Ah, the 1980s: A decade of big hair, shoulder pads, heavy synths, and multiple violent robots and androids. Two stood out from the pack though – Robocop and Terminator – and in our latest episode of Vs. we’re going full robot wars, pitting Paul Verhoeven’s ultraviolent black comedy against James Cameron’s groundbreaking and grungy time-travel actioner. Host Mark Ellis (who comes with zero robot parts), will compare the two original films across multiple criteria including box office performance, Tomatometer and Audience Score, the quality of their characters, and more. Who will be the last bot standing? Tune in to find out.


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April is shaping up to be a pretty good month for movies, leading into the proper summer movie season. But if you’re afraid of big crowds, or you just feel like lounging at home all month in your unicorn snuggie (and who doesn’t?), then Netflix has a pretty good lineup waiting for you. As usual, the month is heavily frontloaded, with most of the interesting titles coming out on April 1, but see below for the full list.


L.A. Confidential (1997) 99%


Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, and Kim Basinger star in Curtis Hanson’s period noir about the criminal underworld of 1950s Los Angeles and the police of dubious morals who are called upon to investigate a multiple homicide with possible mob connections.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


The Iron Giant (1999) 96%

Vin Diesel, Jennifer Aniston, and Harry Connick Jr. lend their voices to Brad Bird’s animated feature debut, about a large sentient robot who finds himself lost in a small Maine town in 1958 and befriends a young boy.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


6 Balloons (2018) 86%

Dave Franco and Abbi Jacobson star in Marja-Lewis Ryan’s drama following a woman over the course of a night as she drives her heroin-addicted brother through LA, looking for a detox center.

Available 4/6 on: Netflix


Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2016) 93%

This documentary centers on the Chinese immigrant family who owned and operated the Abacus Federal Savings bank in New York, the only bank to face criminal charges in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Heat (1995) 87%

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro headline Michael Mann’s celebrated heist movie that centers on the cat-and-mouse game between a career criminal on his last job and the detective determined to catch him.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Scarface (1983) 82%

Al Pacino offers an unforgettable performance in Brian DePalma’s iconic drama about drug kingpin Tony Montana’s rise to power and eventual downfall.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Friday Night Lights (2004) 82%

Billy Bob Thornton stars in Peter Berg’s drama based on true events about a Texas high school football team’s struggles to win the state championship.

Available 3/1 on: Netflix


Seven (1995) 82%

Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman star in David Fincher’s thriller about a retiring detective who takes on a green partner in order to solve a series of grisly murders based on the Seven Deadly Sins.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Life Is Beautiful (1997) 80%

Roberto Benigni and Nicoletta Braschi star in Benigni’s dramatic comedy about a Jewish father who concocts elaborate stories to prevent his young son from learning the truth when his family is imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale: Season 1 (2018) 83%

Joel McHale hosts this weekly series from Netflix that looks at news and pop culture from around the world, much in the same way that McHale previously did on Talk Soup.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Kodachrome (2017) 71%

Jason Sudeikis, Ed Harris, and Elizabeth Olsen star in this drama about a man who agrees to drive his dying father across the country in order to develop four rolls of Kodachrome film.

Available 4/20 on: Netflix


Sin City (2005) 77%

Robert Rodriguez’s Certified Fresh adaptation of the Frank Miller comic is a dark, grisly collection of interconnected pulp fiction starring Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, and Mickey Rourke, and shot with a unique visual flair.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Una (2016) 76%

Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn star in this drama about a young woman who seeks out an older man with whom she shared a relationship 15 years before that got him arrested and put in jail.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


The Lost Boys (1987) 77%

Coreys Haim and Feldman, Jason Patric, and Keifer Sutherland star in this Joel Schumacher cult classic about a pair of brothers who become entangled in the world of local vampires after they move to a new town.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Sunshine Cleaning (2008) 74%

Amy Adams and Emily Blunt star in this comedy about a down-on-her-luck single mother who starts up a crime scene cleaning business with her sister.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Boys on the Side (1995) 74%

Drew Barrymore, Whoopi Goldberg, and Mary-Louise Parker star in this drama about three women who set out on a road trip from New York to California together.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Cold Mountain (2003) 70%

Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, and Renée Zellweger star in Anthony Minghella’s period drama that follows an American Civil War soldier as he travels home through Confederate territory to his beloved, a preacher’s daughter struggling to keep her family farm alive.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Fracture (2007) 71%

Ryan Gosling and Anthony Hopkins star in this psychological thriller about a hot-shot attorney who engages in a war of wits with the wealthy engineer he’s been tasked with defending in court for the murder of the engineer’s wife.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) 69%

The third chapter of the Terminator saga, set 10 years after T2, follows John Connor (Nick Stahl) as he attempts to evade another assassin sent from the future, this time in the form of a woman (Kristanna Loken), again with the help of a T-101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger).

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Cabin Fever (2002) 62%

Eli Roth’s cult favorite horror film centers on a group of college friends vacationing in the wilderness who begin to turn on each other when one of them becomes infected with a terrible, fast-acting sickness.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Kill the Irishman (2011) 62%

Ray Stevenson, Christopher Walken, and Vincent D’Onofrio star in this period crime drama based on the true story of Cleveland mobster Danny Greene, who battled the Italian mafia for control of the city during the 1970s.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix


Cube (1997) 64%

Vincenzo Natali’s high-concept sci-fi horror film follows six strangers who wake up to find themselves trapped in a system of cubes rigged with deadly mechanisms and must work together to find an escape. A prequel, Cube Zero, is also available to stream.

Available 4/1 on: Cube, Cube Zero


The Duchess (2008) 62%

Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes star in this biographical look at the Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Spencer, who captured the public’s heart and helped enact sweeping changes as a political leader.

Available 4/1 on: Netflix

The Terminator franchise has had its ups and downs over the years, but like Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s trusty T-800, it’s kept lumbering on for more than three decades — and with further sequels promised in the not-too-distant future, we can only expect more blockbuster battles between man and machine. In the meantime, the saga’s second installment is back in theaters this weekend, sporting a new 4K restoration and 3D conversion. To celebrate its imminent arrival, we decided to take a fond look back at Mr. Schwarzenegger’s best films sorted by Tomatometer, while inviting you to rank your own personal favorites. It’s time for Total Recall!


Use the up and down arrows to rank the movies, or click here to see them ranked by Tomatometer!

We bet those pesky xenomorphs are getting smug now that their last two movies, Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, have gone Certified Fresh.

Enough with the space jockeys, unqualified cartographers, and people who run in straight lines: How about terrorizing someone who can put up a real fight? Vote on our 10 suggestions below or leave your dream Alien deathmatch in the comments!

Rotten Tomatoes looks at 24 unresolved TV cliffhangers, ranging from poisoned presidents to adrift interstellar spaceships. We couldn’t possibly solve these mysteries. Can YOU?


The Terminator franchise kept itself going without Arnold Schwarzenegger during his politics-enforced acting hiatus, but it really wasn’t the same without our trusty old T-800 dispensing shotgun blasts and one-liners like only he can, so it was with great anticipation that fans of the series greeted the news that (ahem) he’d be back for the latest installment, Terminator Genisys. To celebrate its imminent arrival, we decided to take a fond look back at some of the brightest critical highlights from a career that includes plenty of blockbusters — and a few surprises. It’s time for Total Recall!


10. Commando (1985) 69%

Luring action fans to the theater in 1985 didn’t come much more simply than putting Arnold Schwarzenegger in a sleeveless vest, handing him a weapon, and slapping the poster with the delicious tagline “Somewhere, somehow, someone’s going to pay.” Commando delivered as promised, starring Arnold as a retired Delta Force op whose daughter (Alyssa Milano) is kidnapped by an exiled Latin American dictator (Dan Hedaya) in an effort to blackmail him into assassinating his replacement. Loaded with heavy artillery and big explosions, Commando provides, in the words of Filmcritic’s Pete Croatto, “one of the best arguments available for the action movie as pure entertainment.”

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9. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) 69%

It took a dozen years to make its way to theaters — and did it without James Cameron — but thanks to the durable mythology of the franchise and Schwarzenegger’s welcome return to the title role, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines proved audiences were still eager for more Skynet-fueled mayhem. Starring Kristanna Loken as the first female Terminator, Nick Stahl as the new John Connor, and Claire Danes as his future bride Kate Brewster, T3 relied more heavily on special effects than storytelling, leaving some critics cold — but for others, even diluted Terminator was good for a couple more hours of popcorn entertainment. “A sizable quotient of the movie’s target audience just wants to see stuff destroyed,” sighed the Chicago Reader’s J.R. Jones, “and in that regard Rise of the Machines won’t disappoint.”

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8. Conan the Barbarian (1982) 66%

Making an enjoyable movie about a monosyllabic, sword-wielding barbarian is harder than it might seem — just ask the folks behind 2011’s Conan the Barbarian, who attempted to update Robert E. Howard’s classic character for a new millennium and found themselves deluged with bad reviews for their trouble. But it isn’t impossible, as John Milius proved with his 1982 Conan, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the beefy barbarian, Max von Sydow as King Osiric, and James Earl Jones as the wonderfully named Thulsa Doom. It’s all very silly, of course, but that’s part of its charm; as Rob Vaux put it for Mania.com, “Its magnificence stems from the very properties we should be condemning with all our might.”

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7. True Lies (1994) 70%

The death knell had sounded for the big, dumb 1980s action movie with 1992’s prophetically titled The Last Action Hero — which, fittingly, also starred Schwarzenegger — but James Cameron helped revitalize the genre with this light, funny, fast-moving thrill ride that boasted likable performances from not only its well-muscled star, but a crackerjack supporting cast that included Jamie Lee Curtis, Bill Paxton, and Tom Arnold at his funniest. Though it was heavily criticized for being misogynist and racist, True Lies combined with Speed to make the summer of 1994 feel a little like the 1980s never ended, and took Cameron’s reign as a Hollywood action king to its logical conclusion while earning the begrudging praise of critics like the Globe and Mail’s Rick Groen, who wrote, “However high your ranking on the culture scale, I defy you to watch this and leave the theatre without a whistled ‘Wow’ followed by a grudging ‘That’s entertainment.'”

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6. Stay Hungry (1976) 67%

Say it’s the mid-’70s and you’re making a movie with a part for an Austrian bodybuilder who plays the fiddle. What do you do? For Bob Rafelson, director of Stay Hungry, the choice was easy: Hand Arnold Schwarzenegger a fiddle. And the results weren’t as silly as they might sound, either — starring Jeff Bridges as the conflicted flunky of some crooked real estate developers who want to strongarm their way into ownership of a Birmingham gym, Hungry earned high critical marks for its assured storytelling and offbeat charm. “When the movie’s over, we’re still not sure why it was made,” admitted Roger Ebert, “but we’ve had fun and so, it appears, has Rafelson.”

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5. Predator (1987) 82%

Producer Joel Silver and Schwarzenegger teamed up twice during the ’80s, and the results — Commando and Predator — are among any action fan’s favorites from the era. Here, Schwarzenegger must lead a team of tough-as-nails soldiers into the jungle on what’s believed to be a rescue mission for prisoners of war — but which quickly turns out to be a bloody fight against a dreadlocked interstellar hunter (played to perfection by the late, lamented Kevin Peter Hall). Silver’s pictures from the period tended to follow a certain formula, but at this point, familiarity hadn’t yet bred contempt — and anyway, if Predator lacks a surplus of moving parts, it does what it’s supposed to with cool precision. “It achieves a sort of sublime purity,” sighed an appreciative Tim Brayton for Antagony & Ecstacy. “It is Action Movie, nothing more and nothing less.”

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4. Total Recall (1990) 82%

One of Schwarzenegger’s most quotable films (not to mention a $261 million box office smash that earned a Special Achievement Academy Award for its impressive special effects), 1990’s Total Recall returned its star to sci-fi after forays into buddy cop territory (Red Heat) and comedy (Twins). A mind-bending adaptation of the Philip K. Dick short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, it took audiences on a fast-paced, set piece-fueled journey from Earth to Mars, dispensing quips along the way — and proved so singularly successful that no amount of development could produce a workable sequel (or, as we learned in 2012, a worthwhile remake). “Total Recall is too much,” wrote Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman, “but it’s too much of a good thing.”

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3. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) 93%

More often than not, if it takes seven years to put together the sequel to a hit movie, disappointment is just around the corner. In the case of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, however, the prolonged delay worked to everyone’s advantage: James Cameron, a relative newcomer when The Terminator was filmed, had spent the intervening years turning himself into one of Hollywood’s biggest directors, and one of the few filmmakers with enough clout to secure the $102 million budget necessary to pay for both Arnold Schwarzenegger and the super-cool special effects that turned Robert Patrick into a puddle of molten metal. It was money well spent, as T2‘s eventual $519 million worldwide gross proved; in fact, despite its slightly lower Tomatometer rating, many fans believe the second Terminator is superior to the original. In the words of Newsweek’s David Ansen, “For all its state-of-the-art pyrotechnics and breathtaking thrills, this bruisingly exciting movie never loses sight of its humanity. That’s its point, and its pride.”

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2. Pumping Iron (1976) 91%

We don’t often include documentaries in these lists — but then again, there aren’t many documentaries like Pumping Iron, Robert Fiore and George Butler’s fascinating look at the 1975 Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition. The film introduced a pair of future stars who’d trade in heavily on their physiques: Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno, who went on to green-hued fame as Bill Bixby’s alter ego in the Incredible Hulk TV series — and while Ferrigno achieved his big breakthrough first, Pumping Iron finds him thoroughly manipulated and outclassed by Schwarzenegger, who spends much of the film displaying the physical skill and ruthless savvy that made him one of Hollywood’s foremost action heroes. “The movie is a very shrewd mixture of documentary and realistic fiction, put together with both eyes and ears on entertainment value,” observed Derek Adams of Time Out.

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1. The Terminator (1984) 100%

It was made with a fraction of the mega-budget gloss that enveloped its sequels, but for many, 1984’s The Terminator remains the pinnacle of the franchise — not to mention one of the most purely enjoyable movies of the last 30 years. Subsequent entries would get a little hard to follow, but the original’s premise was simple enough for anyone to follow: A scary-looking cyborg (Schwarzenegger) travels back in time to kill a woman (Linda Hamilton) before she can give birth to the child who will grow up to lead the human resistance against an evil network of sentient machines. Tech noir at its most accessible, Terminator earned universal praise from critics such as Sean Axmaker of Turner Classic Movies, who wrote, “Gritty, clever, breathlessly paced, and dynamic despite the dark shadow of doom cast over the story, this sci-fi thriller remains one of the defining American films of the 1980s.”

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Finally, it is here. Plagued by fanboy outcries, rumoured script changes, one legendary on-set tirade and a rash of mixed-to-rotten reviews from critics in the US, Terminator Salvation arrives this week in Australian cinemas for audiences to make up their own minds. In the meantime, remind yourself why you still care, as we take a step into the flashing blue lightning and travel back through 10 of the best moments of the Terminator series.


10: The resistance begins

Terminator 3 may have turned James Cameron’s “no fate but what we make it” theme on its head — thanks for saving the future, Sarah Connor, but Judgment Day’s coming anyway — but whatever its faults as a story, it’s pretty hard not to be moved by the bleak final moments of the film that put John Connor right where he was doomed to be. As Skynet unleashes the missile attacks that will decimate the human population, Connor and future wife Kate hole up in an old underground bunker, their fate weighing heavily upon them. And then, the moment we’ve all been dreading. “Who’s in charge there?” a desperate voice crackles over the radio. Connor’s reply leaves the lump in our collective throats: “I am.”


9: Clouds on the horizon

The iconic photo of Sarah Connor has been a recurring motif across all four Terminator films, travelling through time, and between father and son. Moments after taking the fateful image that will send Kyle Reese across time, a young Mexican boy offers a telling portent of the future. “What did he say?” Sarah Connor asks the old man at the gas station. “He says there’s a storm coming in,” is the response. Cue Connor and unborn son on the open highway, driving toward an ominous vista of dark clouds — and a future that may well be in their hands.


8: “Come with me if you want to live”

The series’ enduring line gets its first — and best — airing in the terrifying showdown at the Tech Noir nightclub, as the T-101’s attack on Sarah Connor is narrowly repelled by Kyle Reese. Unsure whether this guy in the trench coat with the deranged look in his eyes is a lunatic, a killer, or both, Sarah has no choice but to accept his help — and, in that moment, the future changes forever.


7: “Hasta la vista, baby”

Arnie’s famous line from T2 has gone down among his most quoted moments ever, capturing the future Governator at the stratospheric peak of his stardom and heralding the Terminator series at its commercial high water mark. No matter that the gunshot that follows it fails to finish off the decomposing T-1000 (he quickly reassembles himself), this is all about action-movie quip-timing as art: dry, instantly memorable, and proof that the wisdom of John Connor’s teachings began early. But would it have been the same if he’d said “Chill out, dickwad”?


6: Liquid metal!

CGI’s so commonplace (and over-used) now that it’s easy to forget just how jaw-dropping T2‘s liquid metal morphing was to cinema audiences back in 1991. Incredible moments abound — the T-1000 emerging dazzling from the flaming wreckage of a truck, pouring itself inside a police chopper (“Get out!”, indeed), and reconstituting its shape from liquid droplets before the climactic showdown — but for wit and surprise, the scenes in the psychiatric institution are hard to top. The T-1000 ascending from through floor, like some primal digital ooze, to assume the form of a hapless security guard, is funny, scary and just about perfect — even all these years and advancements later.


5: Cybernetic surgery

Up until this point in The Terminator we’d only seen hints of what Cyberdyne’s T-101 was made of — including that priceless look that Arnie gives as his eyes strobe the road, turning in advance of his head — but this left the audience with no doubt as to the lethal technology buried beneath the living tissue exoskeleton. The queasy scene begins with Schwarzenegger slicing open his arm to reveal that cyborg limb (brilliantly executed by Stan Winston) and proceeds to have him remove his eyeball, at which time we see that eerie, glowing red iris for the first time — and Arnie donning his killer shades.


4: The canal chase

It begins with a kid on a trail bike blasting Guns N’ Roses and ends with an evil robot from the future striding through a raging fireball of wrecked metal — do we need to explain any further? Evidence of director James Cameron’s action talent at its finest, T2‘s best chase combines a breakneck pursuit through the sewers of Los Angeles with some incredible stunt work, all while establishing the emotional bond between John Connor and his unlikely protector. Terminator 3‘s magnificent construction crane carnage might have topped it for scale and spectacle, but this remains the series’ most compelling sequence of sturm und drang.


3: “I’ll be back”

Newcomers to The Terminator might be excused for wondering how this particular line came to assume such towering status in the series’ mythology. After all, it’s only three words, issued in the most monotone of voices — hardly the makings of one of the American Film Institute’s “Top 100 Movie Quotes” of all time (it ranked number 37, for the record). Yet it’s precisely Arnie’s deadpan delivery — offering no indication to the police clerk as to the absolute mayhem that will follow — that makes it so unforgettable. If you thought Schwarzenegger was no Brando, you’d better take another look at how deeply immersed in his character he is here.


2: Bad to the Bone

Not just the greatest introduction of any character in the Terminator series, it’s one of the all-time best meet-and-greets in movie history. Arnold’s reappearance is a textbook example of reacquainting the audience with a legendary character and setting the tone for his unlikely change of sides. The Terminator doesn’t hesitate in destroying a bar full of bikers, but the humour in the scene — “I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle” — eases us in to Arnie’s repurposing and his almost-human moments that will follow.


1: “You’re terminated, fucker”

As hard as it is to choose a mere 10 great moments from a series (or at least two films) filled with so many, there’s something still so devastating about the tense, terrific seconds that bring the original movie’s factory fight to a crushing close. The creepiness of the T-101 as it crawls unrelenting, despite being only half a robotic skeleton, toward the trapped Sarah Connor is among the film’s most powerful images — the claw, scrape, claw of the metal hand inching closer, never stopping, unable to be reasoned with. But it’s the image of the previously helpless young woman suddenly asserting herself in the face of this mechanical monster that sears the series’ human-vs.-machines struggle into memory. If meek little waitress Sarah can become a badass mercenary and mother of the future of the human resistance, then maybe there’s hope.


Day Four: Terminator Salvation (2009)

It’s been a roller coaster ride revisiting the science fiction films Terminator (1984), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), and I thank everyone who followed along with me this week. As we found out, the franchise that James Cameron began 25 years ago weathered a lot of changes through the years (from $6.5 million thriller to $200 million action pic, from Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s first “I’ll be back” to “Talk to the hand”) but what kept fans hooked from picture to picture were the core themes of the Terminator universe: humanity attempting to save itself, the strength of familial bonds, and the idea that we’re all in control of our own fates — even if the future seems rather bleak.

Today I turn my gaze upon Terminator Salvation, the third sequel in the Terminator saga. In it, we catch up with Resistance fighter John Connor (Christian Bale) in the year 2018; Judgment Day (as seen in T3: Rise of the Machines) has come and gone, leaving pockets of human rebels scattered across the globe, while the forces of SkyNet send new machines to harvest and kill. (Coincidentally — or perhaps, on purpose — SkyNet is based in San Francisco, the very same place where Starfleet Command calls home in the universe of Terminator Salvation‘s summer blockbuster rival, Star Trek.)

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But John Connor isn’t really the main character of Terminator Salvation, a film that, like Terminator 2 before it, shifts its focus to a new protagonist: Marcus (Sam Worthington), a death row inmate who is executed in 2003 only to wake up in the present-day “future.” The lean, lethal Marcus teams up with a teenage wannabe Resistance fighter (Anton Yelchin), who also happens to be the same person that John Connor has been seeking out for a very special mission: Kyle Reese.

That’s the basic plot, anyway, and for the sake of your own experience of discovery I’ll omit details. Overall, Terminator Salvation is a watchable Terminator sequel, but not necessarily a great one. It features great performances, but also underwritten characters. It has a story that will satisfy and intrigue most Terminator fans, but it’s almost over-plotted. The post-apocalyptic world that director McG envisioned is perfectly dirty, dangerous, and harrowing — a well-crafted extension of the flash forwards to the future glimpsed in Terminator, T2, and T3 — but some scenes are strangely, distractingly, set bound.

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That said, McG knows how to shoot a set piece. Take the gas station scene shown in Terminator Salvation‘s trailer, as Kyle, Marcus, and Kyle’s deaf-mute sidekick, Star, escape/battle a giant “Harvester” Terminator along with two feisty “Moto-Terminators” that detach from its legs; these bots are ruthless and agile, and not too far removed from another kind of other summer robot (in disguise). Yet this new take on the chase sequence — a staple of every Terminator movie — is absolutely thrilling and fresh.

Set pieces aside, Terminator Salvation has a bit of an editing problem. It’s rather obvious that the final cut was snipped at considerably from all angles, presumably for a shorter run time and (in one glaring scene-to-scene jump) to omit Moon Bloodgood‘s nude scene and hit the PG-13 mark. As a result, some characters seem one-dimensional; we’d like to see even supporting players cultivate their characters a bit longer. Then again, maybe it’s a scripting issue, since there are at least two or three superfluous supporting cast members (Common, Bryce Dallas Howard, and four-time Oscar nominee Jane Alexander, for starters) practically begging for more screen time on the periphery of the story.

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Speaking of the cast, Sam Worthington (previously seen in the Australian flick Somersault) makes a great impression in the role that will likely introduce him to most American audiences. His brooding Marcus is alternately tough and self-loathing, a loner compelled to help others who is fantastically handy in a fight and pretty dreamy to boot. Worthington and Michael Ironside, as a Resistance General at odds with John Connor, are the only two cast members who really hold their own with Bale on screen; everyone else looks terrified just to be sharing the frame with him. (Even then, Ironside’s scene with Bale is on the phone — they’re not even in the same room.) Look forward to seeing Worthington in the upcoming Avatar (from James Cameron) and as Perseus in Louis Leterrier’s Clash of the Titans remake.

Bale, unsurprisingly, delivers a solid rendering of the battle-hardened John Connor, although he’s so cold and single-minded (Must. Destroy. SkyNet.) that it’s hard to believe this is the same person who once played Missile Command in the Sherman Oaks Galleria and high-fived a T800. Yelchin, underused as Chekov in Star Trek, shows nervy strength as the dedicated young Reese.

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The Terminator films have always remembered where they came from (whether you consider it the past or the future, or both), so fans get a fair amount of references. Thankfully, they’re integrated seamlessly into the plot and for the most part avoid forced comic moments, as seen in T3. Many are quite subtle, explaining how certain skills or things we’ve already seen in previous films originally came to be; one familiar line in particular is delivered with such perfect timing, the scene ends before it has time to turn campy.

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Ultimately, I was superficially entertained but disappointed with this attempt at making a Terminator sequel; it feels appropriately bleak and gritty, but is unable to pull itself together as tightly as the first two films. And although Terminator Salvation is shaping up to be the worst-reviewed film in the Terminator franchise (get the latest reviews here), I actually think it’s a step up from the better-reviewed Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines; it’s not only about humans battling their heartless pursuers, but about keeping faith in your fellow man. Now let’s just wait for the inevitable Director’s Cut to see McG’s best vision of the film, because there’s a better movie hidden somewhere inside Terminator Salvation.

Read More “Jen Gets Terminated” Installments:

There’s been a lot of talk about Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins, but the sequel’s much-maligned director, McG, has stayed above the fray. Until now, that is.

In an exclusive interview with The 213, McG opened up for the first time about his vision for the Terminator saga, how the fourth installment relates to the franchise’s overall timeline, and just how Christian Bale fits into all this.

Oh, and then there’s the matter of who he might want for the role of Salvation‘s Terminator. But more on that in a minute. First, let’s allow McG to tell us where the new movie falls in terms of continuity. Asked if his movie takes place after Terminator 2 or Terminator 3, he says:

This is the space between; this is post Judgment Day. So there really is no continuation, you know what I mean? Its sort of a different animal, whereas the first two pictures on this thing are Terminators from the future, this picture takes place in 2019.

Having established that, The 213 wastes no time getting down to business, asking McG about rumors that John Connor isn’t much of a factor in Terminator Salvation, and that Christian Bale’s appearance will be essentially a cameo. Referring to this film’s Connor as “a major player,” the director goes on to lavish praise on Bale (“I think he’s the most talented actor of his generation”) before giving a very rough outline of the story:

“At its core, it’s a cautionary tale about humanity sort of thumping its chest and believing ‘look what we can do, we can build skyscrapers and control the tides and aren’t we fantastic,’ and all the while, we’re destroying the planet and we immediately ensure destruction if our nukes ever got out of hand, so it’s a bit of a cautionary tale.”

McG then talks about the difficulty of following James Cameron in the series and…well, you probably just want to know who he describes as his “dream Terminator,” don’t you?

“It’s very difficult to say, because it’s a decidedly masculine role and I think we’re living in a time where a lot of actors are very effeminate and they’re sort of skinny, heroin chic and there’s really a masculine component to the role. And there’s guys out there like Russell Crowe and Eric Bana, who bring a good physicality, they do what they do, but I don’t know if they’re exactly right at the end of the day. (Smiles) Josh Brolin is a very exciting actor — we’ll see.

Bale and Brolin? If that happens, the naysayers might finally have to concede this round to McG.

Source: The 213

Hey, Terminator fans! Excited about the Jan. 13 and 14 premiere of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on Fox? Well, good news: Thanks to Yahoo!, you don’t have to wait.

Though the new series’ two-night premiere is scheduled for 8 o’clock Sunday the 13th and 9 o’clock Monday the 14th, Fox has announced a deal with Yahoo!, offering fans the chance to preview the pilot online, starting January 4 — that’s tonight — at 9 P.M. EST. (Sorry, East Coasters, you’ll have to stay up until midnight if you want to be among the first to lay eyes on the show.) The Yahoo! preview will last for 24 hours, and will feature an exclusive introduction by Sarah Connor herself, Lena Headey.

The show’s official synopsis:

“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” represents an exciting reinvention of the “Terminator” franchise, in which the strong and intrepid Sarah Connor (Lena Headey) discovers that protecting her 15-year-old son, John (Thomas Dekker), and stopping the rise of the machines is more difficult than she had ever imagined. Sarah and John are joined by Cameron (Summer Glau), an enigmatic and otherworldly high school student, who proves to be much more than a friend and James Ellison (Richard T. Jones) an FBI agent hot on their trail who soon becomes a powerful ally.

Advance notice for The Sarah Connor Chronicles has been somewhat mixed, but with the writers’ strike two months old, TiVos across the country are starting to get pretty hungry for new content, and this is easily one of the highest-profile midseason replacements in recent memory — audiences may end up tuning in whether they really want to or not. How about you, Vine-y friends? Are you planning on making room for the latest Terminator?

Source: Yahoo!

Looking for Terminator 4 plot details? You might have to read between the lines to get them, but producer Moritz Borman has dropped a few hints about the sequel, which begins filming April 15 in Budapest.

In an interview with Empire (excerpted in The Sun), Borman said the production is “keeping the script under very tight security” before promising a “huge twist at the end.” From the article:

“I can tell you this much — this is the story everybody has been waiting for. Namely, we’re in the future. The part of it where Arnold’s character has not yet been built but is on the drawing board.

“And in the next two episodes we’ll get to the point where time-travel is more in the foreground. It’s the war against the machines, the start of Skynet taking over the world.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger won’t be back for Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins, of course — being that he’s busy governing the state of California and all — but according to Borman, we might see him in future installments:

“It’s convenient that he hasn’t been built at this point of the story, as Arnold has more important things to do right now, but that doesn’t mean he might not re-appear later in the trilogy…he knows the material and is very supportive of what we’re doing. There might even be hints of his character in this one.”

When it came to rumors of Vin Diesel starring in T4, however, Borman was more forthcoming, telling Empire that Diesel “is not somebody we’re currently talking to.”

Source: The Sun

After the comparatively lackluster T3: Rise of the Machines, more than a few people left the Terminator series for dead — but as it turns out, the franchise may just be catching its second wind.

Aside from The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the Fox spinoff series debuting next month, Terminator fans have a fourth film, Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins, to look forward to — and after months of scoffing at the very idea of another sequel, let alone one directed by McG, looking forward to it is exactly what many of those fans are doing. All it took was Christian Bale stepping in as arguably the franchise’s central character, resistance fighter John Connor.

So. Now that everyone’s excited about T4, and filming is only a few months away, how about we get started on some spoilers?

Yes indeedy, plot details for the latest installment are already leaking out, and CHUD‘s Devin Faraci‘s got ’em. If you want to know nothing about the new Terminator going in, avert your eyes now! Spoilers come in many forms, sometimes even as italicized fonts:

John Connor is not the main character of Terminator 4; that character is someone named Marcus. Marcus was put ‘out of commission’ before the nuclear holocaust on Judgment Day and he wakes up about 15 years before the future we see in the original Terminator films, which puts the movie at about 2015 or so. Marcus is a bad ass – think along the lines of Riddick – and what he finds is a blasted world filled with horror. Radiation poisoning, starvation, rampant jaywalking – all the things you expect post-apocalypse. There’s also John Connor, who is trying to build a utopian society while running the human resistance.

Connor’s role is apparently bigger in the second film; whoever they hire for Marcus (my understanding is that the part is not yet cast) will be around for all three films. Terminator 4 is going to be the most male-centric of all the Terminator films, but there is a butt busting female character by the name of Blair, a pilot for the human resistance.

They’re going to need some buttkickers, because the scope of the action in Terminator 4 is HUGE. Lots of machine action in this film, including some battles with the T-600s. Yup, the rubber skin Terminators. And there’s another familiar character that shows up – Reese shows up in a scene with John Connor. I don’t know what his involvement in the next two films will be, though.

A big aspect of the story is the degrees of difference between a human and a Terminator. By which I mean cyborgs. By which I mean human brains in robot bodies.

Source: CHUD

Apparently, those recent reports about Halcyon fast-tracking Terminator 4 were right on the money.

In a report posted at Variety last night, it was announced that the fourth installment in the Terminator saga has a new title (Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins), a new North American distributor (Warner Bros.), and the same target release (summer 2009). The Warner Bros. deal comes on the heels of a concerted acquisition effort by MGM:

The Warner deal dashes MGM’s hopes of corralling distribution rights to the film. The Lion planned to pepper its slate with tentpoles such as “The Hobbit” and “Terminator,” but neither project has worked out for the distributor.

Halcyon sued MGM in July in Los Angeles Superior Court, claming the distrib was interfering with its distribution plans on the fourth “Terminator” film on the basis of an MGM claim that it had acquired an exclusive 30-day negotiating window.

The article goes on to report that the producers expect Salvation‘s costs to be leaner than Terminator 3‘s $200 million tag, though the sequel will still “have an event-sized budget,” and it reaffirms earlier reports that the filmmakers hope to launch a new trilogy here. Producer Moritz Borman tells Variety:

“The third film was really the conclusion of what happened in the ‘now.’ You will find the most-loved characters, but the intention here is to present a fresh new world and have this be the first of a trilogy.”

Boritz’ statement begs the obvious question of whether or not Arnold Schwarzenegger will play one of those “most-loved characters,” and the article touches on that. Boritz goes on to say:

“We’ve left it open for him to maybe do a cameo…he has an important job, as we know, and the final decision will be based on his desire and availability, along with what the director wants.”

T3 screenwriters John Brancato and Michael Ferris have written the script for Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins, and Variety echoes the “industry buzz” (earlier reported here) that McG is “the odds-on favorite” to direct, but says no final decision has yet been made.

Source: Variety

Ready for Terminator 4? How about Terminator 5 and Terminator 6?

That’s the plan, according to a report published by IGN Movies yesterday. The site spoke with James Middleton, a consulting producer on Fox’s 2008 midseason replacement series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Middleton shed some light on upcoming developments with the franchise.

First of all, numbered installments are now passe; the next chapter in the Terminator saga — which is being written by T3 scribes Michael Ferris and John Brancato — “will not be called Terminator 4, but instead will use the title Terminator and have some sort of subtitle, as in Rise of the Machines.” The Halcyon Company will be producing, and is aiming for a 2009 release.

The idea, according to Middleton, is for T4 to be the first film in a new Terminator trilogy — one which follows the war with the machines. As for casting, the article tells us that the return of Claire Danes and/or Nick Stahl is still an open question, dependent on “many factors, including the thoughts of the eventual director and others involved.”

Middleton also tells us that the next film will introduce a new hero in the saga, saying “Ben-Hur was influenced by Jesus Christ, but it was his story. Much in that way, this character will be influenced by John Connor.”

Source: IGN Movies

OK, this is all very technical legal mumbo-jumbo, but the bottom line seems to be this: Don’t expect a Terminator 4 any time real soon.

Although a company called Halcyon acquired the rights to make a fourth Terminator flick earlier this year, there seems to be a stumbling block. Basically, MGM claims to still have an option on the franchise. Or something like that. You tell me if you can decipher this passage from Variety:

“According to the complaint, filed in L.A. Superior Court on Wednesday, MGM claimed it had acquired an exclusive 30-day negotiation window for “T4” in the 1990s Orion Pictures bankruptcy. T Asset, the plaintiff and Halcyon’s subsidiary, did not concede MGM’s rights but began negotiations in May over distribution. T Asset claims MGM’s exclusive window is now over despite MGM’s claims in the media that it has the right to distribute “T4.” The suit seeks a declaration and injunctive relief.”

Whew. It goes on for another two paragraphs. And this is considered the layman’s version of a legal complaint. Yikes. Why anyone would go to all this trouble to make an Ahnold-free Terminator flick is simply beyond my comprehension, so let’s hope the issue stays tied up in court for a while. One less franchise to run into the ground.

Source: Variety

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