Browse Josh's Portfolio and the Comic, Reviews or Blog archive.

Josh Reviews Terminator: Dark Fate

November 4th, 2019

The latest Terminator film ignores the events of Terminator 3, Terminator: Salvation, and Terminator: Genisys, treating only the first two films, the ones written and directed by James Cameron, as canon.  Terminator: Dark Fate picks up in 2019, decades after Sarah Connor stopped Judgment Day and the creation of Skynet (in Terminator 2: Judgment Day).  But now a new Terminator has come through time.  This time, its mission has nothing to do with Sarah or John Connor.  Its target is a young woman living in Mexico City: Daniella “Dani” Ramos.  A new protector has come from the future as well: Grace, a woman augmented with Terminator-like tech.  Sarah sees in Dani the woman she was so long ago, and joins with Grace in an effort to protect Dani and ensure the defeat of the machines.

Terminator: Dark Fate is a solidly entertaining film!  I had quite a good time watching it!

Now, I do have to say that this is not a film that has much of any reason to exist.  It doesn’t really have anything to say beyond what James Cameron’s first two Terminator films said.  Although there are new characters and new action sequences, the basic framework of the story follows many of the beats laid out in those first two Terminator films.  (This was likely intentional — more on this below.)  We get a new Terminator, but it’s not all that different from the nearly unstoppable T-1000 we met back in 1991’s T2.  We get a new threat from the future that has a new name (“Legion”) but is basically just Skynet.  We get a new human resistance fighter from the film who goes through basically the same story arc as Kyle Reese in the first film.  We spend much of the movie in familiar territory.

But in many respects I think that works in the film’s advantage!  Terminator: Dark Fate is clearly designed to try to recapture the series’ glory days: those first two James Cameron films.  There were a lot of nice touches that indicated the filmmakers’ desire to put us back in touch with those original films.  I loved opening the film with the recording of Sarah’s rantings, while in the psych ward, from T2.  I loved that, after a monologue from Sarah Connor, we got to glimpse an action sequence set in the post-Skynet world, just like we did in the first two Terminator films.  And, of course, not only did this film bring back Arnold Schwarzenegger, but we also got Linda Hamilton back as Sarah Connor for the first time since 1991’s T2.

It’s glorious to see Linda Hamilton back on screen, and I am delighted that she’s not … [continued]

Browse Josh's Portfolio and the Comic, Reviews or Blog archive.

Josh Enjoys Seeing Terminator 2: Judgment Day Back on the Big Screen!

As I have written here before, I love the idea of revival showings of great classic movies.  It is a special treat to get to see a terrific older movie back on the big screen, where it belongs!  I wish this was done more often.  It’s a pleasure whenever a studio gets behind this sort of thing.  In the past two weeks I was delighted by the chance to see two wonderful movies back on the big screen: a new 3D version of James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and a 40th Anniversary showing of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  Both were fantastic!

Let’s start with T2, which I saw first.  I didn’t need a 3D conversion; I would have jumped at the chance to see this blockbuster back on the big screen in its original form.  But that being said, the 3D was fun.  The 3D conversion was done exceedingly well.  No surprise, since it was overseen by James Cameron, who launched the modern wave of 3D films (a wave that has already mostly died out) with Avatar in 2009.  The 3D is subtly done, adding depth to the image without ever being distracting.  The new 3D effects are most exciting in the brief “future war” sequence at the start of the film; it’s a ton of fun to see the Terminator robots and all the exploding ships and trucks in 3D.

I love T2, and it’s incredible how well this 1991 film holds up more than twenty-five years after its release.  It’s a great story, with vivid characters and spectacular action.  This could be Arnold Schwarzenegger’s greatest performance (though I am also partial to his work in True Lies, another great James Cameron film).  Some of the story beats are a little cliche twenty-five years later, but I still found this story of a killer robot learning to care for a human boy to be remarkably affecting.  Linda Hamilton is terrific as this hardened version of Sarah Connor (a far cry from the waitress damsel in distress she played in the first film).  I know some people don’t love Edward Furlong’s work as John Connor, but I think he does a great job at embodying this young nineteen-nineties kid.  And the action — wow.  There are few directors better at crafting extraordinary action sequences than James Cameron.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well this film’s groundbreaking-at-the-time CGI effects held up, projected on the big screen, twenty-five years later.  Often times I find that films that are the most cutting-edge can age poorly, as their pioneering effects are improved upon by other films and filmmakers who stand on their shoulders.  I was worried that, … [continued]

Browse Josh's Portfolio and the Comic, Reviews or Blog archive.

News Around the Net!

News broke yesterday that Sam Raimi’s planned Spider-Man 4 has been scrapped, and the studio is going ahead with a total reboot of the series.  DeadlineHollywoodDaily broke the story.  Personally, I’m bummed by this news.  Though Raimi & co. broke my heart with the atrocious Spider-Man 3, the first two Spidey flicks were so great that I really wanted to see him come back and try to return to the greatness of those first two films.  I hate that his run on the character is ending on such a low note, and the idea of rebooting a series that is only eight years old and wildly successful just seems insane to me.  But hey, I’m the guy who also wants to see Bryan Singer make another Superman film.

I have not read any of the Twilight books, nor seen the movies, nor do I have any intention of doing so.  But this piece over at CHUD about why Breaking Bad (the fourth and final Twilight book) MUST be made into a movie is absolutely hysterical.

Behold the weirdest wedding video I have ever seen.  This dude had his friends in the wedding party act out scenes from Superman II.  I am at once awestruck and disturbed.

Speaking of slightly-insane Superman fans, a few weeks ago I stumbled upon photos of this guy who decorated his office cubicle as the Fortress of Solitude.  Check it out:


You can find the full story behind his crazy construction project here.

Then there’s this incredibly bizarre stop-motion animated interview with Fantastic Mr. Fox director Wes Anderson.  Except Wes Anderson is played by Jason Schwartzman.  You read that right.  Check it out.

In case you haven’t seen it yet, a super-cool new trailer for Iron Man 2 came out last month.  Take a look.  I was an enormous fan of Iron Man (read my review here), and have high hopes for the sequel.  Don’t break my heart, Mr. Favreau!  (By the way, in re-reading my review of Iron Man, I can see that I was sure that the Mandarin would be a key villain in the sequel.  It’s not looking that way… so I’m wondering whether that character factors into the story at all.  I certainly hope he does!)

Speaking of trailers, let me lay a few more on you.  Here’s a sort of weird new trailer for Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe’s latest collaboration: Robin Hood.  Take a look.  This seems like familiar ground for Scott and Crowe, and I can’t say that I have been lying awake at nights waiting for a new version of the Robin Hood story.  That being said, … [continued]

Browse Josh's Portfolio and the Comic, Reviews or Blog archive.

Josh reviews Avatar!

December 21st, 2009
, ,

An indeterminate number of years in the future, mankind has ravaged the Earth and is forced to turn to alternative sources of energy.  By far the best is the ore nicknamed “unobtanium” (talk about a macguffin) that has been discovered on the alien world called Pandora.  Unfortunately, Pandora is home to a bunch of pesky natives, the Na’vi, who don’t take kindly to the shiploads of humans arriving on their planet with their giant bulldozers.  So the company supervising the mining sub-contracts the Marines to protect their workers and, if necessary, destroy any belligerent Na’vi.

But some scientists, lead by Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), would prefer to find a diplomatic solution to the escalating violence with the Na’vi.  As such, they have constructed artificial Na’vi avatars — fully lifelike and functional Na’vi bodies that can be controlled by a human mind.  The idea is that these Avatars will be able to assimilate into the Na’vi culture better than a human ever could — learning about them, and hopefully eventually being able to reach an understanding with them.  Tom Sully was one of the highly-trained humans who had been preparing to control an Avatar, but when he is killed, the company must turn to his twin brother, Jake.  (Since the Avatars are apparently created specifically to match the genetics of their individual human controller, only Jake can substitute for his brother.)  Jake, a Marine who has lost the use of his legs, is excited by the chance to be useful again, and even more overwhelmed by the sensations of controlling a Na’vi body, through which he can at last walk (not to mention run, jump, etc.).  Things get even better for Jake when the mutilated Colonel Quaritch, who supervises the Marines on Pandora, approaches Jake with an offer: if Jake will feed him all the tactical information he gains about the Na’vi during his Avatar’s time amongst them (which the Colonel can use to wipe the Na’vi out once and for all), the Colonel will see that the military pays for the expensive medical procedures necessary to restore Jake’s legs.

Of course, once Jake’s Avatar actually gets accepted into Na’vi society, things become a lot more complicated, morally, for Jake, and he finds himself caught between two societies that are rapidly heading for a collision.

Avatar brings with it an enormous amount of hype and expectation — almost more than any movie could possibly live up to.  It’s the first narrative feature film from Director James Cameron since the extraordinary success of Titanic back in 1997.  Mr. Cameron has directed some of the most influential sci-fi films ever made (and also some of the very best): Aliens, Terminator, T2, The [continued]

Browse Josh's Portfolio and the Comic, Reviews or Blog archive.

Welcome back to Motion Pictures!  We’ve got lots of great stuff coming your way in the next few weeks (including my LENGTHY dissertation on Inglourious Basterds, coming on Wednesday).  For now, let’s see what sorts of fun stuff has hit the web recently:

James Cameron has finally made another movie!  And after almost two years of teases, we have at last been graced with a trailer — check it out here.  I don’t hate Titanic — not at all.  I happen to think, though, that it’s one of Cameron’s weaker movies — because I absolutely adore the two Terminator Films, Aliens, The Abyss, and True Lies.  Those five films are all pretty much masterpieces, in my book, so I have been bummed that Mr. Cameron has gone a decade without making a new film.  But that drought is finally at an end!  Let’s hope Avatar is good…

Some other interesting trailers have hit recently:  Here’s a glimpse at the long-delayed The Wolfman.  It’s got a great cast (Benicio del Toro, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Hugo Weaving, and Emily Blunt) but the year-long delay and lots of rumors of problems with the film have me skeptical.

Then there’s the latest Michael Moore joint, Capitalism: A Love Story.  Check out the trailer here.  That should be interesting…

Earlier this month, when I was looking for an image of the crows from Dumbo for my Transformers cartoon making fun of the ridiculously infantile (not to mention offensive!) Skids and Mudflap, I came across this fascinating list of the Nine Most Racist Disney Characters.

In a recent interview with Europe’s Sky TV channel, Quentin Tarantino listed his twenty favorite movies of the past twenty years.  It’s a pretty bizarre list, hence Chud‘s article titled Is Quentin Tarantino Totally Fucking With Us?  (Unlike the author of that piece, I for one was THRILLED to see Unbreakable on that list!!)

Finally, take a gander at this:

Been there, man.  TOTALLY been there.  I can’t wait for this!  Might have to bite the bullet and sign up for HBO for a few months so I can see the much-heralded Seinfeld reunion…… [continued]