Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

Terminator: Genisys
After the atrocious Terminator: Salvation, I don’t think anybody was really asking for another Terminator film, but we got one anyway in the form of the terribly-named Terminator: Genisys. This is a movie with the deck stacked against it. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the only returning cast member from the franchise, and he’s gotten so old that plot contrivances and half-decent CGI are used frequently to explain why this version of the T-101 is so wrinkled. Linda Hamilton has been replaced by Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, and although I enjoy Clarke’s work on Game of Thrones, she just doesn’t have the badass intimidation factor that Hamilton’s Connor exuded. Jason Clarke takes over for Christian Bale as the adult John Connor, and he does okay, I suppose, but the worst piece of re-casting comes in the form of Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese. Whereas Michael Biehn managed to give Reese pathos while also making him seem threatening and possibly insane, Courtney’s Reese is just perpetually befuddled and lacking in charisma. The plot of Terminator: Genisys is as messy as its casting, jumping around in time every few minutes and never really explaining what it’s doing. It’s one of those “Just go with it!” movies, where it doesn’t matter how or why any of the events happen…they just do; enjoy the ride. I don’t know if they movie would have been better had the big twist that John Connor is now a robot not been revealed in the trailers, but I doubt that surprise could have saved anything. It’s big, it’s loud, and the ending is dumb, but for all that this wasn’t a great movie, it was never boring. I will admit, I was entertained for the duration. But check your brain at the door. If this is the last Terminator movie ever made, I wouldn’t be sad.
2.25 out of 5

The first origin story since Phase 1 of Marvel’s cinematic universe, Ant-Man isn’t a bad movie, but it never seems to do enough to justify its own existence. Scott Lang is a burglar with a heart of gold who was put in jail because he was stealing stuff to pay for his daughter’s medical bills…or something like that. He robs the wrong guy – Hank Pym – and comes into possession of a suit that allows Lang to shrink to a tiny size while simultaneously enhancing his strength. Oh, and he can command ants. After some hijinx, Pym takes Lang under his wing and teaches him to become the superhero Ant-Man. Together they plot out a heist to get the shrinky technology out of the hands of the insane and evil Darren Cross, who of course wants to use it for nefarious purposes. There are a lot of clever moments in Ant-Man. Some of the jokes hit nicely, and the action setpieces use the shrinking gimmick in innovative ways. But we’ve seen so many superhero origins at this point that this film just feels extraneous to me. The biggest problem I had with Ant-Man was that a much better movie in this story seems to have already happened before the opening credits. I would have loved to see young Hank Pym as a Cold War James Bond-type spy, accompanied by his badass partner Wasp. The flashback scenes to when Pym was Ant-Man are the best moments in the movie, and every time we cut back to the present, I felt a bit disappointed. This isn’t a bad movie – Marvel succeeded in cobbling together a good time from Edgar Wright’s script – but I don’t feel like it brought enough new stuff to the table for it to catch on in a big way. But we’re talking about Marvel here, so expect a whole bunch of Ant-Man sequels, regardless.
3 out of 5

Jurassic World
One of several belated sequels to beloved franchise to come out in 2015, Jurassic World has performed better at the box office than anyone could have anticipated. But is it really that good? Jurassic Park is finally open, having rebranded itself as Jurassic World, but business is starting to dwindle as people become bored with dinosaurs. So Ingen, the company behind all these shenanigans, decides to created an entirely new species of dinosaur by combining DNA from a bunch of different sources. The result is a crazy monster-dino. Shortly after two useless child characters arrive on the island (and we follow their story…for some reason), the Indominus Rex gets loose and goes on a rampage, setting several other species of dinosaur free in the process. The only man who seems to know what to do is a raptor trainer named Owen, who proceeds to predict every disaster shortly before it occurs and eventually rounds up his raptor squad to try and take down the I-Rex. Jurassic World is a big, fun, dumb movie. The plot is full of holes, contrivances, and pointless characters. There’s an executive assistant character with no personality who is in the movie only to be eaten. Claire is a shrewd, bitchy businesswoman. Owen is a rugged manly-man with a soft spot for animals. The two kids don’t serve any purpose to the plot, and their own story arc about their parents getting divorced is never concluded. It seems to me that everything besides the dinosaurs only serves as a bridge to get to more dinosaurs, and you could probably remove all of the human characters from the movie without damaging any of the good stuff. Ultimately, Jurassic World was a fine time, but without the Spielberg magic of the first movie (and even the second one), this just feels like someone doing a paint-by-numbers.
3 out of 5

See you next Sunday for more thrilling short reviews!

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