TERMINATOR: GENISYS REVIEW

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He’s back but should he have bothered? Let judgement day commence (See what I did there) as I tear into the latest offering of the Terminator franchise.

In a nutshell, I enjoyed this a whole lot more than I expected.

So what happens this time? John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back in time to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), but when he arrives in 1984, nothing is as he expected it to be.

I think it really comes down to how much of a Terminator fan. You are. One thing we can settle on. If you didn’t like the first Terminator, then firstly why are you here? And secondly, don’t bother seeing this one.

The original was (NO! IS!) a sci-fi classic. A iconic and incredibly quotable piece of filmmaking. I didn’t think Cameron could top it. Boy oh how I was wrong. Terminator 2: Judgement Day proved that sequels could surpass their predecessor. Taking it to another level.

BUT then we had to have more. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines may have been a cliched-ridden retread of Judgement Day with a wailing Carrie from Homeland. BUT somehow I still enjoyed it (What?). Oh well . . .

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Terminator: Salvation was far far too serious. And Sam Worthington’s story line was a little weak. Different but weak. Plus one brief CGI Arnie cameo? Come on. AND Christian Bale as John Connor?! You couldn’t get any better casting! BUT of course, we all knew he took that far too seriously :/

And now we have another sequel. Another number in a franchise that no one really expected or wanted. Especially after ROTM . . . For some. A snippet of an ageing Arnie fighting his CGI 1984 self and I was sold for this latest offering.

If anything, it got straight to business. Explosions, carnage and mayhem. The inevitable voiceover explaining the consequences of Judgement Day. Even if I noticed the date had changed again. A niggle but one that I kept quiet about.

The only problem was that there would be more of those niggles to come. Courtney seemed a little wooden as Reese to begin with. BUT then he was playing the soldier tasked with saving the resistance and possibly the entire world . . . Apparently.

We have had a number of John Connors in the past (The irony in that statement) but Jason Clarke does enough to hold his own and plays the future saviour well.

The 3D was actually pretty good. Cyborgs and missiles flying out or zipping across the screen in every other scene kept my eyes twitching. Brilliant. Worth the investment. I loved the pace. The film didn’t really drag and within 15 minutes, Reese was already embarking on his biggest mission yet.

BUT this time everything has changed. I will do my utmost NOT to spoil anything BUT I give my warning now.

Something happens that changes everything. Reese goes back to an alternate 1984. What I loved was the shot for shot re-enactment of the original Terminator opening. The alleyway, the clothes store. It ticked all the boxes for continuity for me. The Terminator fan in me buzzing. And once a hooded ageing Arnie revealed himself to his ’84 counterpart, “I’ve been waiting for you”. I had a big grin like a Cheshire cat.

BUT with all the timey wimey guff. I could feel myself asking questions. Does that mean that the events in the other Terminator movies never happened now? That universe now gone. It certainly meant so for the ROTM and Salvation films. Some will rejoice. Others maybe surprised. Game changer?

Things got even more baffling as one of the officers turned out to be a T-1000 in disguise. NO Robert Patrick, guys. Sorry. I was gutted. Not even a CGI version. Byung-hun Lee didn’t do a half bad job. BUT he was always going to fall short of Doggett. Sorry, Kristanna Loken.

On the issue of perfect casting, I couldn’t think of anyone better to play the feisty female fighter that would give birth to the leader of the Resistance than Emilia “Khaleesi” Clarke. Aspects of Sarah Connor’s character may have changed but if anything it was for the good. I loved Linda Hamilton but her 1984 Sarah Connor unfortunately was a blithering mess (And rightly so. She was a waitress in her twenties being chased by a future assassin).

I loved that she was resilient, resourceful and knew what to do. Even if her “Pop” was an emotionally detailed future cyborg. If anyone was a blithering mess, it was Reese. Clarke and Courtney had great chemistry. Which, of course, would be crucial. They worked well and made their inevitable pairing a lot more bearable and watchable.

BUT of course, there is one man. That Austrian bodybuilder who would become one of the most iconic figures in film history. The spewer of a thousand quotes. Oh yes, he’s back! And very much on form. Arnie proves that age hasn’t hindered his commitment or humour.

Surprisingly, he is not in it as much as you think but every time he is, he steals the scene. Some cheeky scientific mumbo jumbo about ageing skin tissue to explain an ageing Arnie and we are good to go. “OLD but not obsolete” mutters the Austrian cyborg. A demented smile spreading across his face. Legend.

Writers Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier don’t do a bad job of tackling the alternate realities. The theorizing did get a little heavy in the middle act after all the mayhem. All they had missing was a mad Doc with a chalkboard in the background. BUT luckily Arnie’s charm politely pokes fun at the ridiculousness of it all and lightens the mood.

It does work. Theoretically speaking. I was just a little annoyed that the trailers revealed a little too much about John. It would have been such a bigger twist if it wasn’t being heavily flogged everywhere. He’s not the John we know, anymore. An interesting development. Some may argue that it is another retread of T2. BUT Skynet messing with the saviour? Come on.

J.K. Simmons was great as O’Brien. A copper who keeps crossing paths with the time travellers over the years. It’s just a shame his character was a little unnecessary. An Oscar winner and still only given tidbits? Really? He still nails it though.

The special effects were fantastic! I was worried from all the early trailers that the new CGI was getting worse and more cartoony. Luckily they must have gone back over the film because the detail was impressive. Still got nothing on Stan Winston’s works BUT not bad. At least Arnie didn’t look like he had silver velcro on his face like the early images offered.

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As I mentioned, Skynet inevitably make an appearance but with a new face. Trust me. The actor they chose for the role will spur a number of ironic time jokes but I’m not going to spoil it. BUT WHO? WHO? WHO could it be?

By the closing moments, I felt baffled and numb. The plot holes and questions increasing as the fiery finale came to a close. Things are definitely left open because the future must still happen for future Arnie to come and save a seven year old Sarah? Because that reality is still happening? Right? Yep. Marks did drop for that.

BUT to get a seal of approval from James Cameron as the film that should have followed on from Judgement Day must mean something. I didn’t see him do that for the others. If there are going to be more instalments of this calibre then I am prepared to keep watching.

I actually feel excited about the next one. And hell, the pay off might not be that bad. It will never top T1 and T2. That was always going to be a huge ask BUT it did tick the majority of the boxes and surprised me. Something I didn’t expect.

GET TO THE MOVIES NOW!

3.5/5

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ENDLESS LOVE REVIEW

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A story we’ve seen done endless times before but surprisingly enough with a light touch and a good cast, quite watchable. Not the worst love story going, but not the best. If you love all that predictable guff, give it a go. The spiel is nothing new. Privileged, if isolated, high school loner  Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde) falls in love with the charismatic rogue mechanic/car valet David Elliott (Alex Pettyfer), against her controlling father’s (Bruce Greenwood) wishes. SHOCK!  What follows is a predictable luvvy duvvy affair that occurs over the summer as the pair fight against their parents and the paths that lay before them.

There is great chemistry between the two leads; the beautiful (if a little skinny) Wilde (who featured in the shambolic Carrie remake and St Trinians franchise) and (I’m sure the ladies will say beautiful) Pettyfer (I Am Number Four/Beastly/Magic Mike). They make two likeable characters, even if you worry they’re going to choke on all the cheese they’re guzzling. I was surprised to see that the two leads were British. Their accents were spot on. It was also interesting to see the number of British actors popping up in this film; Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck) and Emma Rigby?! The girl has gone far from her Hollyoaks days, featuring in all sorts now (The less we say the better Ridley Scott disaster The Counsellor and the US TV series Once Upon a Time in Wonderland). Was it just me or did she have her lips pumped? I digress.

It’s all very easygoing and at times hammy with the OTT speeches of (truth, freedom and above all things . . . ) love but the cast make something that should make you cringe watchable and at times engaging. The awkward glances and exchanges blossom into a summery romance with the usual check list; riding on bicycles together, lying in the field blowing daisies, check, check. Ice cold bitchy girl jealous of loved up couple and intent on tearing them apart in the form of the alluring, if lipped up Rigby. Check. Well, kind of. She doesn’t really kick off until late on. More could have been made of her character. Dayo Okeniyi plays David’s best friend/comic relief Mace (not the spray) very well which splits them the luvvy duvvyness. Richardson and Robert “T-1000” Patrick play their parts well, even if they’re a little too soft and supportive for my liking.

The real star for me is the underrated Bruce Greenwood (the Star Trek reboot franchise/I, Robot) as Mr. Hugh Butterfield. The friction and tension between him and David makes up for all the cheesy romance stuff. He works well with Pettyfer and shows why he should be in more films. His presence, his expressions makes his encounters very watchable and makes for a fiery finale as he fears his influence over his family is fading. There was one unexpected moment and it gets a little more interesting when David’s checkered past is revealed but because of the tone of the film, it’s not as bad or as sinister as you think or could have been. It gets OTT, cheesy, but it’s easygoing, watchable and if you like romance and dramas with cheesy predictable guff, then give it a go. Not as bad as I prepared myself for nor as good but it missed out on a treat releasing this during the summer. More a summery film if anything with the well-shot sun lit locations and bright soundtrack. Could have gone a little darker and been stronger for it 2.5/5

Currently ranks #88 out of 145.

PLEASE NOTE: You might have gathered I’m not a romancey movie guy. Apologies for my terminology. I did my best 😉

BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA REVIEW

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Brilliant, heartwarming, an unexpected treat.

Fifth grader Jesse Aaron’s (Josh Hutcherson) hopes of becoming the fastest runner in his class are dashed when new girl Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb) outruns everybody, including him. However, they soon become friends and create an imaginary world called Terabithia, filled with fantastic creatures.

Firstly, I will admit that I have never read the book so I cannot make comparisons. BUT . . .

The most important thing when watching this film is to remember being a kid. As soon as the pair embark into the forest and create Terabithia, it made me nostalgic of when I once played crazy adventures in the garden.

At first, we see the kids using their imagination and pretending pine cones are grenades BUT as they keep going back, the forest becomes bigger and bolder. Their imaginary kingdom comes to life. The special effects are varied, from slightly cartoonish to visual delights (Understandable to an extent as it is now seven years old).

The film begins with the usual story of isolated bullied school kids who become friends, which makes for a slightly corny if very watchable first hour. The pair tackle their bullies, confront their fears and find escapism from their preoccupied families and stressful situations in a small forest near their homes.

It is a clever touch to see the ‘inhabitants’ of Terabithia reflecting a lot of their problems, with some of the evil crow creatures and trolls mimicking their bullies. An enjoyable romp that in one moment became so much more. I don’t want to say too much about the story because I want people to see this.

There was a twist that actually surprised me. *POSSIBLE SPOILERS* An unexpected tragedy transforms this film from a simple journey of two friends bonding and escaping their worries to one of preparing for the dangers of the real world, grief and growing up.

A subject matter that is delicately dealt with and brilliantly performed with emotional gravitas. A beautiful drama that mixes fantasy with the real world that may be unexpected for the little ones, so be warned.

An uplifting, emotional family drama that is worth a watch. Great writing and a great cast featuring the likes of Robert ‘T-1000’ Patrick as Aaron’s emotionally detached father and the beautiful Zooey ‘New Girl’ Deschanel as the zany music teacher (Why am I not surprised?).

It is great to see how far the young leads Hutcherson and Robb have progressed from this beautiful little film to featuring in bigger affairs such as Hunger Games and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

A surprise for a change.

3.5/5