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Robots in Disguise!

TERMINATOR GENISYS (2015)

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Starring: Arnold Shwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke

Director: Alan Taylor

Plot: To save mankind from extinction, Kyle Reese goes back in time to protect the woman who will be the mother of the man who will lead the humans in the future war against the machines. Nah! Just kidding. This movie is nothing like that.

Rating: PG-13 Because nobody does R rated action movies anymore.

Hey kids. It’s Tom, your DVD Critics Corner pal. Sorry I haven’t been around that much the past few months, but my job as a retired black ops soldier turned pro kite surfing champion who occasionally solves crimes the CIA won’t touch has been keeping me really busy.

Why just the other day as I was hanging from the landing skid of a helicopter with one hand with bullets and rockets whizzing by my head and a briefcase full of recovered nuclear missile launch codes in my free hand when it hit me; it this what I’m all about? Am I fulfilled?

The answer was no. So the CIA gave me a nice going away party, erased most of my memory, and here I am, back at my post as… what is it I do here?

I think the CIA gave me the deluxe memory wipe package.

Speaking of memory wipes, I want you to forget everything you know about the Terminator movies. Forget Skynet, forget a young Linda Hamilton running from a Michelin Man sized Arnold Shwarzenegger, forget everything that happened in Terminator Salvation – seriously, forget everything about that movie – because the latest installment of the venerable sci fi saga, Terminator Genysis has rebooted/revamped the franchise with a plot twist that has everything in the Terminator universe all topsy turvy and higgledy piggeldy.

Higgledy piggeldy is a movie reviewer word. Only we can use it. Let’s move on.

As the movie opens, it’s 2029 and the last surviving humans are duking it out with the Skynet and their evil army of robots. Under the leadership of John Connor (Jason Clarke), Skynet is on the ropes, but they activate their time machine to send a Terminator cyborg back in time to kill John’s mother in 1984. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney, more wooden than ever) Connor’s most trusted soldier, volunteers to get naked and travel back in time to protect Sarah’s pretty little head from the menacing Arnold-bot.

Reese arrives in 1984 Los Angeles. But before he can play Donkey Kong on Colecovision or catch an episode of Dynasty, he’s set upon by a T-1000 liquid metal robot, who’s not supposed to be there. Before lunkhead Reese can figure out what is going on, he’s rescued by a gun toting Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) and her T-800 bodyguard “Pops” (Arnold Schwarzenegger; still looking darn good) who have a lot of plot exposition to lay down.

Turns out Pops was (for reasons not explained) sent back into the 1970’s to protect Sarah when she was 9, so Sarah grew up knowing that her son was destined to lead the human resistance, a T-800 would be sent to try to kill her in 1984, and  most importantly, she has to do the no pants dance with Kyle Reese to insure her son is born.

That’s a lot of pressure on a little kid. When I was nine all I worried about was returning a book to the library on time. Hey, those late book fees could cost you 8 cents a month!

Since Sarah and Pops have already taken care of the T-800 cyborg sent to kill her, they want to now go forward in time to 1997 to stop Skynet from going online using the time machine she and Pops built in their secret underground bunker, which makes that old dresser you and your dad restored and repainted in the garage look really lame in comparison

But wait! Kyle suggests they go ahead in time to 2017, because when he was travelling back in time, he saw an altered timeline when his younger self tells him to go to 2017.

Remember all those sci fi books, movies, and TV shows that told us that mucking around in the past would cause irreparable damage to the future, and the end result could be a rift in the space time continuum that causes the collapse of the universe itself?

Nah! Forget that crap! According to Terminator Genisys, the timeline welcomes our abuse. So do whatever you want with it! Change the past, mess with the future, it’s all good! Don’t pay any attention to what Doc Brown said! Stupid old geezer…

Anyhoo, Sarah and Kyle travel forward to 2017 to find that Skynet isn’t a high tech defense computer controlling our nuclear weapons. In this new timeline it’s a super cool operating system named Genisys that’s about to go online to an adoring public hungry for a faster app that will help share pictures of the sandwich they are about to eat with strangers.

Sarah and Kyle hook up with an aged Pops, who has been hanging around awaiting their arrival for 33 years stockpiling more weapons in the bunker and catching up on his soaps. The valiant trio gears up to destroy Skynet/Genisys, but a new, stronger, smarter, T-3000 cyborg is running things now, and he looks a lot like someone they all know!

Terminator: Genisys has lots of action and cool effects – the fight scene  between “Pops” Arnold and his younger bulkier 1984 self is especially fun – the usual stuff you’d expect from a Terminator movie.

Which is fine, I guess.

The problem is the cast. As Sarah Connor, Emelia Clarke has a hard time filling Linda Hamilton’s combat boots. And Jai Courtney, bless his little heart is really trying to make a go with this whole acting thing, but when Arnold freakin Schwarzenegger shows more range playing an emotionless cyborg, maybe it’s time to try something new. I don’t care if he’s dreamy! He’s a lousy actor! Man, I wish the voice in my head would leave me alone when I blog!

To sum up, I guess those Hollywood movie folks thought the whole “change the timeline” thing would help reboot the Terminator franchise the same way it did for Star Trek in 2009, but this case the time tripping franchise makeover falls flat.

Still, it’s always good to see Arnold stepping back into one of his signature roles. And it’s nice to see Emelia “Game of Thrones” Clarke in a role that requires her to wear a shirt.

I didn’t write that last part. The voice in my head insisted I put that in.

He is such a prude.

 

 

 

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Proper Planning prevents.. Something, Something, Something!

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ESCAPE PLAN (2013)

Director: Mikael Hafstrom

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Amy Ryan, Sam Neil, Vincent D’Onofrio

Plot: A prison escape expert is double crossed and finds himself in a high tech prison that is really super hard to escape from. I mean, they have lots of guards and locked doors and everything!

Rating: R for gunplay and bloodshed and guys getting clubbed and tazered. Surprisingly, not one single prison shower joke.

Without a doubt prison is number three on my list of places I hope to never go.

Number two is a live taping of the CBS sitcom Two Broke Girls: a show which deserves to be called a “comedy” the same way Schindler’s list could be categorized as a “the feel good movie of a lifetime.”

Number one on my list of places I hope to never go is the popular mall store Hot Topic. The loud music, the rubber bracelets, the posters and t-shirts featuring bands I’ve never heard of; Hot Topic is the overstocked  Sarlaac pit I hurriedly dash past on the way to the soft pretzel guy.

I loves a good soft pretzel.

Anyhoo, a high tech escape-proof prison is the setting of Escape Planwhere the guards are cruel, the discipline is swift, and the cafeteria menu is loaded with sodium and carbs! Oh, and you’ll probably die trying to escape.

Ray Breslin (Stallone) is a structural engineering genius and prison escape expert who is paid by maximum security prisons to try to break out of their prisons. It must be a pretty lucrative job because Ray has a huge office building with a fun support staff and an oily partner named Clark (D’Onofrio) who probably won’t screw him over.

Ray is approached by the CIA to break out of a super top secret prison so secret, they can’t tell Breslin and his team where it is. Ray takes the job along with the huge check that comes with it, but before he can say “you can always trust the CIA,” he’s thrown in a truck, drugged and taken to the super-secret prison which is code named The Tomb, where everyone lives in tiny cubicles and there is no windows to the outside world. Sounds like my old apartment in New York.

Turns out (big surprise here) Ray has been royally screwed over. The warden who was supposed to be his contact is in fact another guy named Hobbes (Jim Caviezel) who knows nothing about Ray’s real identity and assignment and has different set of orders: Keep the breakout expert locked away forever or maybe longer, and kill him if he tries to escape.

Ray now has to put all his skills to use to break out of the most secure prison ever built. Luckily he’s befriended by a veteran con named Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) who knows plenty about the prison and also wants to escape before the warden can torture information out of him about some master criminal named Mannheim who Rottmayer works for.

Escape Plan is full of suspense and intrigue as Ray teaches Rottmayer the intricacies of prison escape planning while trying to uncover the identity of the bad guys who wanted him locked up. Can these two tough guys put aside their differences long enough to realize that they love each other like no other prisoners have loved each other before?

Oh wait, that’s another prison movie. Forget I said that.

Things draw to a slam bang conclusion as Ray and Rottmayer lead a full scale riot to escape the escape proof Tomb. There’s a great plot twist at the end when Ray finally learns who put him in the Tomb which nearly cost him his life, but I’m not ging to give it away because I don’t like to spoil things. Also, I have a terrible short term memory so I don’t remember what happened at the end of the movie any way.

Speaking of movies, did I tell you about Escape Plan starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger?

In conclusion; if you grew up watching the action movies of Stallone and Schwarzenegger, you’ll enjoy seeing these two big screen legends share a movie for the very first time.

If you were too young to remember or weren’t even born when these guys ruled the summer blockbuster movie season, you’re obviously one of those “millennials”  the internet news reports are always yammering about. You with your fixie bikes and SXSW festival things. I bet if Sylvester Stallone was an iPhone app you’d know who he was! Now get off my lawn!

I’m just kidding. You youngsters are fine.

Seriously get off the lawn. I just seeded.

May The Schwarz Be With You!

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THE LAST STAND (2012) Director: Kim-Jee Wong  Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forrest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville, Jaimie Alexander, Luis Guzman Rating: R for graphic violence, bad language, and Arnold kicking it old school!

Move over Avengers. Stand aside Statham. Park it, Fast and Furious guys. The first name in action movies is back from a long hiatus, and he’s ready to take back his seat at the top of the action movie heap. That’s right film fans, Arnold Schwarzenegger is back!

After years of bringing growth and prosperity to the untamed wilds of California, Arnold has returned to the world of cinema, and he’s going to show this new generation of action stars who the boss is. And it aint Tony freakin Danza!

Arnold’s first starring vehicle in over a decade is the High Noon inspired The Last Stand, and it’s got everything you’d expect from a classic Schwarzenegger action flick, plus car chases and the guy from Jackass!

It’s like the movie studio read my dream journal!

In The Last Stand, Arnold plays Ray Owens, easy going sheriff of a small boarder town in Arizona. Ray and his deputies have little to do in Summerton Junction, which is your typical sleepy desert movie town: dusty streets, rusty signs blowing in the wind, and colorful comic relief  locals like Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville) who has more guns than most third world armies.

 With most of the residents of Summerton Junction out of town for a high school football game, Ray hopes to have a quiet day off drinking tea and watching all of those Downton Abbey episodes clogging up the DVR. But this is a movie, so you know things are about to get mucho fugly.

Later that evening in Las Vegas, no nonsense FBI agent John Bannister (Forrest Whitaker) is transferring a vicious criminal to prison in a heavily armed convoy. Unfortunately, the prisoner is drug cartel kingpin Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), who is cunning, ruthless, and one hollowed out mountain fortress away from being a super villain.  Before Bannister knows what’s going on, Cortez is sprung thanks to his heavily armed crew and is off and running in a souped up Corvette hellbent for Mexico because airplanes and helicopters are for party poopers!

Bannister informs Ray that Cortez and his gunmen are heading straight through Summerton Junction toward the Mexican Border and the small town sheriff and his bumbling deputies should stay out of the way, but Bannister doesn’t know that Sheriff Ray Owens has the power of the Shwarz!

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Pictured: A gun. And the Schwarz!

It’s a showdown at dawn as Ray, his deputies, and Dinkum (with the help of his gun collection) take on Cortez and his army who are determined to tear southern Arizona a new one. Can Ray do it? Does he still have what it takes to get the job done? Will he live to see the Downton Abbey season 2 Christmas epsiode?

Fans of vintage action films will love The Last Stand because it’s always good to see Arnold back in the fray kicking butt and taking names. Fans of vintage handbags and purses will not love The Last Stand, because there’s not a single one in the movie. As I said before, it’s about Arnold kicking and taking.

Handbags and purses in an action movie? Not as long as I’m alive, fella!