So far we’re about ten alternate time lines deep in to the “Terminator” series, a movie franchise that continues to chug on thanks to the good word from James Cameron. Methinks without Cameron, “Terminator” would and should be put to sleep as a limp IP that loses more and more fans every single year. The convoluted timeline doesn’t even want to try to explain its own concept and logic (and lack thereof) anymore. It’s now basically rebooted itself (once again), and takes off limping to the finish line. From a confusing (bold?) retcon, to an over arching theme with heavy social commentary, “Terminator: Dark Fate” incidentally makes an argument against its existence.
Beneath Paul Michael Glaser’s action film where Arnold Schwarzenegger takes on gimmicky athletes and ends every bout with a silly catchphrase, beats a movie that is quick as a whip and horrifyingly prophetic. Based on the Stephen King novel, “The Running Man” is simultaneously a vehicle for Schwarzenegger that also sneaks in a lot of commentary about society that would oddly enough come to completely fruiting by the mid to late aughts. “The Running Man” is based around a very popular and deadly reality show, steeped in a world where people risk their lives for cash and vacations for entertainment, and it’s all run by a mad man running a corporation. You can pretty much point that arrow to any one of the men running the world today.
With the remake of “Adventures in Babysitting” coming to Disney Channel on Friday, I thought I’d go over some of my favorite babysitters from pop culture. I went through a ton of potentials, including the ladies from “The Babysitters Club,” but I admittedly never read any of the books, so this is more cinematic babysitters. Some of these are babysitters I wish I had as child. It would have made staying home so much easier.
Sure “Total Recall” is an ultraviolent and action filled adaptation of the original “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” from Phillip K. Dick, there’s a rhyme and reason for everything that unfolds in the film, right down to the prostitute with the trio of breasts. The inherent lunacy reflects the mind set of our main hero Douglas Quaid and acts as a platform for the idea that perhaps he’s living a fantasy or is really this vicious secret spy. Paul Verhoeven’s version of the original story packs a real sense of intellect and brilliant ambiguity beneath the seemingly surface science fiction action tale of a man named Quaid, who is struggling to battle the government and fight for a group of underground mutants. When we meet Quaid he’s a man who is comfortable at home living in a well furnished apartment and is married to an insanely sexy woman. He wants more though, especially with developments involving the government exploring Mars, and perhaps using it as a means of travel for local tourists.
With the good comes the bad, and 2015 had its fair share of awful films that left audiences and critics running for the doors. There were some films we outright refused to see this year, so you won’t see “The Human Centipede 3” on this list, nor will you be seeing “Joe Dirt 2,” either. We just will not go out of our way to watch a David Spade vehicle. We also didn’t bother with “The Cobbler.” There’s only so much Happy Madison junk we can stomach.
Bad Movies in 2015 that almost made the list includes the pure havoc Happy Madison wrought with the terrible Pixels, the brutally unfunny Paul Blart Mall Cop 2, and the absolutely unwatchable The Ridiculous 6. We almost included Johnny Depp’s terrible Mortdecai, the piss poor lazy prequel Pan, and also considered the Adam Green self love fest Digging Up the Marrow. We also considered adding the lame and dull We Are Your Friends, and seem to be one of the only five people on Earth who hated Bone Tomahawk. There were just more deserving candidates. On to the Worst of 2015…
One of the most idiotic moments in “The Expendables 3” is when villain Stonebanks is taunting our heroes on a television monitor, explaining that he’s wired the stronghold where he has the Junior Expendables with C4. While watching on the monitor, character Wifi (Glen Powell) completely overrides the C4 from blowing everyone to smithereens. If that’s not enough Barney plans the get away operation for the group while Stonebanks watches on the TV. So how does he still lose if Barney is stupid enough to plan an escape while the bad guy is watching only a few inches away? It’s moments like that that show Stallone really isn’t interested in details with these movies anymore.
I may not be the biggest fan of James Cameron, but when he approaches sequels, he hits the ground running and aims for the throat. First with “Aliens,” and then with “Terminator 2” in which a full fledged horror science fiction movie, becomes an action horror film with a wider scope and explorations of time paradoxes and the like. While I much prefer the original mainly for its tone and sense of urgency, “Judgment Day” is quite excellent. I saw it in theaters when it arrived, and years later, it’s still a stellar science fiction film from James Cameron.
Set years after the original movie, Sarah Connor raised John Connor to become an apocalyptic warrior. But after the confrontation with the T-800 cyborg at the bomb factory, she’s arrested and placed in a mental health facility. John is raised by his dysfunctional aunt and uncle and is mostly a wayward youth. The evil Skynet is once again intent on ending the war before it starts, sending a new advanced cyborg back in time to assassinate John Connor. Branded the T-1000, this new cyborg is made of liquid metal that can imitate anything it touches.
Just then, a new model of the T-800 is sent back in time, but this time its mission is to find and protect John and Sarah Connor at all costs. Now with the T-800, John races against the clock to find his mother and avoid every clever assassination attempt by the advanced new cyborg that will stop at nothing to end the Connor bloodline. Skynet also plans to initiate a Judgment day by unleashing a nuclear warhead that will destroy humanity and unleash a robotic rule on the planet. Sarah decides the best cause of action is to murder Miles Dyson, a Cyberdyne Systems engineer whose new computer processor will become the template for Skynet.
Where as the original movie was more centered on a behemoth rampaging through civilization to murder Sarah Connor, this time around Cameron opts for a sleeker new villain that really does pose an even more vicious threat to our heroes. B movie actor Robert Patrick gives a fantastic performance as the seemingly inconspicuous T-1000 whose façade of an average beat cop helps him blend in to civilization and infiltrate any strong hold. He’s made even deadlier with his ability to form massive blades, and sharp objects with his constantly shifting metallic body. Arnold Schwarzenneger shifts his title character in to the hero role, now becoming a protector who also gradually learns about humanity and emotions.
Linda Hamilton is also a welcome face as she reprises her role as the iconic Sarah Connor, whose welfare is of great importance to the fate of the world. Cameron approaches the continuation of his storyline well but never quite as seamless as he thinks. One thing that always bothered me is if they can create a robot made of pure metal that can become anything it touches, why not wait a few years and build a robot that can become a weapon of mass destruction? That way it can appear in John Connor’s general vicinity and blow itself up, thus ending the war? And if the robots can’t grasp concepts like emotions and feelings, why can they understand existential ideas of fate and inevitability? While Cameron never quite masters the ideas of time paradoxes, or time travel in general, “Terminator 2” still succeeds in being a raucous, beautifully directed action epic.
Back in the eighties and nineties, Arnold Schwarzenegger was larger than life. With his large build and thick Austrian accent, his rough exterior was contradicted by his sweet personality. This carries over more than successfully in Ivan Reitman’s “Kindergarten Cop,” one of his many efforts to connect with younger audiences. His transformation in to kids film star is nearly seamless, as he’s able to connect with his primarily younger cast surprisingly well, and garners a strong chemistry with just about everyone in the film.