Saturday, 8 November 2008

T4 and a trip down memory lane

I just watched the three-four minute doc on the production designer of Terminator: Salvation. It was kinda interesting in that it made the film look better in concept than the awful first trailer (which had "What the f**k is this movie" written all over it.) Essentially the film seems to be Mad Max 2 with killer robots in intent, which is good by me, as I like both killer robots and post-apocalyptic movies. And we haven't had a good mad max-type movie for years (last one was Waterworld, which was pretty flawed but fun). Also the other killer robot movie next year is Transformers 2, which will be terrible. (also, Christian Bale's post-apocalyptic film Reign of Fire from a few years back is truly awful so my respect for his taste in this sub-genre is basically zero) But what I'm seeing is only good just production design. So I'm a bit more hopeful on this one while not getting too excited, as there's a lot of good-looking but terrible movies.

I just don't really see the point though, in regards to Terminator. The first two were so good for their type, had proper conflicts and characters. Since then we had Terminator 3 (save a good performance by Nick Stahl working against dumb writing and a grim ending, was pretty bad), The Sarah Connor Chronicles (a hell of a lot better than T3, but is very patchy, and a tad too sentimental) and now this film, which looks like a simple shoot- em up, not suggesting that more mythic grander timelines and epic fates or the first two films. None of the follow-ups so far seen mentioned have gotten the John Conner character right, in the way T2 did (smart, doomed, with a sense of humour), seeming to always have him as weak, indecisive, a tendency to whine, then whine again, then again, always making me wonder, did anyone watch T2, and is it smart to portray a central character as annoying? Christian Bale, in the forthcoming film, has a lot of qualities as an actor but his better characters are very messed up, conflicted and flawed, not necessarily smart. As I've written before, his batman is a bit thick. He doesn't portray intelligence very clearly, which is the main quality needed in his character. His main weakness as an actor is when showing thinking, he can try too hard and simply be very serious and uninteresting. Also, none of the follow-ups have made the terminators intimidating. (Cromartie and Cameron, from the TV show are interesting but in no way intimidating).

So we'll see. I'm hoping, the new footage makes me more intrigued but as I've just watched the season 4 box-set of Battlestar Galactica, I suspect they'll be nowhere as intelligent or as ambitious as that show on the genocidal robots versus humans level.

My trip down memory lane was V: The Final Battle, which I picked up for an amazingly low price of £2. It was fun to rewatch, was pretty cheesy (has a green alien baby and some effects shots that are simply photographs that don't move). It also has in Marc Singer, a lead who is so beyond wooden that he makes Hasselhoff look like a thespian, where you are looking for the marionette strings. Luckily the show has Michael Ironside, who's a lot of fun as a gun-running sociopath killing alien invaders. You pretty much wait for him to show up between fight scenes. It's actually, despite the defects, fun eighties sci-fi, way more interesting than eighties and nineties Star Trek (it at least suggests fascism, world war 2 allegories, resistance fighters seen as terrorists), does have a few really nasty (for mainstream TV) torture scenes, as well as a suicide attempt and a woman killing, in front of her own child, the child's father. The pace does hold up pretty good. It does have a hand-made feel to the mood, is shot on locations, which gives it some reality, rather than awful sci-fi shows set in space with odd-looking aliens talking hours worth of gibberish to prove that they're sensitive. So it was worth the look. I won't make any great claims for it (nor comment on the very flawed series that followed afterwards). But as with many things, it is way better than T3. (this is a film I enjoy knocking, by the way)

So that's all for now.

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