Mini Movie Reviews: Terminator Genisys and Fantastic Four

So it turns out that forty hours of flights are a great opportunity to catch up on all those movies you missed on the cinema circuit. Also, as in the case of the following two films, it provided massive relief that I didn’t pay to watch these turkeys on the big screen.

Terminator Genisys
I twitched, snickered and rolled my eyes through Terminator Salvation back in 2009. After that clearly oxygen-starved attempt to restart the time-travelling man vs. machine story, I swore I was done with the sci-fi series.

Then Arnie signed up to star in Genisys.

Of course, if mobile game commercials are any indication, Arnie will star in absolutely anything these days. (How much is Maria getting in the divorce, anyway?) Still, I had a nostalgic softening of heart – I actually quite enjoyed the third Terminator – and decided to give Genisys a shot.

Well, now I am finished with the Terminator franchise for good. DONE.

I should have been suspicious since the revelation of the new film’s stupid pun of a title. Terminator Genisys doesn’t even try to make sense. There’s some vague decades-bounding, multiverse plot about Skynet being a devious operating system, or social media app, or something. Anyway, assembly line action hero Jai Courtney is the recast Kyle Reese, and he’s evidently enjoyed no shortage of protein shakes in the apocalyptic future. Our personality-less hero is supposed to romance Emilia Clarke’s Sarah Connor, but the audience is living in an age of toothless PG-13 blockbusters, so the couple behave around each other like 9 year olds paranoid about cooties. It’s as cringe-worthy as Sarah’s forced sass and insistence on calling Arnie’s T-800 cyborg “Pops.”

To be fair, Arnie is fun in the movie – happy to poke fun at , and play around with, his most iconic onscreen persona. Everything else though in Genisys is horrible. Build a time machine and do everything in your power to prevent this movie from being made.

Fantastic Four
People complained bitterly about the two Fantastic Four films released in the mid 2000s. They were considered too goofy, too light, too cheesy. To be honest, I never minded them. Personally I’ve never been a fan of Marvel’s first hero squad, and I felt that the films adequately replicated everything that I associated with the comic (in my limited exposure). The movies presented MY Fantastic Four – colourful, silly and energetic.

From the start it’s clear that the 2015 reboot is intent on differentiating itself from the earlier movies. It does this by sucking out every drop of colour and energy from proceedings. Fantastic Four is gloomy and turgid. There are no smiles, no jokes, no sense of wonder. This is one of those superhero films where pretty much everyone considers themselves cursed and is desperate for a cure. It’s part body horror; part boredom.

For the record, the film takes as its lead the Ultimate depiction of the team. Mr Fantastic (Miles Teller), the Invisible Woman/Sue Storm (Kate Mara), the Human Torch (Michael B. Jordan) and The Thing (Jamie Bell) are now fresh-faced college students, and this is their surprisingly intimate, individual-centric origin tale. Well, at least until the final act, when the threat our heroes must combat is revealed to be world-ending fantastical.

Fantastic Four is notorious for its troubled production, with clashes between director Josh Trank and studio Fox leading to reshoots, re-edits and Trank's removal from the project. One can’t help but think this creative tug-of-war affected the finished film.

It’s not that there aren’t positives, for the record. The Mr Fantastic stretch effects are really convincing, and for the first time the audience gets a sense of Sue Storm’s power and usefulness (no more nosebleeds and fainting spells, hooray!). However, at the end of the day I didn’t like any of the characters, and just didn’t care about anything. The cancellation of the already scheduled sequel is no real loss to anyone.


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