Monday, August 13, 2012

Big footsteps to follow in...

The Dark Knight Rises
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Joseph-Gordon Levitt, Marion Cotillard
Released: July 20, 2012
Viewed in theaters: July 30, 2012



Ugh. I did not like this movie. Going in, I knew that the third and final installment of Nolan's Batman trilogy would not be as epic or as good The Dark Knight. I still thought I would enjoy it, but instead I found it as boring and drawn-out as Nolan's last movie, Inception. And it didn't help that he uses a few of his actors from that movie like Gordon-Levitt and Cotillard. (Oh, and Hardy, but his face is covered up by a mask so it's hard to tell who he is...and I'm not that familiar with him anyway.) Really, I'm surprised he didn't get Ellen Page to be Selina Kyle. She must have been busy! Oh, and speaking of Catwoman....I thought Hathway did a good job and any scene with her made the movie more interesting (I did enjoy that scene where she frames that guy and the police come in and she's pretending to be all helpless), but there really aren't that many scenes with her and I feel like you really didn't need her. I feel like if you took her away from the movie, you would lose nothing. Yes, she does help move a part of the plot along, but didn't really need her. And Michelle Pfeiffer will always be my favorite Catwoman. They never actually refer to Selina as Catwoman in TDKR and her goggles flip up on her head to look like cat ears and for all we know, she could have a dog as a pet! I really didn't like her line about wanting to use guns on the bad guys that she and Batmat beat up. Not just because it made me cringe because of what happened in Aurora, but because it didn't make any sense for her to say it. Now I'm no Batman aficionado, but doesn't Catwoman use her body (and whip?) to fight? She's a physical fighter and I've never seen her use a weapon, save for a whip. It just felt totally out of place.

During the movie, I kept thinking the film had a different feel from The Dark Knight, then realized it was filmed in NYC (and Pittsburgh and L.A. I found out later) instead of Chicago. I was so used to seeing Chicago as the backdrop of Gotham and I thought they did a great job of not making obvious it was Chicago. With this movie, I could always tells that it was New York because it's such a recognizable city.

So since the movie is six hours long, I had to take a bathroom break (and I didn't even get anything to drink!) and I came back in the theater during a love scene between Bruce Wayne and one of the two women who are in this movie. (I don't want to spoil anything!) and the only light coming from the screen is that of a lit candle, so it is pretty much pitch black when I return to the theater and I can't see a darn thing! I really have bad timing!

There were two little twists involving characters at the end, and one of them I saw coming. I didn't know the exact details, but I got the feeling that a certain character wasn't exactly who they said they were and I was right. Another twist, I did not see it coming at all, but when the revealed it, I was like, Of course. It does make sense. It just never crossed my mind. If Nolan plans on making a spin-off with this twist, I will not be seeing it. I could care less about that character.

If I had to rank Christopher Nolan's movies, this is how I would rank them:
1. Memento
2. The Dark Knight
3. The Prestige
4. Batman Begins
5. The Dark Knight Rises
6. Inception

It's been awhile since I've seen Insomnia, but I imagine it would be somewhere after The Prestige and before TDKR. 


Friday, August 3, 2012

I survived August 29, 1997...and didn't even know it!

The Terminator
Director: James Cameron
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Paul Winfield
Released: October 26, 1984
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Director: James Cameron
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong, Joe Morton
Released: July 3, 1991

Oscar nominations:

Best Sound Effects (won)
Best Visual Effects (won)
Best Makeup (won)
Best Sound (won)
Best Cinematography (lost to JFK)
Best Editing (lost to JFK)


I'm sure most people have seen these movies, but there ARE spoilers, so just a warning!

So here's a quick background with my knowledge of the Terminator movies (at least the first two): I had never seen The Terminator until just recently and didn't know anything about it. I was way too young to even remember that movie when it came out, but I was ten when the second movie came out and do remember it being promoted and whatnot. I've only seen it in bits and pieces when my brother rented it and it was playing in the background at one of my friend's birthday sleepovers, but until now I had never seen either movie in full.

The first movie is set in present day, which of course means 1984. :::snicker:::: And, boy, is it 1984! The opening credits has synthesizers so if you somehow ever forget what decade this movie was made, you will most definitely remember it was indeed made in the '80s when you hear the score. Also, before all the names in the cast (which are written with an old-school '80s computer font), there's a blinking square. If you ever used a computer in the '80s, you probably remember a little blinking square each time you started a new paragraph.

The movie opens up with the Terminator (Schwarzenegger) and Kyle Reese (Biehn), both from the year 2029 (only 45 years in the future) who have come to '84 to find the same woman, but for very different reasons. The Terminator (or T-800) is a highly-advanced robot (excuse me, cyborg) who has come to, well, terminate Sarah Connor (Hamilton). It is so lifelike (has muscles and skin like a human, has human scents), that except for maybe it's robotic personality, nobody can tell that it's not human unless they shoot it in the face and see the wires underneath its realistic-looking flesh. Reese is a human soldier who has come to warn and protect Sarah. What Sarah doesn't know is that she needs to stay alive because in the near future she will be giving birth to her son who will eventually become the legendary John Connor, a leader and a voice of hope for the human race when artificial intelligence plan to wipe out humanity.

So I'm probably showing my stupidity here, but only having seen bits and pieces of T2, I thought despite his name, the Terminator was a good guy. So when we first see him and he walks over to those teenagers and demands they give him their clothes, I was quite shocked when he killed one of them by pulling an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and ripping out that guy's heart (or wait, maybe this movie did it first). I thought for sure he didn't realize what he had done was wrong and someone would tell him he just can't go around killing people. Well, he does get that speech, but not until the second movie. The Arnold cyborg in the first movie is most definitely a ruthless killing machine. Literally.


At first we don't know Kyle Reese is a good guy, because he arrives the same way as the T-800: Totally naked (can't exactly pack a bag when you time travel!) and trying to find Sarah Connor. I thought he was looking to kill her too. When Sarah, a waitress, hears on the news that two other Sarah Connors in the area have been killed recently, she immediately knows she's in danger, but doesn't exactly know why.

'80s Sarah Connor
While not prissy or a damsel in distress, Sarah isn't exactly the bad-ass Ellen Ripley type until the second movie.  I kept waiting for her to kick some ass, but, yeah, no, never happens in this movie. I thought it was a little silly that the Terminator kills all these people, but can't kill one lousy waitress. He can't even kill her even before Reese can warn her!  Linda Hamilton and the woman who plays her (unluckily murdered) roommate have the most unfortunate '80s hair. Those bangs were teased to the heavens, I swear!

When Reese tells Sarah about how they need to protect her yet-to-be-born son because he's imperative to the future, I first thought that he might be her son from the future, but he looked to be in his thirties, so that means he wouldn't have been born until the late '90s if he was. And during the sex scene it was pretty obvious that he wasn't her grown son from the future because that would just be disturbing. It wasn't until the end of the movie when she's clearly pregnant that I realized, duh, he is the father. Hmmm, that makes me wonder. He knows John Connor in the future, but does he know he's his son? John was born in either '84 or '85 (not sure on the exact timelime of the movie) and by my calculations, Reese was probably born in 1999 - maybe a few years earlier, but the point is, he is YOUNGER than his son. That just blows my mind! My mind is blown! Also (spoiler alert!) Reese is killed in 1984, so does that mean he even existed in 2029? Hmmmm.... I think I love this movie because it has a time travel aspect to it and I love time travel!


"I'll be back!"
I laughed so hard when the T-800 is walking down the motel hallway with his gun in clear view and this black guy passes him and says, "Damn!" The scene where the Terminator is plucking out his human eye (because he had just been shot) didn't bother me because he's a robot and can't feel pain. Usually I HATE scenes when people are poking sharp items in eyes or messing with their eyes. :::shudder!::: But that scene didn't bother me at all. I also laughed when Sarah feels like she's being followed by somebody (she is: Reese) and goes into a club called "Techno-Noir" to hide form him. It looked like the early '80s had thrown up in that club! We need more Techno-Noirs! Because my Terminator pop culture knowledge didn't resonant until the second movie, I had always assumed that all the lines made famous by Arnold as this character were from that film, but he says "I'll be back" in the first movie when he goes into a police station, looking for Sarah and tells the guy at the desk that when he won't let him in and then drives a car into the building.


What I found interesting about this movie is that there's hardly any dialogue for a good portion of it. It's a lot of action and not very much dialogue. I read that Arnold only had about sixteen lines of dialogue! Where there's not much dialogue is the end of the movie when the T-800 is on the heels of Sarah and Reese. The cyborg is driving a semi and Reese causes the truck to explode into a great ball of fire. The terminator's human form melts, but then he becomes just a robot and moves in this really creepy, unnatural way. I don't think it was meant to be like that; I think it was thanks to crappy effects. Even after Reese sets off another explosion that destroys the robot terminator, the thing still comes back to "life" - this thing can't be stopped! This is when Reese is killed. The killer robot corners Sarah (they're in some kind of factory) against a wall and she tells him, "You're terminated &#**er!" and pushes a button that causes a weight to come down and crush the robot. I'm glad she knew what that button was for or otherwise she would have been f***ed! 

The final minutes of the film ends with a pregnant Sarah in Mexico at a gas station. I laughed so hard when she needed a freaking translation book to say, "Gasoline, por favor." REALLY, Sarah? REALLY? LOL! This young boy takes her picture with a Polaroid camera and in a flash forward we saw that photo in the year 2029 with Kyle, so that was cool that the photo was explained.

I wonder if people (the viewing audience) knew there would be a sequel because the movie just ends with Sarah heading down a highway with ominous cloud in the distance.

'90s Sarah Connor
Well seven years later, there was a sequel and it's not always the case where a sequel is better than its predecessor, but in this case it is. I was a little confused with what year T2 is suppose to be set in because I don't think we are ever told (if it was mentioned, I didn't catch it). The first movie clearly tells the audience the movie is set in 1984 (and a few flash forward scenes set in 2029). I knew it wasn't 1991 because Sarah's son would have been seven and he looked closer to 12. I knew it was before 1997 because we are told that six billion people are exterminated on August 29, 1997 by artificial intelligence and the entire point of the movie is to stop that from happening. According to Wikipedia, the film is set in 1995 and John (Furlong) is ten years old. He lives with foster parents because his mother has been locked away in an asylum because nobody believes her about the impending doom that involves homicidal machines. Hmm, I can't imagine why! She was caught trying to bomb a computer factory, another reason why she's been put away. We find out she's 29, which would have made her 18 in the first movie! Now obviously she is young, but there's no way she was still a teenager...I would have guessed earlier twenties. Linda Hamilton was 28 when the first movie was released, so that's probably why she doesn't look like a teenager. But whatever, just a small nitpick. 

Sarah has told John about his future but he doesn't believe her either. When we first see little John, my first thought was, This kid is the leader of the future resistance? Here's this little punk who disobeys his foster parents, spends his days riding his motor scooter and playing video games at the arcade with his red-headed friend from Salute Your Shorts ('90s kid here, whoo!), and has some gadget that allows him to steal money from an ATM (and comes in handy when he needs it to crack the code of a tightly secure facility). Don't ask me how it works because I have no idea.

Get ready to have a headache: to protect his younger self, 2029 John has reprogrammed the T-800 (uh, I thought it was smashed to bits in the first movie; perhaps he just built a new one?) and sent it back in time to protect his ten year old self. So this time Arnold S. reprises his role but plays a good guy, uh, cyborg, instead of a killing machine. The killing machine in this movie is the T-1000 (Patrick) who has the ability to change into any human form that it comes into contact with and can also camouflage itself within walls or floors. Very cool, but very scary. I really thought he was going to come back into the form of John's friend, who he touched when he was pretending to be a police officer and at the arcade bumped into Salute Your Shorts and showed him a photo of his friend. I also thought he was going to disguise himself as John's dog, who he kills (after he kills his foster parents), but that never happens. He does pretend to be John's foster mother and Sarah, but it was obvious when he was pretending to be his biological mother.


Just like in the first movie, it is very difficult to kill a cyborg programmed to kill. The Arnold robot shoots a fireball at the Robert Patrick robot and he's obliterated into smithereens. The three of them just stand there while the molecules of the T-1000 is quickly putting itself back together - I don't know why they just didn't run to at least get a head start - and they don't kill it until the T-800 flings it into a pool o lava.  


This movie does a great job of keeping the audience entertained and invested in the characters (which is something I can't say about The Dark Knight Rises). Despite the grim consequences, the movie still has a sense of fun and comedic moments (again, another thing I can't say about The Dark Knight Rises...don't worry, I will soon be revealing my feelings about that one!) If this movie had been directed  by, say, Michael Bay, it would have been explosion after explosion. Sure, you do get plenty of explosions, but you also get some pretty thought-provoking scenes. One of them involves the T-800, who has become a somewhat father figure to John, allowing Sarah and John to take the main computer chip from its brain to allow them to do a diagnosis. Even though the Arnold cyborg is clearly helping and protecting them, Sarah still doesn't trust it (or any cyborg) and wants to smash the computer chip with a hammer but John pleads for her not to. There's also a great and intense scene where Sarah plans to assassinate the computer programmer (Morton) who is in the process of creating artificial intelligence. (Obviously he has no idea the horrible thing that will become of his work). She can't go through with killing him, but with the help of the T-800, proves to him that his work is evil and must be stopped so there's an entire scene where they have to bomb the building where all his work is in and OMG, you guys, it is so cool! This movie is so cool! I am a fangirl for life!

I share an interesting tidbit about Terminator 2 and the MTV movie awards:
video