By Robin E. Simmons
Whether you want him or not, Schwarzennegger’s back. He’s older — a lot older — and looks like he’s suffering from a terminal dose of the Russian flesh-eating drug Krokadil. Schwarzenegger acknowledges his age with the obvious line, “I’m old, not obsolete.” Audiences, no doubt, will be the judge of that in this sometimes silly but action-filled 5th iteration of the 31 year-old franchise that triggered in me a bittersweet fondness for the first sequel, the R-rated best of the series TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY.”
If you’re counting on a continuing story based on the previous “chapters,” you need to let go of that reasonable notion, because everything, including back-story, has been reimagined.
The newly refurbished plot elements have resistance leader John Connor (Jason Clarke) sending Sgt. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 — no, he doesn’t cross paths with Buckaroo Bonzai, Marty McFly or George Orwell, but how cool would that be?! His mission is to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) and protect our collective future. However, a unexpected — but predictable to the audience — turn of events splits time itself and Sgt. Reese quickly discovers he’s trapped in an unfamiliar past, where he must confront new friends and foes including the Guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger). But, get this; his larger mission is to reset the future! Is that even possible? On a lesser note, one of the many lingering questions I have is why does Emelia Clark’s Sarah O’Conner character refer to Schwarzenegger Guardian as “Pops”? But no matter, Clark is easy on the eye.
Still, a lot of what we learned in the previous Terminator iterations about everything from liquid metal to time travel must be revised. That kept a part of my brain busy while I was being tickled and teased by the visceral PG-13 action on screen.
Although there were many 3D moments that worked, I suggest that if a movie’s going to add another dimension, let it be extreme. I want to duck or jump out of my seat, otherwise what’s the point?
No matter, I was entertained even though I wanted a bigger ending that pulled the rug out from under me. Many times I got the feeling that this edition was intended as a set up for the 6th movie in the franchise. I didn’t like that; it took me out of the movie.
And another thing, hasn’t enough time passed that there now exists technology that can kill cyborgs? A bit of vulnerability could add much need emotional resonance to this franchise that just keeps on ticking.
The look of the film is better than I expected, as are the CG effects. The 3D is crisp and clean but not necessary. Now showing, in 3D and 2D, at Cinemas Palme d’Or in Palm Desert.
NEW FOR THE HOME THEATER:
BLACK STALLION (1979)
A perfect film and certainly among the most beautiful of any movie ever made, director Carroll Ballard’s timeless love story of a boy and his wild horse is finally available in a stunning Blu-ray edition. From the crystalline shores of a deserted island to the green grass and dusty roads of 1940s suburban America, Ballard and director of photography Caleb Deschanel create a film of consistent visual invention and purity, one that also features an indelible supporting performance by the late and beloved Mickey Rooney as a retired jockey and a gorgeous. And then there’s the hauntingly beautiful score by Carmine Coppola that perfectly matches the look and emotion of this great film that is a must for the home digital library.
This is a new, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Caleb Deschanel, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Among the generous and actually interesting extras are five short films by director Carroll Ballard, with new introductions by the filmmaker: Pigs! (1965), The Perils of Priscilla (1969), Rodeo (1969), Seems Like Only Yesterday (1971), and Crystallization (1974)
Also, there’s a new conversation between Ballard and film critic Scott Foundas.
And a fresh interview with cinematographer Deschanel. I liked the bonus piece featuring Mary Ellen Mark discussing her superb photographs from the film’s set. Criterion. Blu-ray.