As in every Terminator movie, the new Dark Fate offers no explanation for why the A.I.—SkyWho? It’s called LEGION now—dispatched only a single cyborg assassin to this time period, or why the human resistance sent only one bodyguard. The answer, of course, is that the one-on-one conceit is just more compelling and dramatic than a platoon representing each faction would be.
My NPR review of Terminator: Dark Fate, a these-were-canon-those-were-not half-reboot in the tradition of Superman Returns and Halloween (2018) is here.
I Skyped in from the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in beautiful New London, CT to dissect Terminator: Genisys (sic) — the underwhelming reboot of/fourth sequel to one of my favorite movies — with Pal-for-Life Glen Weldon. While I was taking in this movie in the “Luxury Seating” equipped Waterford 9 Cinemas, several of my fellow Critic Fellows, all ladies, were next door enjoying Magic Mike XXL. My proposal for a double feature was summarily rejected.
I haven’t seen the by-all-accounts underwhelming Terminator: Genisys yet, because since I’ve been busy being a “Critic Fellow” at the one-of-a-kind Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in the wilds of Connecticut. But I did indulge in some quippy dramaturgy on the wandering-ronin Terminator franchise, for NPR.
This movie made me weirdly nostalgic for the days when martial artists or athletes like current MMA champ Ronda Rousey or retired MMA fighter Randy Couture might be deemed worthy of their own low-budget action flicks. No, I can’t explain, really.
The “mimetic pollyalloy” T-1000 in its transitional state.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day originally had a sunlit coda set on the National Mall in the no-longer-grim future of 2029 with Linda Hamilton in unconvincing old age makeup. Director James Cameron was right to cut it.
My essay about the movie’s villain that ran on The Dissolve last week originally had a rambling 500-word introduction. My editor, Keith Phipps, was right to cut it.
I’ve very proud to have contributed the concluding essay of The Dissolve’s Movie of the Week coverage of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, long one of my sentimental favorites. My piece examines how cowriter-director James Cameron’s decision to disguise the film’s mysterious villain, the advanced T-1000 Terminator played (mostly) by Robert Patrick, as a uniformed Los Angeles police officer anticipated our growing discomfort with police in general and the L.A.P.D. in particular at the start of the 90s. It also explores the film’s ironic connection to the tragic beating of Rodney King by four L.A.P.D. officers near one of T2‘s key locations while the movie was in production. Read the essay here.
Both of Sabotage’s prior titles, Ten and Breacher, make more sense than the one it ended up with. Actually, the title is no more nonsensical than the convoluted plot of David Ayer’s gruesome, vulgar, throughly disreputable dirty-cop thriller. It’s only just barely an Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, which is part of why it’s the most satisfying picture he’s made in 20 years.I reviewed it for The Village Voice.Continue reading →
“If I am not me, who da hell am I? I mean, who da hell am I NOW?”
I am delighted to tell you that I am making my Village Voice debut this week with an essay about oneArnold Schwarzenegger, screen icon of my youth, governor of California for part of the time I lived there (I didn’t vote for him) and celebrity host of my narrowly acclaimed 2012 Christmas album.
It was a happy, potentially self-improving experience, being edited by the noted crapologistAlan Scherstuhl, whose cover story in last week’s Voice about current Spider-Man scribe Dan Slott is well worth your time, if you care at all about Spider-Man or comic books. Continue reading →
Edward Furlong and Arnold Schwarzenegger get close in 1991’s “T2.”
Over in today’s Criticwire survey, I make a Sophie’s choice and present my surprisingly concise rationale for why Terminator 2: Judgment Day is the superior of James Cameron’s two Terminator joints. And I begin flogging my imminent Village Voice piece about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s attempt at a comeback in The Last Stand. That should be online Wednesday or Thursday. Rest assured I will let you know.
I don’t have a Christmas tree in my apartment yet. My friends haven’t seen me in weeks. My editors are all ready to fire me. I’ve been avoiding mirrors, but I assume I look like Ted Kaczynski.
It’s all for a noble cause: Every November & early December I fall into a four-to-six week time warp attempting to create the funniest and most reverent, most entertaining and most beguiling Christmas mixtape possible. (You may have read the essay I wrote about this project recently in the Washington Post. If you haven’t, please do.)
It is my great pleasure to unveil now for your hall-decking enjoyment entry No. 007 in my Yuletunes Eclectic & Inexplicable series. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the future of Christmas merry-making enforcement, Stay Hungry to Feed the World. In keeping with the perpetually inflating ethos of this project, it’s the longest one yet. When it comes to Christmas, less is less. And more? Is just the most. (Hear the mix after the jump.) Continue reading →
I was delighted to appear on Pop Culture Happy Hour again last week. (Listen here, you.) The show’s A-topic was movie action heroes, inspired by the publication of Arnold Schwarzengger‘s memoir Total Recall (which I’d only half-read prior to taping, on account of its 624-page girth and the fact I’m reading it in tandem with Salman Rushdie‘s equally substantial memoir Joseph Anton) and, I thought, Taken 2 (which I haven’t seen, and won’t, unless it turns up on Encore Action at 11:30 p.m. on a Tuesday eight months from now).
If they’d asked anyone but me to come discuss this topic, I’d have been crushed like Sarah Connor crushed the T-800’s microprocessor-controlled hyperalloy endoskeleton in a hydraulic press.
It turns out that the first half of Arnold’s book is a lot less annoying than the second half.
Happily, Taken 2 did not come up at all.
I’d come prepared to talk about the evolution of the cinema action hero: How the men (usually) of violence, reluctant or not, whose adventures fill seats around the world grew out of a conflation of the gangster pictures that dominated the 1930s and the westerns of the 40s and 50s. In 1962, James Bond arrives onscreen; by 1969, Bond one-timer George Lazenby is watching Telly Savalas (in his sole appearance as one of the series’ recurring characters, cat-loving Bond nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld) break his neck on a low tree limb during the film’s climactic fight atop a bobbing bobsled (!) and observing, “He’s branched off!” Continue reading →