Netflix Follies — Terminator 2: Judgement Day

June 24, 2013

FOLLIES

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♠ Terminator 2: Judgement Day

I wanted to watch this again because I’ve thrashed it hard over the years (23 of them to be precise) and lately have begun to suspect I was being unfair to it. Judgement Day seems to be the franchise favourite among fans and sometimes I have a knee-jerk negative reaction to popular favourites.

So what were my issues with the film going in? Basically just that they’d taken the gritty, ultra-violent, campy B-movie, sci-fi action/horror of the original Terminator and sanitized it into an almost family-friendly, Spielberg-esque boy-and-his-robot buddy movie. I remembered it being basically E.T. if Elliott was a juvenile delinquent and E.T. had been a time-travelling hunter-killer cyborg. While I’ll always have a nostalgic love for E.T., doing a Terminator version was just a terrible concept from the get go.

The heart-warming tale of boy and his robot

Rehashing the same time-travel paradox gambit from the first film was probably a bit dodgy to begin with, but I had a huge problem with the switch-up in making Arnie a good guy this time around (at his insistence if I remember correctly). The concept might have been okay if, instead of playing a reprogrammed T-800 sent back to protect John Connor, he was  a human being—the one that the T-800’s appearance was based on. Having this “good guy” version of the T-800 completely destroys the character. He’s simply not interesting unless he’s indiscriminately killing people without mercy or remorse. Maybe human-Arnie could even have been fighting robo-Arnie! Or maybe someone like Dolph Lundgren could have been a T-900 cyborg? Anything would have been better than this neutered version of the T-800 and the weird liquid man.

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Episode 48: Avatar’d

January 15, 2010

James Cameron‘s billion-dollar baby, Avatar, is as simplistic an adventure movie as they come. The last movie which so perfectly played by the numbers to deliver a rewarding and surprise-free night-out was, perhaps, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Both films are perfectly plotted “hero’s journeys” that rely heavily on archetypes and tried-and-tested models of mythological storytelling  to guide the audience through a satisfying fairytale with as little discomfort as possible.

That’s a compliment. And one not even intended to be backhanded. There’s something really enjoyable about a well-done clichéd, hackneyed, formulaic and trite storyline. Afterall, they became clichés for a reason: they work time after time.

The problem is clichéd adventure stories are so often not done well and we’ve developed a distaste for them. We claim we’ve “seen it all before” while forgetting there hasn’t been a new story since Perseus gave Medusa a haircut.

And when it comes to our new fairground-ride styled blockbusters which place so much emphasis on CG and effects, you really need there to be a story behind the glitter that works effortlessly with the audience.

Star Wars Episode I is a classic example of a technologically advanced marvel that fell on its face by trying to hard to push the envelope for storytelling at the same time. There’s a Dune amount of characters and plot in that movie but only enough time to tell a story like… well… like Avatar.

Avatar is really what Episode I should have been. Imagine something like this: Read the rest of this entry »


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