REVIEW: Alita: Battle Angel [2019]

No one’s greater than the game. This is a film twenty years in the making despite James Cameron being attached from the start. The story goes that Guillermo del Toro introduced the King of Hollywood to Yukito Kishiro‘s manga Gunnm and he fell in love with the book enough to give it permanent placement on his docket. Alita: Battle Angel was first thought to begin production after the demise of Cameron’s television show “Dark Angel” only to have him decide something else was more pressing. Then came the secretive technological…

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: Jurassic World [2015]

“This will give parents nightmares” As all good sequels must learn, the key to success is delivering on the promise set forth by the original while also providing something fresh and improved. Just ask James Cameron, a master at the task, who injected action-packed life into both Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgment Day without negating or watering down the mythology still relevant beneath those newfound popcorn blockbuster sensibilities. Neither The Lost World nor Jurassic Park III did it. They decided to both reinvent the wheel and forget what the appeal…

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

REVIEW: Ex Machina [2015]

“The history of man? That’s the history of Gods.” Artificial intelligence isn’t new. It’s in video games, toys, software platforms—most computer systems we interact with daily possess it in some capacity. The idea that one day someone will code a manufactured consciousness capable of becoming sentient, however, is still in the realm of science fiction. Already a well-worn trope, its implementation has seen resurgence of late. Not only is a new installment of Skynet’s war-torn future coming with Terminator Genisys, but “Person of Interest” has been ruling the cyber-thriller forum…

Read More

REVIEW: X-Men [2000]

“What do they call you? Wheels?” It’s hard to believe-fourteen years gone-that X-Men was the comic book property used to usher in our current “golden age” of superhero movies. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised considering it’s probably the most relatable due to its being devoid of flying aliens, radioactive spiders, and Gods. No, short of Batman transforming the memory his parents’ murder into the life of a vigilante, mutants are the most “human” creation Marvel or DC has created (at least to someone with barely a cursory knowledge of…

Read More

REVIEW: The Abyss [1989]

“You have to look with better eyes than that” Even the most rudimentary research into the production of James Cameron‘s The Abyss yields horror story upon horror story as frustrations shattered personal lives and behind the scenes decisions fought against its genre, budget, and appeal. There’s the writer/director basing lead character Lindsey Brigman on producer Gale Anne Hurd only to find himself marrying her previous to filming, separating during pre-production, and divorcing months before it’s release date. That opening weekend itself was pushed from July until August to complete special…

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: Alien3 [1992]

“We’re on the honor system” After James Cameron reinvigorated the Alien franchise to huge success with his action-packed sequel Aliens, Twentieth Century Fox’s desire to keep going shouldn’t have surprised. Looking to retain the level of craftsmanship and professionalism of the first two installments, they tried bringing original director Ridley Scott back to helm an ambitious two part continuation from producers David Giler and Walter Hill—eventual cowriters with Larry Ferguson also—to no avail. So with sci-fi writer William Gibson hired to script them way back in 1987, Alien3‘s lengthy gestation…

Read More