Opening this week, Christian Bale stops ranting long enough to star in McG‘s franchise reboot, Terminator Salvation, while Ben Stiller goes back to the museum for Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Also opening, the Wayans family gets their spoof on for the comedy Dance Flick.
Blow all the ad dollars you want, sell the story as much as you like, and show fans those cool special effects; I still guarantee that the most talked-about aspect of Terminator Salvation will always be Christian Bale’s tirade against cinematographer Shane Hurlbut.
It’s nothing against the film, but it’s hard to imagine a film that could be as revealing, or intriguing as Bale’s public display.
Following two other sequels, including the blockbuster hit T2, it’s also a bit hard to believe that a director like McG, known for making the Charlie’s Angels films, could possibly top James Cameron’s epic action film.
As a fan of the entire franchise though, and even the now-cancelled television show, I am intrigued with the first attempt to render the futuristic battles that have been talked about since the first film.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by those fearsome, intelligent machines, one man must step forward to lead the last remnants of humanity against the forces that could wipe them out entirely. As humanity moves forward, they must also deal with a new threat perpetrated by the machines: cyborgs, covered in flesh to look like humans, but following the orders of the robots.
With a veritable army of screenwriters involved in the project at one time or another, Terminator Salvation reeks of the kind of project that is bound to fall on its face, if only because of the potential tug of war between the director, the studio, and even these writers, caught in the middle of these efforts to revive a possibly vital franchise.
Still, I’ve been excited about the fourth Terminator film, and it’s the period in the saga that most excites me. I love dark films, and Bale is a great fit as John Connor, proving multiple times before that he can pull off a brooding hero. Co-star Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright is also an intriguing actor to play against Bale, playing the part of a mysertious stranger.
Also starring in the film are Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese, Charlotte Gainsbourg as Kate Connor, and Moon Bloodgood as Blair Williams.
Despite my hopes, Terminator Salvation is not getting very good reviews from many of the top critics. There are some positive reviews, but the general response follows Rob Salem of the Toronto Star who asked in his article, “How could such a great idea go so horribly, horribly wrong?”
While Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “The machines are mindless, yes, but there are enough pyrotechnics and heavy artillery to feel like Armageddon squared. And when the story starts to crumble around Bale, Worthington is there to pick up the pieces.”
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
In what I can only call the most unnecessary sequel of the month, Ben Stiller is back to star in Night at the Museum 2, AKA Battle of the Smithsonian.
Featuring a cavalcade of characters from history, Stiller stars again as one-time security guard Larry Daley, who is drawn back into the animated world of the museum as new trouble sprouts up at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. With some of his friends in trouble, including Owen Wilson as Jedediah, he’ll have to deal with an even bigger museum full of creatures, and his new nemesis, Kahmunrah (played by Hank Azaria).
Again, the reviews for this film are not very good, suggesting that the sequel needed a bit more work and a lot less stars.
“Once these creatures do come to life for a second outing,” Kate Taylor wrote for the Globe and Mail, “the promise soon evaporates and the clever comedy, built largely on crisscrossing anachronisms and various sly cultural references, is not enough to sustain a romp that is all rather predictable.”
Ty Burr of the Boston Globe is far more direct, however, writing that Battle of the Smithsonian is “bigger, noisier, shinier, and dumber, and it has no earthly reason to exist.”
After countless horrific spoof movies by the worst filmmakers of the decade, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (who made Meet the Spartans and Disaster Movie), there is adequate reason never to watch this kind of film again. There is hope this week though, as the Wayans family seem to have produced a film that might actually get you laughing again.
Damon Wayans, Jr. and Shoshana Bush star in this film that essentially makes fun of, well, dance movies. Wayans plays a young street dancer, from the bad side of town, who falls for a prissy girl who also loves to dance.
If you can stomach another comedy like this, you can probably forgo the reviews, but I think Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle sums the film up quite nicely: “Dance Flick is a movie that will make you yearn for the subtle humor and profound character exploration of White Chicks.”