Tag Archives: Terminator

Destiny Schmestiny

by Richard

I watch a lot of genre TV and read a lot of genre books. That is, I like science fiction and fantasy and the like. No shame in that. However, there’s something that a lot of genre entertainment shares, and which is creeping into the mainstream, that’s really starting to bug me.

That’s the idea of predestination. That is, as George McFly so aptly spoonered, “I’m your density.” He meant destiny.

I absolutely hate the idea of a destiny. I mean, seriously, if you’re going to go with destiny, the idea that you’ve got a specific fate that will — must — be played out, then you have to go with the idea of a mechanistic cosmos in which your every action and though was determined the first moment the first particle hit the second particle during that ultimate rave known as the Big Bang.

Think about it. There’s Neo from the Matrix movies. Frodo from Lord of the Rings. Sam from the Transformers movies.

Wait? What?

Yes, seriously. Last night, Hyper Lad, Zippy the Monkey Boy and She Who Must Be Capable Of Watching The Occasional Horrible Movie were watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen when the following line was spoken to this Sam character before he magically revived Optimus Prime. “It is and always has been your destiny.”

Which means that as soon as Sam was born, the universe or God or whoever or whatever knew he was going to eventually be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time with exactly the right information to revive a giant robot.

To me that’s just lazy writing. It’s an easy out for the writer to make sure the character can do what he’s supposed to do and not have to worry about how. Did that action seem more than slightly implausible? Sure, but it was his destiny so it had to happen so it’s all right.

Destiny schmestiny. I prefer the defiant dialogue from the Terminator movies. “There is no fate but what we make.”

So get out there and make your fate a good one, dude.

end rant

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Dude Review: The Expendables

by Richard

Boy does this movie live up to its name. The Expendables marks a return to the action movies of the 1980s, when men were men and had the muscles and one liners to prove it. And your entire enjoyment of the movie will depend heavily on just how much nostalgia you still have remaining for that genre.

Me? Turns out not so much.

I went to see this one after I got dragged to the movie theater with the young dudes, who insisted that I — and they — needed to see it because it would be “awesome!” They included the exclamation mark.

Like any good James Bond movie, The Expendables opens in the middle of an action scene that sets the stage, shows us just how cool and dangerous these dudes are and sets up a future conflict (all magically resolved by the end of the movie). It also shows why this movie was rated R when a Somali pirate gets blow in half (literally) by an RPG.

Thinking back, I can’t even remember the characters’ names. I just know it starred fading and 60-ish action star Sylvester Stallone, suave English leading man and fighter Jason Statham, kung-fu master Jet Li and a bunch of other former fighters or action stars from the 1980s.

Two of those cameo-stars were Bruce Willis (John McClain from Die Hard) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (former Terminator and current governor of California) and they featured with Sly Stallone in one of the worst scenes in recent memory. The scene took place in a church and you could tell that neither of the three men were even in the same room at the same time. It was an embarrassingly bad cropped-together split-screen shot. Really, I just. . . Well, it was just plain bad.

The plot really isn’t important in this sort of movie. There was a noble damsel in distress, a dangerous Spanish-speaking bad guy and the worst bad guy, a rogue CIA agent trying to get into the drug business. Basically it was an excuse to blow up stuff real good and shoot a lot of extras.

Really that’s about it. If you like this sort of thing, then this is the sort of thing you’ll like. For those of us with taste and a few years on us, it’s a good excuse to go see something that won’t leave a scar on your brain and blood dribbling from your burst eardrums.

I give it 1 dude out of five because, really, it wasn’t Gymkata. And when that’s all you’ve got going for your movie, you know it’s bad.

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Dude Review: Avatar

by Richard

Dudes, I have been to the mountain top and returned with a revelation. I have had an epiphany. Or, to quote Joliet Jake Blues, “I have seen the %^$^%$ ^&%%&ing light!” Yes, this movie really is that good.

Of course, I’m talking about Avatar, the new blockbuster movie by James Cameron. He’s the man who brought us such classics as Terminator, Terminator 2, Aliens and Titanic. At the time, Titanic was the most expensive movie ever made. There were many who doubted Cameron would be able to bring in even a fraction of the costs in box-office receipts. After all, everyone knew how the movie would end. The ship would sink. Please. No one’s interested.

Turns out, Cameron was right. Titanic went on to be one of the highest grossing movies of all time and won a number of Academy Awards. So now, with Avatar, Cameron faced the same sorts of criticisms. Too expensive. Too long. Experimental format. Blah, blah, blah. There’s even talk that the entire promotion budget and shooting budget and all the rest could creep upwards of half a billion (yes, with a b) dollars.

This movie was worth it. Every. Stinkin’. Penny. This movie was worth it. It really is just that good.

To start with, let me talk about the cinematography and the Real D 3D process. Here’s the skinny. You must see this movie in 3D. I know you’ll have to pay more than you would to see it in 2D, but, again, worth every stinkin’ penny. The 3D is flawless. It’s not so much the arrows shooting straight out into the audience (hint: there are none), it’s basically just the amazing feeling of depth that the entire movie is suffused with. The mountains in the distance look like they’re in the distance, not just small.

The jungle scenes (and there are a lot of them) are breathtaking. Literally. The wealth of imagination on display, coupled with the revolutionary 3D process, made this like I was walking on an alien world. It was that good. At one point, I thought to myself, I know this is animated, but it looks more realistic than live-action movies I’ve seen.

You’ve probably heard about the story now, but let me fill you in a little. Humanity in the year 2150 something, has basically used up the Earth’s natural resources and has moved on looking for more. They find it in Pandora, a habitable planet orbiting a gas giant a long, long way from home. Even better, the place is lousy with a precious ore called unobtanium. No, I’m not kidding. I wish I was. I mean, was cantfindium as a name taken? Anyway, the problem for the Earth corporation trying to mine the ore on this hot jungle planet, filled with an atmosphere toxic to humans, is there is an aboriginal population of giant, savage, noble Smurfs. Um, sorry. They’re blue. They’re called the Na’vi and they’re not especially friendly to the encroaching aliens.

Fortunately, the corporation has Ripley, sorry, Sigourney Weaver to bioengineer a mixture of human and Na’vi and then allow for a telepresence system for a human operative to drive a Na’vi. Jake Sully is a paraplegic former Marine who ends up as part of the Na’vi avatar program when his scientist twin brother dies. Jake takes his brothers place and then realizes he always loved Dances With Wolves. He eventually goes native, falls in love with a Na’vi woman and then leads the Na’vi in battle to expel the aliens.

Yeah, I’ve got issues with some of the plot. Don’t even ask me about the lightspeed lag or how the link can work in the vortex. (See the movie. You’ll understand.) Those are just a few of the problems I saw on a cursory first viewing. But it doesn’t matter. I’ll be going back. Heck, my wife, known to some as She Who Couldn’t Remember A Movie If Her Life Depended On It, came out of the movie and said the most amazing thing: “I want to go back and see that again.”

My little dudes were so enthused they wanted to give up video games so they could be a Na’vi. You really need to see this movie. In 3D. Save some time since it clocks in at around 3 hours. And, for those of you who’s little dudes have more sensitive ears, there a maybe a dozen instances of cursing, but nothing truly serious.

All in all, I’d give this six dudes out of five. The unprecedented extra is for the technical accomplishments. Yeah. That good.

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