Video Short: Batman Vs. The Terminator

batman vs. terminatorIt’s the kind of question philosophers have pondered over for millennia. Who would win in a fight: Batman in  a powered exosuit, or Skynet with it’s army of Terminators? This is the question that is explored in this new animated short by Mitchell Hammond. Set in the year 2029, we see Bruce Wayne, who has survived Judgement Day of ’97, fighting alongside the resistance against Skynet and its machine army.

Given Christian Bale’s involvement in both franchises, a crossover of this nature was inevitable. But I can honestly say that this five minute short was way better than watching Terminator: Salvation! Nothing cooler than Batman with all his high-tech gear kicking Terminator ass! Not to mention taking the fight directly to Skynet. Sorry, John Conner, ol’ Batsy beat you to it!

Check it out and enjoy the show. And be sure to comment and join me in demanding a sequel!

Terminator 5 News!

terminator_judgement_dayBefore 2013 ended, some news concerned a certain reboot emerged on the entertainment feed. Yes, after many unconfirmed rumors and updates about the upcoming Terminator relaunch, it now seems that some genuine, studio-backed news have been announced. Foremost amongst these was the casting of the two main characters, Sarah and John Conner.

After much consideration as to who would play role of the woman who gave birth to mankind’s salvation (no, not THAT one!), it has been officially confirmed that Emilia Clarke has been cast. Fans of the HBO miniseries Game of Thrones will instantly recognize her as the British actress who brought Daenerys “Stormborn” Targaryen to life.

emiliaclarke_0This announcement came mere days after the studio announced that it had Jason Clarke in mind to play the role of John Conner. The 44-year old veteran of such movies as Zero Dark Thirty, Great Gatsby, The Chicago Code is a much more seasoned choice than either Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) and Boyd Holbrook (The Host). But he’s grizzled as hell and definitely has the look for John Connor.

What’s more, the casting of a 40 something man to play the son, and a 20 something woman to play the mother would seem to provide some hints as to the plot of the movie. Combined with the recently confirmed title – Terminator: Genesis – there is strong evidence to suggest that the story will revolve around John Conner going back in time to protect his own mother.

Jason Clarke-PhotosEither that, or the movie will consist of relatively equal parts of John Conner fighter the machines in the future, with flashbacks or cut-scenes showing the past, where Sarah battles to ensure her son lives to see the day when he will lead humanity to victory. Difficult to say, but personally I hope they go with the latter, since it offers a chance to cover both aspects of the story while giving the studio a chance to be fresh.

Other confirmed bit of information include that the studio is considering both Garrett Hedlund and Boyd Holbrook for the role of Kyle Reese, John Conner’s father and Sarah’s original protector. Arnold Schwarzenegger has already confirmed that he will be back for the fifth installment, and in the role of a Terminator. None of this “he’s the human template they built them from” crap!

terminator_SCCIt is also been made abundantly clear at this point that the movie will be a reboot of the franchise and the start of a new trilogy, retelling the events of 1984’s The Terminator, and is set for release July 1st, 2015 (Canada Day!). A TV series is also to be produced which will run parallel to the movie trilogy and intersecting at certain points in the trilogy’s narrative. So it won’t be a reboot of the Sarah Conner Chronicles.

All I can say is, this time around, they better get it right! Terminator: Salvation promised to be a reboot of sorts after the relative fizzle that was Terminator 3. But of course, the studio made a terrible blunder there by offering no solid resolution, and instead trying to keep the movie open-ended for the sake of potential sequels. Somehow, learning that Skynet was destroyed, but there was still a war on, just seemed like a transparent money grab.

terminator2_JDThis time around, I’m hoping the lesson will be learned. What we don’t need is a return to the original Terminator storyline. What we need is what we haven’t seen yet, a detailed account of the war against the machines and how it was ultimately won. Sure, bits and pieces were shared through Kyle Reese’s recounting and flashbacks, but that only made the story seem more interesting!

Now, and at last, it would be good if a movie covered the war and only the war. No more time-travel paradoxes, no fate crap (which John Conner repeatedly says does not exist!). Just show us how Conner managed to carve a resistance from a post-apocalyptic landscape, recruited people from the extermination camps, and turned them into an ass-kicking force that managed to stomp the machines and destroy Skynet.

So c’mon, Hollywood! Bring on the carnage!

Sources: denofgeek.com, (2), blastr.com, scified.com

Star Wars News!

at_at_cloudThat look like an AT-AT to you? The Star Wars geek in me earns to think that this sort of manifestation is some kind of indication that there is good news, vis a vis Star Wars upcoming sequels. But the realist in me thinks it’s just photoshop. Who knows? The important thing is, in the weeks leading up to the end of 2012, there were some rather interesting flashes on the news circuit regarding Disney’s recent acquisition.

For starters, there was one development with regards to all the talk about who would direct the next installment in the Star Wars saga. J.J. Abrams, who was rumored to be a top contender, recently admitted in an interview with Empire Magazine that the rumors were true. It seemed that Disney approached him shortly after the merger took place, but he was quick to turn them down:

“There were the very early conversations and I quickly said that because of my loyalty to Star Trek, and also just being a fan, I wouldn’t even want to be involved in the next version of those things. I declined any involvement very early on. I’d rather be in the audience not knowing what was coming, rather than being involved in the minutiae of making them.”

Makes sense. Star Wars and Star Trek are two distinct franchises, and never are the twain supposed to meet, except at ComicCon and tributes to George Lucas (apparently).

starwarsIn addition, there has been some news as to who is slated to write it. And in this respect, it seems that Michael Arndt, the writer who brought us Little Miss Sunshine, will be taking the helm. Yeah, you might say what do stories about family, dysfunction, and coming together in spite of it all have to do with Star Wars?

Hello, people! Look at Luke and Vader! A father who turned evil and then tried to convert/kill his own son. And let’s not forget Han, Chewy Leia, Lando and the droids. Han and Leia used to hate each other, then they had a weird triangle involving her brother! Ick! But then, in spite of that, they fell in love. Oh, and Han hates C3P0, Lando betrayed Han, and Chewy tried to pull Lando’s head off on more than one occasion. On top of all that, they’ve been arrested numerous times, and Han and Lando clearly have a gambling problem.

Throw in some alcoholism and a visit to the Jerry Springer show, and you’ve got the perfect dysfunctional family! And yet, the family works, and even wins wars! And on a more serious note, Arndt is a great writer, as anyone who has seen Little Miss Sunshine can certainly attest. And great writers are great writers, regardless of the genre. And since it seems he harbors a serious love for Star Wars, I’m sure he can be counted on to bring give A game and inject it with some serious passion.

No word yet on who will be cast in the roles of the main characters, but rumors abound. Mark Hamil was an early signee, but whether or not he will be reprising the role of Luke Skywalker is unclear at this time. There’s no telling how far into the future the sequels will be, and depending on that, Hamil may need to be recast in order to avoid any questions of aging poorly! However, some more creative suggestions were made, particularly by the good folks at Geek Tyrant.

Luke-Skywalker-Hamill-YelchinFor example, it was said that if Hamil wouldn’t be cast as Luke this time around, that the role would be ably filled by Anton Yelchin – the 23 year old who rose to fame playing the young Kyle Reese in Terminator: Salvation and Pavel Chekov in J.J. Abrams Star Trek.

Captain-MalSuggestions for Han Solo range from Chris Pine – Captain Kirk in (again) Abrams Star Trek – to Garrett Hedlund from Tron: Legacy and Nathan Fillion from Firely, Serenity and Castle. Do I even need to say it? Fillion for the win, people! He’s already played Solo in the form of Mal, the scoundrel Captain and smuggler with a heart of gold. He would be perfect for the role with his characteristic mix of wit, charm, occasionally seriousness, and general badassery.

anne-hathaway_17Mae Whitman and Anne Hathaway have both been suggested for the role of Princess Leia Organa Solo (yes, they eventually get married), who at this point in the story has gone from Rebel agent to a Senator of the New Republic. Personally, I think Hathaway would be the better choice for the role, for she has some experience capturing Leia’s combination of regality and ass-kicker. She’s also had plenty of experience playing the love interest of many a man in Hollywood cinema.

As for the rest, speculation certainly abounds and will continue to abound for some time. Depending again on when the new movies are to take place, relative to the original storyline, there’s any number of spots they need to cast for. Stay tuned, as I plan to be in the know when things begin to break!

Source: Geek Tyrant, IO9, (2),

Futuristic Guns

Many of these will look familiar, and for good reason. In addition to being futuristic looking, they also happen to be real! For many years, science fiction movies and series have used weapons of legitimate manufacture in order to inspire a futuristic feel.

Calico M960:
Calico960aHere’s a gun that has been featured in several movies, games and television series, and its obvious why. Just look at the thing. A fully-automatic pistol, this baby provides a lot of firepower in a small and uniquely shaped package. As one of the first personal defense weapons to feature a top-mounted magazine, a revolutionary concept for its time which has since caught on bigtime.

Guns of this class were featured in the sci-fi movies Robocop 2, Robocop 3, Total Recall, Virtuosity, and Star Trek: First Contact.

Daewoo K11:
daewook11This gun not only looks futuristic, it is downright revolutionary in its design. Whereas most assault rifles have grenade launchers slug underneath the front barrel, this version carries an launcher mounted on top and fed by a bullpup magazine.

Designed by the Republic of South Korea in 2006, the weapon also comes with a state of the art scope which features the latest in a ballistics computer technology as well as thermal/night vision. I have yet to find a sci-fi franchise which has used it, but time will tell. These things aint cheap, after all!

FN F2000:
f2000As part of the new generation of bullpup assault rifles, the F2000 is of Belgian manufacture that’s been around for the better part of a decade. It’s futuristic features include the revolutionary new handle and trigger grip, bullpup magazine and updated sights.

Because of its aesthetic appeal, the F2000 has been featured in numerous places, including Terminator: Salvation, the Modern Warfare and Ghost Recon video game series, and the upcoming G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra.

HK XM29:
Xm29Also known as an OICW (Objective Individual Combat Weapon), the XM29 is part of the new generation of hybrid assault rifles that features the a secondary bullpup magazine which houses its compliment of grenades.

Much like the K11, this weapon combines the benefits of a 5.56mm assault rifle, a 20mm grenade launcher and an ultra-modern scope that contains a ballistics computer, laser range finder, advanced optics and night vision. It was featured in the Ghost Recon series, Die Another Day, and Universal Soldier: The Return.

KRISS Vector:
kriss1When I first saw this weapon, all I could say was “Wow, now there’s something that doesn’t qualify for home defense!” A .45 caliber weapon, fully automatic, and very compact, this weapon is futuristic, uniquely designed and deadly. A triple threat, quite literally!

And the list of features and featurettes include the upcoming Total Recall remake, Resident Evil: Retribution, the Nikita television series and the Modern Warfare and Ghost Recon game franchises.

Mossberg 500:
mossberg_500_bullpupHere we have a game changer! And interestingly enough, it’s been around for quite some time. Back in 1985, Mossberg decided to upgrade their long lineup of shotgun stocks by taking advantage of the concept of bullpup firearms. Essentially, this means that it is loaded from the rear and ejects spent cartridges from behind the trigger mechanism.

Given it’s futuristic look, it was featured in several sci-fi movies during the 80’s and 90’s, most notably The Running Man, Predator 2, and the film version of Stargate.

NTW-20:
ntw20_1Go big or go home! That seems to be the reasoning behind this 20mm (.78 cal) assault rifle, which comes direct from South Africa, famous purveyor of grisly firearms! As part of an international series of large-caliber rifles which emerged during the 1990’s, this weapon was meant to give snipers the ability to take down armored troops and vehicles. Well, it certainly does that!

In addition to appearing in the movie District 9, it was also featured in the Halo series as the USNC sniper’s rifle. And anyone’s who played that series knows just how powerful that baby is. Blamoo! They all fall down…

PP-2000:
pp_2000Next up, the Russian sidearm of choice for today’s military, police forces, and apparently even cilivians. At least that’s what the designation PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) means. Can’t imagine most houses have any real cause for stocking a 9mm submachine gun, but that’s a matter for the courts.

Because of it’s appearance and popularity with modern armed forces, it was features in the video game series’ Modern Warfare, Ghost Recon, Bad Company, SOCOM, and the Russian sci-fi thriller The Interceptor (Zapreshchyonnaya Realnost).

P90:
P90Here we have yet another PDW that really doesn’t seem to fit that criteria, not when its a compact submachinegun and packs as many as 50 bullets! And in addition to its ammo count, it also boasts two very high-tech advancements, including a top loading magazine and the same handle/trigger grip as the F2000. Not surprising since they have the same maker – Fabrique Nationale (FN) from Belgium.

For obvious reasons, this gun has a long history of making special appearances. Its credits include Equilibrium, I, Robot, Babylon A.D., District B13 and its sequel, and was specifically chosen to be the sidearm of choice on the shows Stargate and Stargate: Atlantis.

Steyr AUG:
Steyr_augAnother popular item, and one which I’m sure everyone out there is familiar with. Invented back in 1978 by the Austrian-based Steyr company, this weapon was the first assault rifle to introduce the bullpup loading design. On top of that, its appearance is downright futuristic!

It too has a long list of credits, including Robocop 1 and 2, Predator 2, District B13, as well as the television shows Red Dwarf, Space: Above and Beyond, and Firefly.

Okay! There’s more, of course, but ten examples is kind of my limit. And because I think something like this could go longer than I’m willing to type… at least in one sitting. Enjoy the gun show (no bad pun!) and see y’all next time.

Updated Review List

Hello, and welcome to my updated review list. After many, many reviews and plenty of change-ups in the lineup, I decided it was time to revise my master playlist. I do this mainly for the sake of being succinct, seeing as how I put up three in the last two months. The first was dedicated to initial ideas for reviews, the second to all the ones I forgot, and a third for animes that I realized were being neglected. There was also the constant need to go back and alter these lists so that I could indicate which reviews were covered and when. So to simplify things, here is my new master list, with the titles that have already been covered listed first with the date of their review provided. As usual, I will try to stick to this lineup, but some of the later ones might be brought forward if it seems like its taking too long to get to them.

Enjoy! Oh, and fyi, suggestion are still welcome!

1. Terminator: Salvation – July 7th
2. Independence Day – July 9th
3. Blade Runner – July 10th
4. Alien franchise (movies 1 through 4) – July 10th, July 11th…
5. Dune (1984, and the 2000 miniseries) – July 14th, 16th, and 18th
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey – July 21st
10. Starship Troopers – July 28th
11. Akira – Aug. 2nd
12. The Terminator franchise (movies 1 through 3) – Aug. 7th, Aug. 13th…
13. Equilibrium – Aug. 14th
14. The Star Wars prequels – Aug. 24th and 25th
15. The Matrix Trilogy – Sept. 4th, 11th, and 17th
16. Strange Days – Oct. 18th
17. Ghost in the Shell
18. V for Vendetta – Oct. 21st
19. Avatar – Sept. 29th
20. District 9
21. I, Robot – Sept. 27th
22. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
23. 28 Days Later – Oct. 28th
24. Ninja Scroll
25. A Clockwork Orange
26. Predator franchise (1, 2, and Predators)
27. Screamers (first in the Philip K Dick lineup)
28. Impostor
29. Paycheck
30. A Scanner Darkly
31. The Adjustment Bureau (finishing off the PKD segment)
32. Lord of the Rings (like I said, some fantasy will slip in, and allowances must be made for such classics!)
33. Willow (another fantasy honorable mention)
34. Solaris (the original and the Soderberg remake) – thanks to Tom Sharp for the suggestion!
35. Inception
36. Metropolis
37. Princess Mononoke
38. Vampire Hunter D.
39. Sunshine
40. Children of Men
41. The Watchmen – Oct. 12th
42. Tron (original, and Legacy)
43. Wall-E
44. Twelve Monkeys
45. Iron Man

Of Plot Holes and Oversights…

Hello again. Today I thought I’d break with the norm and do another “best of” post. Thing is, this time around I didn’t want to do one dedicated to “best lines” or anything like that. No, today I thought I’d tackle some of the worst moments in movie history. And if there’s one thing I’ve noticed plenty of in my collection of bad reviews, it’s plot holes! Those rare moments that make you stop and say “Uh… what?” Or the kind that make you want to reach out, grab the director by the ears and say “That makes no f@!%@%$ sense! What the hell were you thinking?” Not literally, of course. That’d be creepy, Kathy Bates in Misery creepy.

So, with that in mind, and inspired by all the moments that have made me – and I’m sure others – want to pull out my hair, here’s a list of some of the worst plot holes and oversights I have ever seen. Yep, its a veritable “best of the worst”! And who knows? This might just become a regular thing. There’s certainly no shortage of material. And on the chopping block for today: Independence Day, Terminator: Salvation!, and Equilibrium!

Independence Day:
As far as plots go, this movie was a doozy. In fact, it was lot more enjoyable if you checked your brain at the door and didn’t ask too many questions. But, inevitably, at some point you had to pick your brain up, reinstall it, and deal with all the logical inconsistencies it was sure to raise. Here were the one’s that came to my mind:

The Signal: Remember how Jeff Goldblum, a cable man, picked up on that alien signal, the binary code that was being transmitted using Earth’s satellites? Remember how NO ONE ELSE noticed the same thing? That’s right, the guy who installs your HBO noticed something that all the cryptologist and covert brains at the CIA, NSA, and NASA did not. But of course, Director/Writer Roland Emmerich had that one covered. Apparently, the signal was “subtle!”

Backdraft: This is a minor point, but it was still insulting! During the aliens’ assault on LA, Vivica A Fox, her son, and their dog Boomer were all trapped in a freeway tunnel. Whereas most people were consumed by the fire, they survived by hiding in a workman’s shed. Only problem with this is, the fireball went right by the open doorway and left them untouched. Funny, I always thought fire expanded to fill empty spaces. Forgot about the shed exception!

Small World: Remember how Will Smith managed to fly a commandeered helicopter into LA after the aliens leveled it to retrieve Vivica A Fox and her son? Yeah, how did he find them exactly? And what the hell happened to all those alien ships that were shooting down anything that flew? More importantly, how did Vivica A Fox manage to find the First Lady and the downed White House helicopter? Come to think of it, this movie was full of these kind of unlikely reunions! Why, for example, did Will Smith decide to wander to Area 51, hundreds of miles away from his airbase and where he got shot down? Was it just because the president and several other main characters happened to be there? And how is it that the big caravan of mobile homes, with Quaid and his family in it, manage to meet up with him in the middle of the desert? How small is LA? Or the Nevada Desert for that matter?

The Plan: Remember how Goldblum came up with the big world-saving plan towards the end? The one that involved planting a computer virus in the mother ship, yadda yadda yadda… Yeah, how did he manage to figure out how to crack the alien’s technology? We’re talking about a race with vastly superior technology. So not only was a cable man able to detect an alien signal that the best minds at NASA, the CIA and NSA could not, he was also the only one who could figure out how to bring them down. Oh yeah, and how does Will Smith know how to fly an alien ship? He saw one in combat… I’ve seen fighter jets in combat, does that mean I can fly one of those? I’d like to think so! Emmerich raised the holes in this one too, but he dismissed them by putting them in the mouth of a douche bag character who we weren’t likely to listen to! Seriously, by the time he was done bitching about the logical inconsistencies of this plan, we were ALL hoping he’d be fired. And then he was… yay!

The Mother Ships: Remember those big alien ships that had shields that could withstand nukes? Remember how when they went down, the US airforce started ripping one to shit with their missiles? Same with the alien fighters, they blew right up when hit with mere bullets. Seems odd… you’d think solid metal hulls that are capable of withstanding the intense pressure and heat of space flight and atmospheric entry would be able to withstand bullets and air to air missiles. Granted they DID say they weren’t doing ENOUGH damage, but the fact that they were doing much at all was a bit of a surprise. But that wasn’t nearly as odd as the stunt Randy Quaid pulled. Remember how the big alien ships had those big alien ray guns, the ones that could level entire cities? Yeah, turns out that if you fly a single jet into the barrel of one, the entire ship will explode… How the hell does that work?! Does putting your finger in the barrel of a gun make the gun explode? No, it makes your finger explode as the bullet rips through it and anything else in the way! And this was with a freaking city-leveling laser! In short, Randy Quaid’s plane should have exploded harmlessly beneath the gun, not blown the whole ship up! But that would have been way less heroic… Funnier, but less heroic.

Man that was a stupid movie! Fun, but stupid!

Terminator: Salvation:
Here was a movie that started off good but got real messed up towards the end! Yep, as soon as they dropped the hammer and revealed everything, you got to see how little sense this sequel really made. I tell ya, it had so many holes, you’d think a Terminator took a gatling gun to it!

The List: So the machines made a hit list in this movie with Kyle Reese’s name at the top and Conner’s not far behind, right? And they also created a man-machine hybrid in the form of Marcus, right? And their plot all along was to have him help them kill Reese and Conner so they would win the war, right? Right! So… why the hell didn’t he just kill them? What was the point of delivering Reese and Conner into their lair if the goal was to kill them all along? That’s like the long-movie equivalent of a villain putting James Bond into some complicated death machine instead of just shooting him! It’s like, if you want him dead, why put him in a situation he can actually get out of? You’re life not challenging enough as it is? Especially with Reese, Marcus had him at gunpoint twice within the first thirty minutes! First time when he stole his shotgun, second time when he was showing him how to hold said shotgun. Boom! Movie’s done! But instead, we get a big convoluted plot where they end up being captured, apparently thanks to Marcus, when it seemed like all he was doing from the beginning was try to help them!

“That was our plan all along!”: Marcus spent the first portion of the movie wandering from the desert to the ruins of LA. There, he met (totally by coincidence) Kyle Reese. Reese and his little friend were captured IN SPITE of Marcus’ efforts to protect them, not because of them. Marcus then found John Conner (again, purely by coincidence), and convinced him to let him go to Skynet’s base so he could save them. John then went to that base to save Reese as well because the resistance was planning on attacking it. So really… how was Skynet orchestrating all this from the beginning? Seems to me that everything that happened up until this point was well beyond its control. Contrived? Hell yes! But saying that this all be part of some master plan doesn’t make it any less so. If anything, it’s just a weak-ass attempt at justifying these contrivances by tying them all together.

The Future: How did Skynet know that Conner would somehow come to defeat it? How did it know that Reese was his father? Finally, how his did it know that it had failed repeatedly to “get John Conner” in the past? The only way Skynet could have known how the future would work out is if someone told it, just like how Conner knew about the future because his mother told him (and she was told by Kyle Reese). In short, someone who has actually been there needs to come back and tell you. And that bits ruled out by the fact that all three Terminators that came from the future were destroyed. So really, how does Skynet know a thing about this whole temporal thing? It got a crystal ball, some kind of device that can see the future? Nuh-uh!

Chip in the neck: If Skynet wanted to control Marcus, which apparently they were doing all along (though he didn’t know it and it really didn’t seem like they were), why do it through a chip he could easily remove? Why put the damn chip in his neck? Why not his brain? Just like with the whole delivering Reese and Conner to them, this seemed like an easily fixable situation. Rip, rip! Problem solved! Remember how Skynet said to Marcus, “You cannot save John Conner”? Well… yeah, actually he could! And thanks to Skynet’s stupid, convoluted planning, that was exactly what he did!

The Machine HQ: Did you notice how at the end of the movie, the Resistance people just show up and pull Conner, Reese and Marcus out of the base? Didn’t that seem remarkably easy? What about those gun towers and other defenses we just saw? What happened to those? Were they just for show? And if it was this easy, why couldn’t they have done it way back when and shaved a couple years off the war?

Temporal Paradox thingy: We know from the first and second movie that Conner exists because Reese went back in time and had sex his mother. We also know that he didn’t go back in time until after they broke into the machine HQ, presumably in 2029, destroyed Skynet and discovered the time machine. But in this alternate future, where Judgement Day happened later and the Resistance destroyed Skynet sooner (2018), there was no time travel to speak of. Sure they shamelessly and senselessly said that the war was still on because Skynet’s “global network” was still out there, but if Skynet is gone before it built its time machine, wouldn’t that mean that no time travel ever took place, and John Conner therefore wouldn’t exist? Think about it! Conner exists because Reese had sex with his mom, but if Skynet was destroyed 11 years before he was supposed to go back in time, then it would never have built the time machine, Reese would never have gone back, and Sarah Conner would never have gotten pregnant with him. Come to think of it, the same holds true of the Terminators and even Judgement Day! No time machine, no Terminators going back, no basis for Skynet’s creation… Whoa! I just went cross-eyed!

Wow, that’s a lot of holes. Am I being too harsh? I mean, I wanted to like this movie. Really, I did! But it made it just so damned hard!

Equilibrium:
Worst for last! This movie had holes so big a truck could pass through them! Seriously, by the end, you were taking stock of them all and realizing that they essentially rendered the entire premise moot. Where to begin…

Cleric Extraordinaire: So the movie starts with us being told that Bale’s character is like the prodigal son of Grammaton Clerics (not too subtle reference to the movie’s religious tone here!). Way he puts it, he’s always been able to get inside “sense offenders” (sex offenders!) heads and know how they think. And yet, this guy not only failed to notice his wife was an offender, but his children too! Turns out, she was loving him in secret for years, and the kids stopped taking their Prozium after she was hauled off to be incinerated. So really, that means he was living in a house full of offenders for years and didn’t even notice! If he’s the best they got its little wonder why they lost to the Underground!

“Don’t lie to me!”: There are countless examples of people who are supposed to be emotionless showing emotion in this movie. Taye Diggs does much of that with his constant smiling, but by far the worst was Angus MacFadyen’s huge outburst. Seriously, how did Bale’s character not notice that? I know, truth was he was never taking his Prozium, but that’s not supposed to be common knowledge. You’d think he’d be a bit more subtle than to slam his fist down on a table and yell at someone. Especially a man who is specially trained to seek out and kill the kinds of people who do that. But then again, this is the same guy who didn’t notice that his wife and kids were offenders, and they were doing it for years. Yeah, he’s safe!

Gun Switch: Ah, yes! The scene where Bale switches guns with Diggs, and then frames him for the murder he already committed by using his gun to do it. Wait, what? Yeah, that’s how it played out in the movie. Bale framed Diggs for the murder of several officers of the state by (apparently) using his gun to do it. Problem is, he didn’t swap guns with him until AFTER the event. Only way this would make sense was if he already switched them, committed the murders, and was just giving him his own weapon back at this point. That would have worked just fine. All that would be needed is an added scene or a flashback showing Bale how stole his gun beforehand. The other way, the way it happened in the movie, makes no damned sense! Sloppy stuff like that makes the audience think someone in the editing booth was either asleep at the wheel or high! Maybe they had the right idea!

“We planned this”: By the end, Bale is about to meet “The Father”, but realizes he’s been had. Turns out, his nemesis Diggs is alive, his whole mission to find the Underground was a ruse, and he himself was selected because apparently they thought he was a latent sense offender and just hadn’t realized it yet. Uh… how did they know this exactly? I mean yes, he did BECOME a sense offender, but that was the result of an accident! He somehow forgot to stock up on Prozium, broke his last vial, and the damn pharmacy was closed! That’s how it all began, the result of an unlikely, totally implausible accident. So really, how could they have foreseen this and planned it all out? Man, its just like what Terminator: Salvation did, except Wimmer did it sooner! Note to all writers and directors out there, DON’T IMITATE KURT WIMMER! I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but his movies aren’t exactly getting nominated for most original screenplay!

“I Feel!”: By the very end, we learn that MacFadyen, the true leader of Libria, is himself a sense offender. Makes sense in a “we ripped off” 1984 kind of way, the leaders are hypocrites who don’t follow their own rules. But really, this means that the head of this dystopian state has been breaking the rules all along and no one seemed to have noticed. Either that or all his colleagues in government were doing the same, how else could he have gotten away with it? With all the Clerics, informants and surveillance devices they have out there monitoring for offenders, wouldn’t it have been really easy to spot a public figure exhibiting emotion? Am I over-thinking the bit? Probably. At this point, the movie is over anyway so who the hell cares?

Man that was a stupid movie. No, no addendums to that statement – like it was still fun, so long as you checked your brain at the door. It was just a stupid, stupid movie!

Well, that’s all for now. I could go on, but I’m already in a bad mood just thinking about all these plot f$@*-ups! Quite frankly, I’d like to get back to reviewing books or movies that I actually enjoyed. And seeing as how I finally got my hands on a copy of Idoru, I think I’ll do just that. Stay tuned!

Coming reviews!

Not long ago, I plotted a list of movies that I wanted to review in the coming weeks and months. Thus far, I’ve fulfilled on the two of the first three I promised: Terminator: Salvation and Independence Day. However, the third movie I planned to do (Transformers 2) has dropped from the list. Why review a movie so bad that even the director and lead star admitted that they thought it was a mistake? Especially when there are so many superior movies out there that are more deserving of attention? So, to simplify things, and give myself something that I can stick to, I’ve prepared the following list of sci-fi movies that I hope to review:

1. Terminator: Salvation – July 7th
2. Independence Day – July 9th
3. Blade Runner – July 10th
4. Dune (1984, and the 2000 miniseries) – July 14th, 16th, and 18th
5. 2001: A Space Odyssey – July 21st
6. The Terminator franchise (movies 1 through 3) – Aug. 7th, Aug. 13th…
7. Alien franchise (movies 1 through 4) – July 10th, July 11th…
8. A Clockwork Orange
9. Akira – Aug. 2nd
10. Starship Troopers – July 28th
11. Predator franchise (1, 2, and Predators)
12. Screamers (first in the Philip K Dick lineup)
13. Impostor
14. Paycheck
15. Lord of the Rings (like I said, some fantasy will slip in, and allowances must be made for such classics!)
16. A Scanner Darkly
17. Willow (another fantasy honorable mention)
18. Solaris (the original and the Soderberg remake) – thanks to Tom Sharp for the suggestion!
19. The Adjustment Bureau (finishing off the PKD segment)
20. Inception
21. The Star Wars Trilogy
22. The Star Wars prequels – Aug.24th and 25th
23. V for Vendetta
24. Avatar
25. District 9

That’s a tentative list for now. As the weeks go on, I might feel the need to revise or reshuffle the list, depending on new ideas or just my mood! And as I said earlier, suggestions are welcome and I’ll be sure to give a shout out to whoever puts an idea in my head or convinces me to include something I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. In spite of my enthusiasm for science fiction and movies based on popular novels, there are still many authors and hidden gems I have not yet gotten into. So let me know what you think, and moving on! Next up, Blade Runner!

Terminator: Salvation!

Hello and welcome to my first film review! Yes, much like my idea for a beer blog and my desire to write, it seems that a forum and an idea have once again come together to give me a chance to express my inane thoughts. Funny how that works, I guess the universe really does have a sense of humor! And as with all those other things, I value feedback and other opinions highly, so please feel free to drop a line and offer your own thoughts on all the subject matter I choose to review. After all, good films and cult classics need to be praised, or trashed, as the case may be. Furthermore, I would welcome suggestions as to what movies people would like to see reviewed. After all, what constitutes a cult classic is open to interpretation, and I’m currently looking for ideas for what to do down the road. That being said, let’s get to my first review…

As promised, I’ve decided to dedicate my first post to the relatively recent movie Terminator: Salvation, the fourth and most recent installment in the Terminator franchise. I say most recent (as opposed to say, last) because of the rather shameless hints that were dropped at the end of the film, but more on that later… And, just to be a nice guy, I’ve also decided to throw in some headers that looks like this (Background—>), (Content—>), and (Synopsis—>). This way, people can skip whatever sections they don’t want to read, cuts down on reading time. Yes, I am verbose, but at least I admit it! Anyway, it’s time to get down to business! Terminator: Salvation!

(Background —>)
When I first heard the film was coming out, I was hopeful. In fact, I was downright excited, seeing as how the last installment (Terminator 3) was a relative flop-fest that seemed totally unnecessary and was generally panned by critics and fans. And the way I saw it, this movie was supposed to do for Terminator what the Dark Knight (also starring Christian Bale) had done for the Batman franchise. My hopes were high, and I can honestly say I was genuinely impressed with the movie for the first hour or so. As hinted at in the previews, it was action-packed and pretty gritty, presenting the world of Judgement Day and the Resistance. And since that’s what fans came to see, I went in thinking that the movie would make good on these promises.

Then, the climax came… and all those hopes fell to pieces. Yep, the movie had the dubious honor of being pretty good up until the ending, at which point the audience is left with a contrived explanation for everything that’s happened and leaves the viewer thinking: “Really? That’s what they decided to do with this? REALLY?” Yes, the ending left a bad taste in my mouth that only seemed to get worse the further I got away from the movie theater. What should have been a fun movie that ended the franchise on a high-note was instead a contrived, forced story with a heavy-handed message about sacrifice and redemption and an over the top, totally implausible climax that was also meant to be open-ended. This last aspect of the film was especially bothersome, since it felt like this was a rather crass attempt to hedge the movie’s bets, letting the audience know another movie could be coming, if only this one made enough money!

But I digress… To recap, this movie was supposed to explain how John Connor and the resistance took down the machines in the future. This is pivotal to the entire plot of the franchise, the very reason why Skynet began sending Terminators into the past, to kill John Connor, the man who would lead the resistance to victory. Similarly, it is why Connor and the resistance began sending back their own people, to ensure Connor exists so that their victory will be assured. In the course of all this, we are treated to a temporal paradox. By trying to protect the future, they essentially created that future. Kyle Reese becomes Connor’s father and the remains of the destroyed Arny machine are found and become the basis for Skynet’s development; hence Judgement Day and the victory of the resistance over the machines becomes inevitable. Then, in movie two, the characters try to break this paradox by destroying the company that invented Skynet and every trace of its research. And, once they’ve killed the evil T1000, Arny sacrifices himself in order to ensure that no trace of the technology will ever fall into the wrong hands. Cool, smart, and virtually seamless. Since the rise of the machines was not totally ensured until Arny himself was destroyed, no obsessive critic could say “if they blew up Skynet, shouldn’t that be the end of the movie? Would Arny and the T1000 just, like, disappear?”

But of course, the studios decided a third had to be made. I mean, no sense retiring a franchise just because the story ended, right? Not when there’s still millions to be made! Naturally, this would prove difficult since the third movie took place after Judgement Day was supposed to have happened (Aug 29th, 1997). How were they to explain this, you might ask. Well, simple! The main characters didn’t stop Judgement Day in movie two, they only postponed it. It’s inevitable, and everything they do in the third movie only ensures that it happens as foretold. Not so smart and seamless, kind of flaccid really, but what the hell? If nothing else, it opened the franchise up again, which was what many fans wanted. Terminator 1 and 2 were box office smashes and critical delights, cult classics and just downright awesome! The studios couldn’t end it all there, so one crappy movie to get things rolling again could be seen as forgivable, provided the fourth one put things back on track.

Yeah, well… that might have been the case had the movie delivered on what was supposed to be its aims. One, show the world of the future, post-Judgement Day, where the machines and resistance are battling. Two, explain how Connor and the resistance brought them down, bring us to the point where the Terminators were sent back in the first place. That’s all… just work within the framework established by the other movies, and don’t do anything stupid like try to throw in another paradox or up the ante with an even bigger crisis. But of course, that’s what they did…

(Content—>)
At the very beginning, the movie introduces us to Marcus, a convict who gave his body to science via the Skynet corporation. Then, we are quickly brought to the future where Connor is a player in the resistance, but not yet its leader. He stumbles onto a facility in an opening action sequence that is cool, but kinda inexplicable (why, for example, did the machines set off a nuke in the distance?) Then, in the ensuring sequences, we are fed two plot tidbits. One: the raid put the resistance in possession of a master list the machines have been compiling, a list of everyone they wanna kill! The name at the top of the list, followed shortly thereafter by Connor’s and the names of all the resistance leaders… is Kyle Reese! Cue scary music! You see, Reese is still a boy at this point in the story and has not yet joined the resistance. If he were to die, Connor would cease to exist, and the resistance would be screwed. Oh, and the other tidbit, the resistance has figured out a way to shut the machines down using some kind of high-frequency thing, and they are planning their final strike with it on Skynet itself.

Then, out comes Marcus, the confused and obvious man-machine hybrid. The audience has the benefit of knowing this already thanks to all the trailers and spoilers. The only question is, what the heck is his purpose? Why was he created and what is he going to do? Well, after wandering from the facility the resistance just attacked, he runs into (of all people!) Kyle Reese. Through him he learns of the resistance and Connor, and then the boy and his little mute friend are captured. He then runs into a resistance fighter, played by the always smoking Moon Bloodgood! A budding romance forms, even though the two have absolutely no chemistry and the whole thing feels forced (but on behalf of men everywhere I think I can safely say, that shower scene was pretty damn hot!) Oh, and speaking of forced, were also treated to some obvious hints that Marcus is, despite his past, a nice man who’s looking for redemption. Then, of course, the wandering continues and they get back to the resistance base, where Connor just happens to be in charge. Shortly thereafter, Marcus steps on a land mine, and his secret is out. HE’S A MACHINE! (more scary music!)

Now Connor is left to ponder over the mystery of the man. Here we have a Terminator that walked right into his lair, has no idea he’s a Terminator, and is telling him he needs their help to rescue the kid who will grow up to be Connor’s father. The kid is currently in the machines HQ, and an attack on that place is impending. We can smell the tension at this point, as we are all well-aware of the fact that if the attack is carried out and Kyle Reese dies, that Connor will never exist and the machines will win. Things are beginning to make sense. So what does Connor do? Let’s Marcus go because he thinks he has a shot at getting into Skynet’s base, and follows him in himself, but only after he’s given all the resistance cells who listen to his pirate radio broadcasts the message that they are to disobey their orders and hold off on the attack. And with Marcus inside the facility, things finally come together. Some programming things takes over, he wakes up after being repaired by the machines, and the big, mean Skynet computer lets him in on everything.

And, as I said before, the explanation is bunk! The part about the “signal” was kind of neat. It’s a Trojan Horse, you see. Instead of shutting down the machines, its actually a tracking signal which the machines are now using to locate all the resistance’s positions and destroy them. But the rest? Bunk! I know at this point they want to make us think that all hope is lost so we start caring and get all emotionally involved, but man, what a stupid attempt at trying to tie all the loose ends together! In essence, Marcus was designed with the foresight that a man-machine hybrid would somehow manage to wander the desert, find Reese, find Connor, and deliver them both to Skynet so they could be killed. That was his purpose from the beginning, and what seemed like coincidences was in fact Skynet pulling his strings.

Really? I mean, aside from seeming highly contrived and way too convenient, the explanation is devoid of any and all logic! If the machines wanted to do what they’ve done many times over now and send out a machine to get Connor, and by extension Reese, why not just program him to kill them? Hell, Marcus had Reese at gun point twice in the movie, within the first half hour! If he was under Skynet’s control, why not just tell him to pull the trigger? Second, he was well within range of John Connor on multiple occasions too. If his death is what Skynet wants, why not let him kill him? Why the stupid game of cat and mouse, luring him to the base and all that? One shot, bang! and the movie’s over. I know, then the movie would end abruptly. But I mean c’mon! Both these people are supposed to be at the top of the machines hit list for Christ sakes! And as Connor’s father, if Reese were to die wouldn’t that make Connor disappear from the face of the Earth, thus taking out both of their biggest worries and making their victory inevitable?

But even more nonsensical was the fact that Marcus, now supposedly under Skynet’s control at this point, just reaches into his neck and yanks out the chip that’s in there, cutting off Skynet’s control over him, and goes off to save them both. A chip in his neck? That’s how Skynet was controlling him? Why not his brain? Why not somewhere where he wouldn’t be able to get at it? In fact, what the hell was the point in letting him keep his brain and heart but turning them rest of him into hardware? The flesh I can understand, you gotta put a facade on his exterior so he can get past the guards. And even the brain bit I could understand, that could be seen as a way of making sure he retained his humanity, so no one would guess he was an AI by his total lack of feeling… but the rest of him? Hell, the heart was just an obvious Deus ex Machina which comes out at the end. The rest served no purpose! But once again, I’m getting ahead of myself…

The other problem I had with this climax was obvious. How does Skynet know how things are supposed to unfold? I know that at this point in the story, everyone knows about the prophecies and the future, as told by Connor, but he has all this knowledge because he was told about it by those who were actually THERE! Kyle Reese told his mom what was going to happen and she told him, simple! The machines? They got no crystal balls, they got no people from the future telling them how its going to be. So how do they know Reese is Connor’s father? How do they know Connor is the one who will destroy them? How, for that matter, do they know that they’ve repeatedly failed to “get John Connor” as Skynet puts it? It wasn’t until Connor and the resistance had them on the ropes and were delivering the death blow that Skynet even decided to send Terminators back in the first place, as we are told in the first movie. So really, how does Skynet know anything? Some explanations of how they figured this out might have actually helped tie things together more plausibly. Like, “we interrogated people and they told us about Connor and who his father was. We did some calculations using higher-order mathematics and temporal theory and established that they needed to die!” Just a thought. Also, some indication of how the machines were building a time machine in the first place so they could send Terminators back in time to kill Connor and his mother. It’s been established that they were doing this in the earlier movies, so shouldn’t the machines be actively working on that by this movie? Wouldn’t now be the time for them to send Arny back to kill him and his mother? Wouldn’t now be the time for Connor to send Reese back so he can do what he’s supposed to do, i.e. save his mother’s life, knocking her up with him in the process? Temporal paradox people, these things need to happen in the past so things will unfold in the future…

Ah, whatever, there’s enough wrong with this movie without over-thinking things. So, to summarize, Connor rescues Reese, Marcus rescues Connor, and they decide to set some of the machines fuel cells to explode. These just happen to sitting around since the base is also a factory where the Terminators are built. And to top off this unlikely ending, the resistance flies in to their rescue and pulls everyone out before Skynet goes boom! Uh, really? If it was this easy to get into Skynet, why the hell didn’t they do it sooner? Shouldn’t this big, important base have some kind of… oh, I don’t know, defenses??? In fact, we already got to see these big gun towers protecting the place when Marcus walked in. What the hell happened to those? A quick scene or one line of dialogue would have solved that, say you had a hard time punching through and lost a lot of men, or have Marcus and Connor say they managed to disable them from the inside! Show some people dying or some such shit, it’s not that hard!

Then, back at the resistance base, the medics declare that Connor will die. Hold on, I thought, were they really going to kill him off now? Now that they won, were they going to sacrifice their main character? Such a move could only be considered risky and respectable, but of course, they didn’t! Remember Marcus’ real human heart? Yeah, well, he decides to commit the ultimate act of sacrifice by giving it to Connor, thus fulfilling the whole redemption angle of this movie. Personally, I would have thought saving Connor and Reese the first time around and ensuring that the machines lost the war would have done it, but what do I know? Then, in a final scene, Connor has a voiceover explaining that in spite of the fact that the big bad machine is dead, there is still danger because Skynet’s “Global Network” is still out there. What the hell man? Wasn’t the whole idea that taking down the central AI would knock out the machines everywhere, or at least leave them disorganized and easy pickings? Why is there more to do if you just whacked their nerve center? Did you really think the audience would be screaming out for more, or was this just in case the studio decided to squeeze the franchise for more blood down the road?

(Synopsis—>)
Okay, to be fair, there were some things I liked about this movie. The action sequences, for one. We did get to see some pretty cool scenes where Gatling-gun toting Terminators shot up the streets, HK’s were doing aerial combat and big towering tanks blew shit up. And the robot bikes and other assorted killing machines were neat as well. But those strengths were not played upon nearly enough in this movie. Also, the homages that were paid to the originals: Marcus doing the whole “you hit me, I look at you angrily before taking you down” thing that Arny perfected in the second movie, Bale saying “I’ll be back”, the scene with Guns and Roses playing while he hijacked a bike, the cameo by the Arny-bot; those were all pretty cool too. But none of that could save this movie from its forced ending, its heavy-handed theme of redemption, or the fact that the movie should have ended with Skynet being destroyed.

The romance story is also pretty stiff, the actors themselves just don’t have the right kind of chemistry to sell it, and the dialogue between them is pretty damn cheesy. Marcus: “I’m not a good man!” Moon Bloodgood: “You are, you just don’t know it yet.” Yeah… yeah. But what was most disappointing about this film was the fact that instead of redeeming the franchise after Terminator 3, the movie ended up doing the same thing it did: cash in on the franchise with a movie that was all flash and little substance, not to mention full of plot holes so big you could drive a truck through em! I could be wrong, maybe that was their intention from the beginning. But it seemed to me that the whole point of making a fourth movie was to end the series with a bang. Instead, we got a whimper and were openly told we could expect more, should they decide to make another. I don’t know about you, but if they do decide to make T5, I’ll wait to download. That’s right, I won’t even rent it! Take that, money-grubbing studios!

Terminator: Salvation:
Entertainment Value:7/10
Plot:2/10
Direction: 6/10
Total: 5/10

Of Sci-Fi Movie Reviews!

Today, I made an important decision with regards to this blog of mine. After much consideration, I have decided to include science fiction movie reviews to the lineup. Why? Because I love reviewing movies! Because there are countless sci-fi movie classics that rival the written word. And because many books have been adapted to film, with notable differences from the original text that deserve mention. And because I said so, dammit! It’s my blog and I can do what I want! Uh, but feel free to read them and have your say as well. Nothing more fun than comparing opinions on movies I loath and love, especially sci-fi one. Can you say Nerdgasm?

So to get this ball rolling, I’d like to dedicate my first review to a movie that is both relatively recent and relevant… Terminator: Salvation! Yes, the final installment (so far) in the Terminator franchise will be the first ball thrown out in this game! So stay tuned for the full-length review, coming out tomorrow! Followed shortly thereafter by Independence Day and Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. Yep, I plan to eviscerate them, one at a time! Also, if anyone has any requests, send them my way. As long as its science fiction (fantasy welcome too), its fair-game. Nerdgasms for all!