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Showing posts from June, 2015

She's an anti-Terminator Terminator?

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
(SPOILERS) A Terminator 3 was as inevitable as Arnold’s waning career. He was never going to stick to his pledge not to do a third without James Cameron (who had already made one too many, even if the second cemented his bankability and gave him a lavish box of effects tricks to play with).The ‘90s saw a steady downward career trend, not reversed by a second of the decade’s collaborations with Cameron and being sent to da coola in the debacle that was Batman and Robin. By the time Rise of the Machines arrived, Arnie was barely scraping by on the strength of international receipts. He needed its success; it at least allowed him to go off governating with a modicum of credibility. Which is about the amount of credibility Rise of the Machines possesses.

If T2 isn’t all its reputation cracks it up to be, it’s a masterpiece next to its 12-years-later very belated sequel. Which is a shame, as T3 has a few good ideas going for it, ones that are signifi…

Uncle Bob, huh?

Terminator 2: Judgment Day - Director's Cut (1991)
(SPOILERS) Is it really an “inviolable rule” that T2 is superior to the original? I well remember its feting when it was first released, as I was one of those blown away by it. And there’s no doubt that individual elements remain first rate. But aside from being bigger and more polished, Terminator 2: Judgment Day is inferior in almost every respect. 

And this computer thinks it can win... by killing the mother of its enemy. Killing him, in effect, before he's even conceived... a sort of retroactive abortion?

The Terminator (1984)
(SPOILERS) The Terminator franchise is a mess of jumbled narratives, stop-start continuations, temporal entanglements and ill-conceived recasting, so at least this year’s latest entry looks as if it will be right at home. The original is only structurally tidy in terms of being relatively linear and unconfused about its objectives. Of course, that means that it needs to sweep a lot of internal logic under the carpet to work. But work it does in spite of that. This James Cameron at his leanest and hungriest, in stark contrast to the narrative bloat that has since (quite unnecessarily) consumed his storytelling.

I've made you some gruel.

Twin Peaks 2.15:Slaves and Masters
One might point to the gregarious screen-hogging performance of Kenneth Welsh as Windom Earle as the reason Slaves and Masters goes down so well. It’s been getting on for a five episode mid-season slump, and now the series’ second Big Bad has been fired up and is ready to go. But given director Diane Keaton’s visual flair, throwing sight gags and asides into scenes with infectious abandon, I wouldn’t have put it past her turning one of the previous also-rans feel like something special.

Don’t get me wrong; 2.15 isn’t quite first tier Peaks. But it’s a lot better than viewers would have grown accustomed to in recent weeks. I don’t think there’s been a decent moment at Wallies… until now. This is also the last of the Wallies. The “proper” plot-based material is as snooze worthy as ever; James and Evelyn drippily talking about how they like they way each other tastes, and Evelyn shooting Malcolm at the last decisive moment.

Frank: Excuse me. Men at Bar: (In…

The second protocol exists because we don't know what can be beyond the second protocol.

Automata (2014)
(SPOILERS) Gabe Ibáñez’s assured sci-fi B-movie is an unashamed throwback. Heavily influenced by Blade Runner, it surrounds itself with sand rather than rain but is otherwise a similarly imagined world of holographic animations, old school sci-fi sound effects, and probing questions over the nature of consciousness. In the latter respect, it scores over the more recent I, Robot, although both movies rely heavily on Asimov’s laws of robotics (redefined here as protocols). Indeed, the first 40 minutes or so suggest this could be something special, a B picture rising above its limitations through sheer force of well-expressed ideas. It’s a shame, then, that Automata settles back into standard pursue-and-destroy plotting during the last half.

Ibáñez certainly makes the most of his $15m budget and cost-conscious Bulgarian shoot. This world is spartan and derivative, but precisely devised. So too, the robot designs are distinctive and memorable. There’s no money for the Apple-…