REVIEW: Predator [1987]

I ain’t got time to bleed. I really hope the anecdote is true that Jim and John Thomas wrote their script for Predator based on a joke positing how the only opponent left for Rocky Balboa to fight after Ivan Drago was an alien. It’s a cheesy thought and cheesier premise, so the fact that they and director John McTiernan could craft something as severely brutal as the finished film is a testament to their craft. They decide to move beyond pure action adventure motives, utilizing horror tropes for their…

Read More

REVIEW: Die Hard [1988]

“Make fists with your toes” It’s become such an action classic with numerous sequels, copycats, and homages and yet Die Hard as we know it almost never was—by choice. Novelist Roderick Thorp wrote Nothing Lasts Forever, his follow-up to The Detective, thirteen years after the original because he saw The Towering Inferno and dreamt up an idea of one man in a skyscraper hunted by terrorists. It starred his NYPD Detective Joe Leland, now aged and retired, visiting his daughter’s office building in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve where he…

Read More

REVIEW: Terminator Genisys [2015]

“If there was another way I would have taken it” Much of the success attributed to “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” stems from it using its time travel-centric mythology to erase the franchise’s failures—mainly Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. You’d think Terminator Salvation would have followed suit, but for whatever reason it held onto that sub-par entry if only through the character of Kate Brewster, otherwise known as Mr. Savior of Humanity John Connor’s wife. The real issue, however, was that it also retained a desire for big theatrics…

Read More

REVIEW: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines [2003]

“Anger is more useful than despair” There’s one great moment in Jonathan Mostow‘s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines: its end. I’m not being snarky in some jokey “because it was finally over” kind of way either. It is legitimately good. Half twist, half bittersweet salvation in the face of apocalyptic nightmare where a hero is finally born. The series has been working towards this revelation for two decades by this point; reaching the moment when the future we’ve seen of a world covered in skulls and metal is about…

Read More

REVIEW: Terminator 2: Judgment Day [1991]

“You’re really real” Oh what seven years can accomplish through cinematic technological achievement. While The Terminator still looks good today, Terminator 2: Judgment Day looks amazing. Director James Cameron acknowledges his evolutionary leap by opening the follow-up with a near-replica 2029 Los Angeles prologue as the first to showcase exactly how far forward. These new sentient machines are carbon copies of the old moving with marginal hitching to physically belong next to their human adversaries. Besides the sequences inside cars with flat projections whooshing by (Hollywood still hasn’t perfected this…

Read More

REVIEW: The Terminator [1984]

“It’s just him and me” Sometimes the road to success hinges on a series of happenstances and whom you know. Just ask James Cameron: on-set special effects director for Piranha II: The Spawning (former boss Roger Corman produced the first) before it became his directorial debut due to creative differences between his predecessor and producer Ovidio G. Assonitis (who subsequently took it away from Cameron after shooting wrapped). Hardly a glowing experience to warrant handing the not-yet thirty-year old six-million dollars to bring an original script to life, but Orion…

Read More

TIFF13 REVIEW: 2013 Short Cuts Canada Programmes

Programme 1 A far cry from the documentary short Joda—a visual letter to Jafar Panahi—that was included in the TIFF Short Cuts Canada Programme last year, graphic designer turned filmmaker Theodore Ushev’s Gloria Victoria is all about the visceral and aural capabilities of film without something as unnecessary as words. Full of sumptuous textured layers formed by sketch drawings, Russian Constructivist elements, what I believe were faces from Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, and more, the rising crescendo of Shostakovich’s “Invasion” from Symphony No. 7 helps spur on an emotive war in…

Read More

REVIEW: The Expendables 2 [2012]

“Can’t beat a classic” And here I thought the buzz was about how much The Expendables 2 made good on the promise set forth and not quite attained by The Expendables. It was going to be chock-full of humorous banter, over-the-top antics, bloody pulpy carnage, and as much fun as one berserker action flick can contain. There would be story, a worthy villain, and a reason for guys like Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jean-Claude Van Damme to come back from the shadows of obscurity. It wasn’t like these guys…

Read More

Posterized Propaganda August 2012: A Summer Lull

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. August isn’t fooling around with a ton of releases spanning both big budget and independent productions. I couldn’t even begin to talk about them all here—sorry Sparkle—but there sadly aren’t…

Read More

REVIEW: Total Recall [1990]

“A man is defined by his actions, not his memory” By the time Total Recall began filming—about a decade after its Hollywood genesis—quite the team of science fiction luminaries had been assembled. With inspiration from Blade Runner‘s Philip K. Dick; a script by the creators of Alien, Ronald Shusett and Dan O’Bannon; the directorial expertise of RoboCop‘s Paul Verhoeven; and The Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, out front, this colossal undertaking was put atop the shoulders of dreamers. Spring-boarding off the question of whether reality can be proven alongside an authentically…

Read More

The 83rd Oscars recap through tweets …

@jaredmobarak • Oscar time … congrats to The King’s Speech … why bother with the show when everyone thinks they know the winner? The 83rd Annual Academy Awards ceremony was quite possibly its worst incarnation the past decade. And things finally seemed to be going the right way. Hugh Jackman was fun; Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were lukewarm, but the show was fun; and Neil Patrick Harris is Neil Patrick Harris. NPH can do no wrong. Much in that vein, I thought the pairing of James Franco and Anne…

Read More