My Week in Movies, 2015 Week 28

I’ve spent most of this past week watching movies about time travelling robots because, as you can probably guess, the most recent episode of the Lambcast (posting later this week) is devoted to the Terminator franchise, celebrating (commiserating?) the release of Terminator Genisys (more on that later). As such, my regular scheduling has taken something of a temporary back seat, and I’ve gone and lost one of my green ticks, dagnammit. I am way ahead on some of the others though, so if you add everything up I’m ahead. Maybe spending a week watching robot feet crushing endless piles of human skulls wasn’t a massive loss after all. Speaking of which, why is it always pile of skulls in these films? I get that it looks more ominous, but it implies that either pre- or post-massacre the terminators divide up and sort out the various human body parts into different areas. Are there pyramids of pelvic bones somewhere? Piles of shoulder blades? Towers of femurs stacked up like an H. R. Giger Jenga set? Anyway, here’s what I watched this week:

The Terminator (1984)
Still awesome. The effects look a little dated in places, but I’m very forgiving of that. Excellent script, simple but effective ideas, great acting and possibly still Schwarzenegger’s best performance. Bill Paxton! You can read my old review here.
Lists: None (Already crossed off from 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Empire’s 5-Star 500, Empire’s Top 500, Empire’s Top 301, Total Film’s Top 100)
Choose Film 9/10

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
I used to love this movie. Really, really love it. And don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s great, but since my last viewing I’ve developed a deep seated hatred for Edward Furlong as the bratty teenage John Connor. Apparently he’s supposed to be annoying, in which case mission accomplished, but he’s so damn aggravating that I can barely stand the scenes he’s in, which unfortunately is a great deal of them. Teaching a robot slang? Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. Fuck no. Fortunately there’s so much awesome-ness outside of Edward Furlong that I can’t dislike the film overall. All the stuff with Robert Patrick’s liquid metal T-1000 is amazing, such a terrifying villain who you genuinely have no idea how to kill during the story. You can read my old review here.
Lists: None (Already crossed off from 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Empire’s 5-Star 500, Empire’s Top 500, Empire’s Top 301, Total Film’s Top 100)
Choose Film 8/10

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
And then the series falls off a cliff. This is where the plot paradoxes start to fall apart and it becomes very difficult to lay out all these films in some kind of timeline, and it only gets worse from here on out. Kristanna Loken’s T-X was clearly brought in by the studios as a sexy robot, which she very much is, but they give her too many abilities – she has the T-1000’s liquid metal/appearance changing abilities, as well as a bunch of gadgets and weaponry that would make the liquid metal stuff difficult to work with. One or the other, not both. And whilst Nick Stahl is an improvement over Edward Furlong, he’s still Nick freaking Stahl, so he has to heavily rely on narrating his thoughts and feelings because they’re incapable of being shown on his face. I tell you, if he’s not playing a Yellow Bastard, I do’t want Nick Stahl in my movies.
Lists: None
Choose Life 5/10

Terminator Salvation (2009)
I can’t even tell you what happens in this film. The plot is so ramshackle and non existent that it defies synopsis. This is basically the answer to people requesting a Terminator movie set after Judgment day, in the post-apocalyptic resistance fighting years, with John Connor (angry angry Christian Bale) taking on Skynet and trying to brign it down, thereby showing exactly why all these robots have been trying to go back in time and kill him in the first place, which they utterly fail to do. The one high point is a rather cool long shot involving Bale flying and subsequently crashing a helicopter, all done in one take (although probably with a lot of CGI assistance), but then there’s canyons of low points to counteract, most of which are called Sam Worthington.
Lists: None
Choose Life 3/10

The Voices (2015)
Cats are evil, dogs are loveable. If they start talking to you, don’t listen to the cat. That’s the moral to take from The Voices, an off kilter black comedy starring Ryan Reynolds as a man who stops taking his medication and starts listening to his talking pets, which inevitably leads to him having the decapitated head of his office crush stored in his fridge. And she talks to him too, of course. I can’t quite explain exactly why, but I loved this film. It’s nuts, disturbing and turns from a comedy into a thriller in the last act, but I found it hilarious the whole way through.
Lists: 2015 Movies
Full review here.

Terminator Genisys (2015)
Not the worst in the Terminator franchise (Salvation, take a bow!) but by no means anywhere close to the highs of the first two. This gets bogged down in the time travelling nonsense again, with Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney, Jai fucking Courtney! Why does this franchise insist on hiring actors I despise!?!?) being sent back from the resistance-fighting future to help Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), just like in 1984’s The Terminator. Except, when Reese arrives he finds Connor waiting for him, already with a reprogrammed T-800 (Schwarzenegger), helping her out. This basically sets up the world that the first two Terminator movies would have resulted in, and what Skynet would have done differently, namely send someone back even earlier, to take out Connor as a little girl, and how that would affect things given that the now adult John Connor (Jason Clarke) still thinks he needs to send Reese back to 1984. Hold on a moment, I need to mop up the bits of brain that just melted out of my ear. There we go. It’s too complicated for its own good, and thinks it can get away with regularly spouting nonsense by having a character keep saying that the exposition being given doesn’t make any sense, when in fact that just highlights that the film-makers knew it was all bollocks and went ahead shooting it anyway, because of how little they care about anything. There’s some innovative bits with another T-1000 (Byung-hun Lee) and the opening future sequences are well done, but the plot is just nonsense. They literally throw out plot points without even hoping to explain them (such as who sent back Connor’s old T-800, something which is never made clear, save for them saying that whoever it was didn’t want them to know), and a major plot point that informs them of where in time they need to travel to, is explained with the most ridiculous attempts at making sense I’ve ever seen. God damn this is balls.
Lists: 2015 Movies
Choose Life 4/10

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)
I really rather enjoyed the first Best Exotic Marigold Hotel film, released in 2011. I even saw i in the cinema, something I don’t normally do for the smaller fare that would lose very little when transported to the small screen. I waited out the sequel for financial/time reasons, and am glad I waited. This film has far too much going on. Where the first film established us with eight main characters (seven elderly English guests and the young, naive but overly enthusiastic hotel manager they stay with) and gives them a small handful of plot lines to share between them, the sequel opts for the More Is More route and goes way overboard. First up there’s Evelyn Greenslade (Judi Dench), who works as a materials purchaser for a company in India, but might have to reconsider her stay at the hotel given the job offer that will have her travelling a great deal. She’s in a will-they-won’t-they relationship with Douglas Ainslie (Bill Nighy), who separated from his wife Jean (Penelope Wilton) at the end of the last film when she wanted to go back to England and he wanted to stay. Douglas and Evelyn clearly want to be together, and there’s literally nothing stopping them, but they aren’t, and will continue to dosey doe around one another for the entirety of the film, with nothing really getting in the way other than their own minds. Douglas has to deal with his daughter visiting India to give some kind of tech talk, and bringing Jean along with her, who wants a divorce so she can marry someone else, who might not exist. Also, Douglas is passing himself off as a tour guide, but his failing memory means he can’t recall anything he’s supposed to say, so he uses an Indian boy talking into an earpiece to help. Madge Hardcastle (Celia Imrie) is wooing several potential suitors, and finds herself being asked to marry two of them, when it’s clear from the off that she has a much stronger relationship with her driver who transports her from one to the other. She runs a struggling bar with Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup), who is still with Carol (Diana Hardcastle), but they both draw attention from other potential partners, and have to deal with the possibility that they might not want to be together after having spent so much time playing the field. Also, Norman thinks he might have accidentally instigated an assassination attempt on Carol. This was a brief glimmer of genius that could have led to a lot of fun, but was sadly resolved at around the halfway point. Darn. Then there’s the hotel manager and best part of the film, Sonny (Dev Patel). He’s still enthusiastic. He’s still foolish. It’s still fun watching him be enthusiastic and foolish and hilariously inappropriate. He is in the middle of acquiring new facilities (the eponymous Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) when a figure from his youth but it instead, just as Sonny tried to arrange funding from an American hotel company, led by David Strathairn. Strathairn’s character sends a secret undercover guest to review Sonny’s hotel(s), but wouldn’t you know it, two people show up? There’s Guy Chambers (Richard Gere), a writer who catches the eye of Madge but is more interested in Sonny’s mother, and Lavinia Beech (Tamsin Greig), an Englishwoman apparently scouting out the place for her mother to stay. Sonny immediately assumes that Guy is the inspector, but because I’ve seen more than one sitcom episode in my time, it was pretty clear what was going to happen here. Oh, and Sonny is getting married to Sunaina (Tina Desai), but is jealous of how much time she is spending with the far superior Kush (Shazad Latif), the guy who bought the hotel Sonny was after. And throughout all this Murial Donnelly (Maggie Smith) wafts through, laying a constant stream of criticism and disapproval down on everyone, clear there’s something capital-I Important on her mind. And that’s the initial plot. No, this film is not 5 hours long. Yes, there’s enough here for a full season of a TV show. It’s like the writers and director John Madden couldn’t work out what people liked about the first film so threw all of it back in again, and a bunch of new stuff too. Too predictable, too boring, just too much.
Lists: 2015 Movies
Choose Life 5/10

Posts you may have missed:
5 Favourite Things: Titanic
 It’s James Cameron month over at French Toast Sunday, so I took a look at my unashamed favourite film of his, Titanic.
Fight Club
The Kid with a Bike
The Voices
Lambcast #277 Grosse Pointe Blank
 I was joined by David Brook, Will Slater, The Vern and Lambcast newcomer Aaron Neuwirth to discuss the John Cusack hitman-at-his-reunion comedy. Turns out it’s actually pretty good.

Goals Update
Aim: Watch all 61 saved TiVo films
Watched: 37
To go: 24
Should be on: 33
On Track: Yes!

Aim: Watch 59 movies released in the UK in 2015
Watched: 24
To go: 35
Should be on: 21
On Track: Yes!

Aim: Review Kate Winslet’s remaining films
Reviewed: 2
To go: 1
Should be on: 2
On Track: Yes!

Aim: Watch 12 “bad” films from the 1001 List
Reviewed: 7
To go: 5
Should be on: 6
On Track: Yes!

Aim: Watch 1 nominated film a week from the 1001 List
Reviewed: 27
To go: 25
Should be on: 28
On Track: No!

Aim: Cross off 75 films from the 1001 List
Reviewed: 47
To go: 28
Should be on: 40
On Track: Yes!

Aim: Finish FTS USA Road Trip
Reviewed: 1
To go: 15
Should be on: 1
On Track: Yes!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.