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Movie Review: Terminator - Genisys


After a mesmerising movie poster, a marketing stunt where Arnold Schwarzenegger pranked people at Madame Tussard's in Hollywood and an endorsement from James Cameron that this film would be the actual third film in the series, there was much excitement and anticipation around the release of Terminator: Genisys.

This reboot starts in the future, where John Connor send Kyle Reese back in time to protect his mother. When Reese arrives in 1984, nothing is as he expected.

The latest Terminator installation feels more in line with Cameron's vision for the original Terminator and T2. The soundtrack echoes the recurring theme, the special effects are excellent even though they're not quite the same as Stan Winston's classic animatronic models and it blends aspects from Cameron's films.

Alan Taylor is at the helm after directing Thor: The Dark World. Both Thor 2 and Terminator: Genisys are CGI heavy, action-intensive, feature dimension-hopping, light comedy and required some re-moulding, which made Taylor a suitable candidate for the role second time around. Unfortunately, it encounters similar problems.

Time travel films are usually difficult to follow and according to Alan Taylor there are 7 timelines in Terminator: Genisys. The time-jumping, new character mix and new Sarah Connor made this sequel a challenge and ultimately confusing. It's not discordant enough to derail the spectacle and overall entertainment value, but there's probably enough confusion to warrant a second viewing just to get a slightly better grip on the sequencing.

"I said I'd be back... I didn't say when."

Schwarzenegger is no Tom Cruise... he's aged. The screenwriters have made it possible for the Terminator's flesh to age too, working it into his character, so that they're not too dependent on CGI. He plays himself across the ages with some wink-wink flair and a little oil from the story mechanics, although it was better when he was more central to the story. Amazingly enough, he managed to achieve the same shape he had for Terminator: Rise of the Machines 12 years earlier, but between him, a stunt double and the CGI versions, he seems restrained with only glimpses of former glory, despite his winning smile.

Emilia Clarke and Jai Courtney make reasonable co-leads, although they seem a bit soft for the Terminator franchise. Clarke has a similar look to Linda Hamilton, but she's prettier and not nearly as tough and detached, without that air of lunacy. Jai Courtney is likable and similarly poised to Tom Hardy, but doesn't carry the same weight of performance. J.K. Simmons steps in for a humourous supporting role, while Jason Clarke takes on a difficult balancing act as John Connor.

Terminator: Genisys is overly ambitious, trying to work as a prequel, reboot and tribute. The casting isn't as solid as the actors in their own capacity and the timelines are more complicated to untangle than the jumble of wires behind your home entertainment system.

Genisys operates with flair within the original Terminator universe and while it has its issues, it still amounts to an enjoyable and mostly satisfying Terminator movie, landing in a similar flawed entertainment arena to Terminator: Rise of the Machines and Terminator Salvation with the advantage of being more in tune with Cameron's vision.

The bottom line: Fun


 
Hot New Trailers - July 2015


Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
October 2015 (United Kingdom)

Supposedly the sixth and final installment in the Paranormal Activity franchise, The Ghost Dimension also happens to be the first film in the series to be shot in 3D. Hopefully though, first time director, Gregory Plotkin does not use 3D as a gimmick, and keeps the horror in line with previous films. Very little is known about The Ghost Dimension's storyline, except for the fact that a series of video tapes are found by the Fleeges family, as they move into a new house. It may be a Horror movie trope, but based on the debut trailer below it's no less frightening.

Best Bit: Can't say as we only managed to get through the first minute.

Final Girl
August 2015 (United States)

My, how Little Miss Sunshine has changed. Final Girl sees Oscar-nominated actress Abigail Breslin take on a far more different role than in her formative years. The basic premise of the film is revenge, as Breslin's character Veronica is trained to eliminate a group of young men that target, hunt and eventually kill young women for sport. Posing as a victim, Veronica turns the tables on her attackers, and dishes out some sweet justice. The film's not just about human hunting in the woods, as we also see glimpses from Veronica's past as she's trained by the mysterious mentor (Wes Bentley).

Best Bit: The awe-inspiring training montage at 0:45. 

   

Sicario
September 2015 (United Kingdom)

A Mexican term for "Hitman", Sicario is a gritty film about an FBI agent (Emily Blunt) who leads a drugs task force from her native United States into the far more volatile Mexico City. Being a novice to the country, Blunt and her FBI team enlist the help of a local consultant (Benicio del Toro) to assist them. Without giving too much away, things turn sour over the border and Blunt's character, Kate Macer quickly finds herself way in over her head. Joining Blunt and del Toro in Sicario is acting heavyweight Josh Brolin, which means we can expect strong performances all around for this one.

Best Bit: When all hell breaks lose at 1:20.

Kung Fu Panda 3
March 2016 (United Kingdom)

Jack Black is back as the martial arts loving, and equally lovable, Po for Kung Fu Panda 3. While the Dreamworks-produced film only arrives in March 2016, the first trailer found its way online earlier this week. Joining Po are the usual suspects, with the Furious Five and Shifu, along with Po's long last father, voiced by Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame. As for whom the big bad in this film will be, little is known, with the trailer showing a rather odd exchange between Po and his father Li. If the exchange between the two is anything to go by, the apple has not fallen far from the tree.

Best Bit: Po's unusual Kung Fu style early on.

Daddy's Home
December 2015 (United States)

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg first joined up for the underrated and funny The Other Guys back in 2010. This year sees them become adversaries in Daddy's Home, as Ferrell and Wahlberg compete in a game of "oneupmanship" for the affections of two young kids. The kids by the way happens to belong to Wahlberg's character's former wife, who is now dating Ferrell's character in the film. We've often seen films portray things from the kids or ex-husband's perspectives, but Daddy's Home should offer a hilarious take on the new stepdad's point of view.

Best Bit: Ferrell realising he's outgunned at 0:49.

Peanuts
November 2015 (United States)

Our good old friend Charlie Brown is finally returning to the big screen in The Peanuts Movie, and as expected, he's not exactly loving life. Along with Charlie Brown are fan favourites like Peppermint Patty, Lucy, Linus and of course Snoopy. The gang seem to be at it again, dealing with the boredom that winter often deals, by getting up to all manner of shenanigans. Charlie Brown is also coming to grips with love, and trying to win the affections of the new girl that just moved in. Arriving in November this year, The Peanuts Movie will be a welcome bit of nostalgia for the holidays.

Best Bit: Anything involving Snoopy. 

Dark Places
TBA

Following the success of Gone Girl, it only made sense for more of Gillian Flynn's work to be adapted for the silver screen. First up is Dark Places, starring Charlize Theron as the survivor of a Kansas-based mass murder. Initially an orphan after the killings, she is now an adult struggling for a bit of anonymity. Instead she is found by a group of former cops, detectives and investigators called the Kill Club, who try to solve cold cases. Just like Gone Girl, nothing is quite what it seems in this intense thriller, which should make quite an interesting trip to the movies when its release date is officially announced.

Best Bit: Meeting the Kill Club at 1:00.

This article first appeared at Techsmart.co.za.

 
Talking Movies with Spling - While We're Young, Terminator: Genisys and Cake


Spling reviews While We're Young, Terminator: Genisys and Cake as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Catch Talking Movies on Fridays at 8:20am and Saturdays at 8:15am every week on Fine Music Radio.

 
Movie Review: While We're Young


While We're Young is a film by Noah Baumbach, the writer-director who brought us The Squid and the WhaleMargot at the WeddingFrances Ha and Greenberg, which also starred Ben Stiller. Baumbach's got an unconventional approach, tending towards comedy dramas and the uncomfortable "dramedy" genre, delivering honest, humorous, heartfelt and meaningful films about complex people and the human condition.

His latest film, While We're Young, encounters concerns faced by modern society about the over-reliance on technology in how we relate to one another. Baumbach is also fascinated with how this has counter-cultural implications on an alienated youth and the hipster movement, as the disenfranchised look to the past for a more tactile, retro connection beyond the inadequacies of digital relationships.

To get into this head space of old and new, analog and digital, real and unreal... he's juxtaposed two couples: a childless 40-something married couple and a free-spirited 20-something couple. Josh and Cornelia, played by Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, are reinvigorated by the care-free, can-do attitude of Jamie and Darby, played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried. As the two couples draw closer and more in tune, inconsistencies arise and the promise of an apprentice and master friendship crumble as the ego-bruising realities of this couple romance bloom.

While We're Young

"These boots are made for skatin'... and that's just what they'll do."

Ben Stiller is perfectly cast as a documentary film-maker, whose unfinished work begins to pain his marriage to Cornelia. He's a me-versus-the-world guy, whose stringent work ethic and niche subject matter have gone unrewarded. We empathise and admire him for sticking it out and find his inflexibility quite amusing. Naomi Watts plays Cornelia, his supportive, yet increasingly despondent wife, who tries to adjust to their new lust for life.

Jamie and Darby become the perfect distraction, reminding them of when they were more free and inspiring the couple to live outside-the-box. Adam Driver slips into the role of a lucky, naive and unconventional film-maker with a knack for what works. While Amanda Seyfried isn't quite as easy-going, she's just as naive and cute in all their homespun glory.

While We're Young grapples with existential issues and delivers on entertainment value, yet it does have an I Heart Huckabees echo with a semi-pretentious "elixir of truth/youth" edge. The retro cool paradigm has a similar dynamic to Ellen Page and Jason Bateman's characters in Juno. One scene involving buckets and chanting went a bit too far, otherwise it's a mostly consistent, thought-provoking and enjoyable watch.

All in all, While We're Young serves as a timely commentary on society and contemporary values. The drama is built on a thoughtful script, an in-form Stiller and solid supporting performances. The honest and whimsical tone sells the comedy as the characters find themselves in a fun house of mirrors and we're entertained by the hook-line-and-sinker sincerity of Josh and Cornelia.

The bottom line: Poignant

 
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