Monday, 13 July 2015

Not Another Terminator Movie - aka the Terminator Genisys review


Imagine a universe where the promoters of The Sixth Sense and The Usual Suspects put these films' respective plot twists in the trailer. That would be pretty stupid, right?
Right?
So the Terminator Genisys crew goes and does that. Oh well.

'Come with me if you want to live'
 
It's not terrible. It's good. And it's bad. Confused? Same here.
Of the non-James Cameron Terminator movies, it's probably the best, but still not good enough.
It can't decide on what it wants to be, and that might be its biggest failure.

Endless nods to the original Terminator and Judgement Day are found here, if only to be noticed by the hardcore fans - those new to the franchise will be lost. But then even the fans will be confused at the many changes, twists, turns, timelines crammed in to try to make the movie interesting - making it in fact more annoying than mind-bending.


'Show more than tell'

If I could suggest an alternative title for Genisys, it would be The Terminator Monologues. Some screenwriting basics: characters explaining stuff is not as good as characters doing stuff. Because that's what happens most of the film. Kyle Reese explains stuff. Sarah Connor explains stuff. John Connor explains stuff. Arnie explains stuff. And there's action in between the explaining of stuff. But much of this stuff isn't really worth explaining. And no one cares about this stuff anyway.

'Bite me'

Perhaps the strongest point of Terminator Genisys is the attempt to recover some of the humor present in Judgement Day and the silly one-liners only Arnie can deliver. Emilia Clarke brings some good energy to the role of Sarah Connor, only for Jai Courtney to show less emotion than a Terminator.
Strong Points
  • The action scenes are good, even if sometimes hugely unrealistic
  •  Plenty of good ideas - John Connor and Matt Smith's characters - but executed poorly
  • Bringing back some humor that was missing from the franchise
  • Emilia Clarke and Arnie on top form

Weak Points
  • Too many callbacks to the James Cameron Terminators
  • Excessive monologues: can we see stuff happening instead of stuff being said? Please?
  • Jai Courtney's acting is borderline comatose
  • The dialogue becomes very cheesy, in particular towards the end of the movie
  • 'Killer app' - whaaaat? 
  • Jason Clarke: what a waste of a good actor

Verdict

Apart from some good action scenes and funny moments, the film is nothing more than a mishmash of old ideas presented in a new packaging that adds little and confuses more the Terminator mythos. One more Terminator film like this and you may well find yourself rooting for Skynet.


Author's Note

Perhaps the most interesting and overlooked part of the movie is Arnie's Terminator mention of a time where he worked in construction. Can we see that spin-off please?
'T-800 the Builder' would be a great watch.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Hey, thanks for helping me with this procrastination business, Netflix.


Get ready for the real Kingpin

Daredevil

The best thing Marvel has done yet in the MCU. Period.

I knew Charlie Cox was very good in Boardwalk Empire (a totally underrated show) and Vincent D'Onofrio, well, he's been one of my favourite actors since I watched Stanley Kubrick's 'Full Metal Jacket' back in 2006. 

Not so much of a surprise then that D'Onofrio delivers the greatest Marvel villain yet (sorry Tom Hiddleston and Loki), living out a Wilson Fisk that is a fiery, ferocious child monster that makes us empathize with and fear him all at once. Like all the great villains do.

A word of advice Marvel: stop killing off your villains, you'll have none left soon.

PS: Malekith, Ronan the Accuser and even Thanos are soulless villains. Learn from Wilson Fisk and get better. If you don't treat them like a true character but a mere obstacle to the hero(es), no one gives a shit about them.



This show is - surprise! - good.
Fringe


A criminally ignored sci-fi. Like the remake of Battlestar Galactica (a masterpiece, go watch it), this is a meticulous, well-thought show (Apart from some bits of seasons 4 and 5 which seemed to be all over the place).

It starts out like a CSI-meets-X-Files and turns out to be a very complex and rewarding experience, with so much detail you should probably not miss a single episode (unless, of course, you have a life, since some of the earlier seasons amount to about 22 episodes. Ouch!)

Plus, John Noble's performance over five seasons was criminally ignored, of course, because it's science-fiction we're talking about.

Remember Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner, Sigourney Weaver in Aliens or Michael Biehn in The Abyss? That is the company in which John Noble's interpretation of Walter Bishop should be.

If there is justice, this will be recognized as one of the greatest sci-fi shows ever made.




Supermensch


Do you know Shep Gordon? No? Ask yourself why, because the guy is a genius.

We tend to associate genius with art or science - meet the genius of management.

The documentary, directed by Mike Myers, shows how Gordon has single-handedly, among other things:
  1. Created the character of Alice Cooper, got him off drugs and alcohol and turned the guy into a global superstar in the process;
  2. Turns the unknown Anne Murray into a star by having her take a picture with John Lennon and the Hollywood Vampires;
  3. Faced with Alice Cooper's unknown status in England, has a truck with a picture of a naked Alice posing with a boa constrictor break down in the middle of London. The media coverage resulting in - ta-da - Wembley selling out;
  4. Creates the figure of the superstar chef.
Really good documentary about a genuine nice guy.

Monday, 8 June 2015


Bojack Horseman makes me laugh.

Chinchilla!



Netflix does kick ass. Lenny Abrahamson's film Frank, far from being perfect, is still a joy to behold. A film about strange creative people in creative relationships and processes.

Contrary to anything and anyone, Frank the character doesn't have much of a process, he is the prototype of the mad genius. A myth, more than a man. After all, he can write songs about anything. Really.

Based on Frank Sidebottom, Chris Sievey's comic persona, and inspired by Captain Beefheart and Daniel Johnston, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhall are great, but Michael Fassbender is just incredible. For a guy who spends 90% of the movie wearing a fake head, he does a hell of a job.

The soundtrack is something. In particular "I Love You All", a song that ends the movie and makes me think of what Joy Division's Ian Curtis could have done if he ever played with The Beta Band. Amazing stuff.



Michael Fassbender cantando I Love You All en The Colbert Report 6 Agosto 2014 from Michael Fassbender Fan on Vimeo.

Stephen Rennicks whose responsibility of coming up with all these crazy ass tunes fell upon, gave a pretty interesting interview to LA Weekly. The whole process is messy, as Austin Kleon would put it.

Just go ahead and watch it, it's good stuff.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

David Ogilvy's 'On Advertising' has some great advice on recognising big ideas:


Monday, 1 June 2015

Horseback Diaries

Turned my swag on.






















The light tortured my eyes in unacceptable ways. That fateful morning, I reflected on the meaning of life as I struggled with the smell of my own breath and armpits.

What had I done to deserve such severe livelihood? Had I been subjecting people to such painful experiences and sorrow that they were being led into madness and suicide? Was I a Mick Hucknall for the Youtube generation?

Maybe I should have had dinner instead of wine, beer and toilet water.
Maybe I should have avoided eating a whole Golden Syrup cake that had given me a irritable bowel syndrome and could have led me to spray paint the streets in poo?
Maybe.

I had been flustered in my existence by the breath of some drunk Polish guy and a vision of hell: an amateur porn video from 1997 that looked more like a horror directed by Eli Roth.

My being was sanguine, hell, I lived a joyous life. I sang and danced on the fields like Julie Andrews and I burped and farted and I once gave a hobo an expired credit card. Why would the universe want to mess with me?

Worst of all, I struggled to find the most beautiful woman in the universe, who I encountered leaving the bathroom of a pub whose name I can't remember on purpose. She had probably gone for a poo and a selfie, but she looked so naive and ethereal I wondered for a moment if I hadn't roofied myself.

I knew her name and attempted to stalk her on social media, to no avail. How can I find her? What am I? Who is this fat ginger bird in my bed? Some questions, I came to believe, are meant to remain unanswered.