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Terminator Genisys Review

film, Reviews

July 3, 2015

There’s something to be said for expectations. You can go into a good movie with too high of expectations and find yourself not enjoying a movie that was otherwise perfectly enjoyable. You can also go in with real low expectations and find that you enjoyed something WAY more than other viewers because you weren’t expecting much.

I know as a journalist/writer/critic we’re not supposed to have any kind of baggage follow us into the theater, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t have bets placed on how a movie is going to do based on its trailer. As a writer, it’s hard to admit that I fall into the old pit fall of “judging a book by its cover” or in this example, a movie by its trailer.

For what it’s worth, I always try and use those two pieces to my advantage though. So in a situation where I’m going into a mindless action film, like Terminator: Genisys’ trailer had set me up for, the bar is pretty damn low.

I mention all this because Genisys, in spite of having a super low bar to get over, fails miserably on virtually every front. I wasn’t expecting an Oscar contender, or even the spiritual successor to T2 that we’ve all been waiting for… just a campy action flick where Arnie punches Arnie.

To its credit, the movie does provide that, along with a healthy amount of comedy. I’m just not sure that the laughs that the film gets were at all intentional.

Some definitely are. Arnold seems to be enjoying his time in the movie and there’s a few hammed moments that were obviously intended as funny. But I highly doubt it was the ridiculous pseudo-science and the gaping plot holes that the writing staff was attempting as some kind of meta-humor.

Coming into the review, I knew what the crux of my “argument against Terminator” would be wasted potential; this movie has a lot of great ideas, some of which have been ruined already by the film’s trailers (which was potential wasted, exhibit A).

What I couldn’t have known, going in, was that wasted potential was going to be a constant theme throughout the film. Considering the trailer has already spoiled the twist, I feel no qualms about announcing it was a massive mistake to let us all know that John Conner is working for the machines in Genisys. That COULD have been a really cool plot twist, something that brings it back to the things I loved about the original franchise; a Terminator suddenly fights for good, the realization you can’t stop Judgement Day, etc. etc.

Several times throughout the movie the writing staff plays with the concepts of time travel and multiple universes, teeing up plot devices that could have been amazing… but instead go nowhere. Set-up, abandonment. Set-up, abandonment. Over and over and over until you get to the end of the film and it ties it all up with an unnecessary bow about time travel that was never needed, not to mention a post-credits scene that feels so forced you can almost feel the gun pressed to the director’s left temple.

There are many, many other examples of the movie setting up potentially interesting plot points for the film, then heading in the other direction, like a child who has lost interest in a toy that’s now an hour too old for their ADD sensibilities. Sarah, in this iteration of the Terminator time-line, has been raised since she was 9 years old to be the machine-destroying beast she evolves to later in the franchise. This could have been a great setup for a storyline where Sarah doesn’t have to deal with the weakness the first film established and then cured her of… instead, it works backwards as the bloated storyline of Kyle Reese and Sarah Conner “needing” to fall in love is pushed to the forefront, effectively making the character de-evolve into the old-Hollywood vision of the female lead: damsel in distress.

For my money, the worst offenses were the rewrites to the Terminator lore that are made seemingly without explanation. Without giving away “pivotal plot information” there are a number of scenes throughout the film that operate in complete contradiction to the rules of time travel and the Terminators set forth by the franchise previous installations. It even goes so far to contradict the multi-verse theory established its own movie as well!

Again, I don’t worry that anyone is going to head into Genisys looking for Terminator 2 again. The trailer, for better or worse, sets the expectations low. It’s unfortunate that the film in its entirety is an extension of that metaphor, ruined promise and potential, but at least it is accurate.

There are plenty of opportunities out there to watch mindless action movies, or action thrillers, or action comedies that will be worth your price of admission. Terminator doesn’t feel like it knows what it wants to be though, and therefore strikes out (multiple times) on a journey to find itself… and never quite gets there.

The only positive that I can offer it is that if you are a fan of 3D spectacle Genisys does well to showcase the technology of film today. Even the 3D modeled Arnie from 1984 isn’t terrible (though it more than dips its toe in the uncanny valley).

If you are dead set on seeing Genisys in the theaters this weekend, a word of caution or at least context: Head in expecting to either not care at all for things like continuity, science, or even just story structure. The best that you’re going to get out of this one is 2 hours of 3D explosions leaping from the screen in your general direction in a moment that made me think back to “The Box” of Batman Forever infamy.

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2759

Deadpool The Movie: A Tale of Ressurection

Opinion, Showcase, The Truth

April 1, 2015

If you spent even ten seconds on either Facebook or Twitter today, you were probably inundated by a series of reposts about Ryan Reynolds’ tease of the new Deadpool costume. Sexy as all hell, am I right? Of course I am. This has caused a lot of talk about the production and I figured it might be a great opportunity to go over how we got here. Deadpool has had one of the most treacherous transitions to film of any of the upcoming comic-themed productions to date.

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3497

Pixels vs. Wreck-It Ralph, or Story Before Reference

Opinion, Showcase, The Truth

March 18, 2015

When it comes to Video Game movies, there are basically two categories: movies based on video game franchises (Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Super Mario Bros.) and movies that are ABOUT video games (The Wizard, Wreck-It Ralph, Tron). The most recent iteration, in the latter category, is the upcoming Pixels, a comedy/adventure featuring the acting talents of Adam Sandler, Josh Gad, Kevin James, and Peter Dinklage.

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1082

Powers [TV Review]

Reviews

March 15, 2015

I’ve known that Sony/PlayStation were in production of an original superhero-drama by Brian Michael Bendis for a while now. There was no surprise that Powers would be coming this year to PSN. There was a surprise, however, when it released yesterday (episode 1 on YouTube, 2 and 3 on PSN). It’s really quite good.

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778

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt [TV Review]

Reviews

March 14, 2015

With Netflix’s third season of House of Cards in the bag, I found myself last week in a bit of an entertainment void. Clearly the people behind scheduling/programming knew this was going to be a thing because Tina Fey’s brainchild featuring Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, released its first full season right when it was needed. Let me start by warning everyone, Kimmy Schmidt is the ultimate in binge-watching TV.

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1192

The Last Man on Earth [TV Review]

Reviews

March 13, 2015

The first question that I had, heading into The Last Man on Earth, was how long can a series last with only one character? The answer came quickly, when in the second episode it was found that Phil Miller (Will Forte) may well be the last man on Earth, but there’s at least one female there too.

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1732

CHAPPiE [Movie Review]

Reviews

March 9, 2015

Last week we finally saw the release of Neill Blomkamp’s third feature film, a spiritual successor to the 1986 classic Short Circuit. Chappie is all about the development of the world’s first true AI, a robot that can think for itself, express itself through art, and most importantly learn.

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1100

House of Cards Season 3 [Television Review]

Reviews, Showcase

March 3, 2015

I have an unnatural addiction to political drama. It started way back in 1999 when my new friend (and now God) Aaron Sorkin took me inside of The West Wing. Over the course of 7 seasons, I developed a love for the cast, world, and writing of the series. It branched into a need for more and I sought out all of Aaron Sorkin’s works, then and now. Still I needed more.

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904

The Odd Couple [TV Review]

Reviews

February 24, 2015

I love me some Matthew Perry. It’s easy enough for me to say that Chandler was my favourite Friend, but it goes beyond that. I’ve enjoyed his work in films, particularly The Whole 9 Yards and its sequel. I’ve enjoyed his attempt at reclaiming television fame. Studio 60 should have been the new West Wing and even Mr. Sunshine wasn’t a terrible show.

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1203

The Flash 2.0: Zero to Hero

The Truth, Uncategorized

February 24, 2015

Since I was a kid I’ve been a fan of speedsters. Sonic was probably my first and longest love, but shortly thereafter came The Flash. Originally I would have said it was the underdog mentality, for while the rest of the Justice League was working with a suite of Superpowers, Flash only had the one (speed). Over the years though, he’s become one of the most powerful – and most important – characters in the DCU (DC Universe).

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