Tag Archives: James Cameron

Cybernetic Mystification

Not sure where that title came from, but I think I love it. BeKindRewrite, that probably needs to be an InMon prompt!

So, I am mystified by the critics of the cyborgs. Of all the things I never thought I would say…

If you like The Terminator, and Terminator 2, go see Terminator: Genisys. Go see it in the theaters. It is well worth your time. But whatever you do, DO NOT WATCH THE LATEST TRAILER. It spoils a great twist.

Terminator: Genisys screen shot

Terminator: Genisys screen shot

The critics are raking this film over the coals, even moreso than the abysmal Terminator 3, and Terminator: Salvation. While I grant that the film is not as solid as the first two installments in the franchise, I contend that it blows T3 and T4 completely out of the water, and yet it’s rating from the critics falls well below them. Fan ratings are more mixed, thankfully. My brother and I are not the only fans who enjoyed it.

I’ve heard/seen all sorts of complaints about this film, but here is my non-spoilerific assessment:

Despite what a lot of folks have said, I found the writing to be solid. The dialog is effective, the call-backs are tasteful (which is a very rare thing in sequels) and the plot, though convoluted, doesn’t fall apart any more than that of T1 and T2. In fact, I have some very interesting theories about what is actually going on in this film, and I expect to see more explained if any sequels see the light of day. The writers have given themselves some very intriguing options.

Before anyone who disagrees with me decides to launch grenades, hear me out (it’s amazing how fast a fan-base can fall to vicious infighting). From the very beginning, The Terminator was a paradox. (Spoiler for the original Terminator film): You have John, born well before his own father, who sends his father back in time to protect his mother from a cyborg that would not have been sent to kill her if he, John, had not been born in the first place (/T1 spoiler). Terminator: Genisys complicates the timeline, but it does not hand me anything less believable than the original paradox. Enjoying the Terminator films at all requires suspension of belief.

Being familiar with the first two films will, most definitely, contribute to one’s understanding/enjoyment of this one. I did not watch it, the first time around (yes, I plan to see it again in the theaters), with an eye to how it would strike a newcomer.  My guess is that it would be overwhelming. Even with my background of being very familiar with the 1st 2 films, the pace in the second-half was a bit hard to follow.

The call-backs and references to the earlier films are everywhere. I am VERY picky about call-backs in sequels. It is easy for them to feel forced, to be used as a crutch to prop up a weak copy. Done right, though, call backs can act as a touchstone for fans, or even an inside joke. This film, for the most part, uses them right. It reverences the first two films, but it manages not to rely on them. I like the way James Cameron puts it in his (The video contains SPOILERS!) Featurette endorsing the film:

I start to see things I recognize. It’s being very respectful of the first two films. And then, all the sudden, it just swerves, and now I’m going on a journey.

The writers paid attention to the first two films. I think they must even have loved them in order to get the feel of this one right. Terminator: Genisys, feels like it belongs with T2, it works as a continuation. It has a similar style of dialogue and humor. Where Genisys drops the ball is, in my opinion, in the pacing. There is so much crammed into this movie that by the time we reached the climax, we were still, mentally, lagging a few scenes back. Said climax is confusing, and fails, on some level, to work for me. However, it wasn’t enough to break the film. It’s several pegs below T2, in my mind, but that does not make it a bad film. It still works. I still enjoyed it, and I am still thinking about its implications.

I found the twists intelligent and interesting. I won’t go into them more, here, because spoilers, but I will allow spoilers in the comments, so if anyone wants to pick my brain, feel free.

Oh, and as a note, if you know anything about helicopters, you might want to shut your brain off when the whirlybirds show up in order to enjoy the scene. It’s fun, but it laughs in the face of physics.

The acting is effective. Reese was the least-right, in my mind, (a very different Reese from T1), but even he didn’t grate on my nerves. Watching how Arnold handles his role in this film is gratifying, (yay development!) and Emilia Clarke is very fun to watch. They managed, shockingly, not to sexually exploit her very much. The film focuses on her as a person rather than focusing on her physical attributes… yes, I am glaring at you, T3. In good Sarah-Connor fashion, she’s a person with agency, not an object. I’ve not seen Game of Thrones, so I’m not biased about Emilia one way or another.

So the long and the short is this: It’s a fun, non-cringe-worthy film. No, it’s not perfect, and no, it doesn’t measure up to its first two predecessors, but really, who was expecting that? It is smart enough to hold up under discussion, and I had a roaring good time when I went to see it with my brother (to whom I owe my introduction to the Terminator films). Also, lots of Dakka, but some very interesting non-dakka stuff goes on as well. Terminator: Genisys has earned a place on my dvd shelf, which is something T3 and T4 never even came close to doing. I finally feel like we have a trilogy of Terminator films, and I have some hope that any that come after this have a chance of also being good.

For those who are curious, my ratings of the franchise are as follows: T1: 9/10, T2: 9.5/10, T3: 3/10, TS: 5/10 (ok film, but NOT a Terminator film), TG: 8/10

I cannot vouch for the comments! Spoilers will be allowed. I do ask that spoilers be marked as such.

If you’re curious, here are some reviewers who have a similar opinion. I’ll add more as I find ones I like:

Angry Movie Review (Spoilers)

The Examiner

Bandit Incorporated (Despite what it says, a little spoilerific)

The Leisure Time Blog (a little spoilerific)

And, of course, James Cameron’s Featurette mentioned above.

For Fun

HISHE: Terminator – One of my favorite mashups ever

ERBoH: Robocop vs. Terminator  – be advised, this video contains some adult themes and foul language. But the Geek in me doesn’t care, it’s great!

Honest Trailers: Terminator 2: Judgement Day – contains spoilers (duh!)

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Contrariwise

Let me get my least-justifiable reason for loving the Dwarves of J. R. R. Tolkien out of the way first.

Like many people, I have a contrary streak. Often, when a storyteller (author, film-maker, etc.) tells me what to think, my mule ears lay back and my heels dig in.

That said, I know that being contrary for the sake of being contrary is as thoughtless as being blindly led. I do not consistently root for the villains in a tale, I do not accept atrocities whilst jeering at characters who make the hard, noble choices. It’s not easy to express what, exactly, I do, so I will give examples. Don’t worry, I will get back to Tolkien in a moment.

The Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling:   I root for Slytherin. I don’t root for them because I like them, but because they are systematically demonized by most of the other characters in the books and largely unredeemed by their author. I don’t desire them to get their way, either.  I want, instead, to see the redemptive qualities I stubbornly believe exist. I cannot accept that they are simply a “bad House.”

James Cameron’s Avatar:  “Nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure” (Aliens, 1986).  …well, not really, but I flatly refuse to like or sympathize with the Na’vi because of the two-dimensional characterization of their antagonists and the patronizing way the film tells me exactly what to think. I would like to corner Cameron and scream at him for several hours for trying to bludgeon me into submission with plot.

Most of Western Mythology: Dragons. Why are dragons always manifestations or symbols of evil? I was so upset by this as a child that my imaginary friend was a dragon.

Obviously this is all highly subjective and has little, if any, basis in logic or reason.

Back to Tolkien. From the above, I ought to be talking about Goblins, Orcs, Dragons and their ilk from Tolkien’s mythologies. I do have some similar feelings about them, but that is a rabbit-trail. As far as Tolkien is concerned, I find myself rooting for the protagonists. With few exceptions, Tolkien does a good job of making his characters and his peoples complicated and convincing. He soothes my contrary spirit by giving me what I want: room to make up my own mind.

What first stirred my instincts in defensive favor of the Dwarves was Tolkien’s attitude toward them in The Hobbit.

The Hobbit forms a transition between some of his posthumously-published scribblings in which Dwarves appear rather unsympathetic, and Lord of the Rings which solidifies their place on the Good Side. He obviously likes the Dwarves in The Hobbit, but he also judges their avaricious and insular tenancies harshly without trying to delve deeper.  Until the end, they are also largely ineffectual. I surmise that Tolkien, being pastoral in his tastes, had to stretch himself to understand and sympathize with mythological  Dwarves, whereas he felt very like-minded towards Hobbits and Elves.

I first read The Hobbit as a child and I wanted to defend the Dwarves from the indignant treatment  they suffered at the hands of their author.  For one thing, he seemed to place the Wood Elves more on the side of right than I liked.  I take the book less seriously now, but that first impression set the foundation for my love of Tolkien’s short, bearded delvers.

To recap, I am aware that none of this is logical. I speak merely of first impressions and biases that laid a foundation. Now that my slant is in the open, I will move forward and show why I now love the Dwarves apart from any comparison with other races from their mythos, or from their author’s opinions on them.

For the rest of the series, look here:
Of the Free Peoples of Arda
Khazâd Part I: Aulë
Khazâd Part II: The Deep Places of the World
Khazâd Part III: Creation
Khazâd Part IV: The Road Goes On


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