Terminator 2 at 20

03-Jul-11 12:35 PM by
Filed under Films; 1 comment.

Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the release of one of the greatest films of all-time. I am speaking of course of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. I already sang this film's praises on the tenth anniversary of Judgment Day, so I won't again fawn over its intricate plot, layered characters, and stunning action. But I will offer this creative amalgamation of line art and stop-gap motion in tribute to the best sequel ever:

Transformers: Revenge of the Foul

18-Jun-09 5:35 PM by
Filed under Films, Humor; 3 comments.

This Friday, the sequel to the 2007 film Transformers will land. Based on my experience two years ago, I am confident in my decision to not support the new movie. It's not that the original was bad (though it was); it's that it deviated too significantly from my expectations. Lowering my expectations helped me enjoy the second Fantastic Four film more than the first, but in the case of Transformers, my expectations are fixed not in terms of quality, but of subject matter. I grew up on the Eighties cartoon (which is soon to be re-released on DVD) and consider it the quintessential version of giant, extraterrestrial, shape-shifting robots fighting each other in our own backyard. I respect that changes need be made when adapting this story to a new medium, but making it into an adolescent, anthropocentric comedy crossed the line.

I'm amazed that these movies are written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who brought us not only the entertaining (but predictable) Mission:Impossible III, but more significantly, the recent reboot of Star Trek. How can the same team produce such divergent quality? But then, if my idea of a good movie is Orson Welles playing a toy, then maybe my perspective is skewed.

Regardless, I expect Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to not be this summer's only disappointing film about robots. What if those two movies didn't just morph, but merged? Would they form… Transforminators?

Or maybe Transformers on its own already has more robotic characters than even we realize:

Though obviously a spoof, this concept isn't altogether foreign. The movie S1m0ne suggested something similar, in which the protagonist created a completely artificial actress whose performance indistinguishable from authentically wooden acting. Though the film was fictional, the recent 'Emily' image metrics demonstration showcases the ability to generate a computerized face from a real one.

Now if only they could make computerized computers that can change shape, act, and star in a critically successful film…

(Hat tip to Blake Patterson)

Terminator's End Begins

17-Jul-08 4:07 PM by
Filed under Trailers; 2 comments.

I once expressed concern about the ability of the Terminator franchise to successfully reinvent itself as a television series. But Terminator 2 is one of my favorite films of all-time, and the Terminator himself is a fantastic hero and villain — how many characters can claim such duality? These previous impressions encouraged me to set aside my reservations and give The Sarah Connor Chronicles a look when it debuted this past spring. I was pleasantly surprised by the two episodes I saw, sufficiently that I've preordered next month's DVD release of the nine-episode first season.

So, despite a lack of interest in almost anything with Christian Bale (including tomorrow's Dark Knight — sorry, but that kid hasn't impressed me since Newsies), I'm trying to keep an open mind about next year's fourth Terminator installment. In playing to the Balehead crowd, tomorrow's Batman flick includes the official premiere of the first trailer for Terminator Salvation — but you can watch it here, now, for free:

It's not much to go on, and unless time travel is involved, the film will likely lack any of its titular adversaries. Say it with me: it's too early to judge… And hey, if it sucks? There's always RiffTrax.

(more…)

Do Androids Dream of Electric Apples?

14-Jan-08 12:00 PM by
Filed under Films; Comments Off on Do Androids Dream of Electric Apples?

Targeting systems online.

Targeting systems online.

When David Szetela delivered his keynote speech at KansasFest 2007, he revealed a fact that is little-known to all but diehard geeks (which was, of course, exactly who he was addressing). It connected two of my favorite things: the Apple II computer and the Terminator movies.

In the Terminator films, the audience is often treated to the perspective of these cybernetic organisms sent from the future to change the past. This red-hued vision makes assessments and executes routines faster than the human eye can perceive — but if you watch a certain scene in the first movie frame-by-frame, you may spot some familiar algorithms.

Read the rest of this entry at Computerworld.com »

Tomorrow's Artificial Intelligence, Today

11-Jan-08 8:00 AM by
Filed under Television, Trailers; 2 comments.

Though the following information already exists as various comments on existing threads, I perceived the pending premieres of a pair of popular pilots prompted promotion (phew!) — so to ensure our readers stay savvy and don't miss the return of these franchises, here's a timely reminder.

On Sunday, January 13th, at 8:00 PM EST, and Monday, January 14th, at 9:00 PM EST, will be Fox's two-part The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which attempts to bring the successful Terminator movie series to the small screen. The show features a strong cast that includes Thomas Dekker (Heroes) and Summer Glau (Firefly), as seen in this trailer:

Five weeks later, on Sunday, February 17th, at 9:00 PM EST, will be NBC's debut of what could be a new Knight Rider series. This two-hour movie is what's known as a "backdoor pilot": a stand-alone film that could conceivably lead to a continuing series. Trailers such as the following have not yet shown much actual movie footage, just teasers:

Each show is based on a successful license; what could possibly go wrong?

(Hat tip to Coming Soon)

Judgment Day

29-Aug-07 11:28 AM by
Filed under Films; 6 comments.

Three billion human lives ended on August 29th, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines. The computer which controlled the machines, Skynet, sent two Terminators back through time. Their mission: to destroy the leader of the human resistance, John Connor, my son. The first Terminator was programmed to strike at me in the year 1984, before John was born. It failed. The second was set to strike at John himself when he was still a child. As before, the resistance was able to send a lone warrior, a protector for John. It was just a question of which one of them would reach him first.

Thus begins one of the most kickass films of all time.

I may be perceived as a stereotypical, testosterone-driven ape when I declare the explosion-laden Terminator 2 to be one of my favorite movies ever, but only the superficial viewer would make such a judgment. T2 is a film about perseverance, courage, family, and free will. It has moments of introspection that are both poignant and terrifying, not just for the audience but for the characters, leading our female protagonist to break down in tears when she realizes she has become that which she most abhors. She is not alone, as we all see our own fears played out in this film: not only our own internal struggles, but also that artifact of the Cold War: the futility of resistance against total annihilation, depicted in what several U.S. federal nuclear testing labs unofficially declared "the most accurate depiction of a nuclear blast ever created for a fictional motion picture."

Even now that the film's special effects are not as groundbreaking as they were in 1991, or now that the jaw-dropping twist — when the hero and villain reveal their identities, shattering our expectation of who to root for — is well-known, this film still stands the test of time, with a title character who is both a hero and villain for all ages.

So happy tenth anniversary to the realization of your worst nightmare. May you live only to face a new horror…

To Serve and Protect

01-Jul-07 12:49 PM by
Filed under Films, Television; 6 comments.

Speaking of top films lists, Entertainment Weekly has published, in preparation for Transformers: The Movie, "our 10 favorite mechanical men (and fembots) in movie history". The list honors good guys such as the Iron Giant (a hero after my own Superman-inspired heart, and the subject of scrutiny in the film studies course I taught), Data, and R2-D2 and C-3PO (who I'd never consciously realized to be an Odd Couple) — but also appropriately celebrates the persistent destruction wrought by darker cyborgs, Robocop and the Terminator (the latter described as "an all-purpose golem").

These two futuristic deathbringers represent possibly my favorite action films ever: the original Robocop film and the second Terminator. The former is a haunting tale of a man robbed of his family, his memory, even his emotions — everything but his career. He uses that sole connection to give his life purpose and, eventually, his audience a TV series that I actually enjoyed. The latter is a villain sent from the future to alter the past… but for better, or for worse? Plot twists, character dynamics (especially the humanity of the Terminator and lack of same in Sarah Connor), and awesome action sequences make this a film that's more than meets the eye.

Too bad these two robotic icons never encountered each other… or did they?!