Terminator: Genisys (2015) – very excited!

Very quick post just to shout “I’m so excited!!!!”

Terminator: Genisys the latest instalment of the Terminator films has been given a release date of July 1st 2015. The trailer is now available to watch online, watch it in high definition on IMDB.

I love the Terminator franchise and I don’t mind confessing as a Schwarzenegger fan. For me the first two movies both deserve their place in movie history and helped define robot sci-fi as we know it. Although it was nowhere near the same calibre I can happily watch the third instalment “Rise of the Machines” purely because of Arnolds turn as the iconic T-800.

And then for me it all went wrong. I know people can argue the merits of each instalment all day long but for me personally Terminator: Salvation is the one I wish had never been made. Christian Bale’s growly voiced take on John Connor, what I like to call “Batman John”, was just horribly embarrassing but then I never understood the rational for the movie. Why bin James Cameron’s original dark vision of the future and instead transport the action to a brightly lit desert setting where terminators only conveniently turn up in ones and two’s? And don’t get me started on the horrendous T-800 animatronic that appeared in the final sequence!

Salvation ruined it for me because the vision that James Cameron had originally painted for us was all but obliterated as others took the helm and tried to share a new version of events. I didn’t get the plot, it was too convoluted, and I’m pretty sure shot full of holes. Aside from a few key plot points it just wasn’t a Terminator movie.

And so it starts again with the aptly named “Genisys“. Arnie is back! (pun intended) and at this point I’ll cut him a lot of slack because for those in my generation (35 – 40 year olds) we kind of grew up with him, through the gems and the lemons. Thankfully the trailer looks promising. I daresay there will be a riot online as people argue the decision to reset the timeline but the visuals leave no doubt Cameron’s original vision is back. The future sequences paint the dark frightening future we glimpsed in the first film and in this future I don’t think it matters who plays John Connor. It’s not clear from the trailer whether we have to let slide the fact that Kyle Reese is now played by Jai Courtney or whether his time jump to our era is out of sequence from the events of The Terminator. I thought on first viewing that they were recreating the original jump made by Michael Bien with a straight actor switch but then the cars and settings implied it to be more naughties than 1980’s so maybe the timeline had already been changed.

Whatever, I’ll let it go, because visually it looks promisingly close to the original vision. Arnie looks good, certainly younger than in other recent films like The Last Stand. I’m guessing heavy work outs and help from makeup have assisted in the process but I really hope he enjoyed returning to a franchise that is genuinely his. There are a lot of visuals in the film that link strongly with the original movie (giant balls of time machine light anyone), and the plot obviously has strong links even though it looks set to forge a new path for future Terminator movies. Sit back and enjoy the build up.

Oh and did I mention I’m excited?

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A Million Ways To Die In The West

One word sprang to mind when I first saw the official trailer (the “red band” version with the swearing) some 12 months ago now, “Brilliant!“.

That was worrying because the trailer was so well cut, so hilariously funny, that surely it contained all the best bits of the film? Could there really be anything else to see here? Well the trailer does oversell the film a bit, but yes there is more, yes it is, “mostly”, funny, and yes you should absolutely get some popcorn and spend a Friday night watching the DVD.

A Million Ways To Die In The West is a Western with a modern day dialogue. We’ve seen modern day speech patterns and references used to comedy effect in Westerns since way back in the Carry On films and Blazing Saddles. References to modern day activities, “Don’t drink and horse”, somehow seem hilariously funny when set in the Wild West.

The film follows Albert Stark (Seth MacFarlane) a mild mannered sheep farmer, living a lonely life, and trying to avoid death in the town of Old Stump on the western frontier (1882). We follow Stark as he loses his girlfriend (Amanda Seyfried) to a wealthy local businessman (Neil Patrick Harris), and spends his days drinking away his sorrows with his best (and seemingly only) friend Edward (Giovanni Ribisi) and his prostitute fiancée, Ruth (Sarah Silverman).

When mysterious newcomer Anna (Charlize Theron) rides into town and captures Albert’s interest and heart, he becomes a new man. But with her deadly husband Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson) in tow, Albert is going to have to become the western gun-slinging hero he never was.

Word of warning, my sense of humour is fairly childish, if you like your comedy clever and subtle then move right along! Written, produced, and directed by Seth MacFarlane (creator of Family Guy and American Dad!) the humour ranges from clever observational comedy, to slapstick, right down to overly gratuitous potty humour. If you caught his first live action film the 2012 smash hit Ted you will have some idea of what to expect.

There is some guffaw out loud dialogue, some brilliant visual gags (I loved the woolly sheep), a hilarious song and dance number (lead by Neil Patrick Harris, playing Barney Stinson a la 1882), and a drug induced animated sequence complete with dancing animated sheep!

There is also “a lot” of toilet humour, too much to allow for a great film. And some unashamed racism, although done for comic effect, is unnecessary and uncomfortable. It jumped between brilliantly clever comedy and gross cringe in your seat comedy too many times to achieve the kind of balance the true greats, like the original “Hangover“, pull off.

That said my wife and I chuckled quietly most of the way through, the film is carried by a great cast, and I won’t spoil the cameo by one of the greatest film trilogies ever made!

There are some genuine laughs to be had here but how many depends a great deal on how you take your comedy.

Edge of Tomorrow

I’ve decided to go off topic today with a short movie review. My current tech post isn’t quite ready and I happened to catch this on DVD recently having also seen it at the cinema when it came out.

Having a 5 year old and a 2 month old doesn’t leave much time for cinema trips so I’ll mostly be posting reviews of things I’ve missed and seen on DVD or Blu-ray so be warned “may contain spoilers” but then I’m sure most of you will have seen the films anyway.

Edge of Tomorrow is a mixture of Independence Day meets Groundhog Day. It follows a military officer (Tom Cruise) who is brought into an alien war against an extra-terrestrial enemy who can reset the day and know the future. When our hero takes control of the enemies power to reset time he unwittingly becomes the only hope the human race have of defeating the enemy and surviving.

Major William Cage (Cruise) is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is unceremoniously dropped into what amounts to a futuristic re-enactment of the D-Day landings. Dropped on a beach in France he is killed within minutes but finds himself thrown into a time loop-forcing him to live out the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying again…and again.

With each battle, Cage becomes able to engage the adversaries with increasing skill, alongside Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). And, as Cage and Vrataski take the fight to the aliens, each repeated encounter gets them one step closer to defeating the enemy.

Cards on the table, I like Tom Cruise. I’m not sure we’d make good conversation if we went for drink, but separating his personal persona from his acting I find myself consistently enjoying his films. He’s from a certain generation of movie stars that have proven their worth and endurance in the Hollywood melting pot. His Academy Award Nomination for Jerry Maguire proved his worth and being the first actor in history to have five back to back $100 million dollar grossing films proves beyond doubt he is a safe pair of hands.

Cruise carries the film along brilliantly, after initially seeing his character as an annoying, cowardly, spin doctor; we quickly side with him as events force him to address his short coming and emerge the hero of the piece. Cruise’s key skill is articulating his emotions. His confusion when first looped through time, the smug comedy of knowing the future, and the desperation and sadness at seeing Rita Vrataski killed again and again, are all brilliantly conveyed with just a look on his face.

Emily Blunt is another safe pair of hands and a talented actress. Although she has little to do other than shoot things and look hot in battle armour the lines she delivers are often the casual comic relief and her deadpan, matter of fact delivery is subtly perfect. Rita Vrataski knows what Cage is going through and her role is crucial to holding the plot together.

Time travel films are notoriously difficult to pull off and often fall apart as plots become too wide ranging and open up gaps in the timeline continuum. Edge of Tomorrow avoids these pitfalls by keeping the plot incredibly tight and simple, instead exploring the effects and endless possibilities of being able to go back and have your time again.

Directed by Doug Liman well know for his involvement with the Bourne films and Mr & Mrs Smith, the movie has blockbuster effects with the perfect tinge of gritty realism, location shoots feel authentic and leave you fully immersed in the plot. This movie looks awesome and the pace is well maintained throughout, dialogue is kept practical, but light when it needs to be, and even when we see our characters having a deeper interaction Cage is never more than a couple of minutes from death.

It ‘s worth mentioning Bill Paxton’s role as Master Sergeant Farell, a brilliant take on R. Lee Ermey’s gunnery sergeant from Full Metal Jacket. Brendan Gleeson does Ireland proud as General Brigham.

I thought this film was brilliant, hugely enjoyable. Cruise fights aliens, he dies, he fights some more! Just beware the film has two parts to it’s ending. The first part is obvious and makes perfect sense but then we have an extra three minutes which well….. remember I said it was easy to break the time travel timeline! Without the extra minutes we have a great film with a slightly depressing ending, with those extra minutes we get our Hollywood ending but it doesn’t quite make sense. I’ll forgive it those minutes because in Hollywood style I came away with a smile on my face.