Five Terminator 5 Ideas That Probably Don’t Suck

One of the my favorite movies, that has influenced me the most, is THE TERMINATOR, made in 1982 by James Cameron. With Arnold Schwarzenegger as the bad guy, Linda Hamilton as a feisty waitress upon whom humanity’s fate relies, and Michael Biehn as the apocalyptic warrior sent to protect her from an unstoppable killing machine. I give the film a 3800 word exploration here.

T2 has its moments, but it is superfluous. I loved it when it first came out, now I enjoy it. T3 was a silly money grab that undoes everything T2 built, and the fourth was just awful. So when I heard that they are making a new one, I didn’t care. The name is dopey, Terminator: Genisys, a play on Genesis and sys, which sounds “computery.” Then I heard Arnold would be in it, and I was a little interested. Then I read the plot and I wasn’t anymore:

From Wikipedia, so it could be BS:

According to reports, Genisys proposes that Sarah was orphaned at age 9 by a Terminator, and was since brought up by another Terminator, played by Schwarzenegger, programmed to protect her. Sarah would then have been trained by this Terminator to face her destiny, which she adamantly tries to reject.

That sounds eminently terrible. I prefer the closed paradoxes of the first two films, which aren’t perfect, but make more sense than this. And it’s completely unnecessary. Here are five Terminator 5 plots that don’t ruin the first two movies, and most likely would not suck:

1. SkyNet sent T800s into the future to rebuild it 100 years after we win.

You can have an all-new cast because everyone is dead. And if you want old Arnold as a Terminator, it’s quite simple. He appears in a nuclear wasteland. Naked, big, muscly CG Arnold. He starts walking. We cut to the new world, shiny and peaceful and without war. We meet our characters. We cut back to Arnold killing his way through the wasteland where mutants and outsiders live. He gets into a city with a computer network and “uploads” the virus SkyNet made to allow it to take over and rebuild itself.

2. SkyNet sends a T-800 to kill Sarah Connor’s grandfather on in… World War Terminator.

Another all-new cast. This is a pulp idea, it’s silly, but a lot of fun. A spy Terminator infiltrates German ranks? Or he’s a leatherneck on Iwo Jima and his secret is revealed when his squad is captured and a Japanese officer tries to behead him. Connor is on the battlefield, somewhere. And he never tells his granddaughter about the killing machine, because who would believe it?

3. SkyNet wasn’t destroyed and strikes at a fragile humanity as we rebuild.

This is easiest, laziest one. But Mad Max Terminator sounds better than “Sarah had a Terminator buddy and somehow forgot. And the first movie didn’t happen.”

4. Fallout Terminator.

They end T3 with humanity in bunkers. Start from there and forget McG’s horrible T4 ever happened. Start with Kyle Reese as a soldier for the resistance and end with him going back in time. This is what we wanted from T3 anyway.

5. Reboot The Terminator.

I know, I know. Hear me out. Make Arnold be Reese. He’s old, experienced. He volunteers because he is old and wounded and make Sarah be the daughter he never knew. We never met her parents, remember? Play with her age, make her a bit younger, and it works. Let the Terminator be played by a young monster, Dave Bautista, or Jason Momoa.

Quarantine – some remakes work just fine

If you read my Schlocktoberfest blogaramathon last year, you know I loved the zombie virus movie from Brazil, [Rec]. So I was suspicious of the American remake, which was renamed Quarantine. The horror bloggers liked it, but they like a lot of stuff that us non-horror-geeks don’t. Just as you might want to take any movie review of mine with a grain of salt if it has a) midgets b) Geena Davis or c) swords in it, sometimes you have to be a little dubious. (Though trust me, even I thought Cutthroat Island sucked). But I assure you, Quarantine is a horror movie worth your time if you want a good scare.
It has a great premise- we’re seeing the tape of a TV crew doing a piece on an L.A. fire department. We begin at the firehouse, with reporter Angela (Jennifer Carpenter, ‘Sis’ from “Dexter”) interviewing firemen, showing viewers how they operate, and getting macked on by the burly macho men. This is our introduction to the victims, and it works very well, being compelling in its own right. We meet Jake (Jay Hernandez) a likeable and diminutive fireman who is professional and friendly, and a horndog pal of his who’s the A-personality operator. Then of course, they get a call, and we’re caught up in the excitement of being embedded on a fire truck run.
The call brings them, paramedics, and a few L.A.P.D. to an old high rise apartment with a central staircase and lots of balconies, where upstairs an old woman is sick and delusional. We begin to wonder why a fire truck was called. We get so immersed that we think we’re waching a particularly good cop show, and then the old lady takes a bite out of an officer’s neck and all hell breaks loose. The documentary style is very reserved, so don’t worry about shaky-cam nausea. You get a very realistic feel to things without feeling like you’re watching a camera fall down the stairs. It helps that the premise lets us have Scott, a professional TV cameraman, as our guide.
Slowly we realize something is very wrong, and it only gets worse as the building is, as the title suggests, quarantined by the National Guard and the CDC, covered in clear tarps, surrounded by armed soldiers who do not hesitate to enforce the barrier as if their lives depend on it. The building is peopled with loners and families, with a few standouts- a talkative fellow who helpfully offers “lots of Vicodin” for the injured cop, a mother with a sick daughter, a whiny bitch with a little yappy dog, an African couple who speaks no English. The building’s owner is the ever-dependable Rade Serbedzija, best remembered as “Boris the Bullet Dodger” from Snatch. Soon firemen are being thrown off balconies, panicked cops are ordering everyone downstairs, and we only have Jake, Angela and Scott the cameraman to record the terror.
Between attacks and escape attempts, we get an inkling of what has happened and why they are locked up, as a Veterinarian examines the sick and says it looks a lot like rabies. The film however, like the original, has a video game structure as they work their way up the building to the attic, where a “loner guy” was renting illegally, and the secrets are all revealed. But as far as zombie movies go, this is one of the more realistic and terrifying, because it just feels like how things would happen if you woke up one day and your neighbor had the zombitis. No one is going to risk infection to save your sorry ass, or hesitate to shoot you, even if you pull up your shirt, twirl and say “look, no bites!” It combines the terror of an outbreak with the fear of State power making that most difficult of decisions, to sacrifice the few to save the many.
It’s been on cable- and it’s worth a view. Give it a shot. Besides, Jennifer Carpenter is quite good, and pretty to look at if a bit on the skinny side. Eat a cheeseburger, hon. She panics just like she does on Dexter, but she’s much more vulnerable here and does a good job telegraphing the scares to us.

Pluck You Too, Hollywood! The summer work stoppage/boycott

After reading reviews of Terminator: Salvation, and seeing how for some reason Star Trek is outselling it, I had an epiphany. Why the hell am I slapping down a ten spot to see Hollywood screw up my beloved movie memories with endless sequels, remakes and re-imaginings? Now on the other hand, one of the best movies last year was a sequel (Dark Knight) but most of the time they miss the mark. Terminator is slowly going the Alien route, having killed off Sarah Connor in #3 and the changes made in the latest seem capricious.

The raves over Star Trek make it appealing, but I’ve never been a fan, so I can wait for cable. Why should I see Sylar Spock when I can go see Pixar’s Up, something refreshing and new? Why should I go see Land of the Lost, even though it looks funny, when Year One with Jack Black and Michael Cera will probably be just as funny? I’m perpetuating this remake frenzy, and why? So I can complain about it? As I posted earlier, remakes are nothing new to Hollywood and some of the greatest movies ever are actually remakes, such as Ben-Hur and The Maltese Falcon. But each year we get more and more, and I’m tired of going to see mediocre ones like Get Smart, which was cute but unnecessary.

I think the final straw was the news that Bill Murray finally gave in and is going to join in for Ghostbusters 3 next year. After the abysmal sequel, why bother? The first movie is great, but should have been let alone. With so many other movies to see, I’m going to avoid as many re-‘s as possible. We’ve got so much to look forward to without rehashes this year:

Up – Pixar has been on a huge roll and while Cars was a very profitable less memorable film, seems more in the grain of WALL-E and Ratatouille. Definitely going this week.

Public Enemies by Michael Mann, starring Johnny Depp is going to be huge. We haven’t had a big old-timey gangster flick since what, Road to Perdition? And Mann’s take on it will certainly be memorable. It’s something we know well, like The Wolf Man – I was actually very eager to see Benicio del Toro play Larry Talbot, but I love the original so much that I don’t need better make-up and lots of blood. I’ll watch it, but probably on cable.

Year One – Ivan Reitman has been spotty lately, but Jack Black and Michael Cera as cavemen is such a great concept that I’ll give it a try. Oops, this is directed by Harold Ramis- who’s also been spotty (Analyze crap!) but Caddyshack makes all forgiven. And The Ice Harvest was good.

Bruno – After Borat, Sascha Baron Cohen can do no wrong. Okay, Ali G Indahouse wasn’t great, but it was still funny. Bruno is set to

Shutter Island – Dennis LeHane’s novel set in a 1950’s mental asylum, directed by Scorsese. He’s never boring, so this is a must see.

Sherlock Holmes – Okay, you might call this a reimagining, but the only recent Holmes movies I’ve seen are Young Sherlock Holmes, They Might Be Giants and Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, and they were all reimaginings anyway. Plus Robert Downey Jr. and Guy Ritchie? C’mon.

Jennifer’s Body – Diablo Cody’s next one, described as “When a gorgeous cheerleader is possessed by a demon and starts feeding off the boys in a small Minnesota farming town, her “plain Jane” best friend must kill her, then escape from a correctional facility to go after the Satan-worshipping rock band responsible for the horrible transformation.” How can you say no?

Drag Me to Hell – Sam Raimi’s return to horror, about a bank worker who gets a gypsy curse. After the bailouts, we all need some catharsis!

Inglorious Basterds – If you haven’t heard of Tarantino’s new World War 2 flick you don’t like movies. His movies are always good fun.

Moon – some real science fiction in the 2001 vein? Sign me up!

The Hurt Locker – thriller set in Iraq by the director of Point Break!

District 9 – “A sci-fi/action story set in a fictional world, where extraterrestrials have become refugees in South Africa.” This could be awful or awesome.

Ponyo on the Cliff – Hayao Miyazaki’s latest!

Extract – Mike Judge’s latest office comedy. The trailer looked good to me, and I liked Idiocracy so he has nothing to prove to me.

9 – “When 9 (voice of Elijah Wood) first comes to life, he finds himself in a post-apocalyptic world where all humans are gone. Upon discovering a community of other beings like him, 9 takes the lead in an effort to strike back at the machines that control the world and are bent on exterminating most signs of life.” An expansion of an Oscar winning animated short, it promises to be unique and amazing.

The Invention of Lying – Ricky Gervais stars, writes, directs. Nuff said.

Where the Wild Things Are – Spike Jonze nearly lost control of this adaptation when a test screening made kids cry. But he still has the reins and the monsters will be actors in big suits, with the faces animated. The trailer looks simply amazing.

The Road – Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic nightmare, starring Viggo Mortensen as the father. It was a great book and looks to be a great movie.

The Lovely Bones – Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the morbid fantasy tale of a 13 year old girl looking at her family deal with her rape and murder, from the afterlife. The book was a huge hit, and seeing such a queasy subject on film, under Jackson’s hands, should be something else.

Avatar – James Cameron stops mucking around underwater and makes a huge science fiction action flick? I’ve waited for this for ages. The 3-D stuff I can take or leave, but I’d rather anticipate this than Tony Scott’s remake of The Taking of Pelham 123 – I love the original and Tony Scott lost all cred with Domino.

So you know what? I got plenty of movies to see without giving one dollar to the remake machine. If you bitch about them, you have no excuse if you give some unimaginative producer your $10. There’s plenty of good out there without making movie versions of every ’70s TV series, or by remaking every gory ’80s horror flcik with fake CG blood. Speak with your wallet, or your Fandango account! Pluck You, Hollywood!!!

Remakes – Same as it ever was, or worse?

What, you don’t remember this scene?

This is part of the Large Association of Movie Blogs’ monthly blogathon on remakes.

While it is popular to slam on the current flood of Hollywood remakes, it is not a new thing. The versions of The Maltese Falcon, Ben-Hur and The Wizard of Oz we know as classics are all remakes. Sometimes a good story needs to be told more than once, and the first time isn’t always the best. Lately remakes have concentrated on hits, or beloved cult classics- which is where the difference comes in. Some classic remakes work- like Scarface, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (not the Nicole Kidman one, doofus- the Sutherland one) and Ocean’s Eleven– but even some of the best attempts only reach mediocrity, such as Peter Jackson’s indulgent and overlong King Kong– which is still much better than soulless money-grubbing crap like Death Race.

Nowadays remakes are seen as a cash cow to get people into theaters by name recognition, and to get a script that is a “sure thing” for enough box office to cover expenses, or at least be profitable as a write-off. But not all new remakes are shit. I really enjoyed the remake of Dawn of the Dead, even though it dropped George Romero’s social commentary about consumerism and societal malaise for a more straightforward horror flick. While “speed zombies” are kind of old now, it was refreshing and different at the time, even though it had already been done in 28 Days Later.

The real test will be Werner Herzog’s remake of Abel Ferrara’s masterpiece Bad Lieutenant, with Nicholas Cage in the Harvey Keitel role. Now, I know Cage can act- he just chooses not to. If you think he can’t act, see Moonstruck, Peggy Sue Got Married, 8mm, Adaptation, Birdy, Red Rock West, Wild at Heart, Raising Arizona, Bringing out the Dead, Matchstick Men, Leaving Las Vegas or Lord of War. Yes, it’s a lot easier to remember Ghost Rider, National Treasure, The Wicker Man, Gone in 60 Seconds, and Next, but with Herzog directing him, maybe he’ll point a gun at him- as he as rumored to do to Klaus Kinski on the set of Aguirre, the Wrath of God– and make him fucking act. Terry Gilliam got Bruce Willis to drop his action-hero persona for 12 Monkeys, so anything is possible. Sometimes directors remake their own movies- Michael Haneke remade his masterpiece Funny Games for American audiences, with Tim Roth and Naomi Watts; it’s shot for shot, but still felt less powerful. The subtitles actually made the original more gripping for me. I had to pay complete attention, and since I didn’t know the actors I never thought, “hmm, that’s some good acting, Michael Pitt.”

And apparently Herzog’s remake it is being played as a reimagined prequel, “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.” The title sounds like a serial novel, like the 150+ books in The Destroyer series (best known as the books the Remo Williams movie came from). Now I could get down with that, if the Lieutenant moved from city to city, masturbating in front of underage drivers and snorting huge lines of cocaine poured on the highways. As much as I like Herzog, I wonder if this will be as useless as Gus Van Sant’s remake of Psycho. Speaking of which, IMDb shows that The Birds will be remade in 2011, I believe Michael Bay is producing. Which means:
1. It will be called Birds, since “the” is so lame.
2. It will have an environmental cause, instead of being a mystery.
3. At some point, kids will be watching Happy Feet and the token funny black guy will turn it off. Sorry, I just watched Transformers.
4. The only actor over 30 will be Jon Voight as the grizzled old guy who’s seen this before.
5. When the birds attack the school playground, the hero will drive them off with a makeshift flamethrower, and make some sort of fried chicken joke.
6. Some young woman will solve the crisis and the birds will be friendly again, instead of the creepy, ambiguous ending the original has. And then maybe the squirrels will start attacking people, as a result of global warming affecting the acorn harvest.

The majority of remakes coming out now are horror movies, and the inherent problem is the love of CG. Let’s face it, fake CG blood is just stupid. Why do they use it? So they can remove some to appease the ratings board? It never looks real to me, and ruined a lot of The Devil’s Rejects for me. The remake of The Hills Have Eyes wasn’t bad, but it seems every horror movie of the late ’70s and ’80s that anyone might remember is being remade. Prom Night, which was nothing but a bad ripoff of Carrie; Rob Zombie remade Halloween, which I’ve yet to waste time watching. My Bloody Valentine 3-D is about to hit theaters, and a remake of Friday the 13th is in the works. What they can never recapture is the gritty, cheap feel the old movies had. Eli Roth gets it- his hilarious homage to ’70s horror Cabin Fever had the perfect feel, and so did Hostel– but most remakes look way too polished. Worse yet, they’ll try to make it “look ’70s” by giving people cars and haircuts.

At their worst, the remake is when Hollywood artifice lets it slip show- they just want a name to get enough 15 year olds into the seats for a few weekends to make enough money to pay the important people. Then with foreign and DVD sales, it might turn a profit later, and people looking for the original might buy it by mistake. I think sometimes we get lucky and a director who can wrest some control from producers gets the helm, or champions the project, and that’s when we get something decent. But the fact is they’re here to stay, and getting aggravated over it is nothing new. I think half of internet discussion on movies involves Nerd Remake Rage. Let’s put it to rest and judge them individually, because not all remakes are bad.

Sam Jackson to star in ‘The Last Dragon’ remake

Am I the baddest motherfucker in the room? Sho ’nuff!!!

Samuel L. Jackson vs. the ‘Dragon’
He’s set to star in the remake of the 1985 cult classic

By Leslie Simmons

It’s another heavy role for Samuel L. Jackson.

Having most recently played a dirty cop in “Lakeview Terrace,” Jackson is set to star as a bad guy again in Columbia Pictures’ remake of Berry Gordy’s 1985 cult classic “The Last Dragon.”

Jackson will play Sho’nuff, the Shogun of Harlem, a role played in the original by the late Julius Carry, whose spiel included asking ego-driven questions like “Am I the baddest mofo lowdown around this town?” Each time his gang of thugs answered, “Sho ’nuff!”

Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and Gordy’s son Kerry Gordy are producing.

Penning the screenplay as well as producing is Dallas Jackson, who heads up the urban family label DJ Classicz with Davis. Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA is co-producing.

The updated plot will be along the same lines of the original, centering on young martial arts student Leroy Green in his quest through the streets of New York to achieve the highest level of martial arts accomplishment, known as the Last Dragon. Those who achieve the high ranking possess the Glow, making them the greatest fighter alive.

The project, announced by Columbia presidents Doug Belgrad and Matt Tolmach, will take a new look at “Last Dragon” coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Motown next year.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Kerry Gordy as he continues his father’s legacy, and we’re confident that he along with John and Dallas are the perfect team to develop the project,” Belgrad said. “They will capture everything that people love about the original while also bringing a fresh edge to the remake.”

The original, which also starred one-namers Taimak and then-Prince protege Vanity, was released in March 1985 by TriStar Pictures and received lukewarm reviews by critics like Roger Ebert, who gave it 2 1/2 stars and said it was a “great near-miss.”

Despite the reviews, “Last Dragon” did well at the boxoffice, grossing nearly $26 million. It soon became a cult classic for scenes like Bruce Lee follower Green remaining so loyal to the martial arts star that he eats his popcorn in a movie theater with chopsticks.

“I’m a huge fan of the original and look forward to bringing Sho’Nuff into the 21st century,” Jackson said.

Jackson, repped by ICM and Anonymous Content, made a surprise cameo in the summer blockbuster “Iron Man” and the sci-fi action film “Jumper.” He also stars with the late Bernie Mac in “Soul Men,” which opens Christmas Day, and Frank Miller’s upcoming “The Spirit.”

As far as remakes go, making one of the kung-fu ’80s cheesefest The Last Dragon is a pointless exercise. The movie is perfection. And this week I will regale you with my full review of Berry Gordy’s masterpiece. With Vanity, and even William H. Macy in the gayest sweater imaginable. I myself only train in the Arts Martiale so that one day I can attain “the glow.”

Taimak was great as the fresh-faced Bruce Leroy, but I doubt he’ll return. He’d better eat popcorn with chopsticks, dammit!