Terminator Series Commits Suicide, McG to Blame

The new film Terminator Salvation is not just bad… it’s absurd, ridiculous, boneheaded and an absolute atrocity.  The producers of this film should be vastly ashamed for not just killing the series (Terminator III already started the slow death, this one just deals the final blow), but for making me lose all interest in any Terminator film or storyline ever again.

I had a hint that this film was in a sad state when it seemed that McG, the “visionary director” behind this enormous waste of time had forgotten that he showed the name of the film once in the opening credits.  It’s truly baffling.  It’s as if he was totally not paying attention or, as I said to my friend upon exit, he just wanted us to be really sure we wanted to sit through this disaster.  The opening credits have the typical summer blockbuster 3-D titles swirling about in the background… yeah, those letters that you know will eventually come together to spell TERMINATOR SALVATION.  But uhh, before that, a white font pops up on the screen to tell us that.  Then after a few more names, the letters finally do what you expect: they come together to form the title of the film again.  TERMINATOR SALVATION.  It reminded me of a flight attendant who starts every flight with an announcement of the final destination and advises that if this is not your final destination, you should deplane at this time.

Take my advice and deplane.

I didn’t, so I sat through the rest of this cinematic diarrhea with my expectations lowering with each passing frame until there just weren’t any left.  I’m not going to bother detailing the plot because A) I hate spoilers and B) there’s no plot to detail.  There is what seemed to be the germination of a half-baked good idea, but then when McG gets the budget from the studio and an A-list dramatic actor like Christian Bale he just goes to town in an effort to prove himself.  Someone please drag his punk ass back to Drew Barrymore‘s house and let them spend inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out Charlie’s Angels III.

I mentioned Christian Bale, so now I must deal with him.  I read once that Christian Bale almost deplaned from this trip and I wish he had.  I have lost so much respect for this guy that I could care less if I ever see him again.  Jonathan Nolan should probably take note and start looking for a new Bruce Wayne.  Christian Bale is so full of himself in this film that he makes that cheesy growling voice from The Dark Knight seem like Oscar material.

The action sequences in this film aren’t that bad but they feel very stitched together.  It’s as if the continuity person walked up to the director every couple of days and said, “Uhm, it’s only been 4 or 5 minutes of film time since we blew some shit up, so we should probably do something about that.”  The end result is action sequences when you least expect it and violence that goes on far longer than it probably should.

Kudos also to the cinematographers of this work who have taken great pains to come up with creative shots for just about every action scene.  Someone took some camera lessons from the Coen brothers here, perhaps.  Either that or they were trying to shoot a Terminator film in the vein of Raising Arizona to let film buffs know that they feel this movie is just as absurd as you do (in a subtle kind of way, of course).

There is one particularly exciting sequence involving a gas station, expendable humans and one seriously large, pissed off Terminator.  I highly enjoyed this scene and it stands out in my mind as a real hallmark of the film’s technical achievements.  However, after that scene, do yourself a favor and walk out.  The ending of this film is not only absurd, it questions whether or not anyone was thinking through this fertilizer at all.

To tell you the truth, even Danny Elfman‘s score was forgettable.  Usually I’m a fan of Danny Elfman’s work but this was clearly not his typical, fast-paced orchestral tour de force that I am used to.  I scarcely remember a note.  It could be because there was just too much shit blowing up all the time, but who knows.

Christian Bale is absolutely pathetic as the “oh woe is me” John Conner.  Helena Bonham Carter is dreadfully awful as… some weirdo doctor who wastes my time.  Sam Worthington plays a character who could have had a decent impact on the mythos of the Terminator canon but he blows it just like everyone else.  Moon Bloodgood is the female side of the film who doesn’t talk much… probably because she knows it’s better that she just phone this one in and pick up the check.

I cannot encourage you enough to withhold your money on this one, folks.  As a matter of fact, I’m so outraged by this film and how bad it is that I simply had to sit down and write a blog post about it before any more of you go out there and give these idiots one more cent of your hard earned cash.  Stay at home and write a nice letter to James Cameron instead.  He’ll need the positive thoughts after seeing what these people have done to his baby.

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Missed Opportunities in Star Trek

Star Trek fans Joe Latrell (L), in a Star Trek...
Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

FOREWARNING: SPOILERS.  IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN STAR TREK, STOP READING NOW.

While I’ve been on a trip for the day job this week in downtown Dallas, TX, some of us found time to check out of the action and head over to catch Star Trek a second time.  It’s purely logical that a few NASA geeks want to check it out again, yes?

We found an awesome theatre in downtown Dallas somewhere on Inwood St., I do believe.  What was so awesome about it is that all of the seating were mega-comfy couches and love seats.  We all tossed ourselves into a lounge seat and soaked up the movie for the second time.

This time around I was able to confirm some feelings that I walked away with when I saw the movie first.  While I absolutely love J.J. Abrams‘ work and I absolutely adore what he’s done for the Star Trek franchise, there were a few directorial errors that I felt were pretty glaring.  I hope he’s able to correct them in a director’s edition on DVD.  Just in case he happens to read this blog and care about my opinion (because it’s right), I’ll share it here with you.

  • There could have had some very crowd pleasing moments at the end.  Kirk’s vengeance against Nero could have been exploited to rousing applause.  Why wasn’t it?  Don’t want to show Kirk as a monster?  You could have gotten away with this due to the character’s maturity level, I believe.
  • Movie is far too short.  There should have been some exposition to explain the back story of a few subplots, but I feel like it was sacrificed either for A) pacing or B) to keep Kirk painted in a certain light.  For instance – I’ve heard that Kirk’s hack on the Kobeyashi Maru succeeded because he was seducing the green-skinned chick, who worked on the simulation.  That should have been left in.  Again, perhaps it wasn’t because it may show Kirk objectifying women… and again, due to the character’s age, I think that would have been acceptable and realistic.
  • Overall, the Kobeyashi Maru scene was disappointing.  It would have been much more interesting if Kirk had played the simulation better and acted his part even though he knew the final result.  Having the computers flicker was also a pretty sad call.  I believe viewers could have figured out what happened if the previous explanatory scene regarding the hack had been left in.

Let’s remember folks – Kirk was a kid in this film.  Everyone knows that Kirk’s “I don’t like to lose” mantra always comes first, which is partly why we liked him.  Let’s also remember that he objectified every single female alien in the Federation even when he was older, so why couldn’t we have dealt with that in this new version?

Overall, great film – but at least you know what my version would have looked like too 🙂

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First Video Podcast Released Today

Today I had the honor of putting together the first “real” video podcast for The DVD Marquee, a DVD/movie podcast site run by Jeffrey Rosado.

Those of you who know me very well know that I’ve been dreaming of putting together a new media company.  Jeff, a longtime friend of mine, shares this dream.  He had the notion to fire up a quick video podcast for the Oscars this year and, despite the extremely tight deadline, he managed to land equipment and a location.  He shot from 10:00pm til 1:30am, then came over to my place to spend another 5 hours in editing.

The end result is what I’m proud to say is our first video podcast produced under the Red Abstract Productions banner.  It has a few rough spots, but I think it’s a good start.

For anyone who is curious – this was shot with a Sony miniDV cam with available light in the movie theater (yeah, I know, we’re working on lights!).  It was all color-corrected in post and edited with iMovie ’09 and Soundtrack Pro on a Mac Pro 8-core with 4gb of RAM.  We had intended to use all of the pro tools (Final Cut Studio 2), but being under the gun for time, we stuck with the basic editor because that’s what we know the best right now.

You can pick up the video podcast here.

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Guest spot on The DVD Marquee

Just a heads up, in case you give a damn. I’ve occasionally been guesting on a podcast named “The DVD Marquee” with Jeff Rosado. Last night we hammered out a scheduled 30-minute-but-really-1.5-hour-broadcast on The Dark Knight.

If inclined to listen to the discussion, you can catch it here. We talk pretty much at length about the production including the script’s themes, the acting and everything else relevant to a film.

Hope you enjoy it!

Indiana Jones review

Three words: Consistent and fun.

The historical “situation” he gets wrapped up in is pretty funny this time around.

Good film, lots of fun. Don’t expect enlightenment, but expect fun.

A Podcast Debut

This morning I was informed that the podcast roundtable was posted. I participated in this roundtable last week. Our discussion went on for a good hour and twenty minutes or so, but Jeff managed to whittle it all down to 23 minutes. I’m not sure how he managed that, but I’m looking forward to hearing it.

Just in case you’re curious, hit the podcast here. In case you’re wondering, it’s an Oscars roundup. If you have no interest in the Oscars, at least you were warned 😉

Cloverfield

OH. My. GOD.

That’s the best adrenaline rush I’ve had in a LONG time.

No Country for Old Men

So on my last night here in Virginia/D.C., I decided to have some solitude and enjoy the Coen Brothers’ latest flick, No Country for Old Men. I had very, very high expectations for this film. By and large they were fulfilled, except for the ending. I’m not sure I could go with the ending – it was disappointing. I suppose I need to study it a little to get it back. The rest of the movie was really gripping. The slow foreboding that pulses through the entire movie is just absolutely nerve-racking.

Just… that ending. Maybe I should read the book.

Like I have that kind of time.

In the morning, I have to drive in to Baltimore. It’s about an hour drive with no traffic according to Google, so I’ll be starting out at around 8am. My plane leaves at 1:50pm. Why so early, you might ask? Well, because the car rental place says that just in case of TSA lockdown, you need to turn your car in two hours before you should be at the airport, which makes it about 4 hours ahead of time in my book. Gah. Okie, so I may not make 8am, but we’ll see.

At least I’ll pack tonight.

Bad Edit

I’ve managed to catch up on quite a bit of to-do’s while the wife and son were out of town. Netflix is probably scratching their collective skulls at the amount of movies I’ve returned. I had three of them for over a year and suddenly I’ve not only returned three of them, but now I’m returning three more. What’s going on here? Surely he must be *gasp* copying the movies?

Sadly, I just don’t have that kind of time. I’d much rather spend two hours watching the movie than wasting a DVD-R to copy it.

So far I’ve watched some interesting flicks and I’ll share some mini-reviews with you. These are listed in no particular watching order.

The Departed: A truly tense and engaging Martin Scorsese flick that deserves every bit of attention that it garners. This drama ratchets up the pressure with each passing frame and builds to an unforgettable, twisty climax that left me wanting more. This has become my new favorite Jack Nicholson performance as well. His fancy enjoyment of the role shined in every scene.

Gangs of New York: Not sure how I ended up with two Scorsese flicks, but I did. Yet another wonderful period piece. Daniel Day Lewis really delivers a compelling performance in this one. Again, it was over before I knew it. There was this very terrible, unprofessionally bad edit at the end of the film just before the credits roll. It occurs on the last few frames when the skyline of New York is changing from the 1860’s to modern day. The music just SLAMS into existence for some bizarre reason that can only be explained as a bad edit. Intentional or not, I want to take Mr. Scorsese and his editor to court over the edit. Tofu the cat was sitting in my lap purring happily at the time the bad edit came about. I had my speakers up fairly loud because my DVD player is incapable of putting out a decent audio signal. The sudden SLAM of the music caused Tofu to jump up and use his back claws to launch from my lap to the other side of the room. Those claws tore open my flesh like the lightsaber ripping open a tauntaun. Through some miracle of reaction speed (or a saving throw, whichever) I managed to spare the family jewels from becoming exposed to the unkind, unforgiving world. Damn you, Scorsese. Damn you.

Pan’s Labyrinth: I’ve been meaning to catch this one for quite some time. It was pretty much what I expected… that is until the end. Holy shit, the Spanish can rival the Chinese for sad flicks. Bring a box of tissue.

Amelie: Fabulous French flick that has given me plenty of ideas about other stories as potential spinoffs. The French have an unusual style of filmmaking, but it’s fun.

The Missing: I think I said it earlier – this was a rare misstep for Grazer and Howard. Too bad, it had potential. Pass on it.

Something I saw at the theatre this weekend, thanks to Daughter: Across the Universe. I’m afraid the era of the Beatles has past, because this one just didn’t do much for me. The music is great, but as far as understanding the 60’s and its relevance it was just way over me. My daughter was enlightened by the music, so perhaps the Beatles will enjoy a second coming. Hopefully there’s less drugs this time.

I’ve also been reading quite a bit of Stephen King’s On Writing. I’ve been trying to soak that one up to psych myself up for what I want to get into… argument: do you REALLY want to get into it, or are you just talking big?

Oh how I wish I could just think of something and it would sprout out of my head and have a life of its own. Why must it be laborious?

Feh, that was off topic. Back later while I flog my grey matter for straying.

Catching up on movies

One of the things I’ve been able to do while the wife and son are away (see porkbuns.org as to why they’re not here) is catch up on some movies that I’ve been meaning to see.

My daughter warned me that Pan’s Labyrinth is one of her favorite new movies. I finally got to soak that one in tonight. By the end of it, my only thought was that Spain has managed to top China in sad movies. What a totally unexpected, touching gem of a film. I’m glad to see foreigners aren’t afraid to break boundaries in cinema.

Today I also caught The Departed, which had my muscles tense for a good two hours. That film was a totally unexpected ride as well and is probably my absolute favorite Jack Nicholson performance as of today. I recall him in The Shining and yeah, nothing will top that classic… but you can tell when Jack is having a good time and he was definitely enjoying this one. Gotta love an actor who loves his job that much.