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Terminator: Salvation

Terminator: Salvation

I will destroy you, you puny filthy humans!

dir: McG

It’s a sad day when you acknowledge for your own benefit that the world no longer needs Terminator movies. New ones that is. The first two will always be classics of a sort, but it’s just a sad realisation to see that it’s unlikely that they’ll ever be able to approach them in quality, let alone match them.

The curious element was that the story we were always watching was never really the main story. The main story was always the reason for watching these various people and cyborgs run away and try to fight progressively more advanced robots, but it was never the overarching plots of these films. The battle between the remnants of humanity and the ruthless artificial intelligence called Skynet was always some nebulous threat in the future: our immediate concern was supposed to be the survival of some people in the present.

Salvation, being the first of the Terminator flicks that doesn’t have time travel as its main plot device, is set during the time when this apocalyptic conflict has already destroyed most of the world, or at least North America. Sure, the protagonists are all still trying to survive assault from fiendish and relentless machines, but it’s not for some way of safeguarding humanity in the future: it’s survival in the here and now.

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Star Trek XI

Star Trek

Organised by rank, and by how much they probably got paid

dir: JJ Abrams

Excitement might have been high in some quarters; dread might have been higher in others. The prospect of a new Star Trek film might have seemed inevitable to some, and downright puzzling to most. After all, the Trek flicks, either the ones with the ancient crew or with the still quite old Next Generation crew never really made that much money (certainly not blockbuster numbers), and the last hurrah critically and financially was back in the 90s.

And yet they kept putting out films as if there was a burning need in the public to see these same weak characters age poorly and deliver groan-worthy jokes that seemed outdated even back in the era where the only form of mass entertainment were cave paintings and hitting each other over the head with clubs.

As with a whole bunch of other franchises, properties, brands recently, they decided to bring it all back and to undertake a reboot / reinvention in order to rekindle interest in a largely apathetic public. And they handed the responsibility for directing this, the eleventh, or XIth, if you want to get all Roman numeral and classy, entry in the franchise to J.J. Abrams, the guy who, amongst other crimes, created the television shows Felicity, Alias and Lost, and directed the third Mission: Impossible flick.

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Day The Earth Stood Still, The

dir: Scott Derrickson
[img_assist|nid=160|title=I've come to destroy your world because of all the bad actors upon it|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=470|height=318]
The Earth Didn’t So Much Stand Still on This or Any Other Day, it More Kind of Farted, Rolled Over and Went Back to Sleep.

Perhaps a bit long for a title, but it’s certainly more accurate. Of course if they didn’t use the original title reminding people this is a remake of the Cold War era classic, then no-one would be any the wiser, and no-one would have bothered to go and see it.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being pointless, and 10 being pointed, this remake of a beloved alleged sci fi classic sits somewhere between pointless and pointlessly enjoyable. Ascribing a numerical value to that itself is pointless, but that’s probably not going to stop me from assigning a numerical rating at the end of the review. The Day The Earth Stood Still is not as entertaining or scolding as its predecessor, but it certainly looks prettier.

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Babylon A.D.

dir: Mathieu Kassovitz
[img_assist|nid=59|title=Let me just shoot my agent|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=300]
What the fuck? Sorry, but there’s only one reaction I can have to having watched this alleged movie. But first, allow me to digress for about a thousand words…

I recently spent nearly three months of my life plowing through a book called Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide last year. Since he killed himself, which all the cool artists do, and since many people, book critics and regular humans alike, wanked on rhapsodically about what an amazing writer he was, I started reading it to see for my self.

Imagine my disgust when after suffering through a thousand pages penned more with bongwater than ink and fully more satisfied with itself than it ever deserved to be, I came to the end of the novel only to find that the novel had no ending. No resolution to any of the story it was telling. Nothing to justify the three months of my life where I could have been reading multiple better books during my lunch breaks and train trips to and from work.

Suffice to say, I was pretty fucking angry.

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Alien Versus Predator 2: Requiem

dir: The Brothers Strause
[img_assist|nid=112|title=Whoever wins, the audience loses|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=270|height=400]
I know, I know, whenever crossovers are attempted, it’s always faintly magnificent. Freddy Versus Jason, Superman versus Batman, Astronaut versus Caveman: It’s an idea so geeky that it sounds like it should stay where it originated from, being the comic book universe.

And what a rich and complicated universe it truly is. Who else gets to ask those questions of universal importance to the human species: who’d win in a fight between She-Hulk or Bat-Girl? What if Dr Octopus gained possession of Mighty Thor’s hammer, or what if Wolverine’s blades came out of his penis instead of his hands?

You know, the important questions. Well, a comic book by Dark Horse, and a computer game first posed the crucial question: how cool would it be to have the Predators from the Predator films, and the aliens from the Alien films, in the same room at the same time?

It would surely bring in fans of either or both franchises, and double the money, attractiveness and general powerfulness of all concerned with the production, yea verily. And no-one with any sense would doubt it.

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I Am Legend

dir: Francis Lawrence
[img_assist|nid=742|title=I Am... The Fresh Prince of Legend|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=375]
You know, Will, you’re really not.

He may be the biggest box office star currently, he may be a good earner, he may be an occasionally decent actor, he may even be the Big Willy he claims to be in his music, but Will Smith is no Legend. At least not in this bloody movie.

I remember The Omega Man with a certain degree of affection, or at least as much affection as you can have for a film with Charlton Heston in it. Both this flick, that flick and another called The Last Man on Earth all stem from the same novel, Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. Just because this flick, directed by the guy who brought us the cinematic adaptation of Constantine, uses the name of the source material for the first time, don’t go thinking it chooses to cleave closely to the actual story.

Oh no. Why would you want to, when instead you can have Will Smith talking to himself and talking to his dog Sam for 80 minutes and then killing evil puffy looking vampires for the other ten minutes?

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Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

dir: Tim Story
[img_assist|nid=756|title=So what if he looks like a walking turd? So does the rest of the movie|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=375]
Are you fucking kidding me?

What mental incompetent approved such a script? Was the screenplay put together in any fashion other than having kindergarten kids stick cut-out bits of other scripts together in an amateurish collage fashion, which was then stuck in a blender and pureed until it achieved a truly shitty consistency?

Good goddamn, this makes other crappy comic book adaptations look positively Shakespearean by comparison. It makes Transformers look like something scripted by George Bernard Shaw.

A Barbie doll (Jessica Alba) who looks less convincing as a scientist than Denise Richards did in that terrible Bond film a few years ago, employs constant hissy fits to provoke her potential mate into entering into the holy contractual agreement of marriage. Her paramour, being Horatio Hornblower with the ability to become the consistency of pudding (Ioan Gruffud), is a work obsessed nerd who talks of love but could care less about the shrill blowup doll bitching about his workaholic ways.

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Transformers

dir: Michael Bay
[img_assist|nid=758|title=Smart Robots. Dumb Humans|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=459]
It is easy to hate Michael Bay, and especially to hate his movies. They are the apotheosis of mindless action raised to the status of pure content-free escapist claptrap that steals souls whilst it damages minds with its spastic imagery and brutal soundtracks. And Michael Bay himself is the grinning face of Death, seducing us with worm-filled decaying excrement dressed up in shiny chrome and flash. He is the painted whore of Hollywood, he is the handmaiden of horrible men like Jerry Bruckheimer; he is Bruckheimer in director’s form, and the world becomes a substantially worse place every time he disgorges or defecates a movie out onto our planet.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by Transformers. It’s still an incoherent, character-less mess, but it’s a vaguely entertaining incoherent, character-less mess.

I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the film did not make me want to gouge my own eyes out and perforate my own eardrums in self-defence or in protest.

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Sunshine

dir: Danny Boyle
[img_assist|nid=770|title=Sunshine|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=225]
Decent, actual science fiction movies are few and far between, so when word started spreading that Danny Boyle, he of Trainspotting and 28 Days Later fame (and Life Less Ordinary and The Beach infamy) had made a serious sci fi flick, I was curious.

Most flicks use sci fi elements purely to propel a flick that’s mostly just an action/comedy/horror movie. It’s all fine and dandy to imagine what a society full of robots would be like in the future, but let’s not pretend the driving concept behind a flick where someone is fighting hundreds of robots makes it an existential exploration of the idea of artificial intelligence. Why would you bother with that when it’s far more fun to watch Will Smith get slapped around by a robot/alien/grandmother?

Sunshine has as its premise the inexplicable cooling of our solar system’s sun in about half a century’s time. In a desperate attempt to jump start the sun, and thus save all life on earth, an international team of scientists and astronauts sets off on a mission to the sun.

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Prestige, The

dir: Christopher Nolan
[img_assist|nid=867|title=What's lighting the pretty lights?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=300]
Based on a novel by Christopher Priest, The Prestige is one of the most intriguing and entertaining films of the year. If you told me that a film about two rival magicians at the end of the 19th Century would be a winner, I'd have told you to pull something else apart from a rabbit out of a hat.

The first image of the film is a winter scene on a hill, with dozens of top hats reclining upon in it in various states of disarray: one of the magician's most cliché of tools and part of their uniform. A voice asks us "Are you watching closely?"

Of course we're watching, but the magician's skill and the filmmaker's desire is to trick us whilst we're watching ever so carefully.

A different voice-over soon also starts up, explaining the film's title to us. The magic trick, as performed on stage in that era, is comprised of three parts. The Pledge involves showing the audience the elements of the trick, to convince them of the normality of the stage and the lack of dodgy machines. Of course, the machinery and parts that make the trick work are in plain view, but they look normal.

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