No amount of Terminator scholarship is too much if you’re me. So just as the new Terminator: Dark Fate (which bombed over the weekend, but you people keep buying tickets for those The Fast & The Furious movies, so there’s no accounting for taste) is a follow-up to 2015’s Terminator: Genisys (sic) that’s really a sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day,…
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.
The Terminator is one of my favorite movies. When my Windy City pals Adam Kempenarr and Josh Larsen announced the other week that they would make writer-director James Cameron’s low-budget, high-concept sci-fi classic the subject of one of their “Sacred Cow” reviews, I knew that the likelihood that Josh—a critic who generally seems to dislike action films, with the bizarre exception of the Fast & the Furious franchise, which to me represents the genre at its most derivative and least inspired—would rain on it. He hates Predator, people! Predator! A film I saw last year at the Library of Congress!
So I took action. To paraphrase Al Capone, you can get farther with a kind word and a quote from The Terminator than you can with a kind word alone. And the threatening voice mail I left for Josh opened last week’s episode. Continue reading →
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.
It’s Memorial Day weekend, which a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away used to signal the start of the summer movie season. Sometime around the turn of the century, the summer movies began arriving the first weekend in May. In recent years the first weekend in April has become a perennial launchpad for Marvel movies and Fast & Furious flicks.
But I’m the sentimental type, so I (and The Village Voice and L.A. Weekly) waited until this week to post my look at ten releases coming up in roughly the next 10 weeks for which I’ve got grand or at least moderate hopes. Plus Magic Mike XXL, which I was asked to add so the list wouldn’t be “too straight.” I am aware that Channing Tatum is what the former John “Cougar” Mellencamp would call “a real good dancer,” but Steven Soderbergh is not un-retiring from theatrical filmmaking to direct this sequel, so I’d probably rather see Jurassic World or Ant-Man, neither of which made the cut.
The Future, 1992. It wasn’t the “Alien 3” we wanted, but maybe it was the “Alien” 3 we needed?
In 2012’s “Skyfall,” Sam Mendes undid the reboot 007 had gotten in “Casino Royale.” Sort of.
“Batman: The Movie!” ’66! (Emphasis! Mine!) Canon, or Not Canon?
“Superman III,” 1983. Never happened, per Bryan Singer, which is a shame.
“Well, everyone knows Ripley died on Fiornia-161. What this ALIEN movie presupposes is… maybe she didn’t?”
I have a long, long “Exposition” essay up at The Dissolve today inspired by (uncertain) reports that District 9 director Neill Blomkamp’s upcoming Alien movie may be a ret-con scenario that undoes the events of 1992’s Alien-little-three, or Alien Cubed – anyway, the one where Ripley died. The piece is about retconning in fiction in general, and why it doesn’t much impair my ability or inclination to suspend my disbelief at all.
If you’re quite comfortable in your chair, and you’re stout of heart and nerdy of temperament… Onward!
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.
I enjoyed X-Men: Days of Future Past,Bryan Singer’s return after a decade-long absence to the surprisingly resilient superhero franchise he originated. This movie is based on a 1981 story from The Uncanny X-Men comic book that I first read when it was reprinted in probably 1989 or 1990.
The movie alters the tale as necessary to unite the cast of 2011’s 60s-set X-Men: First Class with the players from the earlier X-pictures, set in the present day — or rather, as a title card at the top of 2000’s X-Men tells us, “the not-too-distant future.” I’d feared this timeline-straddling — Days of Future Past is set in some unspecified year in the 2020s, -ish, and in 1973 — might make the movie as dull and incoherent as the Star Wars prequels, but it’s funny and light on its feet.
“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.
The big, sad news out of Camp X last week — the great Los Angeles punkabilly band X, that is —was that singer Exene Cervenka, 53, has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. But there was neither sign nor mention of infirmity at the quartet’s typically rocket-powered gig at the 9:30 club Friday night, and not a lot of other chithat besides. The seminal foursome played just as they always have, and as every punk band should: Like they’ve got someplace else to be, five minutes ago. Continue reading →