Judgement Day

I saw Terminator Genisys. It was the best of the Terminator movies not directed by James Cameron.

I realize that’s not saying much since Terminator in the 21st century struggles to be decent, but at the very least it’s leagues beyond Terminator 3 (the one with the Terminatrix) in terms of quality. In fact, here are my rankings of Terminator movies:

  1. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
  2. The Terminator (1984)
  3. Terminator Genisys (2015)
  4. Terminator Salvation (2009)
  5. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

Genisys is the kind of C-level movie one can waste time on during a Saturday afternoon looking for something to watch on TV. The movie has two main issues: its action and its nostalgia. The action movies of the 80’s aren’t a genre that Hollywood makes anymore (apparently they’re mostly made in Eastern Europe now). This unfamiliarity with raw and wordless violence is evident in the movie, as I’m not that engaged in the action. It’s not enough to show two robots punching each other, as the Transformers movies showed us; we need to care why those two robots are punching each other in the first place. Certainly the movie makes us care more about the fate of the principals than Terminator 3, but that’s not a high bar to hurdle.

Of course, a hallmark of the 21st century revival of old franchises is the strangling miasma of nostalgia that surrounds such works. Scenes copied from the first two Terminator movies (i.e., the good ones) are peppered liberally through the present iteration. The nostalgia and the movie itself works best in the scenes set during the 80’s. Things get more meh when the action moves to 2017.

On the actors themselves, let me observe that the Terminators of our century have had an ongoing problem with casting bland white guys as the lead – chronologically listed, they are Nick Stahl, Sam Worthington, and now Jai Courtney. Regarding Sarah Connor, Emilia Clarke (a.k.a. Daenerys Stormborn, the Mother of Dragons) mostly does an impression of T2-era Linda Hamilton. It’s an okay impression but not an impressive acting job on the whole.

This isn’t the worst nostalgia-driven movie I’ve seen – that distinction would go to the 2012 Total Recall – and I can honestly say it was an okay bit of fluff. However, and speaking as a fan of the franchise, I wish that they’d stop rehashing the same story and make something new again. They kind of tried with Salvation, which was entirely set in the apocalyptic future, but that movie never examined the world it was set in and was just about some guy stumbling through the wasteland. I’m not asking for high art here, Terminators. Be like Predators and give us something different.

Danger Zone

I’ve been sick with either a cold or a flu, so yesterday I stayed in bed and watched Point Break. It’s really a perfect Saturday afternoon movie. I’d never seen it before, but it had been on my list for a while and the other movies I had on hand seemed too deep to watch while fever-tripping (Atonement, The Sound of My Voice, and Never Let Me Go).

I’d forgotten how shitty the early 90s looked. The clothes and the boxy cars gave me a feeling of constriction and heat stroke, like I was wearing too-tight clothes in a noisy office with no air conditioning. And it’s got that L.A. River again from Terminator 2, probably one of the crappiest rivers in the world.

I do wonder how the surfing scenes were shot. It would have been hilarious if the director had used the same trick as Elvis in Blue Hawaii, but the actors and their doubles were actually out there on the waves. And kudos to all for the sky diving scenes. They make no sense and are barely justifiable in plot terms, but they do tie in thematically to the whole “freedom” thing the surfers are into. I must mention that my only exposure to surfer talk is from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so it was kind of weird hearing people say “radical” with no trace of irony.

I also have to give props for how the action unfolds. The movie zips along from scene to scene with nary a slow part. The biggest negative to the movie is, once again, Keanu Reeves’ acting. I forget every time how wooden he is and am reminded whenever I see a new movie with him in it.

Overall, though, I found this movie diverting.

War of the Worlds Part II

What’s this? An unofficial animated sequel to The War of the Worlds set during the First World War?

And it’s from Malaysia, too. Hmm . . .

Well, the CGI war machines look good but the animation of the human characters looks kind of like it’s from a late 90s or early 2000s cheapo cartoon show, like that Saturday morning Stargate one. I suppose it’s nice to see animation from countries besides Japan or the US. We’ll see if the animation industry in Malaysia is a going concern from here on.

Nova Prime

Nova Corpsman eating bread

I’m not a racist, but objectively speaking, Xandarians look weird when they’re eating.

Old is new again

Somehow I’ve managed to get through life without ever seeing Groundhog Day. I never felt this lack until recently watching Edge of Tomorrow, the plot of which is similarly based on the protagonist reliving the same day over and over again.

I don’t believe Edge of Tomorrow is based at all on Groundhog Day, and in fact in reading the original book adapted for the film called All You Need is Kill (great title by the way), it’s clear that the repetitive nature of the story is based on the experience of dying over and over in a video game and not on any movie starring Bill Murray.

Still, comparisons were made, so out of curiosity I watched a movie that I’d avoided watching every time it was shown on TV – and I remember it was shown quite a lot.

Groundhog Day was okay. It’s pretty funny and enjoyable enough. Had I seen it when I was younger I might have enshrined it with nostalgia beside Home Alone, Ghostbusters, and Big. But that’s pretty much it. I think part of the reason for the regards it’s held in today is the fact that most people will have seen it multiple times over their lives. Nostalgia is built and rebuilt with each viewing.

But there are worse things to be nostalgic for. At least this thing is decent, unlike, say, Thundercats or He-Man or the like. Anyway, I can cross off another movie from my list.

Breaking news

There is a karaoke music video of the song Take My Breath Away from the movie Top Gun.

Next on Youtube’s recommendation is the song Danger Zone, also from the same movie. Then Another Day in Paradise by Phil Collins. If anyone wants me, I’ll be time travelling to the 80s for the next few hours.

Back to cat videos

More thoughts on His Girl Friday. The dialogue zipped and zinged, fast and furious. It was obviously adapted from a play. I forgot how paranoid the middle and upper classes were about a Bolshevik/working class uprising in the early part of the 20th century. I do recall Hitler was trying to get the Brits to join him for a crusade against the reds before things fell out the way they did. Also, who were those speakers in the park mentioned as driving Williams insane? It sounds like they were union organizers or some kind of socialist agitators but would like to know more.

And the guy on death row killed a coloured policeman but no one seems to feel bad about it. It’s all about poor pathetic Williams who wouldn’t hurt a fly (but apparently he would kill a black guy).

Anyway, I just had my Internet finally hooked up last night. During my hiatus, when not checking email on my phone like some starving Eritrean I’d been watching highfalutin’ movies and TV shows I’d been planning to get to like His Girl Friday, Another Earth,and The Borgias. I have weeks of brain rotting to catch up on so I may need to take a sick day to watch all those Youtube videos I missed.

His Man Friday

Currently watching His Girl Friday as I type. Isn’t Hildy a man in the original play? How is the story different? I’d like to think that it’s not and in the play Hildy is also divorced from his former boss.

Tetsuo and Kaneda’s Excellent Adventure

Last weekend, I saw Akira for the first time in probably twenty years. It held up very well.

The film is essentially about Japan in the 1960s, complete with violent gangs, mass protests, and regular terrorist bombings. Despite that temporal specificity, it still feels timeless. This is impressive for a sci-fi film made in 1988, especially since a lot of cyberpunk from that era feels very dated. I think an American cyberpunk story from that time would probably be full of coded racial paranoia about the rise of Japan, or it would have embarrassing Orientalist stereotypes about honour or some shit. This movie, of course, avoids that.

Anyway, I’d forgotten that there are no heroes in Akira. Everyone is either an asshole, a fuckup, or both. The protagonists are violent bikers who gleefully engage in street duels that injure bystanders, while the climax involves a guy wanting revenge on his best friend. That best friend massacred hundreds of people and is about to kill an entire city, but as far as the participants are concerned their fight is about nothing more than their petty and personal grievances.

Plus the animation still looks incredible. A festering shithole has never looked this beautiful in cartoon form.

Overall, the movie was a worthwhile thing to revisit. I’m glad I saw it again.