Terminator Salvation

Terminator Salvation is the fourth film in the Terminator series and takes place after Judgement day. John Connor is not commanding the resistance yet, and is viewed by some as a prophet for his knowledge of the machines. We see his efforts against Skynet, and as he’s trying to find Kyle Reese, and as he’s trying to deal with the Marcus Wright character. Wright is trying to discover why he’s alive after being executed decades before.

I seem to be in a minority when it comes to Terminator Salvation, in that I like it. I love the post-Judgment Day setting, it was something that we got teased in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day and it was always something that I wanted to see more of. Although what we see here isn’t the post Judgement Day world we saw in the first two movies I still liked what I saw. It’s set in the early days of the war against the machines and there aren’t a lot of terminators roaming the ruins, there seem to be more aerial hunter/killer drones that probably locate any survivors and then send in the ground based terminators to deal with them.

From what I can make out this was meant to be the first in a new trilogy of films in the franchise but it just did not do well enough for the next two to be made. This is something that I’m genuinely gutted by as I would have really liked to see where the story went. I’d imagine they would have ended up with the discovery of the time displacement equipment and sending Kyle Reese back to protect Sarah Connor. To me that would have been a beautiful way to end the trilogy.

To the film though, I do like it but it does have its issues. One of the biggest is that it didn’t feel like the director was able to put his stamp on it.  I was worried about McG directing Salvation as I’d seen his Charlie’s Angels films and wasn’t impressed, that said I was surprised with what I saw from him here. Some of the shots were beautifully put together and the look of the film was very good, very genuine. The action looked good too. It just felt a little safe, a little by the numbers. Now I’m not sure if it’s a case that McG hadn’t quite got the directing chops to put his stamp on it, of if the studio or others involved in the film reigned him in too much. Either way it didn’t have a strong identity which I felt left the film missing something to make it stand out.

Christian Bale was good as John Connor. I thought he showed good intensity, and the pressure from what he knew, well. I liked that they didn’t make him too cold and isolated. There’s a couple of sweet scenes between him and Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays his wife Kate Connor, that shows that he doesn’t carry all of this burden himself. She’s become his rock by this time and although Howard doesn’t have a lot to do in the film, what she does she looked natural doing.

I could have done without the Marcus Wright storyline. It felt forced, like they needed to one up the previous films. Aside from the odd accent slip, I can’t fault Sam Worthington, though. I thought he had a good vibe and showed a decent range as his character tried to figure out what the hell was going on. If the Marcus Wright storyline hadn’t of been there then there would have been no need for the Moon Bloodgood role of Blair Williams. She plays an A-10 pilot who gets shot down and meets Wright and takes him to Connor. Bloodgood was okay in the role, but like the Marcus Wright storyline, her character felt a little forced in some respects. It felt like she was only there to help the Marcus Wright character grow. It feels a little like they wanted her to be the strong female warrior character that Linda Hamilton pulled off so well as Sarah Connor in Terminator 2, but the character wasn’t given the freedom to take that mantle.

Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese was good. I liked the youthful urge to fight and rebel that he put into the character. He was jokey and hadn’t been through the toughest parts of the war yet, in fact I don’t think he’d seen much combat at this point in his life. I think that would have come in the next two films and I think we would have seen that enthusiasm to fight diminish as his character saw so much death and suffering. The character of Star really wasn’t needed. She was sweet, but again, felt a little forced into the story.

A minor character I wanted to see more of was that of Barnes, played by Common. I think Barnes may have been Connor’s second in command, but regardless of that I just wanted to see more of him. Common looked good on screen and there seemed to be a lot going on with him.

And just a final shoutout to Michael Ironside. Fantastic actor and I love seeing him pop up in places like this.

Overall, I like Terminator Salvation a lot. It’s a fun film to watch that has more than a few nods to its predecessors and set a few seeds for future films that we never saw. Easily my third favourite terminator movie.

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Batman Vs. Superman & Suicide Squad

This year we see DC really go big in the movie world with Batman Vs. Superman and Suicide Squad, with Batman Vs. Superman in just a few weeks.

Now, I’m a confessed Marvel fan, but I do like the character of Batman and all of the pieces around him. Gotham and the characters that challenge Batman I think are really quite fascinating, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how DC pull this off.

Even though I am a huge Marvel fan, I’m not of the mindset to hate or belittle DC like a lot of people seem to like doing. Marvel have pioneered this Cinematic Universe idea and I’m quite excited to see what DC do (lets face it, if we’re getting all these films and they’re good then we as the fans win).

I’ve never been a huge fan of Superman; that said I did like Man Of Steel quite a lot. I’m a bit of a fan of Zach Snyder and there wasn’t much in Man Of Steel that I didn’t like. I thought Henry Cavill was very good as both Clark Kent and as Superman, but I thought most of the cast had were spot on.

Onto Batman though, I think the Dark Knight is becoming one of my favourite characters out there. Although I liked the Christopher Nolan Batman films I was never blown away by them, but I love the Tim Burton ones. I’m not worried about Ben Afflect as Batman/Bruce Wayne though; from what I’ve seen of him in the trailers I’m quietly optimistic about seeing the Bruce Wayne I want to see. As Batman I think he’s going to rock it, but it’s going to be as Bruce Wayne that I’m eager to see what he does with it. That was one of my major issues with Nolan and Christian Bale’s Batman. Bruce Wayne seemed more like an obnoxious playboy than a business leader, but with the advertising for the film I’ve seen I’m hoping we get a Bruce Wayne who, as far as the public is concerned, is quite happy in his life and is enjoying running Wayne Enterprises.

So, I am looking forward to seeing Batman Vs. Superman. I wasn’t really bothered about it until I saw the first trailer, and how it showed that Bruce Wayne was in Metropolis on the day that Superman and Zodd battled it out.

Suicide Squad though, that’s the one of these two films that I am really looking forward to. That first trailer really blew my mind away. It looked creepy and dark as hell, and the bare few seconds we see of Jared Leto’s Joker was genuinely terrifying. The whole trailer sold me though, there was nothing in it that caused me any concerns. Then the second trailer was released, and its got a totally different tone to that of the first trailer. This second trailer has given the film quite a humorous feel to it. So I’m kind of looking forward to seeing what the final film is like. With how the Joker, in particular looks, I think it is going to be quite dark, but I’m hoping it does have some decent humour in it because if it’s just dark then it could be quite a hard watch. So I’m hoping the director, writers, and the rest of those involved have managed to craft a film that has a good balance of the two.

I think both films are going to be good, but I’m really hoping to be blown away; and I’m hoping it gets me excited for the forthcoming Wonder Woman and Justice League films and what DC have got coming in the future.

 

Movie Monday: Reign Of Fire

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Todays Movie Monday post is looking at a personal favourite of mine, Reign Of Fire. This Movie which stars Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey and Izabella Scorupco and shows a world where Dragons have woken after, well a bloody long time, and have all but exterminated the human race. Quinn (Bale) leads a small group of survivors who are approached by Van Zan (McConaghey) and his team of Dragon Killers which includes a tank and a helicopter. Piloted by Jensen (Scorupco). Van Zan explains their theory that all of the dragons are female, except one. If they kill that one male dragon then all of the other dragons will die out as they only have a short life span. So they want to go and get this big, mean arse bull dragon.

The characters that Bale and McConaughey play have a great relationship in this movie. It’s hostile and they do come to blows. Bale is he’s steady self in this movie. I think we know what we can expect from him after some of the more high-profile roles that he has had, McConaughey though, that’s a different story. McConaughey has played a wide rang of characters in an equally varied range of movies but this one is the one where he really shows he’s strengths as an actor. I cannot think of any other film where McConaughey plays it like this. He is single-minded, rough, tough and a mean son of a bitch, he is also strong, passionate and fearless. We see McConaughey push his skills to their best here, I’d love to hear what he thinks of the character. Might have to have a look for it.

The story is not to complicated, which I quite like. Sometimes I think we try to get too complicated in our fiction, and lives to be honest. This is a compact film with a good cast and a some very good CGI. Almost all of the dragons are done in a computer but it’s a seamless effort as I never noticed it during the film. Sometimes I’ve noticed CGI which looks like CGI, not often but often enough.

Theres a lot of love in putting this movie together and it can be seen on the screen. If you like a little genre mash-up, and Dragons then I think this is worth a watch. For me it feels a little like a lot of people missed it, which is a shame because it’s a very good film.

Movie Monday: Equilibrium

Equilibrium tells the story of John Preston, A grammaton cleric.  These clerics are there to hunt down anyone who may have stopped taking their Prozium.  A drug that prevents people from feeling.  Anything that may cause someone to have an emotional reaction is illegal and destroyed immediately.  As is any of the citizens of this post dystopian world.  If any of the citizens are found to have stopped taking Prozium then they are incinerated.  After executing his partner (Sean Bean) Preston (Christian Bale) accidentally drops one of his vile’s of Prozium and begins to feel. So he kind of stops taking his Prozium.  During this time he arrests a women, Mary O’Brian (Emily Watson) and she brings out the emotion in him.  Through her he contacts the resistance and agrees to kill Father.  Father (Sean Pertwee) is the dictator who rules and although he is never seen in public video of him is played everywhere reminding people of what happens when banned items are found.

There are a lot of little twists throughout the film.  Things get turned on their head and back again, Preston goes through hell as he discovers emotions and what they mean.  Aside from a feel that this is influenced by Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and no doubt other works that I have not read or watched.

The action scenes are STUNNING! When I first saw it someone said to me it was like The Matrix, but better.  Now I don’t think that it is better than The Matrix, but I don’t think that The Matrix is better than Equilibrium either.  Both films have their own story and both films get that message out.  They are different films, but The Matrix had a much bigger budget and you can tell, but with Equilibrium it has a much more raw feel to it.  The actors give some really strong performances and I could feel Preston’s pain through Christian Bale’s performance.

It is a beautifully shot film with a strong plot and an impressive cast who impress in the film. Equilibrium is absolutely worth a watch.

Movie Monday: The Terminator Franchise

In this edition of Movie Monday I’m going to ramble about the Terminator movies.

***Contains Spoilers***

The Terminator

A cyborg is sent back in time to assassinate the mother, Sarah Connor, of the human resistance leader, John Connor.  At this time she is not even pregnant.  In the future mankind is at war with an Artificial Intelligence called Skynet which all but wiped out humanity.  The Terminator is sent back just as mankind has defeated Skynet.  To protect his mother John Connor sends back a resistance fighter, Kyle Reese.

James Cameron gives us a film which rarely gives the characters time to absorb what is happening to them.  It is one big chase film in some senses.  Arnold Schwarzenegger is The Terminator.  He captures the role perfectly and portrays that heartless killing machine the Terminator is.  I think a big part of the belief he is able to put into the role is he’s size.  Its rare that in everyday life we come across someone of his physic which just adds to the character.  Michael Biehn plays Kyle Reese as a wiry resistance fighter well.  He gives the character a wild, almost eccentric quality which makes him seem crazy.  With Linda Hamilton as the young, and maybe a little naive, lady which both men are targeting.  One trying to kill her and one trying to protect her.  The special effects are outstanding for a film in its time and shows Cameron as a pioneer of special effects.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

In the sequel John Connor is a ten-year old boy living with foster parents as his mother, Sarah Connor, is in a mental asylum after trying to blow up a computer factory.  In his ten years of life John Connor has had his mother preparing him to become this future resistance leader that he is to become one day.  So he’s world has collapsed after she was committed and he was told that she was crazy.  John is rebelling against his foster parents and the law.  Now he is the target of a new Terminator that is sent back to kill him, this Terminator is an advanced prototype and far superior to the earlier models.  As in the first movie the resistance is able to send back a protector, to make sure that the young John Connor survives this assassin from the future.

James Cameron raises the bar with the special effects here.  I first saw this film in my early teens and it blew my mind away, the effects on the T-1000 are brilliant! Robert Patrick plays the T-1000 and he plays it very coldly which serves the character perfectly.  Linda Hamilton returns as a much tougher Sarah Connor.  She has found her inner strength and is efficient in most weapons and is very resourceful.  She is also very single-minded in protecting her son.  Arnold Schwarzenegger does not quite reprise his role as the original terminator but as another machine which is obviously the same exterior model as the previous Terminator.  Again he plays the role perfectly.  Schwarzenegger was born to play this role and no doubt it will be the role that he is most remembered for.

Judgement day is my favourite of the movies.  Partly because it is the first one that I saw and its one of the defining movies ever.  It was not the chase film that The Terminator is, in T2 John and Sarah Connor go on the offensive and take the fight to Skynet, taking the future that they have always know off and trying to prevent any of it happening.

If I ever put together my top 10 movies, this would be in it, fighting for the no.1 spot.

Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines

If I could delete a film from history it would be this one.  Arnold Schwarzenegger is the only main character to return to the franchise and even he could not save it.  Jonathan Mostow directs it and was not the right man for the job.  Going into the film I had a bad feeling as Mostow had Directed U-571, which is a film which claims an American submarine crew captured a German coding machine during World War two when in fact it was British forces that captured it.  That bad feeling was confirmed.  Schwarzenegger’s Terminator is used more for comedy value then any real advancement of the story.   I never thought I would cringe while watching Schwarzenegger playing this role.

The basic plot is a new advanced Terminator is sent back to eliminate John Connor’s lieutenants as well as Connor himself and his future wife, Kate Brewster.  Like in T2: Judgement day John Connor tries to prevent Judgment day from happening with the help of The Terminator and Kate Brewster.

James Cameron was not involved, neither was Linda Hamilton.  If Cameron was not to direct then they should have gone for a visionary director, someone who could bring a whole new element to these films.  The plot had already been done before and if I was writing it I would have focused on the nuclear holocaust which happens at the end of the film.  The Terminator could have gathered John Connor, Kate Brewster and Sarah Connor and got them to safety.  Obviously that would have meant that Linda Hamilton was persuaded to come back to the series, which I would like to think she would have done if her character of Sarah Connor had been given a strong part in the movie.  Claire Danes does well as Kate Brewster, but I was not convinced by Nick Stahl as John Connor.  The character just came across as a whiney little man.  I think an actor who was more physically imposing, or at least had the build to be physically imposing would have been better suited as Stahl is not the biggest of men and add in the way the character was written it made him seem a little pathetic.  Kristanna Loken as the new more advanced terminator tries hard but is not as intimidating as Schwarzenegger or Robert Patrick were.

Maybe I am being a little harsh about this film, but standing against its predecessors it needed to be something special.  It detailed the fall of mankind, and the rise of the machines.  This should have been a film or epic proportions, instead it felt like a cheap knock off.

Terminator Salvation

In this fourth film we see a departure from the time travel element that had been so important in the previous three film.  Here we see a film focused around the events years after Judgement day where John Connor is not quit the leader of the resistance and to a certain degree is still an outsider.  He is also viewed as a prophet of sorts.

The film starts before Terminator 3 happens and we see death row inmate Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) sign his body over to Cyberdyne Systems for medical research after he’s death sentence is carried out.  We never really find out what he does to end up on death row though.  We then shoot forward in time to see John Connor Christian Bale) infiltrating a Skynet base and discovering evidence that a new terminator, the T-800 is being developed.  That base then blows up leaving Connor the sole survivor.  Then he goes to the resistance command and gets authorisation to try out a kill coded for the terminators.  He also learns that he and Kyle Reese are top of a Skynet kill list so he proceeds to try to find Kyle Reese.  Marcus Wright is seen to escape the Skynet base where Connor finds the T-800 plans.  Marcus befriends Kyle Reese before he is captured by Skynet.  After Reese’s capture Marcus becomes friends with resistance pilot Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood) who later helps him escape when Connor and the resistance discover that he is a cyborg.  Marcus saves Connor’s life as he is hunting down the cyborg after his escape and Marcus promises to help Connor get into Skynet’s San Francisco base.  Connor gets into Skynet, saves Kyle Reese, with a little help from Marcus but Connor is fatally wounded so Marcus gives his heart to save Connor’s life.

For me this is a good movie and I did not think that it was going to be any good at all.  From what I can make out I’m in the minority as many people did not seem to like the film.  My biggest doubts about the film came from McG being the director.  I’d seen Charlies Angels : Full Throttle and feared what McG would do with this film, but I am impressed.  The look of the film is unlike anything that we have seen in previous Terminator films, and gives us a new look of the future after Judgment day.  In the first two films we seen snippets of the future and its very dark and the war has been raging for many years.  Here the war has only been going for about a decade so the world is not quite as desolate as it is portrayed in the previous films.

Christian Bale is okay as John Connor, but it’s not he’s strongest role in my opinion.  I’d like to see an actor like Karl Urban or Adrien Brody take on the role.  Bryce Dallas Howard plays Kate Brewster, although I suppose she’s Kate Connor by this point, and has a secondary role but she still plays an important part of seeing the other side of John Connor.  There are a couple of good scenes between John and Kate which is a nice touch.  Sam Worthington almost steals the show as Marcus Wright

The only thing that I really did not like was the ending, I think it could have been done differently and still got the same message across.  That aside I think it’s a good sequel and potentially a good beginning to a new series of movies which tell the story up to the Resistance victory which pushes Skynet to send back The terminator to try to kill Sarah Connor

What’s next?

There are various rumours about where the franchise will be going next.  From what I’ve read the rights to movies has changed hands again and there are rumours that Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed on to do two more movies.  I kind of hope that one is false as I think he’s now a little too old to be running around playing an efficient killing machine, but we will have to wait and see.  I did read one thing that said that Joss Whedon had tried to buy the rights to the films.  I could not think of a better man to oversee any future films although I doubt he will ever have the chance.

If any more films are made they need to be loyal to the original films but at the same time bring something new and groundbreaking to the series, they need people who can raise the expectation in the Terminator films once more and give the fans the movies in this universe we deserve.

The Dark Knight Rises

I went into this film with a very high expectation of this not just being another summer blockbuster but one that is of an epic conclusion to a trilogy that director Christopher Nolan has created.  For me the first two films were two of the best films that I have seen in a long time.  They were nicely put together with a very strong cast, and so was this one.  Do not worry, I will not be putting in any spoilers here.

This really was a good film which did have that epic feel I was looking for.  The cast is brought back and with the additions of Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard and Anne Hathaway.  Christian Bale is very good as both Batman and Bruce Wayne and we see a side of him that I personally havent seen before.  I am a big comic book movie fan but I have never read any of the actual comics.  A friend once said to me that I’m one of those comic book geeks that never read comic books! He has a point 😀  So I do not really know much of the histories of the characters.  For example all I knew of Bane was what I saw of him in the earlier Batman film and in that he seemed like a mindless, clumsy clown.  Not even very menacing in my opinion.  In The Dark Knight Rises Bane was not just muscle but a calculating muscle.  He knew his strengths and that there were few that could match his strength and speed, he was not as sinister as Heath Ledger’s Joker but I think any actor would struggle to match what Ledger did with the joker.  Tom Hardy plays Bane in this movie and he had his mouth and half his face covered for the majority of the movie and he still pulled off a very impressive performance shows his talent and the directors ability as well.  Anne Hathaway as Catwomen does not fail to disappoint either.

There are two things that bothered me about this movie, one of which is a fair bit of it felt rushed.  There are large periods of the movie where I NEEDED to know more about what was happening but so much was, I’m reluctant to say ignored but I think cut out because otherwise this would have been a five-hour movie (why not do it in two parts?) and the other thing that bothered me is something that came across all three movies and that is Gotham city looked different in each film.  In the first film it looked like it was loosely based on New York but it had its own, kind of gothic feel to it.  Wayne Tower especially looked amazing.  In the second film it is quite clearly set in Chicago and Wayne Tower just looks like another skyscraper and not the heart of Gotham.  In the third movie it looks like New York once more but a tidied up New York that no longer has a criminal element eating away at its underbelly.  It’s a continuity failure which does not ruin the film, but it’s noticeable.  Aside from that it is a cracking movie which gives the viewer the epic film that I mentioned.  There is the odd surprise in it and bearing in mind both director and lead actor have said this is their last Batman film, well see for yourself 😉

I just want to say quickly that for me Heath Ledger was the most sinister movie villain I have seen.  When I first heard that he had been cast I was sceptical, not because I disliked him.  I think he was a once in a generation talent and I thought that before he died.  I was sceptical because I only knew the Joker from the old TV series and the Tim Burton movie where Jack Nickleson played him, but Ledger was born to play the Joker.  He took a character who was a little slapstick and made him sinister.  He took the character and made it the nightmare that we needed to see.  Not once during The Dark Knight did I look at the Joker and see Heath Ledger, all I saw was Batman’s deadliest foe.