheless, it nothing personal but for me its not as satisfying as it was in 1991.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

Fantastic third Terminator movie! It may not have the brooding atmosphere of the first film but considering James Cameron didn’t write or direct, it turns out very watchable.

T3 is close to the original concept and a nicely thought out sequel. It does disregard the notion of the T2 about the future not being set and sticks close to the first, in that, the future is set and things have to run their course.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is again excellent as the Terminator. The film is missing another Robert Patrick terminator, however, newcomer Kristanna Loken as the T-X is fantastic and the rest of cast are good. The effects and action scenes are impressive but the original music score is forgettable and the original theme turns up late at the end.

There maybe a touch too much humour in this instalment but the brave ending finishes the film fittingly on a serious note.

This film is certainly worth the watch.

Terminator Salvation (2009)

I enjoyed T3 but this is what Terminator should be like. It is reminiscent of the grittiness of the first film, from the computer like credits, to the title introducing 2018 – a real terminator fans dream.

Christian Bale is John Connor and without a doubt adds weight to the film with his acting ability.

Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright is the future; he will become a great star. Both he and Bale are the glue to this instalment.

Moon Bloodgood’s brief but pivotal appearance is very good and for once Helena Bonham Carter didn’t get under my skin and does a nice heartfelt cameo. My hat goes off to newcomer Anton Yelchin as he does a great job of ‘becoming’ Michael Biehn’s Kyle Reese. The only negative remark I have is that Bryce as Kate doesn’t get enough to do and because of this is very detached from the character Claire Danes portrayed in the third.

MCG & the writers have constructed and crafted the film well and the music score by ever reliable Elfman compliments it nicely.

A welcomed voice from the past show up to add icing to the cake. The effects are great throughout apart from the showcase skin covered T800 at the end. It was nice to see ‘Arnie’ and I hope there’s more of him digitally in the future. It did look a little rushed but nothing could spoil this original and welcomed spin on this new Terminator movie that welcomely sticks close to the original subject matter.

This should please real Terminator fans and satisfy new comers.

 Kyle Reese travels back in time to save the mother of the saviour of mankind only to find himself in an alternative time-line.

Despite being void of the gritty feel, thematic depth, simplistic conceptual thrills of the 1984 scifi classic Terminator Genisys is fast paced and slick.

While surround by state of the art special effects, super costume and set design, Jason Clarke is solid in his functional incarnation of John Connor. Without drawing too many comparisons to the original actors who portrayed the characters Sarah & Kyle respectively both Emilia Clarke and Jai Courtney do there best but are never given the staging or dialogue to stir the same believable emotions in this science fiction. Lee Byung-Hun, J. K. Simmons are great in their supporting roles but sorely underused.

The T-800 versus T-800 fight and Pops upgrade is a fanboy dream. You have to commend Schwarzenegger’s efforts here who is fine and the glue that tries to hold it all together as they travel from 1984 to 2017 to stop Skynet and yet another Terminator with higher stakes than before.

There’s some genuine relationship and heart buried in Genisys but it never explorers these themes or slows down for you to attach to the characters. Director Alan Taylor offers nods to the first instalment, it’s fun when its retreading and twisting past events but is less effective when it goes it alone becoming just another action going from one location to the next, mindless, car, van and helicopter chases, complete with a setup on the Golden Gate Bridge as every film needs to have one these days.

With its fan film like premise Genisys is crisp, glossy, with big set ups, great effects and a nostalgic score by Lorne Balfe to match but like many big budget contemporary films less is sometimes more. It leaves loose ends for another sequel with a mid end credit sequence but also makes you ask yourself, do you really want one.

Science fiction is a huge spanning genre of fiction. It’s an incubator for imaginative minds to create visions that help us to glimpse not only the future, but also something about ourselves. It differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible. I’ve left Terminator and Alien(s) out both I’ll visit in the future, in the meantime here are my comments on a few old classic films and new comers of Sci-fi…

Repo Men (2010)

It’s is the near future, Jake and Remy are repossession men for body organs. After a repo’ goes wrong Remy’s heart is replaces and he finds himself on the run before his heart is repossessed.

It’s a high concept idea with a twist at the end. The gory repo scenes are cringe worthy and action scenes backed with a pumping music score are amazing. The sets, location and effects are attention-grabbing. Miguel Sapochnik’s directing admirable but its failing is the screenplay, Repo Men is a jarring mismatch of a film, it doesn’t know what it wants to be, one minute a social commentary, the next minute a comedy, then an action, a serious thriller and so on. It just doesn’t gel and as a result it’s a let down.

Schreiber’s Frank is menacing as one of “The Union” heads and there’s a welcomed cameo appearance by John Leguizamo (Asbury). A lighter, healthier Forest Whitaker makes an impression in this odd toned movie, quirky lead and ever reliable Jude Law looks uncomfortable with the role Remy. Alice Braga’s (Beth) performance is average and she isn’t atheistically beautiful enough to convince the audience of Remy’s infatuation with her.

Unfortunately, Repo Men tries to cater and appeal to a spectrum of movie goers and as a result fails to entertain or satisfy in any capacity or arena.

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Franklin J. Schaffner is never given enough credit when it comes to the genuine sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes. The talking points are usually the twist ending, or the late great Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowall.

A philosophical sci-fi made in 1968 and nominated for two Oscars it still holds up today as a social parable, effective drama with a relevant and underlining social commentary. It’s the primitive depiction of an ape civilisation rather than technologically society made Planet of the Apes standout as the iconic film it is haled as today.

‘Apes builds up nicely, there’s a wonderful score, (groundbreaking for the time) by Jerry Goldsmith, creating eerie and ominous atmosphere with the first exciting ape reveal at about 30 minutes in.

The film is wonderfully directed and has a solicitous and thought proving screenplay by Michael Wilson & Rod Serling. That said source material was from Pierre Boulle’s very wry, whimsical and thoughtful novel. Astoundingly Boulle is also author of The Bridge over the River Kwai.

The few visual effects are sufficient but the ape make up is admirable and star of the show. Recognisable only by their voices Kim Hunter as human conservationist Dr. Zira and the anxious Cornelius played by McDowall are splendidly magnificent as they assist Taylor played by the boldly cast film legend Heston to escape the command of the apes. The attractive Linda Harrison, who plays Nova is effective and the British classical actor, in orangutan make-up Maurice Evans is outstanding, giving a weight of believability to the subject matter.

Planet of the Apes is an original science fiction must see.

Blade Runner (1982)

I must admit I’m a huge fan of Ridley Scotts’ and Blade Runner is one of
his finest moments, panned by critics and by most on its release, it was ahead of its time on every level.

Whichever version of Blade Runner you prefer, it has atmosphere, great costumes and a mood of gritty realism about it. The neocityscapes, the dark street life and polluted air all paint a grim futuristic picture complimented by a score by Vangelis , which is touching and haunting. The lines are memorable and there are fantastic performances from Rutger Hauer, Sean Young and Edward James Olmos. Harrison Ford is perfect as the moody ex- Blade Runner and Joe Turkel should have won an award as the Frankenstein -like creator.

Blade Runner is quite a simplistic tale that is complicated by the fantastic visuals and effects. Lying beneath the plot that many writers contributed to there’s heart and soul, questions of what it means to be human and delves into our own mortality.

Its edgy hi-tech art-house that brings science fiction to life and while it’s not the most fulfilling sci-fi film it certainly is a fantastic visual experience.

RoboCop (1987)

A cop is brutally murdered in the line of duty only to be resurrected as a robot cop. With a mission to clean up Detroit stopping criminals and corruption unwitting Robocop meets his killers.

 Social commentary, religious connotations and cutting satire, Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop is now over 20 years old, some of the effects have dated and some of the acting is like two-day-old chicken, but it holds up. It is indeed an often-imitated sci-fi classic. It could have been just another Terminator rip-off but all it shared was a machine theme as it had a whole world of its own. That said, it borrows heavily from lesser known films Jean-Claude Lord’s The Vindicator and The Wraith both made a year prior.

Amongst the rival robot ED-209 and TV commercials what’s more interesting about Robocop (played by the now elusive Peter Weller) is the loss of his family and how they have moved on after Alex Murphy’s gory death which is only partly explored. There’s a lot going on in Edward Neumeier & Michael Miner writing underneath all the action pieces.

Miguel Ferrer as ‘Bob’ is excellent, his performance has all the 80’s Wall Street feel of the time, doing whatever it takes to get to the top. Ronny Cox plays ‘Dick’ Jones and gives the bad guy dimension. It shows a corporate structure and how they also use the underworld to get an immoral job done, in this case using Clarence and his gang played terrifically by Kurtwood Smith.

Basil Poledouris’ music is fantastic and heightens the films punches and subtleties, the action is great as to are the costumes and practical effects. It is a comic book film for adults but is unusually grounded in a surreal plausibility.

It’s Orion Pictures fine production, part man, part machine. All cop.

Moon (2009)

David Bowie’s son directs his debut film. Duncan Jones comes out of his fathers’ shadow and into his own in this low-key sci-fi which is destined to become a classic.

The style is without a doubt influenced by Silent Running and 2001: A Space Odyssey. You could argue that there is also a hint of Gattaca in there, but this does not detract from the strong emotional story line.

Sam Rockwell’s subtle and edgy performance is Oscar worthy, as to are the effects. As Duncan Jones first film it certainly doesn’t show, it screams traditional in the modern sense of film-making. Kevin Spacey voices the robot GERTY, his smooth tones and look are reminiscent of 2001’s HAL and his monotone voice adds tension.

The film is not an action; Moon is a well-rounded package, almost pure sci-fi, and thought provoking playing out a believable premise. It’s a tighter 2001 for a 2009 audience, compulsive viewing.

Star Wars (1977)

It was a long time ago when I first saw Starwars, I watched it as part of a trilogy and then Lucas’ CGI altered edits.

There’s not much I can add that isn’t already littered on the, net, countless books and so on. It has become ingrained in popular culture and it is impossible for me to watch it with fresh eyes. It was great to see my son watch it for the first time and no doubt his children will enjoy it too.

The story is that Luke Skywalker must try to save Princess Leia from the evil clutches of Darth Vader. It could have been an awful b-movie but its strength is a great bold script, memorial characters, fantastic effects, costumes and John Williams timeless orchestral score. It has a princess, lasers, alien creatures, spaceships, and more. It’s a good old fashioned tale of good versus evil and there really isn’t much not to like.

It has inspired and has been imitated in numerous films, books and games. It has changed the way Sci-fi is made and will remain a timeless charming classic.

If you only ever see five films in your lifetime, this is one of them.

Surrogates (2009)

In a world of masks, who’s real and who can you trust? A well made sci-fi, a hybrid reflective of high concept low-budget 70’s-80’s films. Sadly it was in and out of the cinema so fast I missed it.

Bruce Willis character tries to unravel the mystery conspiracy behind the surrogate phenomenon and is forced to abandon his own surrogate, risking his life.

Excellent direction by Jonathan Mostow Radha Mitchell is as usual on top form, Rosamund Pike (give a poor performance) and Ving seem out of place. That said, the effects and music are amazing – I was pleasantly surprised. Overall very entertaining, suspenseful and while not totally original, it combines the best ideas around to deliver a thought provoking piece.