FlixChatter’s Movie Weekend Roundup

I don’t have time to write a lengthy review for each of these two flix I watched over the weekend, so I thought I’d give you a couple of mini reviews in one post. Whilst one beats my expectation, the other is the opposite.

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Terminator Salvation

I saw this Friday nite despite the dismal reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. And you know what, both my hubby and I actually liked it.

I quite like the classic Terminator movies and the whole story of humanity’s war against man-made machines. The story of this one takes place after the the computer network Skynet has destroyed much of humanity in a nuclear holocaust, as a group of survivors led by John Connor struggles to keep the machines from finishing the job.

I enjoyed the full-throttle action from start to finish, something I expect from a Terminator movie. The CGI and cinematography is pretty cool, with impeccable shots and camera angles, especially the truck chase sequences. The visuals of the wrecked and torn world looks believable, as do the fighting sequences, although I wonder if it had been an R-rated film they’d taken it a bit further to make it feel more ‘real.’ Perhaps the lower, more ‘family-friendly’ rating explains why this movie lacked the ‘bite’ or ‘grit’ of the original two. The dialog wasn’t exceptional but it’s not a deal-breaker either. In fact, there’s quite a few references to the original, such as the line: “Come with me if you want to live” spoken by Kyle Reese to Marcus Wright; and Marcus “What day is it? What year?” to Kyle.

John and Marcus bonded
John Connor and Marcus Wright bonded

I’m not surprised however, by how much I was drawn to Sam Worthington’s character Marcus far more that Christian Bale’s titular hero John Connor. I’ve pondered how Bale is often the second banana in films lately and Worthington’s Marcus definitely steals his thunder here. He’s not as terrible as the reviewers made him out to be though, he does more than just screaming & yelling in this movie (the same erroneous argument critics labeled Gerard Butler in his role as Leonidas in 300). Interestingly, according to IMDb, Christian Bale was first offered the role of Marcus but took more interest in the character of John Connor so rewrites took place to give him more of a substantial role throughout the film. Hmmm, bad move there Bale, it should’ve been more obvious that Marcus is the ‘meatier’ role and the conflicted unlikely hero story is always more compelling than the traditional protagonist. I’ve been touting Worthington for a while based on what I’ve read about him and I’m glad to say that in the first movie I’ve seen him in, he definitely doesn’t disappoint. He’s got an undeniable screen presence and that delicate combination of ‘tough guy with a heart’ a la Russell Crowe. I can’t take my eyes off him every time he’s on screen!

Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese is pretty good, too. He’s a bit more wide-eyed and less sinister than Michael Biehn in T2, but he’s able to be both vulnerable and unflinchingly bold at the same time. His scenes with Marcus are my favorite parts of the movie, save for the John/Marcus face-off when Marcus is captured that’s easily one of the movie’s highlights.

Overall, I don’t think McG ‘ruined’ the franchise as some critics/fans have suggested. Sure it may not live up the two James Cameron originals, but it’s still a decent action-adventure that gives the franchise justice.

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The Informant!

Now, as opposed to TS, I actually had a high expectation going into this movie because the critics seem to leap up anything Steven Soderbergh and Matt Damon put out there.

I was intrigued by the trailer but despite some funny parts, the movie just doesn’t deliver for me. It’s almost like the trailer IS the movie as the best parts are already revealed there. It’s a true-story about Mark Whitacre (Damon), an Ivy League Ph.D. who was a rising star at an agricultural company ADM, who ended up becoming a whistleblower over their price fixing tactic. [Spoiler ahead] Basically it’s a satire about a compulsive liar who’s suffering from a severe bipolar disorder.

I think the story has a lot of potential for an enjoyable movie, but it comes across really boring to me. Not sure if the 10pm showtime had something to do with it, but rarely did I doze off in a movie theater that my husband actually had to nudge me a few times. Even one of our guy friends ended up going to the bathroom to ‘freshen up’ but we found him asleep right behind us nonetheless.

I realize it’s a dark comedy so I’m not complaining that it lacked some overt funny scenes, I just wish the subtleties pay off more than it did. It seems to be the case of style over substance, which is fine in most cases, but when it comes to corporate crime stories, there’s only so much amusing tricks they can do to keep us engaged. The use of the whimsical music works at first but after a while it just gets old, and the gag actually makes me cringe, it’s like I’m no longer in on the joke but instead I get irritated by them.

I probably wouldn’t enjoy this as much if I hadn’t seen Matt Damon do the Bourne series, as his physical transformation is amusing in itself. He’s obviously a great actor as he was able to pull off the bumbling and pitiful corporate geek role as believable as he was as a ruthless assassin. IFC awarded him with the “Actor of the Decade” title and given his body of work, he just might warrant that. Yet, be that as it may, he still can’t save this movie. It seems to take a lifetime to end, too. Oh well, at least we saved our money at the $2.50 theater, as this definitely isn’t worth much more than that.

If you’re in for a movie based on a true story about a whistleblower, rent The Insider instead. I’d be hard-pressed to find one thing wrong with that movie and Russell Crowe also underwent an amazing physical transformation by gaining 35 pounds for the role of Jeffrey Wigand.